The Right to Rule
What gives someone the right to rule? I have been asking myself this question lately in response to various revelations from the Naga and about the history of humanity here on this world.
The Emperor rules by divine right. He rules because he is descended from the Kami. While a bit of divine blood never hurt one’s qualifications, the idea that the Kami can declare themselves to be in charge simply by virtue of being able to annihilate anyone who opposed them is rather disturbing. I find that having the power to destroy is not a good indicator of leadership potential.
I myself, while less than seven years old, am able to kill most adults with a snap of my fingers. Does this give me the right to rule? I do not believe so. I think the fact that I refuse to exercise such power gives me greater right than those who freely use their destructive potential to get what they want.
Many Samurai would not think twice to using force to get peasants or eta to give them what they want without any form of compensation. They are of the opinion that the lower classes exist at the whim of the Samurai. While I admit the Samurai do have the power to kill peasants and eta as they chose, this seems counterproductive to have them living in terror of you. Unhappy peasants aren’t going to do much to help you if they don’t have to. And you can’t watch them at all times.
Fu Leng is able to cause great amounts of destruction. I recently witnessed him killing the Jade Champion and all of his guards with a single spell. Does this give Fu Leng the right to rule? I think most everyone in Rokugan would agree that this is not the case. And Fu leng is a Kami no less as well. So we can rule out the ideas of right to rule via divine right or great personal power.
The Naga rule themselves via a form of voting through their racial mind. While highly efficient at getting a consensus from all Naga, it does have it’s disadvantages. It works best, I imagine, with that group mind thing. I also imagine that it works well when everyone has access to the same education and information as everyone else, which leads back to the group mind thing. It also relies on the maturity of the members to accept decisions of the majority that they might not agree with. The naga seem to be that mature, The constant clan warfare amongst us humans leads me to suspect we are not that mature yet. Nor do we have access to a group mind like the Naga do either.
The Nezumi appear to organize themselves along tribal or familial lines. While this is likely to be very stable and effective, it does not scale well into much beyond the several hundred individuals range. The Empire is made up of thousands of times more than that. Indeed, the empire is made up of many clans who are composed of many families. These families are then composed of main families and numerous branch families. This organization, far from binding people together, only serves to generate fault lines. Look at the numerous battles fought between various clans, families and branches of families to see my point. Ironically, the only thing holding the Empire together is the sheer lack of organization within it. Not an enviable position in my book. For it assumes an Empire existing in a vacuum, which we know is not the case.
So we are left with the original question: What gives someone the right to rule? I feel that it is the wisdom and fairness of the decisions of the decision maker that gives him/her the right to rule. Collections of humans are idiots, just look at any mob. However, a few individuals show themselves to be more mature than the rest. These are the ones able to recognize that short term profit may lead to a long term loss, that doing what’s popular isn’t necessarily what’s right, that to waste resources to protect your ego is the height of idiocy, and that some things are more important than yourself in this world.
Ideally such a person would also not want the position, for then he is less likely to be consumed by the power it entails. Sadly, finding someone who does not want the position but still would do well at it is difficult to say the least. It is much easier to find someone who wants it and would do well at it. So we consolidate the power into one individual who has the ability to wield it fairly and effectively, and then is also willing to give it up when the time comes. This can either be to an heir, or back to the people as they become mature enough to wield the power themselves. Sadly it is also hard to guarantee a suitable heir when one is needed. Given that, our ideal candidate would need to be effectively immortal to give the position a certain amount of social inertia. As the people become more mature, he/she slowly hands back pieces of power to the people so that they do not become overly dependent on him/her.
Only by being immortal can one hope to effectively lead over many centuries/millennia. Only by being immortal can one hope to be a stabilizing and respected influence on affairs.
Being immortal is not enough however, one must also be wise enough to recognize that what he/she wants may not be best. Nor that what is popular is not necessarily right either. Benefiting yourself at the expense of others is not the way to earn respect, nor is handing out money from the treasury to the peasants a sound plan either. Using the money to fund the services needed to invest in the future of the Empire in much more sound planning.
Finally, being strong enough to deter usurpers is critical to success. Whether it be through personal power, or through the love and support of the people matters little. Although, being loved and supported will make it much harder for any supporter to control things after your gone. They will only fear your power while you are alive if your power depends on your own strength. So I suspect a true leader needs a mixture of the two. Personal power to get the position and hold it at first, and the support of the people to keep the position and deter those who would risk the wrath of the people by killing you.
Does such a person exist? I suspect not, although I do sincerely believe one can be made…