Jack Vance's "Brain of the Galaxy" aka "The New Prime" (novelette, leadership, free): There are many value-systems to judge a leader on
There is a Sanskrit phrase that succinctly summarizes the moral of this story: "Yatha raja, tatha praja". Literal translation - a population tends to reflect the attributes valued by its political leadership - is unsatisfactory, but that's the only one I can think up at the moment.
It got interesting only near end - where different threads come together in a context. Most of the earlier part is unsettling in that it comprises of short vignettes that each appear to be independent untitled stories & are all minor by themselves: a man finds himself naked in a social gathering & invents a way of evading moral police; a tribe finds its home destroyed by the enemy & extracts an equal revenge upon enemy home; a man, in adverse conditions, unsuccessfully looks for relics needed to save his lord; a competition where the most imaginative man wins; a soldier captured by enemy is subject to extreme torture. But plodding through these vignettes is worth the trouble, as the ending will show.
- "Obstinacy serves no purpose unless it advances a predetermined end."
Fact sheet.First published: Worlds Beyond, February 1951.
Download full text as part of the scans of the magazine it originally appeared in.
Related: Stories of Jack Vance.