Sunday, April 8, 2012

King of the Castle

King of the Castle

People love a king.

Why would anyone envy the king? A king is a concept too great, too far above, something to be cherished as possible for man but not necessarily something I can achieve. People feel admiration for a king, not envy. Envy is for the guy up the street with a nicer house. Because, who is he, anyway, to have a better house than you?

People love a king, when a king brings them peace. In days of yore, the king was the guy who could get the most other guys to do what he said, the guy with something to offer. He got to "own" what those men could protect for him, and be king of the lands they could keep safe. Like gangsters, a king's knights offered protection and the people who paid the tributes were subjects.

When kings protected the land, were fair in justice, and let subjects keep enough of their own production for villagers to live in relative peace, villagers worked and lived their lives. They expected their king to live in the lap of luxury. Living in a palace showed what a good king he was. Loyal subjects wanted to feel proud of their king, their champion.

And when the bad guys came, as they always did, the people would call to the king's knights, who would ride out to protect the lands, if not the people. When there was sacking and burning, the people grabbed their belongings and crowded into the castle walls, behind the gates, where they were safer. They came to their king like college kids running back to mom and dad's. They said, protect us. And good kings did.

But humans are what humans are. No king is ever satisfied to be a good king, protecting subjects and letting them have enough for a life of relative peace. Always and always, bigger is better, power corrupts and middle management emerges, filled with people who want to eke out a little more for themselves and their friends at the expense of the rest.

People like a king when the king deserves his crown. But when he lets his organization rule, when he lets his people down, they rebel. Time and again, in history, the feudal landholders and the self-proclaimed kings topple when they push too far, take too much, exact too much control and provide too little protection.

Screwing the masses to squeeze out more for the courtiers has never been attempted at this grand a scale, with these high of stakes, and with this much awareness. It's never looked like this before, with youtube and twitter and Colbert out there. There have never been so many people to be apathetic or engaged en mass, or so much advertising to tell them what they think. There has never been this level of control over a society in every facet of life, at the moment when the self-appointed overlords push it just a little too far. The moment when people don't see Kings, they just see assholes trying to steal their very lives.

Morbidly...I'm curious to see what will happen next.
(may you live in interesting times)