Many people told me to watch “Game of Thrones”, that it was like my essays, full of gore and what not. Not to say: why not. A lot of why not. Why not, indeed? “Popular” “cultural” references to “Game of Thrones” are climbing up, I have to stay with the times, to engage in cultural combat.
So I watched Game of Thrones Season 1 and 2. It is indeed entertaining. Some elements of the Feudal moral code are well reproduced. The fact that explicit references to all too well-known world history (such as Christianism and Islamism) do not occur, is much appreciated.
On the other hand, so far, I see no references to religiously motivated human sacrifices, which were ubiquitous in all cults before the rise of writing (and even after, as in the Euro-Mediterranean case of Carthage and the Celts… and a tiny sprinkling of ancient Romans and Greeks).
“Games of Thrones” shows characters who seem to be significantly more complex than is usual in fiction. I read few novels, because I find usual fictional characters very low dimensional, and base, dealing with all too ordinary circumstances.(Although there are exceptions, most notably in sci-fi, of all places.) Reality always beat fiction to a fine pulp, and then burn it to a crisp:
Real history, on the other hand, is full of extremely complex characters, with very complex fates. Athenian history alone provides with many major characters with incredibly rich personalities, who moreover, had a tremendous impact on civilization through their actions: Draco, Solon, Themistocles, Pericles, Alcibiades, Socrates, Xenophon, Plato, Aristotle. The lives of these people were those of superheroes, their fates complex and contradictory. As soon as one digs a bit, one finds other influences (say of major philosophers, some female, on Pericles and Socrates).
“Games of Thrones” is an effort in that direction. Some of the bad guys doing very bad things are actually deep and subtle in their analysis of the world.
The real world is worse than “Games Of Thrones”. Brutus is an example. I confess I did not read Shakespeare about Brutus. Why would I? What did a playwright such as Shakespeare know? Five centuries ago? Not much, and certainly not much beyond what the government of Queen Elizabeth wanted to hear. Because, if that government heard something it did not like, horrible punishments were ready on a whim.
So, to know Brutus, I did not go along the route many of those who claim to be literate have followed. After all, Shakespeare was a mental puppet of Elizabeth government, thus, those who learn the world through Shakespeare, become parrots of the puppet whose string were pulled by more or less virgin tyrant. Learning such teaching by rote is assuredly far removed from mastery of reality.
Not that Elizabeth was a tyrant, for tyranny’s sake, only. Among other contrarieties, she was in a world war with Philippe II, the fascist Catholic emperor of Spain. Spain had conquered the entire world. There was only one problem left: the French army, which, not only defended France, but also the Netherlands.
Subjugating England was going to help. After trying marriage, the Spanish Catholic fundamentalist tyrants tried brute force. England did not have much of an army, especially when comparing to the famous “Spanish Squares”, and did not have much of a fleet. But Sir Francis Drake and his colleagues were skilled, and lucky: they repelled the Gran Armada.
So Elizabeth could not be mild. And Shakespeare respected the lines she drew. (Just as Game of Thrones does!) It is under Queen Elizabeth that the “West Country Men” came to dominate the system of mind that brought British supremacy, and Bush to invade Iraq, to grab the oil (since the Geneva Convention was “quaint”!)
The real history of (Marcus Junius) Brutus was fascinating enough. He was long suspected to be Caesar’s son. But there is worse, and much more telling: Brutus was corrupt. At some point he was governor in Anatolia (present day Turkey), and he filled up his coffers industrially, to the point that he had to be recalled. He also got the trust of Senate in Cyprus, and then abused it by lending money to it at the extortionate rate of 48 percent and by using force to exact its payments.
Thus, Brutus could hardly pose as the moral hero he is often depicted to be. Like his co-conspirator Cassius, greed was probably his main motivation in assassinating Caesar (followed by the moral code of plutocracy, which is that the plutocrats deserve the world, and We The People, the Populares Caesar headed, nothing. Or, let’s say, the fact he did, condemn him in the eyes of history. And, indeed, when the Populus Romanus learned that the leader of the Populares, Caesar, had been treacherously assassinated in the Senate, the entire city of Rome was gloomy.
Caesar was the last, and best hope of the Republic. Some will say: but was not he himself corrupt, and the Senate wanted to charge him with war crimes in Gaul, for waging an extravagant war there, even against historical allies of Rome?
Yes. However, corruption is not as much the problem as what one does with it. The Clintons wanted to be nice to the most aggressive “money changers”, so they could fill their own coffers. Caesar wanted to conquer more than Alexander. As it turned out, that was exactly what the Roman Republic needed at the time.
To launch a huge war to the East, in the Orient, and present day Russia, Caesar needed peace at home, so he needed the sort of reforms the Gracchi had tried to make.
Caesar, though, was naive: he did not anticipate the depth of corruption in the likes of Brutus, who were ready for anything, to keep being able to splurge at the through. This is probably why, after blocking several strikes, Caesar gave up the fight, when he saw Brutus armed with a dagger. Caesar was shattered psychologically, by the extent of the mental corruption in plain evidence.
Thus it is why, when we contemplate corruption, in say the European Union, led by the likes of Jean-Claude Juncker, we have to show no mercy: corruption starts with money, and often ends with murder. The early Obama’s administration “signature strikes” are an example of murder which the (secret) decision of Jimmy Carter, on July 3, 1979, led to. Leading astray can take a while (Obama had the head of the Taliban executed in a drone strike over the weekend: this was not a “signature strike”, but a precise strike against a determined enemy of civilization, perfectly appropriate.
Another perfectly appropriate strike was the atomic bombing of Hiroshima: in tandem with the nuclear strike against Nagasaki, it finished the Second World War in less than a week. Yes tens of thousands of innocent people and children died (plus 35 US prisoners, some butchered in reprisal). However, that was the price of peace. Not dropping the bombs would have extended the war for months, with many millions of all ethnicities killed all over Japan, Korea, China. It also told the Soviets slaves to Stalin that an attack in Europe would bring the annihilation of Russian cities.
The Japanese found themselves in a monstrous war that their own emperor, following the game of throne there, had engaged in. Today, US president Obama goes to Hiroshima. Let all those who feel otherwise, be reminded that the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima is entangled with the vicious war Japanese plutocracy engaged in, during the 1930s. That war itself was an enormous crime, which assassinated more than 30 million people outside of Japan (latest numbers). Few Japanese, relatively speaking, died: around two million soldiers, mostly through disease, and less than one million Japanese civilians (including the spectacular fire bombings of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Tokyo).
The nuclear bomb program was launched by the French in January 1938. And the goal was to nuclear bomb Nazi Germany. After a lot of James Bond like action, for real, from France to Norway, the bomb was not ready soon enough to smash Nazi impudence and violence against civilization. However, The Bomb snuffed the top Japanese military arrogance. The top Japanese General had written poems expressing his desire to see one hundred million Japanese lives cut like flowers in bloom. It did not happen because fissioning the atom went straight through Bushido, the art of the Samurai. The emperor on his throne finally had an excuse to brandish the futility of it all (once he was told he could keep… his throne). The top General tried a coup, which failed, and then seppuku, which worked.
Two moral atrocities, the nuclear bombings of Japan, were morally optimal., in the greater scheme of systems of minds. Polls actually support this view, worldwide, and even in Japan, atomic survivor want no apology. Those who should apologize are those who engineered the attack of Japan onto the world (in French Indochina alone, the Japanese military attack killed two millions). And those who support ideas and moods conducive to this sort of aggression. They are the ones who got all these children killed.
We need to change the nature of the game of thrones. Instead of having particular humans sitting on a throne, with considerable powers, after spending a huge amount of energy to get there, we need to learn to sit ideas on a throne, fight for those, and spend considerable energy debating them.
If you want peace, make ideas fight each other, until the best win, until the best win, in the fair fight which makes understanding grow.