Tuesday, February 19, 2008

the Weber Politics of Dune

Going through this piece from the lens of Dune, several things caught my eye. Firstly, Weber defines a state as having a monopoly over all legitimate violence, but where does that leave the Freeman, for they do have the power in the dessert throughout the history. Between the Leto Atreides' plan to use the freeman's power and the Harkonnens and smugglers acknowledgment that they have little place in the dessert and all but acknowledge the legitimate right of the Freeman to the dessert. The entire Duniverse is a very tight balance with tightly controlled violence. Although, what everyone must realize is that it is the Guild that has a true monopoly over the means of violence as well, as there was no point in having troops an armaments if there is no way to get them to the offending planet.

Secondly, on Webber's point that politics is best run by those who devote there lives to it, and everyone else is just to disinterested, Dune represents a perfect model. Having gone back to the feudal system he speaks to, the Duniverse is run completely by those whose economic wellbeing is set so they have complete time for political maneuverings. I would even place a majority of the Bene Gessirit and the Guild as an institution in this category as they would attempt to subtly alter the politics. The people and most plants seem to be relatively indifferent to politics as it seems their specific duke or leading House was subject to change without too much a notice. But this supposedly should not interest them for they were still under the Emperor. The Freemen seem to be the exception to this rule of common apoliticalness. Within their own governing structure, there are leaders, but they are placed there due to their own skill and through the respect of their people, meaning that the people are actually paying attention to and involved in the political process.

1 comment:

Chris said...

To the first paragraph: By Weber's time, I think he saw what he thought to be a near-perfection of the monopoly of legitimate force concept. Going back into the Middle Ages, which is essentially what Dune does, would bring the system into a rougher form.

If we are to take Arrakis as in a balance, we must go back to Weber's other main point of the section, one that seems obvious to us. No matter how a government gets its force or what shape the government takes, it is essentially the will of the people that maintains it. The illusion of rule of law creates actual rule of law. In this case, the Fremen are acknowledged to have the rule of law in the desert; that's their desert power. It just happens that two governments are coexisting on Arrakis.

It is always a danger in sci-fi to analogize certain parts of political theory into a work. Though it is very useful in many situations, it must be thought through carefully so as not to make false connections. In this case, as in many others, the perfection of some sort of technology separates most people from the quotidian work of doing the things that actually make a government function.

Whoops... I had the rest of that though, but I've got to run.