Why Couldn’t Daenerys “Break the Wheel”?


since I started this series we’ve talked about the corrupting nature of power the importance of due process and rule of law the limits of central planning the dangers of economic and social isolation the value of free speech the nature of authoritarian ideology in short we’ve already talked about everything anyone would ever need to know in order to understand the horrifying the brutal world of Game of Thrones that’s probably good because there’s no limit to the sheer number of videos you can find on the internet right now that outline real-world parallels for all the terrible things people do to each other on that show and there’s clearly no level of moral depravity beneath most of the people battling to acquire and retain political power in Westeros then Robb Stark’s head I’m going to serve it to Sansa at my wedding feast so instead of rehashing all that stuff again let’s answer a different question what ideas institutions and rules are necessary to escape the world of Game of Thrones stick around hit that subscribe button ring that notification bell and welcome to out of frame before we really get started a couple disclaimers first there will be some spoilers for seasons one through seven of Game of Thrones but nothing from the final season so don’t worry about that second I have not read the books but there are more than enough examples of terrible governments just in the TV series so don’t add me with that out of the way let’s start by defining what a really good society looks like because it’s pretty much the polar opposite of what the average person in Westeros experiences for me and I hope most people a healthy society is one where the vast majority of people have homes clothes and food to eat it’s one where most people don’t have to worry about physical danger one where thefts assaults rapes murders and war are rare it’s one where religious extremists don’t have the power to imprison or pon people for violating their preferred doctrine where people aren’t conscripted into armies and forced to fight for rulers they’ve never met or for causes they don’t care about and where the stuff they create isn’t stolen to pay for lavish castles and royal birthday parties it’s one where people are mostly free to think and say what they want and to choose the kinds of lives they want to live without getting permission from anybody the question is how do we get there political philosophers have been debating this question for centuries for example the 17th century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes said that during the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe they are in that condition called war and such a war as if of every man against every man furthermore Hobbes argued that where there is no common power there is no law where no law no injustice force and fraud are in war the cardinal virtues meaning if there’s no government to enforce standards of law violence and theft would be everywhere he went on to say that without the state there would be no arts no letters no society and which is worst of all continual fear and danger of violent death and the life of man solitary poor nasty brutish and short but having a common power can be pretty disastrous as well clearly if you’ve got someone like Cersei Lannister as your queen you’re going to have a bad time but would you have a better time under Robert Baratheon Rhaegar Targaryen you’re on Greyjoy Joffre unlikely and even as a lot of fans are rooting for characters like Jon Snow or Daenerys Targaryen to sit on the Iron Throne it’s not clear that things would be a whole lot better for the average person if they did and repay the slavers with what kindness a fine a stern warning tempting to see your enemies as evil all of them but there’s good and evil on both sides in every war ever let the priests argue of a good and evil as the 18th century French judge and political philosopher Charles Louie the second dot also known as Montesquieu wrote when the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person or in the same body of magistrates there can be no Liberty it doesn’t really matter who the person is the bad incentives created by concentrated power don’t just affect the worst most ambitious people they affect everybody that’s not to say Jon Snow and Daenerys are different in some important respects both characters at least seem to have horse slavery and care about the welfare of their people that’s good but Daenerys is obviously not above using violence and fear to command obedience Shekhar’s she often seems to enjoy brutality in a way that is nothing short of Machiavellian no really in his early 16th century treatise the prince Nicolo Machiavelli wrote that men ought to be indulged or utterly destroyed and that a new ruler must determine all the injuries he will need to inflict and inflict them once and for all this means crushing your enemies with overwhelming force so that others will fear challenging you in the future he also said that whoever conquers a free town and does not demolish you commits a great error and may expect to be ruined himself that’s all pretty much Danny’s playbook meanwhile John’s best quality is that he doesn’t actually seem to be that interested in ruling but he’s also driven by a code of honor nobody else in Westeros seems to share unfortunately it’s largely the same code of honor that caught Ned Stark he’ll come to think of it Machiavelli had something to say about that too the fact is that a man who wants to act virtuously in every way necessarily comes to grief among so many who are not virtue yes that guy might have been onto something but the question remains how do we escape this cycle Daenerys says she wants to break the crushing wheel of power grinding common people into miserable poverty Lannister Targaryen Baratheon stark Tyrell they’re all just spokes on a wheel it’s ones on tops and that one’s on top and on and on it spins crushing those on the ground it’s a beautiful dream stopping the wheel you’re not the first person who’s ever gendered I’m not going to stop the wheel I’m going to break the wheel but in order to do that you can’t just take control of the wheel in this case that means ditching the idea that anyone should have the kind of power everyone in Game of Thrones is chasing to begin with what the people of Westeros need is not another ruler what they need is a free society fortunately thanks to the ideas of classical liberalism and the Enlightenment we have a model for what that looks like one good place to start is with John Locke who in his Second Treatise of government famously wrote being all equal and independent no one ought to harm another in his life health liberty or possessions this is a powerfully simple concept it means that we shouldn’t rob assault enslave or murder other people the catch is that we also includes government that’s it now I say that this is powerfully simple because these ideas seem super obvious to most people who live in parts of the world where they’re already in place but for the vast majority of human history and even to this day in a lot of countries most people have never lived under conditions where any of these rules were the or at least not the average person one of the first major legal advancements for individual rights in the Western world was the Magna Carta in 1215 ad it enhanced the protection of property rights and improved freedom of speech and religion it introduced better standards of justice and restricted the Kings powers of Taxation but the Magna Carta really only applied to lords it took another 474 years before the next major advancement for individual rights in Europe with the English Declaration of Rights in 1689 then it would be a hundred more years before the United States Bill of Rights expanded and extended those ideas again and still a hundred and fifty years after that before the legal protection of those rights would start to apply to everyone regardless of race or gender point is the idea that government power should be restricted at all is pretty new in the scale of human history and the notion that a government’s only legitimate purpose is to protect individual rights remains a rarity around the world but as Frederic Bastiat wrote in his 1850 book the law life liberty and property do not exist because men have made laws on the contrary it was the fact that life liberty and property existed before hand that caused men to make laws in the first place I believe that this is one of the most important ideas we’ve ever had as a species and to the extent that these values have been adopted they’ve led to incredible revolutions in science which requires open inquiry and freedom of speech and in industry which can’t grow or develop without robust property rights low barriers to entry and a high degree of freedom for able to trade and engage in entrepreneurship this unprecedented shift in thinking created an explosion of wealth and prosperity that continues to improve people’s lives as these ideas spread to other parts of the world these are the ideas that broke the wheel in our world but they’re also the very things that Westeros has never had perhaps apart from Varys the rulers and thinkers of Westeros don’t seem to recognize either the inherent danger of concentrated power or the value of individual rights you wish to know what my true loyalties lie now with any king or queen but with the people the people who suffer on the despots and prosper under just rule the people whose hearts you aim to win instead their only interest is political domination but in the end the way to help people escape the poverty and misery that we see in every episode of Game of Thrones is pretty simple start playing a different game hey everybody thanks for watching this episode of out of frame if you’re interested in learning more about fees perspective on maintaining the legal and ethical principles of a free society we have a ton of articles and ebooks on the subject plus we host seminars and events throughout the year including our flagship conference fee con fee con is an awesome three-day experience featuring inspiring speakers on topics like the one we’ve talked about today you can learn more about the conference and register to attend at fee con org hope to see you there and please don’t forget to check out feed org slash shows for all the other content we’re producing each week and go ahead and like and subscribe to at fee online on YouTube Facebook Twitter and Instagram see you next time

82 thoughts on “Why Couldn’t Daenerys “Break the Wheel”?”

  1. I tend to disagree. Game of Thrones as a TV show is thoroughly statist. "Set aside petty differences, unite behind a benevolent dictator against the common enemy." (Climate change, Soviets, Nazi) Human lives are means to statist ends. Mix in some Progressive causes, feminism and such – the pop TV show. As far as there is a political message, it is a statist one.

  2. Everyone loves to quote "The Prince". No one even reads "The Discourses". I'd say the latter is more indicative of Machiavelli's theory.

  3. property tax… not a fan…. being forced to purchase insurances….not a fan…..we are tax slaves….in a supposed free country….

  4. A tyrannical monarchy is better than no government at all for most people, espcially those who can’t defend themselves. Most people, especially the weak, are beneath the notice of a monarch, and can shelter from the most devastating of tragedies in the shadow of even the most self-serving power.

  5. I really, really wish that Game of Thrones was headed in that direction. But at this point even if they did, it's too late. Without setup it would just feel too random, un-forshadowed, and not true to the personalities of the characters. There are a few fantasy series that have done a nice job of moving away from monarchies, but I'm afraid the trope of replacing the evil all-powerful monarch with the good all-powerful monarch is how Game of Thrones will end, and if it's subverted it will be because the monarch at the end isn't so good, not because there is no monarch at the end.

  6. In a monarchy, a king will make himself to be a god.
    In a democracy, 2 wolves and a lamb vote on lunch.
    If you concentrate power too much, you get a few controlling the many.
    If you concentrate power too little, you get a few controlling the many, in manipulation.

  7. Magna carta, English bill of rights, American bill of rights… That's pretty much only the descendants of Britain. Anyone in the comments able to give similar advances from other cultures?

  8. The idea that you shouldn’t harm people is the same kind of honor that got Ned Stark killed. Some times you have to hurt people, to protect those you’re responsible for.

    Machiavelli was a patriot. He wanted to keep his people safe, and that was worth hurting outsiders. Varys is the same.

  9. Democracy is not the answer, monarchies are good but the show only provides absurd caricatures of monarchies.

    Democracy leads to politicians pandering to the lowest people and promising more endowments for political power.

  10. Imagine the Iron Throne being melted down into smaller sword reliefs on the chairs, or tables, or just a relief decorating the hall of an Iron Council as they adopt a Constitutional Republic.

  11. In 8:24 – "people who live in parts of the world where they're already in place" ( they being: Life, Liberty and Property). unfortunately there's no such place my friend.
    Some places came closer but none has ever achieved that.

  12. The first thirty seconds are a blast: literally. They summarize what we should have in mind on a daily basis as individuals, group, or society at large <3 🙂 <3

  13. Lol, The Government that the founders put in place to be that of a Libertarian Government doesn't seem to have worked so well. Tons of bureaucracies which were allowed by the constitution, restrictions on the economy, restrictions on the individual in what they do socially and fiscally and it has claimed the monopoly on the creation of things that we the people could make without them. The Government (however little) is the mob trying to tear our species down. "When there's freedom there's law" ought to be the dumbest thing I have ever heard because this is what it's really like, "When there's freedom, a few clowns claim the monopoly on power over the people (force theory) and say that we have to abide by their rules, taxes and "protection" no matter what or we get jailed or something else stupid.

  14. Yeah, good job ignoring Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and it's constitutions guaranting equality and freedoms of all citizens… (15% maybe not much, but still better than anyone until USA)

  15. Rhaegar Targaryen was said in the show and books to have been a kind man who hated war. He loved singing and helping people. So he would of been a great person to rule.

  16. how can a government powerful enough to protect individual rights be at all trusted not to take them away?

  17. I agree that the game of thrones world needs indeed more freedom but the great philosophical question is how free can a society be given what it has. Could you really have a large-scale democracy in a medieval society? I believe the answer is no because the technology, education, transportation, and communication just not exist yet for a large-scale democracy to develop that's the reason why they're such a modern invention is because for thousands of years the simple ability to build them did not exist that's why they only existed on small local levels. What really led to democratic societies appearing in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries was the advances in technology this led to the creation of more and more wealth that was distributed among the larger and larger class of people these larger class of people now had material possessions that they did not want to lose so they began to demand more and more rights to keep what they had to the point that the numbers of them became so big that the oligarchs and dictators on top could no longer keep them down and had to give in to what they demanded or they got overthrown and the people got what they wanted anyway. this happened England in the 1600s and in the 1200 and America in the 1700 it wasn't the peasants and the dirt poor people that started the revolutions and where the rebels it was the upper class people that started those revolutions during the American revolution the lower class people the simple farmers and stuff actually stayed loyal to a higher degree to the crown more than the upper class people did because the lower class Farmers they had so little but they were afraid that they would lose what little they had so they went with what they knew which was sticking loyal to the king which is basically what you get in a medieval society when a person doesn't have anything to lose but his life he's going to do what keeps his life which is support the oligarchs but if he has much to lose something he's worth risking his life to lose then he will be willing to throw his banner in with the rebels to help to keep what he has and perhaps gain more. truthfully the best of westeros can hope for is really a large oligarchy with multiple parties it would have to compete for the population support which could help secure more rights because that's basically what happened in England. Because in westeros the transportation, education, communication, and the wealth just just not exist to the point that a democracy could be established as well as the regionalism that it has grown between the animosity of the seven kingdoms over the centuries there is no national identity really yet in westeros people just identify with whatever family they're sworn to or whatever one of the seven kingdoms there from so that means that there's never going to be a democracy in westeros just hopefully a more fair society with better rulers. This is why I vote for Jon Snow 😂

  18. The wheel will not be broken for us until all government ceases to exist and all secret societies are eradicated. The wheel didn't break. On the contrary, it was reinforced and got a new coat of paint… Being trapped in a web of lies and false paradigms while being given the semblance of liberty is better than despotic feudalism. No doubt. But I don't want liberty and lies. I want freedom and truth. You can't have that while government exists or a single occultist elite breathes. Break the wheel, sever the puppet strings, mass awakening… whatever colorful metaphor it's given, it has not come to pass. I highly doubt the wheel will ever be broken. Then again, there's Revelations…

  19. Except Varys? Have to disagree about him believing in individual rights. I think he'd be all in for wealth redistribution and taxing the rich. Seems like a commie to me.

  20. No mention of the development & philosophy of anarchism; the ideas of William Godwin, of Proudhon, of Bakunin, Rudolf Rocker, Emma Goldman, Elisee Reclus, or Pyotr Kropotkin. Of Howard Zinn and David Graeber, of Colin Ward and Joseph de Jacques. Of Revolutionary Catalonia in 1936, of the protests in 1968, of the revolutions in 2011, and the free democratic projects of West Kurdistan and the Zapatista community in the Chiapas. Of Shay's Rebellion that came after the not-very-revolutionary American Revolution, the horrors of modern industrial capitalism and the legacies of imperialism/colonialism tied to it.
    Just waxing on about how supposedly free and just our not-very-free Western societies are

  21. Libertarianism: the only legitimate function of the government is to protect the liberty of the individual.

  22. The only way world has changed is that the monarchs do not rule as they used to.

    Nowadays the people with the ability to move money (investors) hold the power. They don't want to keep people poor, becouse a poor consumer wont consume. But that is all in the expense of the planet.

  23. I appreciate you looking at the bigger picture, I think the shows had lost sight of these themes but they are really what it’s all about the affairs and battles are macguffins.

  24. In the books, there’s kind of a subplot were monetary revolution is spread across the known-world, were the gold is slowly being replaced by checks and papers, also, the closest place to a free society in the ASOIAF series is Bravos, were slavery is banished and their economy is the closest to a capitalist system.

  25. Summary: How to break the wheel? Install my ideology in society that everything will be perfect.

    That's disgusting!

  26. There's no wheel to break in Westeros. It's working the way the Targaryens have set it up. Dany has come to perpetuate it with the power of dragons, not replace it.

    I might even say she'll make it worse, the Targaryens actually had to listen to the great lords after they lost their dragons.

    And let's not even forget how bad she messed up the Ghiscari cities.

  27. Stannis the Mannis would have been a good step to form a more just Seven Kingdoms, or Robb Stark King in the North

  28. This video is a non-answer as the solution it presents is: change the entire culture.
    That's not something you can just do! Cultural changes of this scale, that don't benefit the ruling elite take ages to happen!
    So, how do we make that process faster? That is the answer that should be given…
    My best idea would be a dictatorship of a very Machiavellian person, somebody like tywin who aims to establish a real government structure, a civil service and independent judges.

  29. I long for the day when people finally realize that any service the government provides via force can be done through voluntary interaction.

  30. Please never, ever, ever, ever stop making videos. I'm a high school sophomore absolutely mindblown by your content. It's unbelievable.. a golden trove of unique ideas and information that I've never been exposed to. I'm not blindly accepting everything you talk about, but it's so interesting to see new thoughts that isn't what is typically shoved into your mind in high school. Not to bring politics into this, but I fear that we focus on a uni-dimensional set of opinions, mainly from the left.

  31. that why we have the 2nd amendment. god bless Murica. want to beat the GOT ? call Murica and it's democracy machines and liberate the shit out of these Westero people.

  32. Guy makes an intelligent, well explain description of the philosophy behind GoT…
    -He gets 775 likes.

    Guy makes an idiotic video ranting and raving about "subverted expectations" and screaming "bad writing" and calling for lynching Weiss and Benioff…
    -Gets 100,000 likes

    'Murica at its finest

  33. I was thinking the wheel isn't really broken in say the UK of the USA. The wheel is just made out of memory foam in those countries. The still turns and runs people over [as parties change and resources are reallocated from opposing populations to supportive populations], but now people can just get up and brush themselves off after it passes.

    or maybe I am overthinking this.

  34. Honestly, Westeros lacks the essential element to bring any semi- permanent reform to their society: Christianity. The ideas presented in this video ultimately sourced their authority from God's word, in their origin.

  35. Gah, I really don't want Dany to be queen of Westeros. She has good intentions, she wants to abolish slavery, to liberate the people and well, "break the wheel". Plus, she is the rightful heir, unless that R+L=J theory is confirmed(which it hasn't been yet, in the books)
    but the thing is, I'm not the first to claim this, but I think she's more fit for a conqueror than a queen.
    My main gripe is well, she hasn't even stepped foot unto Westeros! She has not proper knowledge of its people, culture, religion, and history. The only history she's known regarding the continent was told to her by her precious brother Viserys, and we know how reliable he is. And the fact that even if she is given the chance of learning more about it, via Selmy, whenever something bad is about to be mentioned about her family, she's all "stop, I think we'll continue this for another day" puts fingers in her ears and blocks the noise(blah blah blah)
    Also her willingness to burn and crucify everyone alive if they don't "bend the knee"
    Idk, honestly maybe I'm spouting bs. Oh well, just know I wouldn't be surprised if she does become the Mad Queen

  36. Actually, many nations included a form of rights of the Governed. The Greeks, the Romans, the Egyptians, the Chinese. They all had some concept of rights for the Governed Citizens. It was just that the definition of Citizen has changed.

  37. Before this all I really knew about Game of Thrones was
    1: Your favorite character has a 99 percent chance of dying
    2: Everybody is killing each other for a very sharp, and most likely uncomfortable, chair

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