Just like in Star Wars, nothing in the Liberal’s world matters one bit
The leftists have claimed The Last Jedi as their own, but they are kicking against the pricks. Yet in doing so, they baited Conservatives into falling into a standard liberal trap that can be articulated in just five words…
“The action is the reaction.”
That comes from Saul Alinsky and his book, Rules For Radicals (1971). The left loves his strategies. They have internalized them. The Conservatives ought to pay attention. Alinsky was known by Hillary Clinton. She wrote her senior thesis about him in college.
And by starting a great controversy over The Last Jedi, the leftists have once again used this tried-and-true principle to pull off a slam dunk against the Conservatives.
The numbers of politically charged articles written about The Last Jedi are too numerous to list. The Washington Times observes that criticism of the movie seems to fall among party lines: Conservatives despise the movie, and Leftists love it.
The end of it all is this: the liberals love the movie and claim it as a pitch-perfect hymn to all that the Progressive agenda holds dear.
Conservatives, who would otherwise like the movie, have instead chosen to simply react against this liberal outpouring. If the liberals love it, especially in print, then it’s like there’s a rule somewhere that the Conservatives must hate it.
The left-leaning Vanity Fair caught everybody’s attention when it announced in a headline, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi Offers the Harsh Condemnation of Mansplaining We Need in 2017.” It touted the film’s “progressive ideology” and praised its portrayal of women in leadership.
THE STAR WARS PHILOSOPHY
But in these discussions, both sides ultimately ignore the movie’s internal worldview and cast a blind eye to the despair that actually living in such a universe would produce in all of us.
The idea of “The Force” comes straight out of ancient pagan religions of dualism: the eternal existence of good and evil. The key characteristic of these religions is that there is an eternal struggle between two competing forces. This struggle will go on forever, and there will never be a final resolution.
One of the most ancient is Zoroastrianism, which was popular in the ancient Persian world beginning by at least 600 BC. It featured a basic eternal struggle that pitted Good vs. Evil in the form of the Wise Lord against the destructive spirit. This was taken to a new level in the 3rd Century AD when the Christian heresy Manichaeism turned the two forces into God vs. Satan. It pitted God against Satan in an eternal battle between good and evil in which an impotent God can never finally triumph against an equally powerful but also impotent Satan.
That is basically “The Force” in a nutshell: light and dark, both separate but equal components within the overall “Force,” which will battle for dominance for all eternity, and without hope for any final end to the struggle. For a while, the Light Side rises and dominates, only to be overtaken by the Dark Side. Within the logic of the Star Wars universe, there will never be satisfactory resolution between the Light and the Dark.
SUCCESS, DESPITE IT ALL
[Warning: mild spoilers follow.]
But movie audiences don’t fork over billions of dollars to see good and evil fizzle out in stalemate. They want to see Good triumph over evil, or else at least for the series to end on a high note that lets them believe that Good and Righteousness are the ultimate victors.
In the Lord of the Rings, the defeat of Sauron represented a major milestone in the progress of history. There may be other conflicts in the future, but this was a definitive defeat in the stepping-stone path towards the end and consummation of all things in an ultimate plan.
But in Star Wars, the defeat of the Sith, or of the Emperor, or the Supreme Lord, doesn’t bring us any closer to ultimate victory. It’s like swimming upstream against the flow of the Amazon River. You might dodge a piranha attack, but for all your kicking and clawing, you’ve gotten nowhere.
We don’t pay money to see that.
The Star Wars movies succeed because the audience ignores this detail about the movie’s universe. They don’t think through the implications of the existence of The Force. Instead, they impute their own hopes onto The Force and turn it into a benevolent force that represents the presence of God. Nobody wants this battle between good and evil to go on for eternity without resolution. There’s abject hopelessness in that. Instead, they want the good guys to win. That means “The Light Side” implicitly becomes the protagonist, even though, within the Star Wars universe, it is an impersonal force that doesn’t really care at all.
This isn’t necessarily true for all audience members, naturally. If you are a liberal progressive, then you may not want “The Light Side” to win-out. You might say you want a different kind of Star Wars, one where the lines are blurred between good and evil, light and dark. It’s more realistic that way, you might say. More like Game of Thrones. In that world, conjured by author George R. R. Martin, there is no hero. There are no good guys or bad guys. Everybody’s a mix-up.
WHEN PROGRESSIVE-MINDED FICTION GOES AWRY
And some Game of Thrones fans are suffering for it right now, after the Season 7 finale aired back in August of 2017. It was the biggest ratings pull ever. And possibly the biggest letdown to go with it, at least according to some critics. The books’ author, George R. R. Martin, has explained that he wants to surprise his readers. He doesn’t want to write predictable fiction.
And so, he’s created a world where your favorite characters are randomly slaughtered. He has executed the hero. In an interview, he said that “I like grey characters, fantasy for too long has been focused on very stereotypical heroes and villains. And when I look around, I don’t see pure white shining heroes and absolutely black villains, I see a lot of flawed human beings who have it in them to be heroes or villains; it’s a matter of the choices that they make in crucial periods in their lives, in moments of stress and emotional turmoil.”
That means that the characters you invest your emotion and energy in are killed off randomly. Because that’s what happens in “the real world.” And it keeps his readers guessing. But the problem is that we (mostly) read fiction because of the fantasy and the escape. And usually for the hope it gives us in our own lives as we closely follow our protagonist, through trials that are incredibly human and often uncannily resemble the ones we encounter in our own lives, in their quest for redemption and ultimate conquest over the evil that plagues their world.
By disrupting this old truth systematically for so long, Martin has put together a world that has begun to crumble. The implosion in excitement among some of the critics that followed the Season 7 finale reveals this.
I know how the fans feel, but I saw it coming earlier than they did.
I watched the first two seasons, I’ll admit. I was invested. I could see the grand plot of good vs. evil, and I imagined an ancient, underdog religion that would return to prominence and squash out the ancient evil brewing towards the North.
But midway through the third season, my hopes had completely faded. I realized the whole GoT world was meaningless and going nowhere. That’s because I had read Martin’s interviews in search of clues. And now, a slight few of the hardcore fans have come to grips with this reality too. A writer for The Guardian put it this way:
Even Game of Thrones crumbled to dust in its seventh season this year. Obsessive fans like me were enthralled with how it once wove the personal and the political, the scale of its drama and the promise that it knew where it was going. It has moved beyond the books of George RR Martin and now seems lost amid its dragon fights and characters that no longer seem to know why they are doing what they are doing.
She quoted a more savage review from Wired. Here’s what they had to say:
But if you think about the religion of the series, the one that has propelled fans to obsess for hundreds of thousands of hours about its internal consistencies and inconsistencies, here is its true article of faith: People thought there was a reason. They believed this was going somewhere that was known, to a prophecy or larger truth, to an ending that made a sort of sense, to something that made all that devotion worth it in the end.
I really like the way Wired ended their review: “What do you do when they turn to you and ask what it all means, and why you have been doing this for so long? You stumble and gibber and with nothing else to offer, you say: absolute goddamn nonsense.“
That sums up the universe of Star Wars in a nutshell, if we want to be honest with ourselves.
THE LIBERAL’S WORLDVIEW
But it also perfectly captures the worldview of the liberal.
It’s all gibberish and nonsense. It’s always been that way from its infancy in the humanism of the Renaissance, but for a long time they pretended that it wasn’t. They absconded with the stolen idea of steady progress over (linear, not cyclical) time which was based in Christianity. But instead of a sovereign God managing all of history, they substituted central human planning through government bureaucracy as the entity which would bring their future hopes for humanity to fruition.
What a joke that is.
If we take the Christian notion seriously for a minute (as Paul wrote in the book of Romans), that all non-Christians do, actually, know God, and actively hate him, then their actions, conscious or not, are geared towards undermining everything God and Christendom have built up and accomplished.
It may not be apparent at the beginning. But this theme will become increasingly visible as time goes on.
Christianity promises hope and progress over time. It promises that, in the end, Good triumphs permanently over Evil. The opposite of this is decline and decay over time, with Evil triumphing over Good. But when that despair is too hard to swallow, it becomes Good and Evil never triumphing over each other, but being locked into an eternal struggle forever.
This is also something to despair over, but in the short-run, when the forces of Good seem to be on the up-and-up, you can pretend that it will be permanent and part of the grand plan. They can sell this miserable muck to us that way, at least.
And that’s what has made Star Wars so successful, in my opinion. Within the universe of the movies, there is no ultimate triumph of Light over Dark, or Dark over Light. But while watching the movies, we get the strange feeling that “The Dark Side” is the evil side, and “The Light Side” is who we ought to be hoping emerges victorious.
In the OT — that’s “Original Trilogy” to you —we see:
- tales of redemption: a return to the light after a life spent in unquenchable darkness
- the grant of new life: a spiritual transformation from evil to good that has real meaning and lasting impact in the world
- tales of hope: the evil, tyrannical empire being taken down by strong-willed rebels and resurrected heroes.
These are Christian themes, of course. They resonate strongly with all of us. They make sense. They conform to the rigorous tenants of logic and emotion. But in a random world, misguided by blind, random chaos, there is no logic. There is no emotion. There is no absolute concept of redemption. That’s just a belief we impose onto the random facts of reality, a pattern we pretend to see in order to give ourselves a reason to get out of bed every day.
That’s the world of the consistent liberal. They want to undo meaning. They want to undo the concept of the Ultimate Good and the Ultimate Evil because, in their world, there is no good and there is no evil. That’s convenient from their perspective, because the existence of Hell would be extremely inconvenient for them.
Impressing the Progressive agenda into The Last Jedi is like conjuring patterns against a backdrop of random chaos. It’s not really there, but they just have to believe. It’s their faith: the existence of meaning where there should only be chaos.
The Conservatives have taken the wrong approach. Instead of reacting against the liberal praises, they should point out why their imagined monopoly is misguided.
It’s not inherently pro-liberal to have women (like Holdo and Leia) in a hierarchy of military authority chastise the male soldiers underneath them, especially when they outright defy orders. That kind of disobedience is severely punished within the military because the military, especially during wartime, generally depends absolutely on the unbroken rule of command. (But don’t misunderstand: I’m not saying there aren’t exceptions to this, such as when orders are unethical.)
It’s reasonable to argue that, given the situation at the end, Holdo erred in withholding her plan from the incredibly small contingent of troops remaining. But Poe’s defiance of Leia in the beginning would be worthy of a court-martial.
Conservatives should point out that liberals don’t own a monopoly over women existing in the hierarchy of leadership and authority. The Book of Judges in the Bible contains the account of Deborah, the Judge, directing Barak to lead a battle against the evil Sisera — very similar to Leia directing Poe to lead the assault against the First Order.
Barak obeyed Deborah’s orders. But just as the glory of the victory would not ultimately fall to Barak, but to the woman Jael, it seems that the glory of the movie’s final space battle would fall to Holdo, who arguably drove a stake through the ship of the Supreme Commander of the First Order.
One reviewer wrote that it is as if Holdo is a combination of the “typical feminist” and “the Goddess of Wisdom,” an ultimate creation that puts down toxic masculinity. But isn’t “Wisdom” personified as a woman in Proverbs?
Are male Conservatives inherently against the idea of strong female characters in movie? Are women not allowed to assume leadership roles?
Long-term thinking is the mark of future orientation. Short-term thinking means you are intensely present-oriented. Present-oriented people pay high interest on rapidly depreciating consumer goods. Future-oriented people save their money and generate reasonable returns over the long-run. They have money to invest because they didn’t spend it all being present-oriented in their youth.
You can argue that Holdo should have revealed her plan, but there’s no justification for Poe’s actions in the movie’s opening space battle. His actions were impulsive. Impulsive reactions are the marks of a present-oriented person who lacks long-term perspective.
Christians own the playbook on long-term perspective and planning. But the leftists have stolen this playbook from them and have attained mastery at executing it over the last 300 years.
And so, in their forgotten wisdom, Conservatives fail to learn a crucial lesson, even though the leftists lob opportunity after opportunity to try. The lesson is this: the action is the reaction. In the case of The Last Jedi, the most important action isn’t the liberals claiming the movie as their own. It’s the reaction that their actions provoked in the Conservatives that matters.
In their reaction, Conservatives made themselves look like idiots. The response from the liberals was typical: they must hate women, they say; women need to be kept down, they think; strong women are disobedient women; competent women are disobedient women — the charges go on and on, all because Conservative critics reacted impulsively against the liberal action. The liberals make it seem as if Conservatives have forgotten about the Proverbs 31 woman.
Conservatives have got to wise up. The liberals play this game better than they do. They must realize they are always being lured into a trap.
Ultimately in the Star Wars movie universe, it doesn’t matter what happens to the characters inside. They’re locked in a vicious circle of back-and-forth between light and dark.
Most people want to see The Light Side ultimately triumph. It’s impossible if the creators remain consistent with the fictional universe, but we can push that to the side for the sake of suspending disbelief and for the joy of entertainment.
The liberals want to see light and dark merge. They recognize the logic of the universe. To them, it mirrors our own: meaninglessness everywhere. Jedi. Sith. Who cares if one or the other is destroyed. The Force is always turning, and the galaxy always churning. Empires are rising and falling. So are Republics. Might as well live it up before you die. What’s wrong with a Jedi tapping the Dark Side and throwing a little Force Lightning every now and then? Or Force choking a New Order general?
But to the rest of us, there are some lines you should never cross. They are ethical lines: the line between right and wrong. The liberals want to see movies like Star Wars erase that line and plunge our characters into a bland, gray, misery mire of hopelessness. That’s what they want for this world, too. They want a grand administrative state where everybody speaks in bureaucratese, and where everyone thinks politically correct thoughts.
But I don’t know why. From their point of view, it’s all meaningless.