Saturday, 7 April 2012

Idealism

Cerebus #50 (May 1983)
Art by Dave Sim
(Click image to enlarge) 
DAVE SIM:
(from Aardvark Comment, Cerebus #53, August 1983)
I was not trying to portray idealism as heroic - quite the contrary. As much as I feel a great stirring inside when I think of Kennedy's Thousand Days or Lech Walesa and his Blows Against The Empire, neither, I suspect, has any basis in reality. Or very little. Allen Varney's assertion that most of High Society's cast was "motivated by greed and guided by relentless cynicism" strikes me as a charge levelled by (dare I say it?) a closet idealist. Of course they were! What so you suppose keeps the world going? There are people who want to set the course for world events, but there are more people who want to tear off a little piece when and where they can find it. Period. 

Astoria's motivation (which she dealt with briefly and defensively in #50 since the idealism of it conflicted with her carefully cultivated veneer of cynicism) was to get women the right to vote. To her, the way you do that is to change the election rules so that any male over a certain age can vote. If she could make that work, she would have a good chance, over a period of years to introduce limited voting for females. The unforeseen effect of this among the aristocracy (still a visible group in Iest, unlike Panlu or Beduin) was a whole-hearted endorsement. Particularly among the young members of upper classes who sensed the wheels of (no pun intended) revolution by about one hundred and eighty degrees. ("By the time I got to Woodstock we were half a million strong"). These are the Anarcho-Romantics.

Not only should everyone be able to vote, but we should persuade all our fathers to give all their money to the poor people, so they can have reflecting pools and sweet-meats and apricot brandy. Wrong-headed idealism? Probably. Naive? No question. But the fuzzy-brained improbability of it all leads Suenteus Po to write his books on the 1413 election and Cerebus' term as Prime Minister and a growing awareness that the goal of any great civilisation is (or should be) the freedom of its people from tyranny. Many readers made the mistake of thinking that the last page of #50 was intended to show Suenteus Po as a paragon of virtue - or something. Not at all. He was showing youthful rebellion in full flower. Tilting at Windmills even as his movement falls into ruins, knowing he was right and the rest of the world was wrong. He switched father-figures that was all. From his own aristocratic pater to the rabble-rousing "Power to the people" Prime Minister.
Cerebus #47 (February 1983)
Art by Dave Sim
(Click image to enlarge)

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