The tense struggle between law, justice, and freedom was not the subject nor even a significant sub-theme of Homer’s Epics the Odyssey and the Iliad, nor of Vergil’s Aeneid nor the Epic of Gilgamesh, nor of the Ancient Maya Popol Vuh.
Justice and Fairness/equity vs. Law and Order, however, very much forms a core subject of the new movie Divergent and up to a point the movie Veronica Mars which I have already just recently mentioned on these pages. I find myself comparing these movies to The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, but I cannot say that this competition defines movies, which concern mostly naked law and oppression divorced from any but the most cynical pretense of law or fairness—even the laws of probabilistic statistics being ridiculed in the refrain, “May the Odds be Ever in your Favor”…which is so patently false that a graffiti artist in one of the “Districts” writes more accurately: “the odds are NEVER in our favor.”
Veronica Mars, set firmly in the modern world of Southern California, indicts the police state as producing “the best justice money can buy” and similarly the prosecutorial system as responding more to the demands of “the court of public opinion” than anything else. It also (and very accurately) belittles the world of “big money law” as serving no purpose but squashing the little man and his “frivolous lawsuits” against Fortune Five Hundred Clients….
Divergent, however, focuses our attention on other aspects of the current struggle. In both Veronica Mars and The Hunger Games, family is portrayed as both natural and essential to survival, but the dystopian tyranny of the (current modern and future) American Dictatorships has not turned itself against the family, or dedicated itself to the destruction of human nature. Indeed, in the Hunger Games, the future dictatorship of Panem capitalizes on human nature and human weakness, including family ties, to maximize its own power and control over the subjugated people.
The three movie franchises have different regional roots and reflect their origins. The Hunger Games is distinctly Southern, Confederate, and Appalachian in its cultural theory, including the matriarchal family structure and themes of tendencies towards racial segregation (Districts 11 vs. 12) fraught with intimate friendship (Katniss and Rue). Veronica Mars expressly screams its California setting and cultural roots in almost every scene and dialogue sequence. Divergent is set in the ruins of Chicago (which strangely look a lot like the current city of Chicago WITHOUT a major civil war). (This just has to be the future American Civil War described/predicted by the propagandists for Chancellor Adam Sutler’s English Dictatorship in V-for-Vendetta).
I could be wrong, but I think that the association of Chicago with Divergent is very well thought-out and correlated with the socialist-communist background of the largest city in “the Land of Lincoln” (Abraham, that is, the Sixteenth and arguably the first covertly Marxist President of the United States, and a worthy forerunner to the current 44th President, also associated with Chicago and Illinois).
The futuristic “Brave New World” of Divergent’s Chicago is a quasi-caste based society (divided into five broadly functional “factions” emphasizing not so much specific jobs or professions as “approaches” or “attitudes” in life—not entirely different from the Indo-European tri-functional society with subdivisions of each function, but not at all expressly Dumezilian in the way that Buffy or The Lion King were).
In the “Divergent” world, the nuclear family still exists as the key reproductive unit but is frowned upon generally and entirely forbidden after puberty. Life begins for “Tris”—the heroine of the movie, at a ceremony where she voluntarily chooses which to which functional faction she will belong. This aspect of the future Chicago is much more benign than the Hunger Games, to be sure—there are no automatic annual sacrifices contrasting with great “movie-sports star” wealth in latter day Chicago….. The only articulated motto of the Status Quo Establishment in Divergent is “Faction before Blood”, although the Dictatrix strongly suggests that suppression of human nature is the primary goal of government….
(Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World vision of a world totally without families, especially without mothers [aside from the State as Ur-or-Uber-Mutter], remains, thankfully, far in the future—although my former friend Jon Drew Roland, a false-flag, former freedom riding, and fear mongering “Libertarian” residing Texas, also with a Chicago connexion, assured me many times that “eu-social” social insect-like “Queen Bee” reproduction through the State apparatus is entirely foreseeable).
The tension between law and justice, rules and fairness, legal and equitable values, seems to have arisen primarily because of the pronouncement of a vast inventory of laws Hebrew Bible, and the need for resolution of all doubts in favor of equity and fairness was first and perhaps best articulated by that noted Ancient Rabbi, thought by hundreds of millions around the world to have been the Messiah: Joshua ben Josef, aka Jesus Christ.
The Kingdom of Israel & its secessionist spinoff, Judea, to both of which Jesus was allegedly the direct lineal heir, through the House of David, grew up in the southwest corner of “The Fertile Crescent” of the Ancient Near East, near the border of Egypt in northeast Africa. The Nile and Tigris-Euphrates, with the Levant in between, were the two “cradles of civilization” in the Western World. The Ancient Near East is famous for its early law codes, over which the Sun God Shamash (Sumerian Utu) presided, as an antecedent to Apollo in this role, but the division between rules and fairness seems to have only occupied a minor part of the Ancient Sumerian and Semitic Consciousness….at least until Jesus’ final year on earth. In Greece and Rome, “laws” were seen as the tools of the elite, while equity and fairness were seen as the pleas of the weak and defeated. This is as apparent in Thucydides Melian Dialogue as in Cicero’s orations. It was this world that gave birth to Jesus, of course, and his “equitable revolution” in thinking about Justice and Right.
In the history of world epics, after the Four Gospels, Dante’s Divine Comedy is the first to articulate the primary of law in the world, tempered with the concept of Justice, but Dante seems to have viewed Hell as a very legalistic place, with only the levels of hell discerning or distinguishing “levels” of fair or equitable punishment. Ironically, it is hard to see the role of Christian forgiveness in Dante’s writings at all when he writes, in the Fourth Canto of Inferno:
Per me si va ne la città dolente,
per me si va ne l’etterno dolore,
per me si va tra la perduta gente.
Giustizia mosse il mio alto fattore:
fecemi la divina podestate,
la somma sapienza e ‘l primo amore.
Dinanzi a me non fuor cose create
se non etterne, e io etterno duro.
Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate.
“THROUGH ME ONE GOES TO THE CITY OF SORROW,
THROUGH ME THE PATH TO ETERNAL PAIN,
THROUGH ME IS THE ROAD OF THE LOST PEOPLE.
JUSTICE MOVED HE WHO IS MY HIGH CREATOR.
I WAS MADE BY DIVINE POWER,
SUPREME WISDOM, AND PRIMAL LOVE.
BEFORE ME NOTHING WAS MADE,
SAVE ETERNAL THINGS, AND I ENDURE ETERNALLY.
ABANDON ALL HOPE, YE WHO ENTER.”