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Eight Years of Mighty Right
A Letter from an Extraterrestrial Anthropologist
© 2012 James LaFond
Planet Earth
The Experimental American Primate Habitat
Collection Point: Baltimore, Maryland
A Note to the 127 Sentient Inhabitants
Last week I became a ‘facebooker’. This resulted in two realizations on my part. First, I was required to name my hometown. Although my actual community of origin cannot be pronounced in any of your simian languages I did decide to be as truthful as I could. I listed my point of entry into your world, Machu Picchu. So the truth is out, and you ancient astronaut theorists may feel better about yourselves. I am an ancient alien; not an invader though, merely a researcher working off a grant on extinction events…
These past two weeks on facebook I have noticed much concern about the reaffirmation of your leader. There was a big fuss about his ritualized reselection. Politicians bore me, so I cannot say I remember their names. I am something of a religious buff however. I do believe one was a prominent member of a mystical Christian cult, the descendent of a very lucky prophet—archaeologically speaking that is. Your ruler’s faith was also a subject of debate, and I believe You People are still in disagreement about his metaphysical loyalties.
To the extent that I ‘followed’ this simian chest-thumping ritual—really humans, you are no longer dwelling in the rainforest and do have interstellar aspirations. Perhaps some form of testing is in order—I noted with some dismay that the issue was not thought to have been predetermined. Your best political analysts were calling it a ‘close race’ up until the end. I did not even bother following the race after Sunday, knowing that You People get pretty irrational for the last two days running up to the affirmation of your autocrat.
On the night preceding your penultimate dominance ritual—I like you prizefights much more by-the-way—an Earthling friend of mine [everyone should have an Earthling friend!] warned me to stay off the street in case the ruler was not reaffirmed, as I reside among various primitives to whom he is patron. Predictably, the only thing that transpired was an orderly affirmation. I was thus spared having to chronicle the demise of this host. This is certainly not the best biomechanical observation platform I have transmigrated into. It his home though, and I have 17 more terrestrial years on my warrantee…
Since You People favor rulers who espouse contradictory ideals there never seems to be a clear majority happy with the ending. This too has its purpose. Ritual affirmation contests [elections for you ground-dwelling primates] are essentially elaborate magic tricks executed on a vast sociological scale. Unfortunately, an actual explanation of the process would violate my directive—I am slaving away beneath the weighty stipulations of a galactic grant you know—on non interference.
Let me just hit you with some raw data.
Your rulers, and institutions of rule, are the lineal descendents of patriarchal nomad horseman. Before these nomad horsemen descended from the steppes and crushed and subjected the matriarchal farming societies of the river valleys and began the primate experiment with ‘civilization’ there had been kings. Although your despised females actually held social power in their delicate hands they had noted the need to have a male leader; a visible pincushion for those unwashed horse-archers. Smart girls I’d say.
As, one-by-one, the female power-bases that underscored early farming societies were buried under the new male-dominated political strata, compromises were made. Female primates are cunning after all, and their conquerors were sleeping with them. Pre-conquest ritual kingships were generally terminated with the death of the king every eight years. This was retained as the Olympic cycle, which honored the king of the gods, Zeus. Eventually the cycle was halved; the occasion being so lucrative for the priesthood as to result in their doubling of production to meet demand.
This four-year cycle remains the sacral period recognized worldwide by your primate athletes—and the makers of this tasty cereal I am munching on—and by the people of your most powerful nation. Furthermore, You People have unwittingly returned to the eight-year cycle adhered to by the ancient sacral kings, by limiting the enthronement of your own king to ‘two terms.’
Just as the ancient Cretans certainly cheered for their waning king as he strapped on his armored gauntlets to fight his challenger—8 years his junior, and not dissipated by as many years of limitless opium-laced wine and women—you, the descendents of their conquerors, cheer as well; but at the halfway point of his reign. In this way you may enjoy the thrill of seeing your leader struggle and not have to endure the trauma of seeing him fall. The only time a Reigning American King will be permitted to fall is when he has declined to continue as the symbolic object of your consent, or when he has disobeyed his handlers.
In the 1960s and 70s your kings all failed their handlers in one way or the other, and paid their various prices, including the most ancient one. They are thankfully now better trained*, and I believe you may enjoy many an uninterrupted eight-year reign. Do not fret; an orderly succession of kings is the hallmark of a stable matriarchal primate society. After six thousand odd years of studying you folks I’m glad to see the old girls finally make a comeback…
*On a personal note, I must confess to a nostalgic sense of loss when I observe such thoroughly domesticated figureheads, having dined with Vlad Tepes and picnicked with Pizarro…
Dictatress of the World
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