The Hunger Games — the Fiction and the Reality

I should probably be writing about the cybercrime law or healthcare insurance, things that are relevant to Philippine society or to my personal life, but I choose not to and instead have decided to write about The Hunger Games (something I've been itching to write about for a couple of weeks now).

There was a time a few weeks back when I didn't have internet in my house for a couple of days because of wiring problems and bad service, something I attribute to the internet industry's limited competition or oligopoly here in the Philippines (an issue I have addressed in my article Why is the Internet Slow in the Philippines?). 

The irony of it all was that I decided to wipe my harddrive clean of movies and TV shows before that happened. Luckily I had three movies on the desktop that I didn't get to delete which were The Iron Lady (see Sari-Sari Store Economics), Perfect Sense, and, you guessed it right, The Hunger Games.

So for a good few days, I was stuck with only those three movies. I've always shrugged off The Hunger Games as a Twilight-esque book (a lesson to not judge a book by its cover!) and so I tried to avoid watching the movie but then luckily I got desperate and watched it. And yes, I loved the movie, exactly as it is, and watched it over and over the whole time I didn't have internet.

And no, I haven't read the book so save the "I wish it was more brutal and bloody" rhetoric that I seem to hear from everyone. Clearly, I fell in love with this movie, with the characters, and the underlying politics and philosophies in the storyline.

Upon reflection, it is easy to compare it to the gladiator days of the Roman Empire or the times when slavery was rampant or oppressive totalitarian States, and think that civilization has evolved since then and that society is much better now. It is also very reminiscent of how some States have the ability to enact military drafting and send young men and women involuntarily to war. A deeper look made me realize that present reality is actually a lot like, and probably worse, than what is depicted in the movie. 

Today we see women and children, some even younger than 12, holding AK-47s or strapped with bombs. We see young men and women killing each other for the interests of States, nations, politicians, religious extremists. And we all just watch these in the news, on TV, or read about it on the newspapers or online. 

Those of us who get to sit back and surf the internet, much like you are doing now, just don't get to feel or experience it. If anything, we are just like those residents of The Capitol of Panem (the same sentiment I expressed when I wrote about Top Gear's Middle East Special).

But no one really cares that US interventionism, policing of the world, and occupation has actually been expanded during Obama's term, something that many libertarians and historians believe to be the root cause and gives more reason for extremism. And yet he was the peace candidate in 2008, the one who would supposedly bring the troops home.

Here's a good animated typography presentation of one of Ron Paul's speeches on foreign policy:

It's truly thoughtfully and beautifully said and gives me goosebumps every time I watch it. I highly recommend that you do too and that you check out more of Ron Paul's videos on foreign policy, even those where the Republican establishment laughed at him and deemed him crazy. 

The truth is that lies that justified the Iraq war could also be the same kind of lies about safety and security they talk about to justify occupations, drone strikes and bombings, "foreign aid" to dictators, tortures and many other evils of the Military-industrial complex that is currently expanding all over the world. The fact is that the executive branch should have no power to send troops on "pre-emptive strike " reasons and should first have permission from congress who are supposedly the representative of the people. The fact is that the United Nations Security Council have been tolerating or ignoring the war crimes and other violations of "international law" since the days of The Bush Doctrine (or you know what, perhaps since the CIA installed the Shah in Iran in the 1950's).

Very related, we see in The Hunger Games that most of the evils, poverty, and oppression roots from too much centralized power in the State of Panem, more specifically the single-party dictatorship of President Snow. If only the citizens were able to freely travel, voluntarily trade, keep the fruits of their labor, and choose their own work freely, there would be peace and prosperity in Panem without the need of Snow's regime.

You see, power must be decentralized, governments need to be small and limited, trade should be allowed to flourish and never restricted. The power to use monopoly of force should never be centralized to only one person or small group of persons. And then maybe we won't have to watch people kill each other, just as in The Hunger Games.

"if goods don't cross borders, armies will" - Frederic Bastiat

It does sound like a stereotype answer in a beauty contest but I do dream of world peace.

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