"Posterity, you will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in heaven that ever I took half the pains to preserve it." -John Adams

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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Hunger Games: Ripping the veil off "civil society"

I thought about adding to Josh's post with a comment on my thoughts, but decided I wanted to hash this out a bit more in its own post.

The number one theme of the movie is that the illusory power any state has over the people living in it is based solely on the compliance of those people. Right at the beginning the main character's boyfriend tells her, "What if everyone refused to watch? It would be over. There would be no more games." So true. Then throughout the rest of the movie other avenues of non-complaince are presented which would end the game and remove power. The fear of the ruling class that the people might realize that they themselves hold all the cards is emphasized throughout. It is a refusal to kill another child from a poor district that saves the main character's life at one point. It is the refusal to complete the game in the end that forces the all powerful ruler to change the rules to maintain the illusion that he is in control. I do not think it is a coincidence that young children are used in this role. The only powerless people in society are those who have had their humanity, empathy, and idealism beat out of them. This is usually the adults, not the young.

Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war.
~Albert Einstein

It is unfortunately none too well understood that, just as the State has no money of its own, so it has no power of its own.
~Albert J. Nock

Also, in my opinion, the reason people find the "excessive violence" of the movie disturbing is because it's clearly children killing children. War coverage in the "real world" hides this fact. More than that, it's not some savage society of vikings killing each other or something like that. It's a very cosmopolitan "high minded" society where the organizers sit around and drink cocktails, produce TV interview shows, and attend glitzy parades. I would agree with one of the posters in Josh's blog that it is, like America, very Roman in that sense. It's not Mel Gibson leading brave tough men in battle against evil men or some trite nonsense like that. It is far closer to what modern war really is. American children killing foreigners' children and being killed by them. The adults just sit back and pretend that it's some sort of high minded "honor" while their children bleed out with their arms and legs hacked off. The reality of sending 18 year olds off to kill foreign kids is sick and disturbing. The film just shoves that right in your face.

Phil Ochs correctly identified this in his song "I Ain't Marchin' Anymore" where he observes that "it's always the old who lead us to the war, it's always the young to fall."

What is absurd and monstrous about war is that men who have no personal quarrel should be trained to murder one another in cold blood.
~Aldous Huxley

More disturbing to westerners no doubt is the fact that white children who look like their own are killing and being killed by other white children who look like their own. The idea that "the other is different" is erased. Because most still think in the colossally racist paradigm of nationalities, the film manages to find a way to cut through that illusion, creating a discomfort that most do not feel about killing human beings who live elsewhere, especially if they look different.

Also, the game itself, while sold as a "fair" competition, is anything but. Most of the challenges within the game are completely contrived and created by the rulers who conscripted the kids in the first place. The fire, the weird dog things, the constant changing of the rules ... this has the air of the many false flag news reports related to war. Events that happen, become accepted at face value, then later are shown to be contrived or created by the state itself. It also reminds me of the 70+ different reasons the Bush administration gave for the invasion of Iraq over the 8 years of idiocy he was in office. It also reminds me of what those in power do to individuals who refuse to play the game anymore.

Another disturbing part of the film for many is that most of the adults keep telling the children how lucky they are to be selected and what an honor it is to participate in the games, even tho they know the kids are going to kill and die for nothing. Again, this is essentially no different from modern American war culture. It reminds me of The Animals song "Sky Pilot" where it is observed what colossal hypocrites and cowards military chaplains are. "Go and kill, God will be with you." Disgusting and 100% reality. The movie makes people uncomfortable but this fact of life doesn't? How pathetic.

Another aspect that was brought up on the radio show this week was that the poor kids are drafted with no choice while the kids from the wealthy districts volunteer and get years of training before the games. While there is no draft in modern America there is undeniably a "Poverty Draft" where, through economic destruction of the lowest income families through inflation/etc, joining the military becomes the best financial option for the children of these families. These kids are the cannon fodder who see the most combat. Wealthy and educated enlistees generally go into the officer corps or have administrative jobs. Politicians, who fund and promote war, never participate at all.

An alternate potential interpretation of the game arena is that it is a metaphor for forced schooling, another fine aspect of American society. In many schools, the de facto rules are made by the kids themselves. They are thrown into the same building and largely left to fight it out amongst themselves with the only rule being, "Might makes right." Alliances are formed, the weak are eliminated, and the strong prevail.

I could go on, but I'll leave it at that. If you want to leave a comment, instead of just saying "I liked this movie" or "I thought it was rubbish", please take the time to discuss any parallels you see between the film and reality ... or how it affected you personally.


  1. Another important part of this movie is ripping the veil off of "racial" poverty. I have the sneaking suspicion that people seeing the opening scenes of this movie with its North Korea-esque poverty but very caucasian make up will be a little startled. The idea that this povery is caused by economics and more profoundly and directly the state but it is not related to racial or cultural superiority is heavy. There's a lot there in just the opening scenes: the dangers of protectionism and single resource dependence (Districts are forbidden to trade amongst themselves, focus only on their main political export, in this case coal), the cops are called PeaceKeeprs and they are loathed but obeyed. No anti-state person should fail to explore this series either via book or movie. At the very least it will show you how much the general public can ignore (or fail to see) even when its presented to them in such a loud manner.

  2. The children from the wealthy districts sign up and yearn for the games. This would be like American kids who sign up to be in the military. Night vision goodies, jet fighters, expensive weapons systems.
    The children from the poor districts have the games thrust upon them. This would be like the kids in foreign nations who the US invades. Cheap rifles, improvised explosives.

    It isn't a perfect parallel.

  3. David,

    Understand why you're leaving. Wish you weren't. To get the opportunity that was America again we'd need a large un-stated territory, and there don't appear to be any more of those, unless we can colonize the moon (Moon is a Harsh Mistress).