We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Socio-Political Criticism of Magic: The Gathering

Click here to access article by Neale Talbot from Gathering Magic
It has long been recognized that Western fantasy has deep roots in Anglo-Saxon cultural tradition within the historical context of political absolutism and class stratification. The medievalist overtones of in-period literature such as the Epic of Gilgamesh and Beowulf have persevered through time to the modern imaginary worlds of Tolkien and George R.R. Martin. These works have [informed and formed] the basis of class, hierarchy, and political authority within the codified structures of fantasy-genre-driven games.
One such game is Magic: The Gathering (“Magic”). [my link]
Talbot has much fun with this trading card game by explaining how it illustrates many fundamental concepts derived from Western feudalism that have shaped today's ruling class governance.
The aim of this essay is to demonstrate how Magic: The Gathering has codified and exemplified the historical classist hierarchical philosophy of Western society, from feudal manorialism through to colonialism, underpinned by a core belief in divine political legitimacy.