Anyone who’s seen the previews at the movie theaters lately has probably witnessed what looks like an emerging movie genre. Between zombies, Terminators and end-of-the-world catastrophe flicks, it really seems like the movie-going public has gone crazy for apocalypse porn.
This is fine I guess. I just can’t figure out where all this end of days obsession is coming from? H1N1? Obama-mania? Socialized medicine?
Probably a good mix of those three I guess. But it still just seems odd to me how the world has so braced for disaster. Based on what? A pandemic that still doesn’t kill nearly as many people as the regular flu does? A black man as President with a drive to fix healthcare in this country?
Maybe I look too much through a political lens, but I just don’t see why everyone’s gone Armageddon spotting just because Obama is trying to push for sweeping healthcare reform? Sure it’s an expansive change, but why weren’t people worried about the end of the world when the PATRIOT Act got passed? Or when we decided using a crystal ball to legitimize “pre-emptive” war. Or when we started locking up “enemy combatants” in a constitutional twilight zone down in Cuba for years without sticking a charge to them? The list goes on folks…
Looking back I realized that there are reasons why a powerful liberal administration evokes fears of the end. Because nothing scares a conservative more than a nefarious and uber-powerful federal government. To touch base again with the cinema world think of Terminator.
Technology becomes the placeholder for the state where human civilization invests too much control in a central power. A power that knows what’s good for us. Good for all of us, from the godless coasts to the god fearing farm countries and religious swathes of red-states, this central power is smart enough and powerful enough to take care of all of us. And so when we hand over the keys to the country to this power, what happens? The power turns on us!
It’s Skynet! The artificial intelligence that turns man’s weapons against us and starts the war of the machines!
Shit, the A.I. menace is even a theme common from the Matrix series (at least the Wachowski brother could presage this theme during the Bush administration) where again, the disembodied machines exert control over us poor humans.
For a more contemporary example how about the new TV series V. In this show the outside enemy comes in the form of aliens. Visitors with superior intelligence, sweeping powers and the sly offer of helping to ease mankind’s suffering, with likely some ulterior motives to.
For a local example of this conservative fear that liberals will create an all powerful state that will destroy us all, comes from a fun little publication called The Unhappy Young Man—A Parable.
This short publication is a fun story put out by local conservative think tank The Sutherland Institute. The story’s hero is a young, unhappy man who runs away from his family and falls asleep under a tree. He then has kind of a Christmas Carol-esque dream where some kind of spirit takes him to four different worlds that are presumed to represent dystopian lands based on societies organized around one common them. Like the church ( Pious), the corporation (Economia), the individual (Antinomia) and the state (the Fatherland).
To ruin a predictable ending at the end he realizes society organized around the family is better than all of the above, but for our purposes of examining the conservative fascination of a liberal-induced apocalypse the chapter on the Fatherland is great.
“This is the Fatherland. This is the answer to all of your hopes and desires,” said the authoritative voice with a sense of resolve.
“No it’s not. It can’t be,” the unhappy young man expressed astoundingly. “There’s hardly anyone here. The people I see look very unhappy. The earth is a wasteland. There is no beauty. It’s like a neutron bomb exploded and left everything standing but the people.’
“On the contrary, this is perfection.” Says the voice going on to describe how the people of fatherland wanted peace and an end to environmental destruction so much they gave too much power to the state that ultimately ended up meaning the state had become a separate entity. Like a cold, methodical robot—Statebot (my term).
“The State naturally had to conclude that people are the problem…The State concluded that it must save the people from themselves and it must do so with rapidity and force.”
Great stuff! An excellent read. And while the parable certainly never uses the word liberal I just wish anyone could appreciate that expansive federal governments are controlled by republicans and democrats, as history has shown.
And lastly, if a latent conservative fear is Statebot’s revenge; a giant government crushing and destroying local sovereignty and people, in a slow progression that starts out wielding laws and later laser beams—that the republicans would at least have the foresight to stop funding the military industrial complex so much right now.Hell, liberals might flip the “ON” switch to Statebot, but conservative hawks will build the robot. At least the literal one, that is.