It’s right there in the opening credits. The mechanisms of power, the institutions, the gears, are everything.

By the time Game of Thrones (GoT) wound down, it was quite clear that the “wheel,” which Daenerys Targaryen devoted her life to breaking, was never to be broken. What made GoT fascinating was that central characters could die, but the gears turning the wheel made the drama, so we became rapt to see the next power alignment. The calculus demanded by the turning gears made the good into naive liabilities, and made the evil rational (understandable, anyway).

The narrative went wrong when the characters eclipsed the gears.

When power is so absolutely invested in the individual, GoT could have said, it was inevitable all the gamers must be at swords-point once the common threat was gone. This was the defeat of the metaphor-of-choice that was the frosty evil undead. Varys could have said, before his (ahem) firing: “that all-united-for-mankind-thing didn’t last long. No politician who wants to win does that. I’ll see you all in Hell.” The show did not go there.

The show ended, alas, with the greasy-kid-stuff of a choice between a self-sacrificing, benevolent ruler vs the ever-war despot (after failing to explore what “breaking chains” looks like in a world were nobody is free). It is not necessary to say: “A good and sane ruler is better than a half-crazy, all-killy one.” You wonder why the most expensive show ever would bother. Bombast and banality never make a satisfying cocktail.

GoT fell lower than that: the all-seeing, three-eyed raven became King. The irony was that the “all-seer” never did anything of use to anyone with his all-seeing (Jon did not need to know he was a Dickensesque swapped-at-birth orphan to know Dany was evil after torching King’s Landing). All-Seer was aloof to the Master of Coin wanting to build brothels before food relief (the only metaphor of modern governance the ending of GoT got right). The three-eyed raven sees past, present and future, yet he did not deign to throw the starving city a bone of, say, innovative, nitrogen-based agriculture? Libertarians should never be surprised by the combination of purported all-wisdom with no-results.

The show also seemed co-opted by the marketplace measures of the “Hollywood-happy” ending, vs the “dark” one. I was rooting, cynic as I am, for Dany and a “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” ending. When you revere power, don’t be surprised when power doesn’t revere you back. That would have made the better metaphor for our politics today.

Statists like, say, Elizabeth Warren saw everything through this expert ruler prism. Which is an interesting perspective through which to explore in the Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS): Elizabeth Warren is good and wise (a strong female too!), Barack Obama is good and wise (…“the moment the tides receded”), and is way better than nasty, half-crazy Trump. From this perspective, things become too distorted to see the good done by that Burnt-Orange-Bewigged-Buffoon (BOBB).

The reality is that it is the gears, the institutions of America, in all of their peaceful, evolutionarily stable glory that has created the strongest employment marketplace since 1968. Better, even, than “good Obama” (“two percent growth, get used to it”). The BOBB has far outperformed the good and wise (and Bran-like impotent) advisory councils of all of highly civilized Europe, idiot-savant as I’d concede that he is. Yet I’d wager more ink (virtual, anyway) has been spilled worldwide in navel-gazing think pieces on his unsuitability for office for reasons impeachable or not, than just about any other subject in the history of mankind, save the question of Salvation itself.

It’s a scary illustration of the degree of cultural degradation we have in this country, where the gears created by the divisions of power that gave us the most prosperous, evolutionary stable, system in history, are now subsumed to the power of the Office of the President and its indispensable ruler. Their policies cast in Manichaen terms of Good vs Evil. Interesting, how with the decline in organized religion, the gears of religion have been co-opted by politics.

It’s no surprise that so many Americans missed this metaphor (probably because the writers no longer meant it by the time it was over). GoT being a cultural event, they don’t do well by missing the Zeitgeist.

The trend in American politics for the last few decades has not been about strengthening any institutions, from the Supreme Court, to Congress, to the Press. They are all debauched. So, right on cue, Americans pine for the all-wise, which is as fictional as dragons.

Eugene Darden Nicholas

About Eugene Darden Nicholas

Eugene Darden (Ed) Nicholas is from Flushing Queens, where he grew up sheltered from the hard world, learning the true things after graduating college and becoming a paramedic in Harlem. School continues to inform and entertain in all its true, Shakespearean glory. It's a lot of fun, really. In that career, dozens of people walk the earth now who would not be otherwise. (The number depends on how literally or figuratively you choose to add). He added a beloved wife to his little family, which is healthy. He is also well blessed in friends and colleagues.


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