With various elections going on, I can’t help but think of the Optimates and the Populares.
Here’s a piece about them:
“The Optimates were the dominant group in the Senate. They blocked the wishes of the others, who were thus forced to seek tribunician support for their measures in the tribal assembly and hence were labeled Populares, “demagogues,” by their opponents. The two groups differed, therefore, chiefly in their methods: the Optimates tried to uphold the oligarchy; the Populares sought popular support against the dominant oligarchy, either in the interests of the people themselves or in furtherance of their own personal ambitions. Finally, it is well to remember that the Senate’s authority was based on custom and consent rather than upon law. It had no legal control over the people or magistrates: it gave, but could not enforce, advice. Until 133 bc any challenge to its authority was little more than a pinprick, but thereafter more deadly blows were struck, first by such Populares as Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus, then by Gaius Marius, and finally by the army commanders from the provinces.”
Here’s the link to where I swiped this from:
Basically there are those who support the status quo and those who seek change, and when that change isn’t on the cards, things happen. People look to populist leaders to bulldoze their will into becoming reality, whereas others seek to prevent them by gatekeeping and narrative controlling. We see this happening now. It happened back then, in the Roman Republic, and many times since.
I find all this fascinating from a current perspective as well as my love of history. But it has been enlightening for me as a writer too. I have been planning and working on a blog post to explain how things went in my world of Sojourners in Shadow, talking through the social and political reactions to the Shadow World’s arrival. Reactions that moulded the way events played out and how things resulted in the present setup I am writing stories in. I’ve often seen it as people movements vs government control, but now I have a deeper meaning to bring in, as well a witnessing real things happening to learn from.
In times of change, stress, turmoil and fear, people look to leaders who will do more than represent them. They want leaders, speakers, guardians, champions. Whether it be Trump, Le Pen, Saunders or Corbyn, I see people flock to those they feel represent them, when the system doesn’t seem to anymore. For me, in my writing, the arrival of the Shadow World and the appearance of monsters and magic means systems, traditions and institutions fall by the wayside. That leads to tremendous change. It also leads to harsh conflict. Right now, in the real world, we see conflict of words and ideas. I need to play that out much further.