Sunday 9 September 2007

Why attack a fortress?

Ask yourself: why did armies in the Middle Ages insist on attacking a fortress and bloody their heads?
Why not occupy the land and establish yourself there? Having land but not a fortress can still give you food, but a fortress without land is just a hulk of stone. (Ah, I hear you say, if you have the fortress you also own the land. - Really?)
On that same note, why storm a palace - are they such a magnet to a hopeful resident?
Now shift to the present, and consider democracy. What is the difference, if not having several factions under the same roof. You can see the attraction: no more sieges, no more conquests. It must be more than a love for heavy oak and shiny candelabras. Or perhaps not, judging by the opulence of today's chambers.
Maybe the occupiers had become more hospitable, or maybe they had lost the will to maintain their solitude at all costs. If that is so, democracy only works within circles of the accommodating.
For let us not get stuck on the trivial. The map shows many nations that have borrowed the word 'democracy' for aesthetic purposes, because their actual governance is anything but.
"He protesteth too much" can be seen from many directions; true democracy does not need the extra ink on the stationery.
Must you storm the palace? Can't live nearby? Then the Democratic Republic of... is for you. The compatriots are waiting.
But there's the rub. Peasants do not form societies, just as ants in the forest are lost without their queen.
A Head needs careful nurturing in a crib, a cocoon away from the battle. In good time there might be a colony, then a state, and a while later still the court is looking for a home. The cocoon moves to its new premises. And nothing has changed.
The cycle continues. Shielded from the adversities of common life the Head plans and plots, but out there, in the dusty streets suitably distant from the manicured lawns of the Residence, they struggle.
Time for another change? Don't bother with the palace, you only get your hands dirty.
Instead settle for something of your own. See the home as something where you are, rather than where you want to be. Slums do it all the time.
There is only one problem. In due course life has to be managed, and managed well. For this it needs well-developed facilities, solid things that work.
They also have value - and so back to the palace.

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