Saturday, April 26, 2014

Post-Modernism vs. Realism . . . in the Game of Thrones

Well, maybe it is a bit unfair to use this.  After all, the Game of Thrones represents a world that is so Realist that it's almost a parody . . . a harsh and unforgiving environment where every moment could be your last and where, as one character declares, "you either win or you die." There are lots of dialogues and declarations that would warm a Realist's heart, many (as the one above) by the Queen of the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms Cersei Lannister, a woman whose only redeeming qualities -- according to one of her brothers -- is her love of her children and her cheekbones.  But I was particularly struck by another dialogue she features in because it so neatly captures at least one Realist response to post-modernist/post-structuralist argument about the relationship between power and knowledge.  A more sophisticated response would go back to E.H. Carr and other Realists who understood the material bases of knowledge-creation.  But I'll leave that for another post.

2 comments:

  1. Where she says, "Power is Power" and the way she argued was brilliant. In later episodes, they have shown how they are writing history of great kings and other members of the Lannister family to prove that, "Power is knowledge". If you have power, you can create knowledge accordingly.
    But in the same world, the way Daenerys Targaryen has adopted to create a powerful army by addressing the sentiments of the slaves, making them free to choose if they want to follow her or not, and calling herself "mother" is equally interesting. How does Realism explains to that?

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    1. These are mobilization tactics, which all leaders use. Realism has little to say about what specific tactics to use to mobilize power -- which will depend on a variety of domestic factors -- but only assert that those who fail to mobilize sufficiently could face negative consequences from others who are more successful in such mobilization. Clearly Danny Targaryen is attempting to generate power for her own cause; whether she would have been better served by slave soldiers or free ones remains to be seen.

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