Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Little Prince and a lot of megalomania


One of the persons encountered by Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s peripatetic Little Prince is the King of a tiny asteroid.  The King teaches Little Prince that “Accepted authority rests first on reason.  If you ordered your people to go and throw themselves into the sea, they would rise up in revolution.”  The King claims that he has the right to require obedience because his orders are reasonable.

 
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From whom will the King demand obedience, however?  Little Prince had noticed that the only inhabitant of the asteroid was the King.  He asks the King, “Over what do you rule?”

  “Over everything,” the King answers promptly and makes a majestic gesture which sweeps everything including the stars and the planets.

  “And the stars obey you?”  Little Prince is dismayed.

  “Certainly they do,” tells the King.  “They do instantly and I do not permit insubordination.”

  Little Prince makes a request.  He being very fond of sunsets would like to see one now.  Can the King order the sun to set since everything obeys him?

  “You shall have your sunset,” says the King.  But Little Prince should wait until conditions are favourable for sunset.  The King explains that authority does not mean making irrational and unnatural demands.  Authority is a harmonious relationship between the ruler and the subject.

  A good ruler should never demand from his subjects anything that would grate against the nature of the latter.  Let the subjects live in their natural freedom as long as one man’s freedom does not meddle with another’s.  Respect everyone’s freedom.  Good authority does not curtail individual freedom.  Nothing need be imposed.  Not gods.  Not morality.  Nothing.

  But that is the ideal situation.  The fact is that there is no ideal situation.  Even the Kings has human limitations or imperfections.  He likes to feel his power by having someone to order about.  Hence he tries to make Little Prince his minister. When the latter is not interested in the position, the King offers other options.  Little Prince could be a Judge.  There is a rat somewhere on the asteroid and Little Prince could exercise his power by condemning the rat to death and then forgive the rat so that Little Prince can again exercise his power and condemn it to death.  Little Prince cannot condemn anybody to death, however. 

  The King turns out to be a megalomaniac.  Like all those who love power.  Bored of the megalomania, Little Prince takes leave of him.  “I make you my ambassador,” says the King imperiously as Little Prince leaves.  The King feels he is exercising his authority by making Little Prince his ambassador.  It makes no difference to Little Prince since he is leaving the kingdom for good.

  The ideal authority is one which exercises its megalomania without hurting the subjects in any way.  But the subjects have to be as innocent as Little Prince.  And that’s impossible.  I’m amused to think: is the quest of certain people to establish their God’s kingdom on the earth – call it Caliphate or whatever – any more possible than making everyone a Little Prince?


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20 comments:

  1. If the collective power survives against the rationality of the likes of little prince, I guess caliphate would seem to be a possiblity

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    1. Will it be? I doubt. Human beings are such creatures that they will never be happy even in heaven. They will start creating problems there simply because somebody wants to be the boss.

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  2. Ain't this a tendency of human beings, ever since realising their freedom, to incessantly pursue someone to worship. Someone to become a boss. Someone to be a supreme leader. And hence I prefer Ararchism in its truest spirit. It challanges the false rationality.

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    1. Anarchism is again an idealistic solution, especially"in its truest spirit."

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    2. And these very words make me feel like a believer. A cliched irony.

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  3. I remember reading this story long back...
    The prince landed on a desert & then he happened to meet a fox & all..
    Can't remember the whole story, but I really liked it at that time!

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    1. It's a classic. The whole book is available now for free download.

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  4. A question - What makes you say that the Little Prince is innocent? He questions, and then when he is not satisfied, he leaves....He doesn't, based on your post, agree to being 'ruled', thus rendering authority powerless. The present scenario has youngsters being led literally to their deaths.

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    1. LP's innocence is not clear from this post, Sunaina. But it's clear in the book. Innocence is not without curiosity. Innocence is the inner quality which prevents you from letting evil enter you. LP has that quality. Quite different from the present generation.

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  5. Such a classic. It's been too many years since I've read it. Beware of those who love power. In a way, it's sobering to think that it's most of us. Alana ramblinwitham.blogspot.com

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    1. Yes, most of us are likely to relish power if it is given to us.

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  6. Power makes a man blind. Then what about power with money. No way that he will care for others. Under caliphate movement there are billions of rupees turning in and out of them. After establishing caliphate in earth they surely will expand it to other planets. That's the nature of human kind.The unlimited wants will create all such social issues. Therefore it is important to control ones wishes.

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    1. Don't worry. The Caliphate is a mere dream. Internal strife will destroy the dream.

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    2. All that we can do is not to lose the hope. It is sure that a dragger is hanging upon their head. As the soon it falls people in those countries can have a peaceful life up to some extent

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  7. Tomichan, I see your relentless pursuit to save our civilization from Godmen's great godly deeds and I wholeheartedly support it.Wholeheartedly. A meaningful post.

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    1. I am a victim of one Goodman's greed for land. I know a few scores of people who were victimized by the same fraudulent godman who is one of the richest of the kind. Endless greed. Tremendous fraud. Yet he gathers followers in millions. This makes me write...

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  8. Liked reading the tale and your surmise!

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