Perspectives: Governments should fear their people

OPINION – I’m not a movie critic. Nor do I play one on the radio. But I recently revisited a motion picture that struck such a strong chord within me that I’m recommending it for your consideration.

The fact that it is rated R for strong violence and some strong language will preclude some from viewing it. Whether you choose to see it or not, the 2006 film “V for Vendetta” offers some timely food for thought.

Based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore, the story is set in a near future dystopian England where the authoritarian Norsefire party rules with oppressive ruthlessness. Symbols of faith have been co-opted and draconian laws and regulations seek to compel the peoples’ allegiance to the party at all costs.

In the story, biological attacks attributed to terrorists have turned England into a virtual police state of constant surveillance, curfews, and unlimited police powers. The Supreme Chancellor uses a lapdog media and a blustery, pill-popping talk show host, known as the Voice of London, to spin the news and keep the populace stirred up against dissenters.

Standing up against the oppressive state is the anarchist anti-hero V; former victim of the party’s concentration camp cruelty and inhumanity. V is pursuing a personal vendetta against those who destroyed his life along with so many others. He seeks to personally punish those who created the police state and to bring down the authoritarian state by rallying the people to withdraw their support.

At one point V takes over the state television facilities and reminds the people that they each bear personal responsibility for the government they now have.  He invites them to reclaim their prerogative as free people and reject the party’s demands for absolute obedience.

Here is where we must tread carefully, because it’s not V’s anarchist methods that make this film noteworthy.

The film’s power is found in its portrayal of how any government can use fear as a tool to encourage its people to place their absolute trust in the state, in return for a false promise of safety and security. As the Supreme Chancellor desperately tries to maintain his grasp over England he insists his media lackeys and his politicized police keep the people in a constant state of fear and uncertainty. His directive is simple, “We must remind these people why they need us.”

This is the place where the lines of Hollywood fiction and reality appear to cross.

Though we do not yet live in a full-blown totalitarian state with prison camps, there are some seriously dystopian aspects of a police state taking hold in our country today. Thanks to the heroic whistle-blowing of people like Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning, we are learning that our government is not above abusing its powers too.

We have massive electronic surveillance of millions of Americans without any specific probable cause to do so. The police powers of the state are becoming increasingly arbitrary and unlimited. The vast majority of American media has a strong attachment to party line over principle and treats dissent as akin to treason.

It’s as if those in power are trying very hard to convince us that “we need them.”

The movie has a dramatic comic book quality in its action scenes and there is an unmistakable anarchist slant to its story. However, there is also a lesson in “V for Vendetta” that translates perfectly into real life: When, in the grip of fear, we allow the state to exercise unchecked authority in dealing with its enemies – it will eventually use that authority against us as well.

This is worth remembering when government at any level seeks to “protect” us with official actions from monsters that exist primarily in the minds of bureaucrats eager to use their power. “It’s for your safety” is fast becoming an Orwellian catchphrase for justifying increased government control at all levels.

We must be willing to question what those in power are saying.

The concept that people shouldn’t fear their government but government should fear its people is neither a liberal nor conservative idea. But in a free society it is a valid one.

That’s why I recommend “V for Vendetta” to anyone who values their freedom over bogus promises of security. This film will make you think.

Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives talk show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.


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  • John P. Smith August 12, 2013 at 9:46 am

    It’s past time we get THIS MESSAGE to OUR representatives in office. They work for US! US! As in you and me! Not for those who have snuck into our country illegally! I don’t CARE what color you are, or where you came from! If you are in this country ILLEGALLY, then you are a CRIMINAL! We should NOT be rewarding criminals! Should we give money, houses, food, and jobs to murderers like Seung-Hui Cho, Adam Peter Lanza, Tim Kretschmer, Eric David Harris,Dylan Bennet Klebold, or Lyle and Erik Menendez? Why not? That’s EXACTLY what will be happening if this “Amnesty” bill is allowed. Share this message! make it viral! Sign YOUR NAME and let them know, ‘We’re NOT going to allow you to reward CRIMINALS!
    Attention! To all of those who see this! To all of the government agencies, the people’s represetatives in said agencies, and the Government in general (including the DoJ, Presidental Office, etc.):
    “IF you are an elected offical and your ONLY Loyalty is NOT to The United States of America, then you have NO BUSINESS in our Government. You have betrayed your oaths of office, you have betrayed yourself, you have betrayed your family, and you have betrayed that which allowed you to be the TRAITOR you are. You are hereby convicted of TREASON against the United States of America, it’s people, and it’s interests. YOU’RE FIRED!”

    ~John P. Smith, American Citizen and YOUR BOSS

    • Karen August 12, 2013 at 7:01 pm

      Mr. Hyde wrote a thoughtful article about the power of government and how that power might be abused. I didn’t see any reference to illegal immigration. Your accusations about our elected officials suggest a lack of understanding of our Constitution and are more akin to mob rule than to what our forefathers created in this great country.

  • hudrockson August 12, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    I would also highly recommend a revisit to the movie “Enemy of the State”. It is chilling how accurately a movie from 1998 portended our current state of affairs.

  • Dixielambs August 12, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    Oh, you cursed Conservatives!!! Don’t you know that if it saves one life, or makes one poor unfortunate person more comfortable, it is worth the sacrifice of all our rights and liberties???

  • Alex August 12, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    John Smith, you have COMPLETELY missed the point of this article. Same goes to Dixielambs. The author of this article is talking about the importance of our privacy and our power in government and how we shouldn’t sacrifice either for a little security, be it imaginary or real. He even says “this is neither a liberal nor a conservative idea”, so I think we can get past the mindless liberal/conservative bashing and talk about what the article is ACTUALLY about.

  • NO_SIX August 12, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    It’s harder to get our Lords and Masters in Washington to fear us when in all elections but one since 1964 incumbents in the House have been reelected 80 percent of the time.
    In the Senates incumbents usually win over 70 percent of the time.
    Reps and Senators have every reason to believe we approve of their performances — not only in what gets done (or not) in the legislature but also its oversight of the Executive Branch.
    Vote early and often

  • Blutarsky August 13, 2013 at 8:02 am

    What happens when the people fear each other?

    • Chris August 13, 2013 at 5:18 pm

      Seriously, one of the very best comments to appear on this site in any thread. Brilliant, Blutarsky!

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