No one should be surprised that people on the left call such stories fascist. As Jonah Goldberg made clear almost a decade ago, fascism as an ascription is most often used to mean “something you are which I dislike,” while actual fascism as an approach to government is a religion of state power, and is therefore the domain of the left. The stunning rebuke of state-worship in the horror of the holocaust was enough to entirely reverse the left-wing embrace of the term fascism, which only served too well for those lefties who were deep into Joseph Stalin’s rect**. (I apologize, but there really is no better way to describe journalists like Walter Duranty and academics of the same mind). Anyway, being the easiest referent to absolute, tangible evil on this Earth, fascism became the left’s go-to insult. Instead of debating, they yell FASCIST! and then claim the high ground, as though they are being reasonable, rather than isolating their ideology from criticism by labeling evil all opinions which are not their own. This tactic has been expanded to other words too, such as racist, war-monger, sexist, homophobic, etc. Even words like corporatist and capitalist, which are not innately understood as bad, are used as though they were.
According to Breitbart, one reviewer said that the film is so over-the-top, so much into Tea-Party fantasy land, that it shouldn’t have been made at all. Think of the consequences! You’ll just encourage the red-state, fly-over-country Constitution-lovers! Oh, the horror!
Let me be plain; Red Dawn is a great movie, even just as a popcorn, action flick. Interspersed among the action sequences, a few lines of drama carry through predictably. But who wants a really unique and complex personal drama when they’re trying to rescue the country from the commies?
Now, let’s talk about something that I think the film does a great job of capturing, something that has made America a nation truly unlike any other in history, different in a fundamental way. Individualism.
There are a few different definitions for that word, so we ought to nail it down quickly. Individualism is self-ownership. I own myself, you own yourself, etc.
Why is this important? Well, for starters, if everyone in a society owns himself, then each person is most responsible for his own condition. This encourages people to self-actualize, to make something of themselves. People owning the reward for their activity makes them very productive. This has been well understood as far back as William Bradford and Plymouth Plantation. (For those who don’t know, that was before Adam Smith.) Strong, innovative industry relies upon individual initiative which is best driven by one’s will.
All of this productivity drives more than just economics. A rising tide lifts all boats. Poverty is nothing like what it once was in America. We have a nation where the primary dietary problem among the poor is obesity, not scurvy. Not only are people better off in how far their dollar will stretch, how much they can purchase with it, people are better off because the wealthier people are, the more Americans afford charitable efforts and funds. The economic effects are impossible to ignore, though. Medical treatments become better, electricity gets cheaper, phones get smaller, cars get safer, apparel becomes more plentiful and comfortable, groceries become exponentially more available, and on and on and on. (and on and on)
A nation of self-ownership promotes several other things as well. Morality, regional cohesion, neighborliness, the shunning of crime, admiration for those who work hard… these things are called cultural capital. They are traits and behaviors which are built up slowly and steadily over a long period of time. Be cautious, because they are easily destroyed and very painfully constructed, especially when you look at the possible alternatives. America’s profound, unique cultural capital is one of things that sets it apart from the rest of the world.
Additionally our pioneer spirit, which was magnified as Americans moved West to build their dreams, is perfect for the defense of a small government under the Constitution and federalist system. Before Japan declared war on the United States (already hours into the Pearl Harbor attack on Dec. 7 1941), they briefly considered an invasion of the mainland. Recall that Hawaii was not an American state until almost eight years later. Whether or not the quote actually proceeded from Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, it rings true; any invading force would be met with a rifle behind every blade of grass.
When every citizen owns himself, and as a group, own the government, they will be more than willing to defend those rights. Any cursory examination of the spirit which passed the Second Amendment to the Constitution reveals that the individual is the last refuge of liberty. That he must stand up and defend this federal arrangement; the state is a creation of the citizen, not the other way around.
These things are necessarily the direct opposite of statist views; that state power is a good in and of itself, that problems among people will not be fixed but for the meddling of self-anointed intelligent elite. Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Frederich Nietzsche, Robespierre and Bonaparte, Woodrow Wilson and Earl Warren, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin and Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse Tung and Kim Jong un… These are names of people who have generated and operated on the ideas of power as its own justification. The track record is appalling. America ought to learn from the example before embracing any more of the crap that brings statist reviewers to deride great film like Red Dawn.
Depictions of the U.S. being invaded by armies always come across as odd and mythical. Red Dawn is a good example, and also Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 comes to mind. No nation but Mexico has ever been foolish enough to seriously consider invading mainland United States, and Mexico failed miserably before leaving the border areas of those days. (The Halls of Montezuma referred to in the Marine Corps hymn are situated deep into Mexico. Though we conquered that nation fully, we gave the Mexicans their nation back. America is a benevolent victor. Don’t let Zinn tell you otherwise.) An invading army would be truly torn to bits by the average American township, so it skirts the edge of absurdity to depict a military invasion of America, at this moment in time.
Gun sales have skyrocketed of late, with all the recent efforts of politicians to ban them, restrict them, tax them, reduce accessory options, limit ammunition purchases, limit transport of weapons and ammo, limit personal usage rights, limit storage rights… That is one good sign. America still has a huge number of people who don’t buy into the politically correct drivel force-fed to many kids in colleges, overtly dragged into entertainment, and pounded into people by the above-mentioned tactic of declaring people who disagree with the politically correct agenda as somehow sub-human.
Oh, interesting side-note; the first gun control laws in America were implemented by Democrats in the south against blacks, freed slaves, in order to keep them from being able to defend themselves. The National Rifle Association was formed by Republicans specifically to fight for blacks’ rights to own firearms. Isn’t reading history great?
Red Dawn is great too.
*Update: the Greek phalanx was a powerful weapon system. Why did other cultures and nations not adopt it, as the Greeks exclusively used it to great success for hundreds of years? Because it needed a specific culture to develop and to implement, a culture of individual freedom and responsibility to the polis. Culture is very hard to develop…
Check out this video from Victor Davis Hanson about war in Western Civilization.