Last time I posted in this series, I talked about the characters, major and supporting. This time around, I'll run down some of the major themes in the story as I saw them.
Every society that has ever existed has been an attempt to solve the problem of power: how is power to be wielded and transmitted? Two basic solutions exist: you can hoard and consolidate power, or you can share and diversify it. Monarchies, autarchies, dictatorships, and totalitarian societies are examples of the former; the latter is everything from communal living to parliamentary democracy. Shared power is not always bigger, but it is more flexible, more capable of responding to changes in inner and out circumstances over time. The first aleaum masters replaced the kings of old only with another set of kings, and it will take a second generation of aleaum masters to get it right -- a generation that understands their power ultimately exists to be transmitted.
The goal of a hero should be to make themselves obsolete. We like the idea of an idol we can always look up to -- it gives us one less thing to think about (who's worth our praise? who's worth emulating?), and it makes it easy to push responsibiliy off onto them. Jotham and his friends know they're only as good as the last thing they've done, and only because they gave power to others instead of taking it away.
How shall we build a better world? By revolution or by increments? By and large, the latter. Find specific, actionable, direct measures. Pass this law; clean up this mess; and from those actions, derive a general principle we can enact going forward. Do this tirelessly, and never stop seeking out a new place to make things better. But if all the mechanisms for incremental improvement have been obstructed, then a revolution becomes inevitable. But revolution only works if it assures the return to incremental and sustainable reform, not when it attempts to make all the reform on its own, in one blow. Jotham and his friends have a plan for replacing the old with the new, but it's as evolutionary as it is revolutionary. In big part by necessity: anything truly revolutionary from their hands would destroy even more than the wars did.
New York City
Other Lives Of The Mind