When you may think of a society that is ruled by absolutism in today’s modern world

May 1, 2019 Critical Thinking

When you may think of a society that is ruled by absolutism in today’s modern world, the first thought that comes to your mind about that society is most likely that it’s a backwards place that is living in the past. However, in the 17th century, this was a forward-thinking and modern idea that garnered much attention. One of the many notable rulers who enforced this absolutism was King Louis XIV (Bishop 268). At the time of his reign, there was a problem that needed immediate attention: religious strife and civil war (Bishop 268). In King Louis XIV eyes, the most efficient way to stop people from rebelling against the government is to prevent them from rebelling in the first place by making stricter laws; thus, the idea of absolutism was implemented. This allowed him to exercise complete political power, ruling with an iron fist over every aspect of the nation’s laws and policies (Bishop 268). Living under King Louis XIV was an interesting affair, with his love for theater and dance prompting him to create academies, which were state-sponsored organizations that established the standards for taste, as well as governed all aspects of culture such as dance, opera, sculpting, painting, and theater (Bishop 272). One of King Louis XIV’s greatest achievements was the building of the Palace of Versailles, which has since been referred to as the term to define absolutism (Bishop 273). Despite the intention for this building to be a retreat, he soon converted it into a place he forced the French nobility to stay in (Bishop 273). This may seem like a thoughtful thing to do, but the real intention of doing this was to keep a close eye on the French nobility, preventing them from starting an uprising against him (Bishop 273). This was the reason why the Palace of Versailles became known as the term to define absolutism, because nothing points more to an absolute ruler than forcing someone to stay in a place where you can control them.
In light of all these things, I would definitely prefer to live in our modern day democracy. In my mind, the idea of a ruler that can do as he pleases with no repercussions is a scary thought; no one person can ever hold that amount of power without being corrupted. This was perfectly showcased in the example of the Palace of Versailles; forcing someone to live somewhere so you can essentially control them. If there were a system of democracy in place, such as in the United States, he would have most likely been voted out of rule and have a better ruler put in his place. This brings forth another point as to why I prefer to live in a democracy: competition encourages progress. Take the similar operating, real-world example of North Korea; their leader is put in place for life, and with no competition he can pass any law he wishes and no one can get rid of him. This leads to complacency, which is one of the reasons why the country is so far behind the rest of the world in basically every aspect. In the United States, however, if a new presidential candidate offers more compelling benefits to the citizens than the current president, the current president has to either mirror the benefits the other candidate offers or be faced with the proposition of being replaced. It has taken centuries to get to the fair political landscape of today, and while it is intriguing to look back at the Palace of Versailles as a symbol for absolutism, as well as the king who built it, I’m content with staying in the time period I’m in right now.