Years ago I read with fascination about the brutal back-stabbery and infighting for power in the court of ancient Persia, how so many siblings committed fratricide and patricide seeking power. But also it was interesting how many extended family groups sought to off their non-family competitors and lock competent people out of the halls of power because of personal ambition, even when the results were clearly not in the best interest of the people of the empire.
The Roman Republic and Empire was famous for such things.
Later I cracked open Norwich’s “A short history of Byzantium” and saw the same thing.
Listening to Bob Brier “Great Courses” lecture series on ancient Egypt recently I heard many of the same sorts of stories, especially with the Ptolemy’s near the end of it.
While reading Marc Morris’s “The Norman Conquest: The Battle of Hastings and the Fall of Anglo-Saxon England ” I saw the same thing on both an internal and international (if you can really call the governmental structures of the day “nations” in the modern sense).
The pattern repeats in the biography of Genghis Khan – constantly shifting alliances and assassinations and lies and tricks to maneuver for, or maintain, power.
While following some recent online discussions about US history and the separation from England, it was pointed out (yet again) that the “English” kings were really German (Hanover, specifically), and virtually all the royal houses were connected and intermarried, so that while they may squabble and die as individuals, in the end the power is kept in the family across national borders, while the bankers got rich, the women used, and the men died like pawns on the battle field.
The same sorts of actions are seen among many of those who became Pope, for God’s sake; the Borgia and De Medici families didn’t rise to papal power on the strength of their scholarly Catholic learning and devout ways.
It occurred to me. Why on earth should we believe that the same is not true today? Just because the puppet masters are better at hiding, doesn’t mean they are not there.