Edited By: Tejaswini Vondivillu
In the Game of Thrones, Little Finger claimed, “Knowledge is power”. Cersei Lannister, the queen of Westeros, quickly refuted the statement by threatening his life with the might of her guards and declared that “power is power”. Both, the master of coins and the golden lion, however, forget to mention that money is power. One thing that is very evident in Game of Thrones is the disparity between the ruling class and the peasant. While the rich live a lavish life, protected behind the strong walls of their castles and their powerful armies, the poor bear the brunt of the harsh conditions such as hunger, low standards of living, and diseases. The ruling classes of Westeros often assert their power by proclaiming their right to rule based on their lineage. They rarely speak of the aid they have received from inheriting wealth.
Money plays a very important role in politics, be it in real life or fiction. Though the main premise of the show is the thirst for the ultimate rule of Westeros, it very cleverly portrays the stronghold that money has on the actions of the competitors of the Iron Throne. Money, in reality, also dictates every decision of our lives. Money and power have a close association through the ages. Right from the early times, it is money that has propelled power, it plays a far more important role when it comes to maintaining power and dominance over countries. The current political atmosphere, geography and powers across the globe is a result of colonization. Kingdoms and empires set sail around the world, to colonize and gain economic dominance. Similarly, the Targaryen’s entered Westeros, rained down fire and conquered the seven kingdoms under one rule. For years the sovereign cradled in the riches provided by the realm. Until the realm rebelled, isolating the capital from its most valuable resource money or the revenue. This forced the Targaryens to flee away from the kingdom. Just like the colonial rule came to an end when the dominions rebelled and demanded freedom. Money, therefore, is imperative for ensuring a stable rule. In case a ruler is monetarily weak, he or she may be dominated by the stronger who offer to help them, in order to gain power themselves.
Even though democracy states that power lies in the hands of the people, we see the influence of money when it comes to elections, thereby reinforcing once again the power of money. Campaigning is an important part of a democratic election. To reach a larger audience, political parties need a large amount of money. To meet this high demand for money, political parties accept and receive donations from the rich. Many situations have come to light that hint towards how the government favours these donors. For instance, Vijay Mallaya, had good political connections, which sheds light on the fact that banks face political pressure in order to give him a loan. Democracy may be a laughable concept for the lords and ladies of Westeros, but similar instances are visible in the story. Robert Baratheon had claimed the Iron throne — this was only possible because of the monetary and military support that was provided by the Lannisters. Having such a prominent role in helping Robert win the throne, the Lanisters had a strong say in ruling of the realm. Securing an important political position, comes with money. It is what helped the Lansisters ensure a steady flow of money, making them the richest house across the seven kingdoms.
Furthermore, wealth plays a significant role in making a country into a world power. Wealthy nations have strong armies, good infrastructure and advanced technologies. These nations can lend their resources to other countries and enhance trade in order to maintain a diplomatic relationship. While diplomatic relations in Game of Thrones are rare, the value of trade and strong armies have never been undermined. At the end of the show, the North breaks away from the seven kingdoms and Sansa Stark rules the North from Winterfell. The North suffered from its alliance with the Iron Throne since several Northerners had lost their lives and the people of Winterfell felt neglected by the capital. This led to the separation of the North from King’s Landing. This is very similar to Brexit. Britain took a considerable hit during the union. The main reason it wanted to exit was because of the immigrant influx and of its dwindling finesse due to providing support to the poorer nation of the union.
Money is essential for survival. It wields an enormous power not just in the field of politics but also in the daily lives of citizens. Lord Varys very rightly said, “Power resides where men believe it resides; it’s a trick, a shadow on the wall, and a very small man can cast a very large shadow.” Money has indeed cast a very large shadow over the globe and mandates over every movement that happens in the world. For time immemorial it has been the person who holds money that wields power over others, and it always will be that way.