Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Unfit Proxies"

This poem is from the October 20, 2015 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from siliconshaman and ng_moonmoth.  It also fills the "swimming" square in my 5-20-15 card for the Wellness Toolbox Bingo fest, and the "autumn" square in my 10-1-15 card for the Halloween / Samhain Bingo fest.  This poem belongs to The Ocracies series.

This microfunded poem is being posted one verse at a time, as donations come in to cover them.  The rate is $.50/line, so $5 will reveal 10 new lines, and so forth. There is a permanent donation button on my profile page, or you can contact me for other arrangements. You can also ask me about the number of lines per verse, if you want to fund a certain number of verses.
So far sponsors include: ng_moonmoth

88 lines, Buy It Now = $44
Amount donated = $24
Verses posted = 13 of 22

Amount remaining to fund fully = $20
Amount needed to fund next verse = $2
Amount needed to fund the verse after that = $3

Unfit Proxies

People had tried all manner
of governments, and most of those
pleased most of their citizens
most of the time.

However, there were always
some people who found themselves
displeased by any kind of government.

These were not, it must be said,
composed wholly of scoundrels,
although certainly there were some
scoundrels among them.

There were also scholars and
philosophers and other intellectuals
capable of articulating precisely what
it was that they found so deficient
in the sundry forms of government.

It was the proxies.

Everyone had essentially
chosen variations on the same theme.

They all picked something which
they believed would correlate strongly
with the qualities of good leadership,
and used that to select their leaders.

In Aurea it was wealth, for surely the rich
had both ambition and economic skills;
in Pelip it was the horses, for they needed
food, shelter, and care just as people did;
in Bree it was marriage, because anyone in
a relationship must know negotiation;
in Ledes it was the army, the source
of organization and protection.

This worked most of the time,
but when it failed -- and fail it did --
then it failed spectacularly.

There were good opportunities
overlooked and bad ones left
to play out far beyond reason.

Then there were the arguments
over who ought to decide the proxies
and how they were to be measured.

There were the inevitable embarrassments
when people discovered the dubious joys
of teaching to the test instead of actually
learning the skills of good government.

One autumn as the rains rolled in,
a number of disaffected citizens began
drifting out of their various homelands.

They walked through scattered storms
and mud puddles and rustling leaves.
They went swimming in the rivers
and the cooling waves of the sea
to relax after their travels.

For a time, some of them found
refuge in the Minarchy of Faroh,
which had reduced its government
to little more than an army and
a crew for maintaining the roads,
but that just didn't go far enough.

So the wanderers started exploring
the islands off the coast of Faroh and
Ledes, some just big enough for
one person to have a house and
a garden, and others with room for
a small settlement of like-minded folk.

The Free Islands of Lisande emerged
as each took up its own flavor of anarchy,
from the philosophical anarchism of Kell
to the ecological anarchism of Verdain.

Then, as fall turned toward winter, someone
slipped a line into the list of proposals
for the island of Injeepa: Laws = Ø

This was accepted with great enthusiasm,
and before long, the scoundrels had
sorted themselves onto Injeepa and
quit pestering everyone else who
wanted just a little more order.

The people of the Free Islands
enjoyed the liberty of selecting
whatever leaders they wished --
or none at all -- according to
their own judgment.

They had enough space that
nobody felt too crowded, and
company could be had with just
a short swim or a longer sail.

It was not paradise,
but on a clear morning
you could see it from there.

* * *


Anarchy is not a single type of government (or lack thereof) but rather a cluster of related ones.  It is not necessarily chaos either.

A lawless place is a common trope.  Among my favorite iterations is "There shall be no laws on New Hong Kong."  This is not quite the same, being fantasy rather than science fiction, but does belong to the same trope.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing

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