Manifesting Daenerys’ Destiny
In HBO’s Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 1, Daenerys Targaryen finally made it back to Westeros! Whether she can conquer it, remains to be seen. Returning to Westeros, it seems, is part of her destiny. Who has the right to rule the land? Daenerys? Jon Snow – the King in the North? Cersei Lannister?
In earlier seasons, we saw how Daenerys struggled with an internal battle between being a good ruler and carrying out her intention to win back the kingdom. The kingdom seems to have won out. While this is good for the drama, it will be interesting to see whether it is good for her people.
What do we make of it?
British political philosopher Michael Oakeshott described two different types of political associations: “enterprise associations” and “civil associations”. Enterprise associations are built on a “politics of faith” and seek to exercise governmental power to achieve some end. Civil Associations are built on a “politics of skepticism” and view the role of government as to prevent bad things from happening, rather than enabling “ambiguously good events.”
Certell’s Common Sense Economics for Life explores one aspect of this problem when trying to define the different functions of government.
From Part III – Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity.
Gwartney et. al., talk about the protective versus the productive functions of government.
In the course package, they illustrate the question with a clip from Stossel in the Classroom – “Is Government too Big?”
In HBO’s Game of Thrones, we see examples of both enterprise and civil associations. Daenerys’ army, trying to carry out her destiny to rule Westeros, is an enterprise association. The Nights Watch and the Free Folk (Wildlings) are better seen as examples of civil associations.
Americans have often struggled to decide whether the country should be an enterprise or a civil association.
Jonathan Winthrop’s “City upon a Hill” sermon is an early example of Americans defining themselves as having a destiny. In the 19th Century, the very idea became capitalized as the country’s “Manifest Destiny” to expand across North America. The successful expansion across the continent, the linking of the two coasts with the railroad, and other events of the late 19th and early 20th century emboldened this idea.
The ceremonial driving of the golden spike – Promontory Summit, Utah, May 10, 1869. Photo by Andrew Russell, 1869.
Can you name this movie’s famous end credit scene?
Today, however, America’s proper destiny is disputed. For some, it is to be “Great.” For others, to be “just”. For still others, America should continue to embody an ideal of a “land of endless opportunities” – opportunities to be who one wants to be, without having to join some big project of either the left or the right. Instead, they want government to protect them and leave them alone to live their lives in peace. For those with such a view, American needs to be a civil association.
Certell’s Common Sense Government curriculum explores these issues.
Here is Revolutionary Sam Adams explaining why the United States needed independence in a clip from the History Channel:
- In the Declaration of Independence, we are told of our unalienable rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. If you were one of the Dothraki, following Daenerys across the sea, how would you interpret this?
- What do you think is America’s Destiny? – To fulfill some collective purpose (such as to be a city on a hill)? Or to provide a space for people to live free and pursue their individual ideas of happiness? What difference would it make in our expectations of government?
- If we can’t agree on a destiny, how should we protect the rights of those with different ideas of what that destiny is? Should the majority rule? Or should minority rights be protected? And who should pay for the costs associated with the “enterprise association” policies and projects? Everyone? Or only those who support them?