by Brian Chase
Why it was horrible to watch something wonderful..
|When in the course of Human Events, a guy says that he does not care for a “guy movie” that’s as much of a “guy movie” as “300” (about the Greek battle of Thermopylae), a decent respect to the opinions of guydom requires that he should declare the causes which impel him to take such a stand, and also allay any fears that perhaps he’s some kind of faggot or something. Since Joe asked how I liked the movie and I responded in the negatory, I hereby make my case:
The United States of America, being a melting pot of cultures, nationalities and faiths, owes at least some small measure of thanks to almost every expression of humanity that was ever large enough to transcend its original time and place. Superseding and overarching all such expressions, though, is the epistemology which has allowed each of them to find its place in Americana. This belief system exists in the same way and for the same reasons that the steel skeleton of a skyscraper must first exist before the appendages and accoutrements can ever be added.
The epistemology to which I’m referring is philosophy, and, in America’s case, specifically that brand of philosophy that recognizes a man’s right to his life, liberty, and property. Just as a building’s framework determines what enhancements can and cannot succeed, so a people’s philosophy will determine their receptiveness to any proposed change to their culture or way of life, whether they realize it or not.
As a general rule, the popular beliefs of one generation will translate into the policies and procedures of the next. The students of the sixties became the leaders of the nineties and the acolytes of radical madrasahs now lead thousands of our enemies to willingly kill and die for their beliefs. So we see that a country, a religion, or a people, can and will be molded by the inculcation and indoctrination of its younger generations. In this way, heavier and more lasting damage can be levied from within an institution, itself, than the most awesome barrage of firepower could ever yield from without.
Ever since the Civil War, American politics has essentially been a conflict between individual rights and collectivism. This has often been exemplified in bouts of States rights versus Federalism. The most ironic aspect of the Civil War was that the individual (slave) was freed in the name of the Collective (Union), while the Collective (Union) was empowered at the expense of the individual (state). Philosophically, rather than freeing the black man, the entire nation was effectively shackled to the will of the Union through the abrogation of the Right of Secession. In the twentieth century, this enslavement was then perfected through the income tax and entitlements. Today, one’s money comes by privilege; the state determines what portion of his earnings one man may keep and how much unearned money another shall be entitled to receive. And since this concept of man’s proper relationship to the state is almost universally accepted, an individual can no longer choose freedom through immigration, he can only choose to whom he wishes to be enslaved. In America, we may at least take some comfort that our masters impose much lighter yokes than those worn in other nations; for now.
Why was this enslavement allowed to happen? Why are its conditions less harsh in our country than those found elsewhere? And most importantly, why do those conditions seem to be getting progressively worse? To find our answers, we must look at the primary framework of philosophy that supports and defines us as Americans.
America was founded on a platform of Judeo-Christian principles supported by a foundation of Aristotelian philosophy, notably his concepts of Natural Law and Teleology. Teleology, in a nutshell, includes the assertion that man exists for a purpose (which logically requires a Giver of a purpose), Natural Law defines how he must live to best achieve that purpose, and the Judeo-Christian ethic was the basis for the codification of Natural Law into our legal definitions of rights as well as our civil and criminal codes. Anyone who doubts that this was the framework upon which our Great Experiment was founded would do well to review the multitudes of quotes from our Founding Fathers as well as to peruse the Federalist Papers.
Sadly, almost from the day our Union began, the ethos requisite to the original construction of these United States has been undermined from within. Few if any documents have so strongly championed individual rights as the US Constitution. Yet even Thomas Jefferson, a strict Constitutionalist, violated it by executing the Louisiana Purchase. His aim was noble, namely to prevent a future war with France, but he set a dangerous precedent. If one reads the Constitution today, it’s not hard to find dozens of ways in which its rules are blatantly ignored. In almost every case, the violations come at the expense of individuals for the sake of the collective.
Today, real estate is routinely seized, warrantless searches happen hourly, the “war on drugs/terror/poverty/flavor-of-the-day” is used to justify whatever police action suits the whim of the reigning leash holder, and Constitution be damned! These violations happen by or at the behest of our elected representatives, which means that if the people truly had a problem with this behavior, they could remedy it in short order at the voting booth. The ugly truth is that the majority of the American citizenry have been so thoroughly indoctrinated into collectivism that they see nothing wrong with violating an individual’s rights, provided it’s for the public good and also provided that they are not the individual in question.
Americans enjoy what freedom they have left precisely because a great deal of our founding document is still honored; to that extent and that extent only, we remain a nation governed by laws and not by men. This is also why we still enjoy a greater semblance of freedom than most other people throughout the world.
But each generation is progressively less free than its predecessor, and for the most part they neither notice nor care. Dumbed down by public education that’s become glorified day-care, indoctrinated by mass media to believe he is no more than an animal (and therefore no more valuable than one) and encouraged to distrust anyone unwilling to part with his liberty in exchange for security, today’s brave new citizen is only too willing to let his television tell him what’s good, what’s bad, how to think and how to behave.
Which brings us finally to the movie “The 300”: Thermopylae was actually defended by well over 1,000 soldiers, not 300, which takes nothing away from the heroism of each man who chose to fight to the death. My grievance with the movie is that is stands so completely alone in contemporary media as a model of how to live an exemplary life:
"This movie single-handedly addressed and rejected:
1) That self esteem matters more than merit and that all people should be treated as equally capable of all tasks (a handicapped man is treated politely by the King but immediately rejected as unsuitable for military service)
2) That sentimentality matters more than reality
3) That peace is a higher virtue than violence in the defense of core ideals
2) That all cultures are created equal and that multiculturalism is a high virtue
3) That there is any point to diplomacy with enemies that have threatened you and your family "with slavery and death"
4) That kindness is a higher virtue than morality and effectiveness
5) That tradition, however absurd and archaic to contemporary eyes, can be dismissed lightly
6) That duty, honor, glory and defense of the nation are not worth dying for
And I think that was just the first 30 minutes.
On top of all this, the movie shows a King submitting to the rule of law and the will of the legislature at the cost of his own life."
I borrowed the above list from this web site, http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-bloggers/1799957/posts, because I think the author expressed himself better than I possibly could have at this point. In summary, I didn’t care for the movie because every time I see it, it just reminds me of how much my country has lost it’s way and how willing it’s citizens will betray sacred truths for their thirty pieces of silver. Awesome fight scenes, though.