‘We Do Not Sow’: The Economics and Politics of A Song of Ice and Fire

Matthew Mccaffrey, Carmen Elena Dorobat

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George R.R. Martin's fantasy epic A Song of Ice and Fire brilliantly illustrates a number of basic principles of political economy. In particular, the richness of his world allows for a detailed account of economic and political relations in human society, and the saga uses its fantasy setting to dramatize and explore important questions about power, conflict, and the state. This essay discusses three economic themes in A Song of Ice and Fire. First, Martin's novels illustrate some fundamental ideas about political institutions, showing that organized economic exploitation is the foundation of the state. Second, they dramatize the relationship between war-making and public finance, describing the immense (networks of) political power created through control of the treasury, as well as the political logic that drives Lord Baelish and the Lannisters from taxation to borrowing to inflation in order to sustain and conceal the crown's war debt. Third, we examine how the rhetoric of Westeros's ruling class prevents the emergence of institutions friendly to peace and social cooperation, especially in the form of market exchange.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCapitalism and Commerce in Imaginative Literature
EditorsEdward Younkins
PublisherLexington Books
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)1498519296
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • A Song of Ice and Fire, Game of Thrones, economics and literature, economics and the arts, state formation, war making, borrowing, taxation, inflation, rhetoric


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