Progressivism is dangerous. Those progressives who deny this are either too ignorant to see it, too brainwashed to admit it or, occasionally, complicit in the danger. The Hunger Games offers us a peek at a universe which would only be possible under radical progressivism.
For anyone blissfully unaware of this particular cultural phenomenon, The Hunger Games is a young adult novel (the first book in a trilogy) set in a post-apocalyptic world where North America is ruled by a single totalitarian government. This successor to the United States, called “Panem”, is comprised of essentially one wealthy, advanced Capitol metropolis ruling over twelve poorer districts. Every year, 12 boys and 12 girls (one of each from each district) are selected to participate in a televised, to-the-death mega-event known as “The Hunger Games”. One victor emerges and is lavished in fame and riches.
If anyone is still planning to see the movie, I will avoid revealing any spoilers or discussing the plot of this story. Instead I will focus on the political world.
To be fair, I have not actually read the full trilogy. However, it is my understanding that the author does not get in to specific details about the post-apocalyptic event. She apparently does touch on some environmental issues, and based on some of the comments she has made, it would not surprise me if the author was herself a partial believer in the progressive movement. If so, what a delicious twist of irony that a progressive would inadvertently write a story exposing one possible endgame of progressivism.
In any case, it does not matter what the author intended us to believe. An examination of the evidence of the story gives us all we need to know. If, for example, the author tried to claim that The Hunger Games was the result of radical libertarianism then she would contradict herself.
Without further ado, let us take a look at the hallmarks of progressivism which appear in this movie.
Progressive Hallmark: Big, Totalitarian Government
The government of Panem is large and totalitarian. It controls all the means of production and all the distribution of food and other resources. Although not explicitly stated in the movie, it is implied that the government controls the entire economy.
Progressivism is rooted in collectivism, and the unavoidable endgame of any collectivist ideology is communism, and finally, totalitarian communism. Collectivism creates a downward spiral of diminishing returns, which requires further control, which spawns ever-further diminished returns and even more control. The spiral is documented in Shakedown Socialism. The ultimate end result is a government so large that is has no choice but to be totalitarian.
Progressive Hallmark: The Illusion of Democracy
Panem has a “President”, but it is clear that there is no democracy. The movie does not touch on the electoral process, but the President is an all-powerful figure who seems to have captured the unquestioning adoration of the citizens of the Capitol.
Progressives will rarely openly admit to the desire to destroy democracy, but I have personally experienced a progressive telling me that President Obama should go around Congress and “just do what needs to be done”. We’re already familiar with Obama’s huge collection of czars, a quick Google search for “Obama circumvent congress” will produce a litany of examples, and Obama’s own team announced that executive orders (“two or three a week”) will play a big role in Obama’s reelection campaign.
The world of Panem exemplifies the mentality that “the ends justify the means,” which also just happens to be the core of the progressive strategy for political change.
Progressive Hallmark: The Use of Implied Threats
The President of Panem comments that a particular person should “be careful”. The threat is thinly veiled and the message is clear: “Do what I say, or bad things will happen.”
What was it Obama said to the bankers? “My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.” The President used the power of his office to issue a thinly veiled threat that those bankers – private citizens in charge of sovereign corporate entities – should be careful or else. And worst of all, this made him a hero among progressives who are apparently too ignorant to recognize such a statement for what it is.
Progressive Hallmark: Ownership of Weapons is Forbidden
This is not explicitly stated but it is implied. None of the district citizens are ever shown having anything weapon-like, not even crude implements. Basic weapons used for hunting have to be kept hidden in the woods, away from the eyes of the of the Capitol.
Needless to say, a Panem-style government could never come about so long as gun ownership was as prevalent among private citizens as it is today. Do you see many conservatives advocating for abolition of gun rights? Of course not, but it’s a favorite topic of the progressives.
Progressive Hallmark: A Ruling Class
In Panem, not all citizens are poor and downtrodden. There is a ruling class – it would seem a fairly large ruling class – which resides in the metropolis of The Capitol. These people are depicted as wealthy, extravagant, and completely out of touch with reality. It is a world of pomp, circumstance, and political connectivity. People can fall out of favor quickly and suffer the consequences.
Progressives do not espouse the idea of a ruling class – in fact, they usually claim they are against such a concept. But this simply illustrates the ignorance of progressives to the reality of collectivism in general. Every collectivist society has a ruling class. Look at the former Soviet Union. Look at Communist China. Look at Nazi Germany (the Nazi party were socialists). Even something as seemingly innocuous and beneficial (to a progressive) as a trade union can give rise to an oligarchy of powerful union leaders at the expense of the general membership. From Sweden to Greece to right here in the U.S., history overflows with such examples.
Progressive Hallmark: Debauchery for the Few, Starvation for the Many
Residents of The Capitol enjoy access to fine foods, spirits, and a plethora of highly modern technology. Debauchery abounds. They live in excess, and as willing participants in the ultimate reality game show.
Progressives would argue that their ideology does not promote this. I will concede that it does not *promote* it… but it does *create* it. One should ask a simple question: if collectivism worked, why is there so much death and starvation under collectivist rule? Millions upon millions have died from starvation under socialism and communism, even while perfectly good food rotted away in government storage. Does anyone think the government officials were also starving to death along with the population? Of course not… the ruling class, their family, their friends, and their chosen accomplices were all living in the lap of debauchery while others died.
Progressive Hallmark: Collusion with / Control of the Media
It is not made clear in the movie whether or not the media is autonomous, but it’s clear that at the very least, they collude with the government.
Meanwhile, back here in reality, the collusion between the majority of the regular media and their chosen candidates is fairly obvious. It’s especially obvious on the left, and the speed with which the main-stream media collectively abandoned Hillary to support Obama only solidifies my belief that collusion already exists.
Unfortunately, collusion is not enough for the progressive left. Even now, progressives march ever-onward towards limiting conservative speech. They’ve been doing it for years by trying to control the language, and create ridiculous levels of political correctness. Even Democrat Juan Williams admits this in his book Muzzled: The Assault on Honest Debate. They want Limbaugh off the air. They want Fox News shut down. And these ignorant fools actually justify the involvement of government in shutting down media with which they disagree.
And let’s not forget, Obama wants an Internet kill switch… there’s no bigger government/media power grab than that!
Progressive Hallmark: Abolition of Individual Liberty
In Panem, individual liberty is nonexistent. Minors can be taken from their homes and forced to participate in a competition to the death. Even in The Capitol, people who fall out of favor fear for their lives or livelihoods. It would seem that personal property is an illusion at best.
By its very nature, collectivism destroys the concept of personal property and individual liberty. Woodrow Wilson once dismissed the inalienable right to individual liberty as nonsense. Oliver Wendell Holmes opined that liberty should not be construed “to prevent the natural outcome of a dominant opinion.”
Today, progressives carry on the assault by regularly advocating for the dissolution of contracts, seizure of private property, and excessive taxation of the wealthy… all in the name of “the greater good”.
Progressive Hallmark: Rejoicing in the Death of Other People
In The Capitol, the annual Hunger Games is a major television event and the ultimate reality show. Everybody watches. People cheer for the death of the unfavored and and survival of the favored.
If anyone questions that mankind could ever, in reality, actually enjoy such barbarism they have only to look to history. The Hunger Games event is really just a modern interpretation of the gladiatorial games which existed for around 700 years.
OK, but could we ever return to that sort of barbarism? One has only to look at the recent, untimely death of Andrew Breitbart for the answer. The Internet exploded with progressives rejoicing in Breitbart’s death. OK, that’s just one example, right?
- Ed Schultz wishing Dick Cheney were dead, and other progressives coming out to call his statement “beautifully phrased”?
- Twitter erupting in calls for death of Scott Walker
- Progressives calling for the round-up of “Tea Baggers”
- Death threats against Limbaugh following the Sandra Fluke controversy
- Salon publishing a letter to the editor insinuating that Sarah Palin should be electrocuted
- Mike Malloy hoping Beck, Limbaugh, and O’Reilly all commit suicide
- Chris Matthews waxing philosophical on a Bond-villain-esque death for Rush
- A litany of idiots on Twitter calling for the death of a variety of Republicans
I found these examples in just a few minutes on Google. I realize that progressives do not own the market on death threats, and some have been threatened with death themselves. But the prevalence of open rejoicing about the death of Breitbart is a new low and solid evidence of the decline in civility being perpetuated by the progressive movement.
Sadly, I know personally know progressives who honestly rejoice in the death, not just of conservative figures, but of regular folks who just happen to be wealthy. “Good”, they say, “they deserved it”. This may not be reflective of the ideology of the original progressive movement, but it seems to be the mentality of the newest generation of people who self-identify as progressive “soldiers”.
When otherwise regular people can find joy in the death of a fellow citizen simply because of a difference in political ideologies, how far are we, really, from a real-life Hunger Games?
© 2012, Robert James. All rights reserved.
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