Monday, March 20, 2006

'V for Vendetta's' counterfeit revolution

I understand why libertarians are all orgasmic over V for Vendetta, the Wachowski brothers' adaptation of Alan Moore's dystopian graphic novel. Much akin to libertarian itself, this is a movie that glorifies revolution without ideas.

The movie's premise is as follows: fueled by the collapse of the US and its failed war against Jihad and after enduring a biological attack that killed 100,000 Britons, the United Kingdom has become a totalitarian dictatorship. One man, concealing his identity by his omnipresent Guy Fawkes mask and known only as "V," begins a violent crusade to destroy the government.

Why does "V" engage in his crusade? As the victim of the government's medical testing, "V" knows that the current governing party created the pandemic that led to its current stranglehold on political power. Does "V" communicate this seemingly crucial fact (and the philosophy behind it) when he seizes the nation's airwaves to mark his destruction of London's Old Bailey in the beginning of the movie? No, there's no Galt's speech presented here. "V" simply states that something is wrong with world and that Britons should join him in the streets when he blows up Parliament a year later in honor of Guy Fawkes Night. After declaring to one of the film's villains that "ideas are bulletproof," does "V" offer any glimpse of what ideas his revolution fights for, instead of what it fights against? Again, "V" is no John Galt. Instead, he is a bloody anarchist who enshrines vengeance over the principle of individual rights.

So while "V" can quote the Jeffersonian admonition that "people ought not fear their governments, governments ought to fear their people," he can't seem to quite recall the portion of the Declaration of Independence that established why a people would ever need to create a government in the first place. V for Vendetta offers chum for practically anyone who would like to unleash a blood frenzy against government, including Muslims upset about Koran abuse, homosexuals tired of government oppression, people opposed to genetic engineering, surveillance cameras, taxation, or the war in Iraq--with "V" it doesn't really matter why. If you hate the state, "V" throws you a bone. Only intellectual revolutionaries, such as the American founders or Objectivists, are left out of V for Vendetta's premise.

And in a moment of utter irony, despite seeking to slip in an indictment of the Bush administration's expedition in Iraq, V for Vendetta nevertheless copies a key element of the administration's Forward Strategy for Freedom: the imposition of political change though force, without any corresponding intellectual argument or change.

And that's why at the hour of "V" triumph, when Parliament is destroyed, the tyrants are slain and the masses take to the streets, one can't help but wonder "and now what?" Such are the fruits of counterfeit revolutionaries.

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