No longer answerable for their actions to any higher authority, they became bloodthirsty and tyrannical regimes, uncontrolled and uncontrollable.
The last great famine that Panem had known, in the Dark Days, had affected most of the same regions as the new famine and had been responsible for the deaths of between 400,000 and 500,000 people. Both the local governments and society in general had fought extremely hard to save lives. A young lawyer called Coriolanus Snow was then living in the Capitol… He was the only member of the local intelligentsia who not only refused to participate in the aid for the hungry, but publicly opposed it. As one of his friends later recalled, “Coriolanus Snow had the courage to come out and say openly that famine would have numerous positive results, particularly in the appearance of a new techno-governmental authority, which would take over from the old system.
Thirty years later, when the young lawyer had become President of Panem, his ideas remained unchanged: famine could and should “strike a mortal blow against the enemy.”
As an “objective” ally of the regime, hunger was the most powerful weapon imaginable, and it also served as a pretext for the Capitol to strike a heavy blow against both the people and the rebels who had risen up against the regime.
In the 75th year the requisitioning requirements were increased from, 18 million to 27 million pounds, while the peasants had considerably reduced the amount they sowed, knowing that anything they did not consume themselves would be immediately requisitioned.
Reduced to starvation by miniscule salaries that barely covered the price of a ration card for a half-pound of bread a day, the rebels sought first to obtain rations matching those of Peacekeepers. But the more urgent demands were all political: the elimination of special privileges for the Capitol, the release of political prisoners, free elections for District governments, the end of the Reaping and the Hunger Games, freedom of association, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and so forth.
A short history of Panem? Not quite.
The above passages were selected from two chapters of The Black Book of Communism, and deal primarily with the civil war that broke out in Russia after Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (whose words are here attributed to President Snow). He set in place a system which ensured that people would starve, rebel, and thereby make themselves targets for the vicious and sadistic henchmen of the Cheka (the original name for the KGB).
So the civil war broke out, and the Communists used it to throttle the people, murdering hundreds of thousands, deporting other undesirables, and starving countless more. All of this happened by 1922, five years (four technically, since the revolution was in October and November of 1917).
In that short period of time, these Red Terror thugs changed from truly believers attempting to create a classless society of total equality, to corrupt and authoritarian ghouls. They became dictators who splattered innocent blood for decades and tortured their people almost seventy years. Millions would die horrible deaths. Millions of others would suffer in squalor and misery while the elites had anything they desired at their beck and call.
Now that transition didn’t happen so consciously mind you. I still think that Stalin was a socialist, though his economic plans were always secondary to his personal security (concerns which alone tore through thousands of Russian communists).
When you get right down to it, people aren’t meant to be that powerful. People with that much power end up in disgrace. People are just no damn good, as Victor Davis Hanson said, modernizing an important classical Greek principle.
Where does that put Snow? He’s Stalin, essentially. People are nothing but his clay to mold and shape and manipulate and destroy. Did Snow ever have ambitions to make the District’s lives better? Probably not in any sense you and I would recognize. And this analogy isn’t a perfect fit. If it were, then The Hunger Games would just be a history of Russia. We could discuss the differences between the two, and I think that would be great, because we should learn from both.
If you want to fit the political situation of Panem into history, though, Soviet communism will come the closest. Mix in a dash of Rome, a sprinkling of the First Republic of France, and you’ll pretty much have it, granting some technology as well.
I had to adapt the sentences in quotes up there, obviously. Anything that is not in italics is substitution to move the quotes from Russia to Panem. I maintain that the kernel of the argument is valid and that the context has not been left in The Black Book of Communism. Incidentally, I know it is expensive, but that book is well worth the buy for anyone who wants to look at what a Big Government can unleash.