Epiphany is here and all merriment on New Year’s Eve has given way to the reality of another year of mixed blessings. We can now clear-mindedly reflect on all the delights, dedicated to proceeding ever more boldly against evil, we received in 2018. SPOILERS!!!
Whilst Upgrade deserves an honorary mention as a cautionary tale for libertarians – freedom doesn’t necessarily lead to virtuous behaviour, certainly not from a super-intelligent AI – the most libertarian film of 2018 is arguably Incredibles 2.
The chief complaint about this film was that the general plot was very similar to the first film – a mysterious tech billionaire employs Mr. Incredible with the hidden agenda of wishing to eliminate all superheroes. In the second film, yes, brother and sister tech billionaires, Winston and Evelyn Deavor, do employ Mrs. Incredible, i.e. Elastigirl, to take part in an albeit illegal comeback display of heroism, broadcast to the world as part of a campaign to repeal the legislation which drove superheroes underground. And, yes, Evelyn, as it turns out, is the one behind the mask of the Screenslaver, who hypnotises folks to do her wicked bidding. And, yes, she wants to see the world turn entirely against superheroes to see them shutdown forever. However, this film picks up from the moment the first left off, and the moral tale does so too – and don’t all the best moral tales for all the family use repetition?
Libertarians loved The Incredibles and it’s not hard to see why: a father works outside of the law, and a soulless job he hates, to do good; the overall picture is one of government regulation and bureaucracy getting in the way of talented individuals from doing their best. This sequel asks the natural question of whether this is responsible; whether it is good. The main parental argument of this film sees the mother declaring that they should be teaching their children to obey the law, yet the father insists that they should not be taught to obey bad laws – oh, how rare it is to hear such things. Yet, this was the heart of Western civilisation. ‘What are we teaching our kids?’ asks Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible. However, this is nothing we haven’t seen in the first film. The major difference and the heart of the libertarian message of the film comes from the different opinions presented to us by the sibling tech billionaires.
You see, Winston and Evelyn take different opinions on their father’s death – Evelyn believed he should have taken his wife to the safe-room when their house was entered by armed robbers, whereas Winston thought the father was right to go for a hotline to the superheroes, whereupon he was shot. Evelyn’s Screenslaver makes some compelling arguments about how reliance on superheroes makes us weak – our bourgeois habit of putting everything on a screen and distancing ourselves from the action does so too. But, she is missing the point, which the people-person, Winston, understands and embraces – that the superheroes are real people, good people, our neighbours, wanting to help.
Whereas the Incredible family are told by the police to let the villains make off with the money etc. and let the insurance companies deal with it, we see that the numerous instances of love and sacrifice, which make the family stronger, are just what the community/the world needs to make it a better place. Winston would use his wealth to make this happen; Evelyn, however, is blinded by anger and fails to see that love and trust in those with greater abilities doesn’t make one weaker, nor does leaving everything up to the state and/or insurance companies make us stronger.
Tom W. Bell’s Your Next Government?: From the Nation State to Stateless Nations came just before 2018, true. But, it’s been introduced to so many libertarians in so many conversations this year, I can’t fail to recognise it. What can I say? Most of you are familiar with Dubai and a growing trend in special jurisdictions around the world; this Cambridge University Press book, however, takes the argument further and makes remarkable predictions about this future trend, sure to delight libertarians everywhere:
‘Governments across the globe have begun evolving from lumbering bureaucracies into smaller, more agile special jurisdictions – common-interest developments, special economic zones, and proprietary cites. Private providers increasingly deliver services that political authorities formerly monopolized, inspiring greater competition and efficiency, to the satisfaction of citizens-qua-consumers. These trends suggest that new networks of special jurisdictions will soon surpass nation states in the same way that networked computers replaced mainframes. In this groundbreaking work, Tom W. Bell describes the quiet revolution transforming governments from the bottom up, inside-out, worldwide, and how it will fulfill its potential to bring more freedom, peace, and prosperity to people everywhere.’
Purchase the book here: Your Next Government?
Daredevil is undoubtedly the best of the Netflix Marvel superhero series. It deserves an honorary mention, but I mustn’t press the narrative of ‘superheroes acting outside of the law for the good of natural law’ any further. Watch Daredevil; he’s a Christian superhero/lawyer who acts on his moral instincts by night where the legislation of the US fails on the streets of New York during the day. Enough said.
The real winner here is a Spanish show, titled Casa de Papel or, in English, Money Heist, and can also be viewed on Netflix. The plot revolves around a group brought together by a brilliant man, known as the Professor, to carry out a mysterious heist on the Royal Mint of Spain. They wish to print many millions of Euros and have a plan to get away with it all. But, has the Professor accounted for everything? Are the personality clashes of the group, the hiccups and unexpected turns part of his ingenious plan or not? Notice, I haven’t left any spoilers here for you; watch it and enjoy the Professor’s tirade about the motivation for knocking off the central bank – truly the libertarian gem of 2017/2018.
Many will cry, ‘Red Dead Redemption 2!’ Nay, I say, but Kingdom Come: Deliverance. My decision is based on a little more than a preference for the medieval over the wild-Western aesthetics – both charming. In Kingdom Come, players are truly challenged by those obstacles to freedom, indeed, the necessities and manners which maketh man – strong men, even – capable of acquiring and sustaining freedom. This is because one goes from simple village politics as a smithy’s son to becoming a lord, but not before having everything taken from you and having to build it all, from the pig’s filth, up. What’s more, the setting is that of the bedrock of Western civilisation – Latin Christendom – and the troubles and turmoil which were rocking its world, and which would ultimately lead to the rise of nation states.
Let’s take these lessons to heart in 2019, grow stronger and make the world a better place.