The Fallacy of Workable Tyranny
I was asked to watch and rate the first episode of an up-and-coming series for Amazon Instant Video, which was an hour long, and to provide remarks. Here is an expanded version of my assessment of the episode, or what I would have said had there not been a word count limit set by Amazon.
Please help us improve Amazon Instant Video by rating the video and audio quality of The Man in the High Castle Episode 1: The Man in the High Castle.
I read The Man in the High Castle (or Tower) when it was first published decades ago, or a little after 1962, when I was still in high school. Interesting alternate history fiction. The production values of High Castle are in the same league as those of Fatherland, which differs significantly from the novel by Robert Harris; with House of Cards, a species of “contemporaneous” alternate history fiction, and which differs radically from both the novel by Michael Dobbs and the British TV version; and with V for Vendetta, which differs so radically from the original graphic novel that to describe the differences here would merit a separate column.
The salient point about Amazon’s High Castle, however, is that it stretches credibility about what would have happened had Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany won WWII, carved up the U.S., and militarily occupied the continent. The Japanese were savagely brutal in their conquests, as were the Nazis. Remember, for example, what the Japanese did to Nanking, China, and what happened to British, Indian, and Canadian men and women and their Chinese dependents after the surrenders of Hong Kong and Singapore. (Atrocities were the byword of all Japanese conquests, much as it is ISIS’s today in Syria and Iraq.) This perspective is buttressed by recent revelations of the Japanese atrocities committed against American and Philippine POWs.
American civilians here at home, black, white and Jewish, would have been brutally treated by both the Japanese and the Germans had the U.S. been conquered. Someone might object: Ed, this is just entertainment, get a grip. But my unshakeable fealty to history will not allow me to “entertain” any other possible scenario. Readers of my Cyrus Skeen period detective novels will know how close I hove to actual history.
Totalitarian regimes, as a rule, do not reign over productive countries; they only loot them and if they survive at all it is only as parasites on neighboring countries willing to trade with them. This is why the Soviet Union lasted so long, as well as Red China (not to mention North Korea, Communist Cuba, Venezuela, etc.).
Also, Americans in either the Japanese zone (the West Coast) or the Nazi zone (the East Coast) wouldn't have been able to move about as freely as they do in this production. Their movements would have been severely restricted and monitored. Further, the America depicted in this production looks prosperous, when just the opposite would be true. Germany looked prosperous in Fatherland, and Britain looked comfy in “V.”
In passing, I suspect Philip K. Dick’s 1962 novel was inspired by George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) which was also a kind of alternate history novel. I have read nothing in his biographical information that would contradict that suspicion.
“Realism” in Hollywood productions, however, doesn’t necessarily mean the recreation of reality.
The Left’s Infatuation with Islam
A reader commented on my column, “Islam, CAIR, and Politically Correct Speech”, in which I dwell briefly on the word war between Rupert Murdoch and Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling:
Rowling is a Leftist. No fan of her books am I…but from seeing the movies I see that in the end Harry Potter was an anti-fascist themed story. What else would a Leftist give you? A story against Marxism? Of course not. So she sees evil white Christians everywhere. And of course she serves as an apologist for Islam, the world’s most violent religion.
But here is a deeper question I put to you Ed. Maybe you can write on it. The Left has 3 major client groups: 1) gays 2) Blacks 3) women. It can be very well argued that Islam represents not just a light threat to all three but a grave threat to all three. In fact, there is no ideology in human history, including Christianity, that has such a poor record to all three of those groups, especially today.
So, why does the Left so desperately defend Islam? Think about it. Think about Rotherham. Muslims raped 1400 young girls!!! And yet the Left doesn't even want that story reported or sensationalized. Compare that to the Leftist outrage over the fabricated "frat house gang rape" at the University of Virginia; entirely made up by a lying woman. Why is the Left so hell bent on attacking white Western males and so intent on ignoring brown Muslim savagery?
IMO, the answer to that question lays bare why the Left is the greatest evil on earth. Orders of magnitude more evil than Islam. Also, I can't help but add that I guarantee that no mainstream Objectivist would know the answer.
Frankly, I don’t know what the “official” Objectivist position is on the Rowling novels. I don’t think there is one. As for what Objectivism has to say about the copasetic relationship between the Left and Islam, this may have been articulated in various “official” and independent venues, but I don’t much keep up with “official” Objectivist positions on anything, so there’s nothing substantial I can say on that subject.
Yes, the Left is as nihilistic as is Islam. It will side with any movement that will up-end or destroy moral, economic, and political norms.
The Left is pro-gay, and will advocate legislation and judicial decisions that criminalize any actions or speech that can be construed to be anti-gay. It will celebrate florists, bakeries, and wedding photographers being compelled to accept gays as customers. Islam, however, throws gays from rooftops or hangs them. The Left says little or nothing about it.
The Left always sides with blacks, provided blacks are portrayed as victims of a white culture, or of police brutality, and so on, but one never reads of the Left praising the black middle class or black intellectuals such as Walter Williams or Thomas Sowell. Islam, however, regards blacks, even black Muslims, as on a level with apes, or as subhuman. Islam has a thousand-year history in the black slave trade, especially in east Africa. After Omar Quadaffi was overthrown in Libya, Muslim gangs rounded up as many black Muslims and non-Muslims they could lay hands on, imprisoned them, and probably executed them. (This is not meat for one of Al Sharpton’s rants, nor is the slaughter of blacks by Boko Haram in Nigeria, nor is the slaughter of black Sudanese. His silence is deafening.) Chicken Little leftists have little to say about that.
The Left will champion women as long as they’re eligible for entitlements, are portrayed as victims of a patriarchal society, and stand to be enriched by the usual Marxist shopping list of “rights.” But Islam, as it should be clear to anyone by now, regards women as chattel or third-class citizens, rape-able at leisure, especially if they’re taken prisoner by Muslim gangs such as ISIS, or are caught alone on a British or Swedish or Danish street and subjected to Muslim racism, or as many-wived baby factories, and as vehicles for additional welfare payments. Rarely does one read of a left-wing pundit deploring the Islamic treatment of women. That would not be in line with cultural diversity or multicultural tolerance and sensitivity.
The Left and Islam are seemingly odd but nevertheless natural bedfellows. The Left allies itself with its ideological nemesis because it is as totalitarian in means and ends as is Islam. The Left enables Islam to spread and commit its depredations. The Left consciously or by default sanctions the stealthy imposition of Sharia in this country as a stew of “civil rights.”
On the other hand, Islam is not known to have much congratulated the Left for any political or social victories against America it may claim. The Left regards Islam as a kind of fellow traveler. Islam regards the denizens of the Left, once everyone is shackled by Sharia law, as prime candidates for hanging, beheading, raping, lashing, or working in the jizya salt mines, once the two totalitarian imperatives have been joined in marriage and Islam reigns triumphant.
Members of the Left might then repair to the ACLU or the National Union of Lawyers to plead the injustices imposed on them – although by then those particular fellow travelers will have been replaced by the American Sharia Lawyers’ Council. And then they’ll learn that to question a Sharia ruling, or Sharia itself, is to deny that Allah is the one true God and that Mohammad is his prophet. Islam will have said to the Left “I divorce thee” three times. Even apostasy, they’ll also learn to their dismay, is not a necessary requirement for the severest punishment.
And they’ll learn that the penalty for thinking is…death.