16 April 2015

Class Struggle in Westeros

“Wildlings of the north unite!  You have nothing to lose but your cumbersome furs!”

Okay, here is another short post with a slight political philosophy flavour.  Fans of the Game of Thrones television series (and/or novels) may enjoy reading: “Can Marxist Theory Predict the End of Game of Thrones?”  (Don’t worry, gentle readers, you don’t need to be a Marxist [I’m not] to enjoy it.)

This part struck me as especially quote-worthy: 
Westeros needs capitalists – such as those who frown puritanically at us from Dutch portraits in the 17th century. And they should, as in the Dutch Republic and the English civil war, launch a revolution.
But that can’t happen in the secondary world of fantasy fiction…
There is a reason so much fantasy fiction adopts the conceit of a feudalism that is always in crisis but never overthrown. It forms the ideal landscape in which to dramatise the secret desires of people who live under modern capitalism.
‘Secret desires’ indeed!  (Am I wrong for wishing that I could be Jaqen H'ghar more than any other character in the series?  Ah well, "valar morghulis"…)


  1. doesn't westeros have the iron bank... essentially the dutch bankers?

    1. Good point!
      But overall, there are no bourgeoisie straining against the fetters of the feudal system. (The Iron Bank seems insulated from surrounding political struggles within its 'free city' of Bravos.) And so no prospect of an English Civil War and a fundamental reconfiguration of power relations.


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I'm a Canadian political philosopher who lives primarily in Toronto but teaches in Milwaukee (sometimes in person, sometimes online).