Friday, August 12, 2011

Whose in Bioshock’s Sights Pt II: Karl Marx

The scene opens with you escorting your Little Sister around the underwater paradise of Rapture, guarding her while she retrieves ADAM from the deceased. Soon you are attacked by a gang of misfits which you, Delta, the Fourth Big-Daddy prototype, fend off. But then Dr Lamb, a strange woman with incredible psychic powers takes the little sister and uses her power to force you to shoot yourself while prattling on about how the greater good or some such nonsense… wait, what? Didn’t the first game make Capitalism the bad guy?

As Delta awakes recovered after ten years in stasis he finds the world he knew in a shambles, but while the first one blames Ayn Rand style free enterprise for the decay of society this game’s story serves as a clear critique of Communism. Dr Lamb has taken control over the people of using clearly Marxist ideals. She is trying to use the power of the little sister named Eleanor to, basically, collectivize everyone’s minds and achieve Utopia. Delta represents an interruption in that plan, of course, as Eleanor rather quite likes her individuality and enlists you to help her in her fight to preserve herself. Basically this game makes the opposite argument of the first one, and in that regard sits much better with me.

It may be surprising to learn that unlike unfettered capitalism unfettered communism has been tried and it was a bitter failure. Most of what I am about to say can be found in the book “The Naked Communist”, which is in storage so I can’t get you detailed citations, but that book, written by W Cleon Skousen is a history of Communism and an analysis of their ideas using their own material. Only after presenting their history and their side of the argument does Dr Skousen proceed to critique the philosophy. I recommend everyone who has a chance to read this book do so.

After the fall of the Czar Lenin implemented full Communism. The result was a barter systems, followed by mass starvation. Communists critics of Lenin will claim that the failure occurred because they skipped the capitalist and socialist phase, and also the dictatorship of the proletariat. However the bigger point to make is that it failed outright because Communism lacks the incentive to encourage work and productivity without the threat of violence. The fact must also be considered that so long as humans have souls and are not mindless automatons the complete elimination of the self is not a desirable end goal for any sane individual. Because no one would work without the threat of violence Lenin lead the country of Russia backward into the dictatorship. Oh wait, was I supposed to say of the proletariat? Sorry, turns out that’s a pipe dream too.

Lenin, Stalin and every successor to their cause were dictators, in much the same way Dr Lamb was on Rapture. It wasn’t the general will of the people being served, but the will of the one lucky enough to be in charge. Everyone else had to live in ruins with barely any food, water or other niceties America’s “Anti Capitalists” take for granted. It was the chaos of the ruthless dictatorship, and the horrific disregard for human life, the suppression of religion, the constant threats of violence, the gulags and so forth which Ayn Rand suffered through in her youth. It is living through this extreme which lead her to formulate her Objectivist world view.

What is amazing is that Bioshock 2 actually captures this quite well. The Communist comes in and promises to solve all the problems, but instead things get worse, they promise to serve the general will of the people, but in reality they’re about elevating themselves on the backs of a slave class. People are starved and mass murdered all to silence the opposition, the economy is micro managed into collapse, and the constant stench of death permeates the air and they always blame someone else for all the problems, the rich, the religious, the Jews, etc. People are treated as the property of the state rather than individuals with human rights, oh and racism? It doesn’t go away. Don’t believe me? Ask Eldridge Cleaver whose experience in Cuba lead him away from the Black Panthers into the arms of the Reagan Revolution. But that’s not a part of the game.

Because Communism at various levels has been tried and has failed everywhere this game makes a fair critique of altruism and do-goodery. But sadly, like the first one, the argument is made over the sounds of gunfire and that is not the best way to have such an important debate. I don’t know about you but I worry America is getting to the point where political disagreements will be handled that way, just like it’s starting to happen in Europe. When I see how Union Thugs have responded to the necessary austerity measure in Wisconsin I get very worried. The crass emotionalism of Marx can be seen in these mobs, just as it permeates the villains of Bioshock 2 who try to pretend they are too intelligent to feel, but in reality just want to force everyone around them to feel what they are feeling. The sad reality we have to face can be glimpsed through the desperation of the bad guys in this game. Hunger, fear and insanity control their moves even though Dr Lamb convinces herself it’s the desire to do what is right for the collective. Collectivism reduces them to savage beasts like it has reduced the youth of England to savage beasts. Rather than the self being eliminated self gratification becomes the central function of the feral collectivist.

In real life Collectivism has proven to be destructive. It’s destroying Europe, and has been destroying us for quite some time. Only austerity measures and individuality can save the world now. We must peacefully roll back the well intended but destructive collectivist vision of the Progressives and their Communist counterparts. That is a discussion we need to have face to face and in the calm of reason… And in the end Reason was what Ayn Rand was really arguing for. It’s a shame Karl Marx and the altruistic butchers that would follow him gave in instead to crass emotionalism killing those who would argue with them, rather than having a rational debate. All the while pretending they were intellectually superior.

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