Shadow Governments, Lack of
or "Separation of Twilight Zone and State"
There are thousands of good reasons why magic doesn't rule the
world. They're called witches and wizards, Magrat reflected, as she
followed the others back to the road.
It was probably some wonderful organisation on the part of Nature
to protect itself. It saw to it that everyone with any magical talent
was about as ready to co-operate as a she-bear with a toothache, so all
that dangerous power was safely dissipated as random bickering and
— Wyrd Sisters, Terry Pratchett
Granted that magic and other stuff like that can't be brought to public attention, what stops a group of esoterics from ruling a nation or the world from behind the scenes, using the Sundering as a cloak to hide behind while they play "hidden masters" or "shadow government" (in the conspiracy-theorist, not parliamentary, sense)?
On a global level, no group of mortals is going to get away with this, because they will be shoved aside or stamped on by the vastly greater powers of Heaven and Hell, as they endlessly jockey for world control.
On a national level, this is what Cabals often try to do and what even Orders sometimes try to do (most famously in the "one brief shining moment that was Camelot," when the Order of Logres was the government of Britain, in an era when the Sundering was weak or possibly not even established yet). But of course thwarting Cabals in such endeavors is a large part of what Orders do, and vice versa when it looks to Hell like the forces of good might run amok. Furthermore, even such shadow governments might not accord with the plans of their masters, if Heaven and Hell want their War to be a cold one; thus, both Cabals and Orders would find their supernatural backing suddenly gone if they tried becoming "hidden masters." They might even receive cease-and-desist orders.
Many nations also have their own defenses, in the form of "sunder guards," those ultra-secret government groups that keep track of esoteric affairs. These would, naturally, defend their states against secret-master-wannabes. Should a sunder guard want to form its own shadow government, there is the rest of the government to contend with.
Sunder guards of major states are also likely to protect allied client states from esoteric interference, should the clients lack sufficient native protection: Britain's Greenwood would step in to protect Trinidad, for instance; the American Department of the Ulterior would step in to assist the Philippines.
On a smaller scale – well, how do we know that the occasional county or city or town isn't ruled by a shadow government of mages or vampires or ghosts? But the situation is rare. One thing that keeps it rare is the low level of cooperation among the magical, as noted by Magrat Garrlick in the preceding quote. Mages are people of singularly powerful will, but that will is focused primarily on their magical art, or they wouldn't be able to practice it – and not on the art of politics. Vampires are mostly busy looking for their next meal and avoiding reprisals. Ghosts generally have low energy and poor mental clarity. Other supernaturals have other problems.
A related problem is that magic can drive you nuts. Instead of ending up forming a shadow government, you end up as a smallish headline about Bizarre Cultist Found Dead in Rabbit Hutch. "Neighbors say he was always so quiet." Or heavily sedated somewhere. Almost any thematic mage has an obsessive personality, and mages of any kind usually develop a large wardrobe of eccentricities. Even
paid a price: the withering, "the quiet of a gutted building" Dimble noticed. Merlin was still functional, but if you increased the effect, he wouldn't be. You'd get someone who is more interested in communing with trees and rivers than in forming shadow governments, or someone whose social views have become too unhuman or plain crazy to work with others to form shadow governments.
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Copyright © Earl Wajenberg, 2010