Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Anarchic Society in Jeremiah

So, here is the first follow-up post on the HBO show: Jeremiah. I know it is a bit late, because I promised to post it at once after the first one, but I got delayed.
However, here we go. I strongly advise you to read the first part and to watch at least the first season so you can follow my explanations.

Jeremiah hasn't got an overall steady plot, but it moves in a consecutive line with some out of the way episodes in between. So let us consider the type of anarchic societies present in this show. We have a huge variety of examples, starting with the first episode and going long into the second season.
First we have Cleo and her gang ruling a town in the Western part of what was once the United States of America. She rules the town with an iron fist and values brute strength over any kind of compromise. Cleo also has a high regard of science, but only as long as it suits her and leads to more power. She is an ambitious ruler of the small town, set to conquer the surrounding villages. We have here the standard tyrannic type of anarchic society, which is most notably known in todays society.
One ruler or a gang of brutes have a harsh iron hand over the population taking whatever they need. However, there is one nice trait about Cleo, she cares in so far for her people as she doesn't enslave them nor kill them without a good reason. (Of course, this can be said about most dictators.. they have their own reasons for killing people, not all justifiable) She preserves a status quo and peace and justic in the societies. But this anarchic type is not the liberty loving one.
So, let's go a step further.

In a later episode we see that Cleo is not the only settlement around and there are more peaceful, stable and less violent ones. None is stronger than the other and so they reached an equilibium which perserves peace (balance of power!). Now, this comes closer to the anarcho-capitalist view of Anarchic societies. However, those settlements do not work together in any peaceful way, but rather hunt each other down waiting for an opportunity to claim some super-weapon that gives them the upper-hand. We still have some sort of government (may it be one man or an entire squad or group of the society),so it is despisable.

What other societies does JMS show? Well, we have a religious settlement in one of the episodes of the first season. They are peaceful and law-abiding and instead of a government, they have a circle of elders to guide them. However, those elders are only the judges of the town, so this might be a close call to an anarchic society. We will see that this is not true.
Those elders have to get their legitimate power from two souces, first the kind of election and then the legitimation of the power itself. The first one is based on age and experience, which are two good factors, although it is age and experience in the bible and not in life.
This leads to the second factor of legitimation, the manifest on which the society builds and from which it derives its ideology. In this case it is some thwarted religion that calls the commandments their law-system and thus clings on a god-fearing path. Since this eliminates the prospect of full-fledged human choice of living as in anarcho-capitalism, we have some traits that don't correspond. These are the fallacies that almost kill Jeremiah and Curdy in this episode.

However, in the second season everything changes. A foreign power threatens the decentralised West and thus forces all of them to talk with each other. We then have a new constellation that goes back to the founding days of the United States and the beginning of the founding-father's ideas.
Those tyrans of each settlement come together to talk. And for the first time they are forced to trade and see the long-term benefit of such a system. The military society of Thundermountain gets them to work together and in return offers them their vast military abilities to fight the enemy.
We now have something that comes close to an anarchic society or at least a nightwatch state.
The military of Thundermountain is funded by the different settlements and in return gives them protection. On the otherside those villages have to adopt something like the Bill of Rights and thus leaving their people to the freedom of choice.
At the end of season 2 we have the final victory of the forces of Thundermountain over the foreigners and thus the victory of a Minarchist state over nature.

So, there aren't any other dangers to anarchic societies?
Well, there are two different dangers. First, anarchic societies can fall for racism or authoritarianism and this is the most dangerous enemy for these societies.

I will show in the next essay the compatibility of racism and authoritarianism in Jeremiah and the picture it draws of authoritarian or totalitarian societies. Those kind of ideologies are to be seen everywhere in JMS work (especially in Babylon 5).
He also underlines the importance of faith in any authoritarian society in several of episodes during the second season, but that's for different post ;)

D'oh, I was wrong!

I must apologize for some of my assumptions about Germany. It isn't socialism that is still present in germany (or better on the rise). No, it is something we had a few decades ago and of which I talked yesterday.
I found this short paragraph in Ayn Rand's novel "Capitalism: The Unkown Ideal":

"[W]elfare-statists are not socialists... they want to 'preserve' private property -- with government control of its use and disposal. But that is the fundamental characteristic of fascism" (page 211).
So, I made the error in this. Well, in the future, I will be more certain in my judgement and perhaps I should review some of my reports, but I don't think they are faulty in any logical sense. Still facism and socialism have similar ideals, to limit personal choice-making and this is true free private property.

by Max Schwing(

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

The German Chancellor may cheer himself!

Of course, it was a big gamble, but it was certainly a victory for Schroeder. He has done the country no favor, but he has expanded his political status in several countries around the world. What I am talking of? The deal between Schroeder and Putin, of course! He didn't do it for his country or for anybody else, but himself and his network of political clients. The billions payed back by the Federal Government of Russia will be used to clear-wash Germans financial balance at the end of the year. Of course, he also did some coroporate-statism getting the German industry (more exactly: Siemens) a big contract with the Russian National Railroad about constructing and delivering 60 ICE's.

This will give him a lot of credit in our national media and among his politic friends. The everybody on the street will cheer him, because he will create some more positions to employ people. However, they tend to forget that first of all, those jobs will be only temporary, because the deal did not work on market demand, but on political network connections, thus the Russian Railroad might not deal with German contractors next time, if the political situation is different from now.
Secondly, Schroeder has again left a moraly continuous way. He may not be a Hypocrite by definition, but he isn't very steady in ethic challenges either.
Instead of condeming the Putinism and the war on Checheynia, he spoke only about topics, which are not in his resort, but part of free-market decisions.

We can see the pragmatic stand of Mr. Schroeder in all of those decisions and it is not only the viewpoint of Mr. Schroeder but of many politicians nowadays. It is the erosion of values, virtues and self-dignity and the rise of relativism in large scale that gave way to this kind of spineless persona!
We will hear more from flip-flop Schroeder in future and it will only reflect the state of our nation, or even better of our society and culture.
We have left the path of self-interest and egoism after the fall of the NAZI regime and the negative effects of those realizations still cling to our nation and to ourselves.
This might come from the constant preaching of our guilty in school's history lessons (although they are very valuable and a must be, we should tend to denounce the NAZIs explicitely and not every German).

Yes, German Totalitarianism has caused the death of millions and millions, but this was a generation ago and we are not the same as 6 decades ago. And I tend to say that the children does not inherite the guilt of the parents. I think that every child is a unique lifeform, which might be influenced by its parents here and there, but can be completely opposite to its parents and teachers. Thus it'd be injust to put all the guilt of a generation that slaughtered millions on this innocent child. How should it learn to respect itself and to claim the dignity to act as a free person, if you punish it for deeds it has not done...

And the result of this fallacy in history has brought creatures like Mr. Schroeder who evades any moral responsibility he has. But we are even more guilty for it, because we ignore it and make the same choice again and again.

Max Swing: Good TV Shows are still possible!

I just recently watched "Jeremiah" again, all two season there are. Although I am a big fan of Jay Michael Strazynski (known for the infamous Babylon 5 series, which ran over 5 seasons and had the best-thoughtout plot ever seen in television series), I can still say objectively that everyone should at least take a look on this series. It is compelling and science-fiction in its truest meaning.
Instead of just posing technology of the future, this series tries to show a society and how it could work. Although, this is not the true purpose and main theme behind this Show. I don't want to give away too much, so I just summarize it a bit.

The show takes place in a near future and develops a post-apocalyptic scenario. Governments and nations no longer exist and sceptics would say that the "survival of the fittest" is on the run. This is certainly true and there is a big blackhole of injustice or self-justice in this future. But there are still small settlements or groups that cling together and work peacefully with each other. Instead of money, the currency is tradable material. You get a beer for two cans of rice and so on.
How our world collapsed, you might ask now?
Well, that's easy. There was a Big Death, a super-virus that killed all people over the age of innocence. Everyone over the age of 30 died and the kids had to fend for themselves.
But instead of babaric uncontrolled violence or a tyranny of the strong, it created a lot of settlements who trade peacefully with each other. Of course, there were tyrannic regimes in some of the settlement, but they were not strong enough to rule all the other settlements.

Then everything changed when the remainings of the former military started to annex what was once theirs. They try to enforce a military dictatorship that would finally introduce the safe-authoritarian state which can be seen in 1984 (George Orwell).
But there is one small military base under control of the decendants of the military inhabitants of that base and this refuge starts to fight the forth coming future, the military dictatorship of the U.S. Army.

This show is about love of freedom, individuality and anti-authoritarianism. It is staged around two heros, Jeremiah and Cody. It outlines the morality of self-interest and the longing for independency. Building on this it features the core-theme of Authoritarian against Anarchic societies.

I will go deeper into the show in my next post. However, I recommend to watch at least some of the episodes, because the next post will reveal lots of the plot and thereby might make the show uninteresting to you.
We will look at how the show employs the anarchic society and what question it poses against it. I will also dwell on the two different authoritarian fractions the show gives us in the two seasons it has.
In the end, I will look at the exact picture of individuality and liberty in this show, which will be a difficult task, because it is thwarted in many ways.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

A typical German Movie

I have been in cinema early this week to watch one of the newly acclaimed German movies, "DIE FETTEN JAHRE SIND VORBEI". I thought I'd give it a try, because it is an independent production by a German screenwriter and besides it should have been refreshing against all those Hollywood Busters.
And it really had a tricky and well-thought out story line, the stylistic cinematographic work was except only a few flaws, good handcrafted work (less special-effects, more solid camera techniques) and it had several different themes. All in all, it was a rather funny fun-movie with an ambigious moral (not to say no moral at all ;) ) and an underlying principle that shouldn't inspire people.

We have an Nietzschean background in this movie that is screwed in several scenes and never truly the focus of the movie, which ruined it somewhat. However, there are other themes (which never present a solution) like a conflict of Youth and Elders, conservative against rebellious youth, egalitarian against snobism and of course, rich against poor.
I will return to that later, after you read the following summary of the movie (ATTENTION SPOILERS INCLUDED!!!). Just one last word before we start, the rich are portrayed stupidly and poorly as the amoral, evil snobs without any form of caring or insight, which is typical to nowadays movies, especially in Europe. However, it also has a true ring in respect of the Rich. They have lost philosophy and forsake it for their own disadvantage, because they regarded it as unnecessary. That's why the hostage Bernd cannot defend his position properly against the terrorist youth that confronts him with philosophic problems of todays world.

Let's start with a brief summary:


There are three young people, I'd say in the mid-twenties. Two male and one female, they are all into alternative way of living and they demonstrate against Sweatshops and the society in general. In the beginning of the movie, we see a few idealist youths(with the girl in the scene as a newly hired recruit for the anti-sweatshop demo) having a demonstration against violation of human rights and the unjust habits of the richt western-world against the so-called 3rd World.

This short scene is very important for the whole theme of the movie, so I will explain it in detail.
We see some of the young idealist enter a shop for shoes which have been produced (at least, the young ones proclaim it) in Indonesia by child labor. They try to convince some costumers, also young people, to boykott those products of the unjust capitalism of greed. The owner of the shop slowly, but forcefully, albeit formal and polite, pushs them to the door. There a German police unit already waited for those punks and they get beaten inside a police van.

Now, the story continues, when we see that Jule (the girl) moves to the apartment of the two boys Jan and Peter. Peter is her boyfriend so this is alright. Lisa works as a waitress part-times and had to sold her apartment due to unpaid bills. She also owes a debt to a rich person of about 96000 Euro. Lisa believes that her future life is destroyed by that money, although she never knew what to do with her life, later she admits that she only wanted to live from moment to moment.
We don't know what Jan does for a living, but Peter works for a security company and they break into houses which are equipped with security installations of former company. They don't steal anything, but instead they rearrange all the couches, chairs, paintings, pictures, sculptures and so on. They are rather creative in it and show a certain amount of style.
Then they leave a message behind, in form of a letter, that either says:
"Die Fetten Jahre sind vorbei" or "Sie sind zu reich" (The good years are over or You are too rich)
Those flyers are always signed with "Die Erziehungsberechtigten" (The Guardians). They do this, at least they give that reason, to change the world, to give birth to a more social conscience to those who don't have as much money.
Now, Lisa falls in love with Jan after some time and they break into the house of the person, which Lisa owes the money to. Of course, Peter doesn't know anything about it, because he is in Spain at that time. They not only rearrange the furnitures this time, but also leave a trail of destruction in the house. However, when they leave the house, they forget Lisa's cell-phone at the place.
When Peter returned from Spain, Lisa and Jan don't tell him, but decide to get the phone by themselves. This turns out to be a bad idea. While they are inside, the owner of the house "Bernd" returns and Lisa get caught on first sight. He remembers her, but can't alarm the police, because Jan hits him unconscious. They call Peter and the burglary turns into a kidnapping. They take Bernd as a hostage and flee to a mountain log cabin.
There the relationship between Lisa and Peter collapse, because she finally admits herself to love Jan. However, they reunite after some hours and at last they even get friends with Bernd. He understands their motives, but not their means. The hostage is reminded of his own youth as a member of the 60s movement and his rebellion against the state.

At last, they apologize and return him to his home, where he swears not to call the police and to rethink the 96000 euro debt of Lisa. However, as soon as the three kids left, he becomes thoughtful and falls back in his conservative role. Meanwhile the three youngsters finally decide to go on with their job to wake up the world against the capitalist greed.

Next day, the police is in front of the apartment where they lived. The special forces units rushes in but finds the place abandoned. A letter is pinned to the wall:
"Manche Menschen ändern sich nie!" (= Some people don't change!)
We see an intercut with Bernd in the police car, guiltly sneeking around.
Then we see the three young people in a spanish hotel, checking out. They take Bernd's mediterranian Yacht and rush of into the sunlight to a distant island, in order to cut three satelite transmission towers, which would end the TV transmission to all the people in Europe for days.

********* END OF SUMMARY ***********

You will see that this is a huge source not only for political philosophy, or political argumentations, but also for philosophy, psychology and several other interesting viewpoints. The amount of relativist moral, subjectivism, utilitarism, altruism and other new-age socialism parts, common to the "NEW" Berlin generation, is very high. But instead of informing the audience of the socialist background, Daniel Brühl (playing in "Good-Bye, Lenin!") this times plays the young rebel with a Che Guevarian inspirationism.
Since it is late, I will continue depicting the amorality of the movie and the rich-bashing that is so common in Germany and the sources for that when I have time at hand.