Tag Archives: Panem

Hunger Games 2: Catching Fire; Are Lies and Murder the Essential Elements of Human Culture?

The late Anthropologist “Cultural Evolutionist” Leslie A. White, is justly famous for his antecedent definition of “culture”, which may be loosely paraphrased as “man’s uniquely extra-somatic adaptation to the environment, dependent upon symboling.”   The late “Conservative” British PM during WWII, Sir Winston Spencer Churchill (he had a great-grand niece named “Lady Diana Spencer”), is for his part justly famous for commenting something to the effect that men are the only creatures who periodically set out on campaigns of mass murder against their conspecifics for reasons only tangentially related to food and mating, the essential building blocks of evolution, if at all.

Preceding both White and Churchill was Sir James G. Frazer, the author of the 12 volume Golden Bough, “the mother of all” anthropology encyclopedias.

This week the beauteous Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of Katniss Everdeen in Catching Fire premiered in Los Angeles and happy I could be here to see it happen.  Suzanne Collins second book of the Hunger Games Trilogy is but poorly abstracted in the movie.  I’m not sure that anyone who had not read the book could really make sense of the plot.  The first Hunger Games movie provided a much more coherent summary of the written text, but luckily or unluckily that’s just not the point at all.  In some ways, spending two hours or so gazing at Jennifer Lawrence’s unique and unending deliciosity is quite enough but, after seeing the first movie some 17-20 times and reading and studying the trilogy intently for the entire summer thereafter, I have concluded and still believe that

The Hunger Games Trilogy is a brilliantly allegorical Revolutionary Text designed as a protest against the De Facto Reality of Modern American Statist (Degenerate Communist Realpolitik) “political reality.”    

Suzanne Collins officially states that her original inspiration for the story of the Hunger Games Tributes was the story of the Minotaur in Ancient Crete’s Labyrinth.  And this is quite on point and consistent with my own analysis.  The Minotaur mythically and allegorically recounted the historical transition from  rituals of human sacrifice to bull sacrifice to “game” among the ancient Hellenes.  Earlier this evening I was discussing Francisco Goya’s Tauromaquia series, and how this related to the story of the Minotaur and the Hunger Games.  (“Tauromaquia = tavromachia = “bull fighting”).  I feel I grew up with bullfighting in the Opera Carmen, in my years in Mexico, Colombia, Honduras,  Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Spain….although to be honest in all those years I never once attended a real live bull fight—call me a stuck up WASPY Prude, go ahead, I dare you…. but I think I understand that there is a strong emotional and psychological connection between games which involve ritualized murder and the risk of death…..the very story of the Golden Bough….

Or is it the story of humanity?  Are lies and murder the essential elements of human culture?  “Man’s uniquely extra-somatic adaptation to the environment dependent upon symboling… In that all symbols by necessity abstract reality in an arbitrary manner, are all symbolic expressions essentially lies?  Does all linguistic expression inherently falsify the real world?

Or are some lies worse than others?  The movie does not manage to portray the deviousness or the oppression of President Snow’s regime in Panem, or of the role the Hunger Games play in that reality.  But every element of politics in Panem is false and deceitful.  And the magic of Katniss Everdeen is that she possesses an emotional will to surmount the ritual combat, murder, and sacrifice for the sake of love…. So the Hunger Games seems to reduce life (by and with a marvelous array of symbols) to Freud’s abstractions of the forces of Eros and Thanatos—“Love and Death” (also the title of a marvelous movie by Woody Allen and Calvert Watkins’ selection of the primary elementary themes of all ancient myths and epics…)

Earlier this month I commented on Human Sacrifice in Africa—why indeed is Human Sacrifice—MURDER, so absolutely essential to human life and society?  If it is not essential, then why is it everywhere, universally and diachronically omnipresent?  In both Frazer’s original works and all spinoff commentaries, from Jessie Laidley Weston’s From Ritual to Romance to Gillian Feely-Harnik’s more recent commentaries, the question: WHY IS MURDER SO IMPORTANT TO HUMAN CULTURE? Remains unanswered, and yet clearly it is. 

Hollywood may be disgusting and degenerate in a thousand commercially successful ways (ok, possibly several million, actually), but it seems to reflect something real and genuine about the (quite possibly disgusting and degenerate) essence of human nature.  Hollywood could not make it through one week of television or cinema without killing off hundreds of people in more-or-less “true life crime” scenarios.  Why is that?   Why are all or nearly all religions, including everything from Christianity to Aztec Idolatry to the post-World War II “secular religion” based on the memory (or imagination) of the Nazi Holocaust, why are all human religions based on murder?  How many (if any) great stories can you think of which do not either focus on or center around one or more murders, unjust killings, senseless wars?  Can human culture exist without murder and deception?  Can human language exist without lies?

A New Saint John the Baptist? Or is she doomed to the fate of Cassandra? Thoughts for June 23-24, Johannisnacht und Johannistag

I am sure that some readers are already weary of my Hunger Games obsession with this latest experiment in Science Fiction as Mythic Reality/Historical and Prophetic Allegory.  Rather like Saul of Tarsus blinded on the road to Damascus, I am a late convert, and have that same “recent convert’s fanaticism” that Paul had, which my grandmother always used to make fun of in people of our time. Having only discovered the series on March 23, 2012, when the movie came out, today, June 23, is my 90 day “anniversary” as a Hunger Games Fanatic—and to think I went to see it at midnight on that day merely out of a long-standing habit of trying to see movies on the early morning premier.  At that time I knew absolutely nothing about the series.  

But since then, I have not only seen the movie countless times and read all three books, but become convinced that Suzanne Collins is a voice crying in the wilderness to prepare the way for—the future of North America.  My question today is whether she is the new Saint John, making straight in the desert a highway for our savior, or doomed to the fate of Cassandra of Troy—granted by Apollo the gift of prophecy but cursed never to be believed (until it’s quite too late).  

A close friend is facing an appeal of a major constitutional case in Florida that has already dragged on for seven years.  She is trying to decide whether to quit or go on forward.  I have told her there’s no purpose in proceeding unless she runs the race as if to win.  So I wrote her:

You have faced an unjust judge for a very long time, maybe even several.  (See Luke 18: 1-8, below).  Are you ready to faint?  If you want peace at last, I don’t want to sell you on anything.  I for my part do not fear fighting nearly so much as I fear the day when I might stop fighting.  The constant striving and the eternal journey, the quest, those are the most important parts of being alive, to me at least.  And I always quote what Victor Laszlo said to Rick in the movie Casablanca“You ask why do we keep on fighting?  You might as well ask why do we keep on breathing.  If we stop breathing, we die.  If we stop fighting, the world will die.”  I personally have lost more than most people in the world ever came near to having; I confess I was born into something like the top of the top 1%, certainly more than about 99% of the people in the world, outside of America and Western Europe, anyhow, could ever even have dreamt of having. While was growing up and, really, for a large part of my adult life, I had everything without working for it.  I don’t anymore, pure and simple.  That was a loss, but none of that deters me.  And none of that makes me feel anything but admiration for those who had had the strength and courage to work hard and achieve great things through dull hard work throughout their lives.
If it scares you to think of losing everything because you fight, then you really need to stop fighting.  Jesus died so that we might have a chance to be saved, that we might have a chance to live free—but He never once told us that freedom or salvation were easy—Look at Matthew 10:34-39, below my signature at the bottom of all of my letters…. do you want to take your cross and follow after him to Calvary (the “hill of the skull”?).  I do, but I don’t want to drag you if you don’t want to go.
From a different historical angle, but way similarly, from my new favorite books, the Hunger Games Trilogy, there is a song called “The Hanging Tree” (you know, the Cross is sometimes called a “Tree” and we know that crucified victims are always “hung” on the cross–albeit by nails in their arms rather than ropes….)
Here is the “Hanging Tree” that Hunger Games heroine Katniss Everdeen learned from her father.  One of the beautiful parts of Suzanne Collins’ art, in my mind, is how she uses words to create and describe a heroine who is not at all skilled in verbal communication but whose emotional power and commitment always lead her to do the right thing. The intuitive truth in music and singing is a recurring motif in the books.  Katniss Everdeen, like C&W’s Loretta Lynn, was born a coal miner’s daughter, in a cabin on a hill in very poor corner Appalachia.  At one point, by a mountain lake cabin, Katniss spontaneously sings this song, which her father had taught her, primarily for the benefit of a mute and voiceless person whose voice box and tongue were cut out by the cruel NDAA-worthy “Capitol” government of Katniss’ highly centralized future North American Home called “Panem” (Panem is, I think a rather elaborate Classical Greek-Latin pun, I think, on the word “Bread” on the one hand and a previously decentralized confederation E Pluribus Unum (out of many, one) subjected to a an all powerful “Pantocracy”—oppressive supreme government):
Are you, are you
Coming to the tree
Where they strung up a man they say murdered three.
Strange things did happen here
No stranger would it be
If we met up at midnight in the hanging tree.

Are you, are you
Coming to the tree
Where the dead man called out for his love to flee.
Strange things did happen here
No stranger would it be
If we met up at midnight in the hanging tree.

Are you, are you
Coming to the tree
Where I told you to run so we’d both be free.
Strange things did happen here
No stranger would it be
If we met up at midnight in the hanging tree.

Are you, are you
Coming to the tree
Wear a necklace of rope, side by side with me.
Strange things did happen here
No stranger would it be
If we met up at midnight in the hanging tree.
Aside from being an eerily old-fashioned, even ancient-sounding piece created by Collins in the first decade of the 3rd Millennium, this song is a metaphoric foundation of a rebel dirge—a cross between Irish & Scots that is, in fact, somewhat characteristic of Appalachia.   The “man who murdered three” who was hanged on the tree, the man on the tree singing for his love to join him, was no ordinary criminal but a rebel, a revolutionary against the strong centralized government of Panem.
In the Germanic/Celtic tradition, hanging was the form of human sacrifice preferred. Even to commit suicide by rope was to identify with the God Odin/Wotan, who once, for nine nights hanged himself on a windy tree, “a sacrifice of myself to myself” as the Skaldic texts recited—the tree in question, the Linden Baum, was for a long time associated with hanging, suicide, and sacrifice, even into the 19th century where it figures in Franz Schubert’s song cycle “The Winter’s Journey” (Die Winterreise), never more ably performed than by the just recently departed Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.  The identity of the Hanged Man, even in Tarot card readings, with Christian sacrifice and prophecy seems inescapable.
In Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games (Vol. 3) the Hanged Man’s murders were not homicides committed in passion, then, nor for mere material/commercial gain, but were almost certainly acts of revolutionary defiance: SIC SEMPER TYRANNIS, probably the shooting of Capitol officials, Capitol Peacemakers, Coal Mining Company, or possibly even organizers of the sacrificial Hunger Games themselves.
I think Suzanne Collins is clearly commenting on the present for thousand different reasons, not the least of which is that, in the world of the Hunger Games, private ownership of guns and even bows and arrows is strictly forbidden, punishable by death…..GUN CONTROL by the Experts like Mao Tse Tung, Stalin, and Pol Pot, but being implemented today by the Senate, by the Department of State under Hillary Clinton, and by your favorite President and mine, Barack Hussein Obama, aka Barry Soetoro, the child of a Kenyan Communist who grew up in Indonesia to become the first truly African (by his origin more than his race) President of the United States, and the first completely and overly anti-Constitutional, and anti-Capitalist, Dictator of the Proletariat.
In any event, in the song above, the Hanged Man’s public execution was punishment, but, as more importantly, the song itself, above, that Katniss sang to the mute victim of oppression, was banned an effective way to deter anyone thinking of joining the freedom fighter/terrorist’s cause.  Capital punishment, the death penalty, here became employed as Capitol punishment, a means to ingrain and inculcate fear in the districts of Panem, fear of the consequences of resistance and rebellion even stronger than the common people’s hatred of their masters.
In essence, then the song, ‘The Hanging Tree’ calls on the living who love freedom to join the martyred freedom fighter in putting their holy cause above concerns for their individual lives.  Every bit as much as “La Marseillaise,” the Hanging Tree is an invitation to revolution, i.e., to risk death in the hope of a greater life—even recognizing that it will not JUST be impure blood that stains the ploughed furrows of the fields.  I hope that someone will put the Hanging Tree to a tune where it can become a national hit, so that Suzanne Collins’ brilliant insights, first published in 2008, the year of Barak Hussein Obama’s ominous election as the American Mao, will not simply recede into popular culture history, but will actually motivate the creation of….dare I say it, a NEW BIRTH OF FREEDOM in this country—and that her warnings against the evils of absolute centralization, totalitarian dictatorship (an all Powerful President limited by neither the power of Congress nor a viable Supreme Court), will be heard by many and will herald the arrival of one who will live (or live and die, as may be necessary) to overthrow this menace and restore the American Republic to the real and authentic American people.
As summer begins, I would wish everyone a Happy Johannisnacht, Johannistag, Saint John’s Day this June 23-24, and to remember the Voice of Him that Cryeth in the Wilderness, Prepare ye the Way of the Lord—Make straight in the Desert a Highway, for our God.  It might not be a bad time to read the opening chapter of the Gospel of Mark…. even though it is always good to remember also what the prince of peace once said in Matthew 10: 34-39
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth:
I came not to send peace, but a sword.
For I am come to set a man at variance against his father,
and the daughter against her mother,
and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 
And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.
He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me:
and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 
And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
or else what I consider a closely parallel text in John 12: 23-27:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Unless a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.  If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.

And above all,  never stop praying for justice—even when the Judges won’t listen, or even when they try to shut you up, as they do, with increasing frequency, in the early stages of the establishment of PANEM in North America….:

Luke 18:1-8

18 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:
And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.
And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;
Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.
And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.
And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?
I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

April 13: The Hunger Games, Judicial Immunity, and the Dawn of a New Dark Age

Life in its petty pace from day-to-day (and related notes on why I’m not on the California ballot)

Is it a coincidence that the California Secretary of State refused to approve me for a ballot place as candidate for the United States Senate Seat currently held by Diane Feinstein within 3 days of Facebook Canceling my profile because I was “promoting or organizing violence?”  Since I have never (to the best of my knowledge) advocated (much less “organized”) violence except to praise the spirit of continuing revolution, it was a great shock to me, but that was how my Spring season began.  (My long-time personal assistant and “Man Friday” Peyton assures me that I’ve never organized anything in my life, violent, peaceful, or indifferent)  

The snafu that led to my ballot position not being approved may yet prove the subject of a lawsuit, so I shan’t go into details except to say: California’s “Top Two, Voter Nominated” primary system only makes sense if non-professional political operatives (i.e. “voters”) are actually permitted to nominate candidates, and this requires a certain exercise of common sense on the part of the Registrar of Voters in each county as well as the Secretary of State.  Obviously, my supporters are largely battered down middle class working people who no longer trust the government to begin with.  They are anything BUT government insiders.  If only political insiders can maneuver the system then it is NOT a true “voter nominated” system.

I would guess that, in fact, the “top two” system was designed to protect the best funded insider candidates from even any hypothetical threat from outsiders like me, and that is, of course, a way of stifling change and preventing any real “dynamic” in the democratic process.  “Top two” primaries arguably serve a system well-designed to engender a “thousand year reich”, ironic indeed since one would think that individuals of Barbara Boxer’s, Diane Feinstein’s and Henry Waxman’s background and ethnic origins would not WANT a thousand year reich….but perhaps the quibble was with the identity of the master race destined to rule for a millennium, rather than whether a unitary elite should have such power…. forever.

Remembering V-for-Vendetta and Serenity from 2005-2006

The only redeeming feature of Spring 2012 so far is a new movie, which equals and possibly surpasses in political insight my (obvious, previous) all time favorite: V-for-Vendetta.   V-for-Vendetta was a futuristic science fiction (literally based on cartoon characters based on a four centuries old English school boys’  rhyme about a highly manipulated historical even in 1605) and as such it served as an allegory about 9-11 and the “W” Bush (43rd Presidential) administration in the USA.   The lead characters, the Guy Fawkes’ masked “V” (Hugo Weaving) and Evey Hammond” (Nathalie Portman), were an amazing couple NOT in love (at least not romantically, and not in any way at all, at least not until Evey’s post-mortem eulogy) were, as cartoon characters are, difficult to relate to any ordinary people one might encounter in life.  

The brilliance of V-for-Vendetta was the incisive treatment of 9-11 and all that had happened in and around that date under the Bush 43 administration: barely a stone was left unturned to expose the rotten mould and horrible colony of insect life underneath it.  The sad part about V-for-Vendetta is that it’s message apparently resonated with so few people.  

As a movie, it should have had a national impact on political thought, revealing the ruling government as an oligarchy of hypocrisy, lies and fear through government media manipulation concealing a simple policy of orchestrated terrorism attributed to foreigners, specifically Islamic fundamentalists, in the justification of never-ending war, even though it was in fact the brainchild policy of the government itself.  

Above all, V-for-Vendetta reminded us of Adolf Hitler’s brilliant but evil insight, that the great mass of people will sooner believe a great lie than a small one.  Another movie concerning a “big lie” by the government was Joss Whedon’s beautiful epic Serenity.  The tale of the outer-space “wild-west racially non-discriminatory confederates” was, in so many ways, merely the extra galactic, historically unspecific, parallel to V.  Unlike V, Serenity did not focus on any specific modern event like 9-11, but  very generally shared a focus on governmental experiments in biotechnology and psychological manipulation as the root of transformational events in human history.  Of course, Serenity very unusually and distinctively echoed and memorialized the injustice of the Confederate defeat at the hands of a technologically superior Centralized government (“the Federation”).

Die Hungerspiele von Panem/Die Tribute von Panem (Totliche Spiele) (You’re a Damn Confederate, aren’t you?)

The new movie which in my mind at least now threaten’s V-for-Vendetta’s supremacy as the greatest political movie of our time premiered on Friday March 23, and is of course, the Hunger Games. (I confess I have not read Suzanne Collins’ books—everything I say here is based on the movie and the movie alone, which I found absolutely overwhelming—but I didn’t read Gone with the Wind until I was 26, by which time I had seen the movie at leas 30 times in my life).  The Hunger Games lacks any of the cartoonish elements of V-for-Vendetta and Serenity (as much as I like and appreciate the genuinely artistic value of those elements).  

My suspicions of Collins’ perspectives as those of a not-so-closet Confederate sympathizer gain more than moderate a bolster from the knowledge that, although born in Connecticut, the author was the daughter of a Vietnam veteran and spent her High School (i.e. critical formative identity) years in the heart of Dixie, specifically in Alabama in the 1970s…. where she attended  high school at the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham, where she was a Theater Arts major.  Oh yea, FWIW, the Alabama School of Fine Arts was founded by George Corley Wallace’s Wife, Governor Lurleen Wallace, in 1968, shortly before she tragically died of Cancer at age 41, and George Corley Wallace was Governor 1971-1979, all through Suzanne’s High School years.

Now, one way of looking at it is that, perhaps, the Hunger Games takes place after the collapse of the United States and Civil War to which the government news commentators in V-for-Vendetta made such frequent allusion.  According to those reports, the USA “the country that had everything” had become a “cesspool” of continental proportions due to its “Godlessness.”  While that’s a legitimate perspective, I think that the overwhelming weight of evidence and frame of reference in the Hunger Games is to the War of Southern Independence/War Between the States/War of 1861-1973, realizing that those dates are not the ones usually used in High School American History texts.

In fact, The Hunger Games in some of its visuals at least, almost approximates a kind of a futuristic Nanook of the North staged realism, focusing on the lives of the common people of the post-War (I mean Post-War Between the States) south, especially of the Appalachian regions of North Carolina (where The Hunger Games was filmed “on site”).  As in Whedon’s Serenity, the strong suggestion of Confederate nostalgia and sympathy is, to my mind at least, absolutely undeniable.  

It is too much to ask that we NOT see parallels to the War of 1861-65 and its aftermath when the “Treaty of the Treason” and “War” movie both recite that 13 Districts of “Panem” (“Panem” to my eyes sounds like a Hellenized partial translation of “E Pluribus Unum“, cf. Pangea) rose up against the Paternalistic “Welfare” Government that “fed them, protected them, cared for them”, that the District 12 setting is so obviously the REAL Southern landscape of coal-mining Appalachia, and that the poor whites of District 12 have a closely parallel lives and culture to at least the partially segregated black-African dominated population of District 11.

Without wanting totally to “spoil” the Hunger Games for anyone who hasn’t seen it, I will just summarize my interpretation of its wild popularity this way (aside from the obvious: a very human love story about two extraordinarily mature for their age teenagers who were unlikely ever to have fallen in love, but end up being “perfect” for each other, played by a genuinely handsome “All American Boy” lead and beautiful soft-spoken and emotional “Tomboy-type-Girl” who is so hot she literally sets her red dress on fire, combined with lots of action): Even though most Americans are not in fact hungry for food (that is the “Nano of the North” element reality of the starving South of 1865-1950, seeing oppressed, hard-working, underdogs whose primary source of protein was from very small game—squirrels, because the deer were almost all hunted out) people are clearly hungry for genuine justice and a fair playing field. (For one alternative, but to my mind, quite beautifully written and  excellent review of the Hunger Games, I recommend “The Feminist Spectator” by Princeton University’s Jill Dolan, published on April 4: http://www.feministspectator.blogspot.com/.  I somehow doubt that Professor Dolan would agree with me on the strong Confederate Sympathies implicit in The Hunger Games but there was once a President of Princeton University, the only Ph.D. ever to become President of the USA in fact, who thought that Birth of a Nation was the greatest historical drama in history, and portrayed the reality of his native south perfectly—unfortunately, that was also the Democratic President who signed into law (1) the 16th Amendment and Federal Income Tax, (2) the Federal Reserve Banking System, and the (3) the 17th Amendment, namely Woodrow Wilson….)

Hunger for Justice and Freedom

Like the residents of the 13 oppressed Districts of Panem, despite all government hypocrisy and lies to the contrary Americans both you and old today know that the odds are NOT in their favor and that, in fact, the odds are fairly hopelessly stacked against them.  And yet the system has this tiny escape valve: that about 1 in every 24 people can make it rich.  That is, one-in-twenty four of the oppressed can make it rich IF they’re willing to “play the government’s game” and basically, kill a lot of their fellow citizens in the process.  As of this April 13, 2012, I have seen the Hunger Games 5 times, and each time I’ve liked it more, seen more details.  I will have to read the books before completely integrating it into my thought processes about modern pop-cultural reaction to the impending doom that this American Life obviously faces, but I submit to you: the American people (on the whole, and certainly as a population compared to many parts of the world at the present and throughout history) may not be starving or hungry for food, but they hunger for justice and an even playing field, and they do not “relish” the very real prospect of a thousand years of subservience to “the government that feeds, them clothes them, takes care of them.”

Of Time and Space and Presidential Succession in the Leap Years…..

The Hunger Games takes place on the 74th anniversary of the institution of these gladiatorial combats.  The significance of that 74 years has bothered me.  On the one hand, it COULD refer to 1860 (the election of Abraham Lincoln and the secession of “District 1, South Carolina…) + 74 = 1934, the year in which Roosevelt’s New Deal started WPA reorganization of the South in earnest, or it could refer to the original publication date of the book, 2008, as the 74th year since 1934—or it could refer to both.  The coincidence, again, is hard to avoid.  1934 was the first full year of (de facto) Socialist Dictatorship in the United States (Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected in 1932, took office in March 1933, and many of his first year legislative proposals only took effect in 1934).  2008, 74 years later, Barack Hussein Obama, the first Communist President of the United States, was elected and took office, “perfecting” or at least completing the process begun by Abraham Lincoln in 1860, a mere 12 years after the publication of the Communist Manifesto in London in 1848.  (See Al Benson, Jr., & Walter Donald Kennedy’s 2011: Lincoln’s Marxists, Pelican Publishing, Gretna Louisiana, a fine historical summary of the connexion between Communism and Central government predominance in the USA, a historical summary which is easy to read although not nearly well-enough documented with footnotes and source citations as professional historians would like and scholars generally would appreciate).

Another aspect of the Hunger Games is the correlation between the oppressive Central government of Panem and Edward Gibbons’ the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, on the one hand, and a heartless, Machiavellian version of the Social Darwinism of the late 19th century on the other.  The capital of Panem is degenerate in a distinctly Roman Imperial Silver Age manner (Rome’s “Silver Age” normally said to run from the death of Augustus in A.D. 14 through the death of Marcus Aurelius in A.D. 180).  Nero and even Caracalla (“Post-Silver Age” Emperor from A.S. 198-217) would have felt quite at home in the Capitol of Panem, I think.  But the “Emperor” himself is a distinctly late 19th century Anglo-American type (President Snow, played by Donald Sutherland), who has a Romano-“Robber-Baron’s” scorn for the “underdog” without any explanation or moral justification, just the political desire to keep himself and his world on top and everyone else underneath.  President Snow appears to share none of the cultural degeneracy of the Capital, but has a great deal in common with aristocratic Victorian gardeners of the late 19th century.  

Snow’s name is English, as are most of the names of the characters known from District 12.  Most of the residents of the Capitol City, however, and apparently of Districts 1-2, have Roman names: “Cato”, “Caesar”, “Seneca”, “Octavia”, and “Claudius” just to name a few…..  

So the Hunger Games follows the pattern of Serenity and V-for-Vendetta in another distinctly modern way (although all these movies do it well, and for good purposes and effect, quite a few others, such as Captain America and [the movie that I dread most]—Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer, do it very poorly and for improper purposes): historical metaphors and mythic realities are conflated, merged, and reorganized.

NOX OCCIDIT (“NIGHT FALLS”)

In any event, there is a Leonard Cohen song that summarizes why the Hunger Games, as a historical-mythological and futuristic allegory of injustice and game rigging, is so wildly popular, and that song is:

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows that it’s me or you
And everybody knows that you live forever
Ah when you’ve done a line or two
Everybody knows the deal is rotten
Old Black Joe’s still pickin’ cotton
For your ribbons and bows
And everybody knows

And everybody knows that the Plague is coming
Everybody knows that it’s moving fast
Everybody knows that the naked man and woman
Are just a shining artifact of the past
Everybody knows the scene is dead
But there’s gonna be a meter on your bed
That will disclose
What everybody knows

And everybody knows that you’re in trouble
Everybody knows what you’ve been through 
From the bloody cross on top of Calvary 
To the beach of Malibu 
Everybody knows it’s coming apart
Take one last look at this Sacred Heart
Before it blows
And everybody knows

The saddest difference between V-for-Vendetta and Serenity on the one hand and the Hunger Games on the other is the complete transparency of the society of Panem: “Everybody knows that the system’s rotten…. everybody knows that the war is over, everybody knows that the good guys lost.”  Everybody knows that the government that feeds the people, clothes them, and cares for them does not like underdogs.  President Snow is a late 19th Century-styled  avatar of George H.W. Bush (41st), Bill Clinton, George W. Bush (43rd), & Barack Hussein Obama all rolled into one.  

At least in V-for-Vendetta and Serenity, there still existed the apparent hope that revelation of truth could lead to revolution and change. 

But now President Obama signs the National Defense Authorization Act allowing indefinite detention of American Citizens on American soil without charges or trial, and he does so unblinkingly and unabashedly.  President Obama jingoistically adopts the dead Trayvon Martin as his own son in an effort to exacerbate racial tensions and divisions to his advantage in an election year at the same time that he tells the AIPAC Conference that he supports Israel’s quest to maintain ethnic homogeneity and integrity.  

There are no secrets in modern America, our Joseph Stalin, aka President Obama, has no need of Hitlerian, Rooseveltian, or “W” Bushian type “Big Lie”—he tells us all that he wants the power to take away all our rights, but asks us to trust him that he won’t really do it—except in the case of real underdogs, like, I guess, for example, George Zimmerman?  And speaking of that, how many of you imagine that George Zimmerman, whether he be called White, Hispanic, or Jewish, or all of the above, will get a fair trial?

So now to celebrate April 13 even further: WHERE WILL WE BE 74 years from now, or from 2008, say in 2082?  I predict we may well be in a New Dark Age, and not just because I’m not on the California Ballot for this year (although that is symptomatic).  

So far as “fixed games” go, what could be worse than a criminal prosecution set by agreement between Judges and prosecutors arranged through bribes?  Is that the American Way?  We wouldn’t like to think so.  In 1980, the year I graduated from the College of Arts & Sciences at Tulane and started graduate school at Harvard, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California said that “fixing” cases was not a normal judicial function and that no judicial immunity could attach to such activities: Rankin v Howard 633 F2d 844 _9th Circuit December 5 1980.  A short six years later, that same Ninth Circuit reversed itself and found judicial immunity from civil suit for such activities: Ashelman v Pope 793 F2d 1072 *EN BANC* 9th Circuit 1986

But the outrageous history of the suppression of judicial immunity just goes on and on through the subsequent citation history of Ashelman v. Pope to show how official immunity for prosecutors and the executive branch has almost merged with Judicial immunity to the point that the government is just one big immune mass of oppression against the people, and the modern government of E Pluribus Unum, aka “Panem” can prosecute you, jail you, and torture you, with complete immunity.