My article Policy Challenges for a Wise Monarch appears in Aurealis #129. This is the second article I’ve published on speculative fiction and political economy, after Science Fiction and the Economics of Utopia.
I put the new article together out of several strands of thought that occurred to me at different times so it’s hard to say exactly where the initial inspiration came from. But it may have started with picking up a book called The Hobbit Party, by Jay Richards and Jonathon Witt, which I chanced upon in a library a few years ago. They argue that The Lord of the Rings presents a happy vision of small government and individual freedom that the modern world could learn from.
Whatever Tolkien’s politics might have been (I can’t comment on this, even after reading the book), or what their merits might have been then or now, I’m not much persuaded by the idea that what works out nicely in a fictional world has much bearing on what will work out in the real world. Tolkien may well have hated tyranny as The Hobbit Party‘s blurb says—pretty much everyone does—but I’m sure all manner of would-be rulers (or authors commissioned by them) could write stories of people living happily under whatever ideology they liked.
I don’t write much fantasy myself these days—I think I read far too many cheesy heroic quests during my last bout of unemployment—but I hope the article is of interest to readers and writers alike, if only by having fun with how absurd certain fantasy conventions seem when put beside modern sensibilities (or vice versa). Thanks to the editors at Aurealis for getting the article out there.