Four Decades of Observations

illustration of baron being poked with club

When political science professor James Payne first began the Princess Navina stories in the late 1970s, they were an amusing diversion, an inside joke for colleagues, written under the pen name “Count Nef.” These colleagues urged him to publish them because they raised provocative questions about modern government. Like Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, they provide perspective on existing institutions by transporting us to imaginary countries.

In 1990, Payne took their advice and published Princess Navina Visits Malvolia, the tale of a country where the ruler deliberately seeks to make citizens miserable. The visits to two other bizarre countries — Mandaat and Nueva Malvolia — were published in subsequent years. Payne then realized that he had an obligation to offer a positive vision, and released Princess Navina Visits Voluntaria, thus supplying a happy ending to the Princess’s travels.

All four books are now brought together in Take Me to Your Government.

Political Philosophy Should be Relevant!

How strange that a volume published in 2008 entitled Modern Political Thought should feature as its most recent thinker a philosopher who wrote in the 1870s (Nietzsche). Since his time, a welfare state has been born, grown, and metastasized, and big brother regulation reaches into every cranny of personal life.

The arguments about socialism and fascism are passé: We have drifted into the age of the inadvertent megastate, a system no one devised or intended—or likes. It’s time to go beyond 19th century debates and question today’s political reality.

Take Me to Your Government embraces this challenge with four brief, witty fables about the travels of Princess Navina to zany, mind-stretching countries:

The visit to Malvolia raises the question of whether the welfare state is a helpful or harmful institution.

In Mandaat, where government regulates everything that might possibly cause a problem, readers are invited to ponder the challenge of limiting government’s well-intentioned reach.

The country of Nueva Malvolia asks whether sane policy can come from a system oriented toward pleasing a gullible, superficial public.

The visit to Voluntaria focuses on the elephant in the living room that the left is too embarrassed to face: government’s use of force. The tale provokes readers to ask whether modern government, the centralized system based on force, should be considered the ideal system of governance.

Written by a professor with many years of classroom experience, Take Me to Your Government is artfully contrived to get students of all ages questioning, debating—and chuckling.