A discussion over at
‘s journal prompted me to write the following. It’s something I had meant to write on this journal a while back, but now I can’t remember if I ever got around to it. So here it is:
It’s become very popular lately in both lefty and libertarian circles to conjure up images of the Orwellian authoritarian state our country is headed towards. This is probably not a bad idea, since I think people need to be afraid of the direction we’re going. But the flaw in a lot of these depictions is that they portray the coming dystopia as being the result of the conscious efforts of Evil Men. See V for Vendetta, as just one example. Great movie, but the totalitarian regime is almost cartoonish in it’s malice and odiousness. This fits neatly into the world view of a lot of people these days, who see the fight for liberty primarily as a fight to get one man and his cronies out of office, after which Wiser Heads can get on with the job of telling everyone how to live their lives.
What Brazil succeeds at where almost every other dystopian fantasy fails is in relentlessly portraying the true banality of evil. In Brazil the mindless civil servants systematically stripping human life of dignity and freedom aren’t evil, per se – they are just doing their jobs. Which history tells us is what 99% of tyranny is composed of – people just doing their jobs, trying to feed their families without drawing too much attention to themselves.
Brazil shows tyranny arising naturally and inevitably from bureaucracy, rather than being imposed by a few lone sociopaths. And in this it is one of the most realistic political movies ever filmed.
On the other hand if you just want the satisfaction of a guy single-handedly bringing down The System using kung-fu and lots of C4, V for Vendetta is definitely the movie to see. While you’re at it, check out Equilibrium, an underrated and under-promoted pro-liberty martial arts action flick.