Okay, so I just don't grok something. I tend to think of myself as a pretty smart guy. I've got a decent IQ. I did well in every subject I've ever studied except handwriting and I'm told that that's because smart people tend to sign quickly and without putting a lot of thought into it. That's one of the reasons that doctors are known for poor handwriting. They tend to be pretty smart people. Here's my thing: I just don't understand something here and it's Science Fiction related in this context so I'm going to write about it: How in the BLUE HELL is the society of Panem, found in Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games series considered to be a rightist culture? It is true that Ms Collins has been interviewed multiple times and considers herself to be a leftist. I respect that. She has the right to be a leftist. But seriously, I just don't get this. Let's go over the evidence as it is contained in the text and someone here, anyone here, please explain to me how this adds up to a rightist society. I'll start with the most obvious reason that this is a leftist government and go from there.
All economic activity is controlled by the government.
Seriously. All of it. The first thing that happens in District 12 when it gets a new mayor is that they close down the Hob. Why? Because unregulated economic activity takes place there. It's not taxed or controlled. People meet and exchange goods freely and the powers that be see this as a bad thing. It is literally illegal for people to have a freaking flea market because the government isn't getting their cut. Listen, I get the necessity of a certain amount of taxation, but seriously why shut it down? At worst there could have been some taxation put in place. The fact of the matter is that the government in the Capitol couldn't stand the thought of someone making money that they weren't taxing and would rather burn something down that allow the people of the District to profit by it. That's a leftist thing folks. The Hob is a free market. That's what those of us on the right support. Burning it down and punishing the dealers there is the mark of a Communist, not a rightist.
And yes, I get the fact that the people of the Capitol are rich. Guess what? Josef Stalin had five dachas and a chauffeur driven car. He was the leader of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Yes, my friends, the leaders of Socialist/Communist nations have always been rich. "From each according to his abilities and to each according to his needs" is the Marxist idiom. It's weird how the leadership in a Marxist nation always "needs" more than the family of four in the three hundred square foot apartment.
Religion has been eradicated
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo."
It took me a minute to realize what was missing in the books here. Religion has been killed so thoroughly that it's not even brought up as a taboo subject. Seriously, we don't get so much as an "Oh God" when a tribute is wounded or a quick prayer by that one weirdo when their friend/child/brother/sister/whatever gets chosen as Tribute. There isn't even a crumbling old church that has been abandoned for a generation or generations. There is literally no trace of religion whatsoever. The Marx quote above says it all where that's concerned. The father of the Communist movement hated religion and so do his followers.
Gun Control is absolute
"Every Communist must grasp the truth, "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun."Our principle is that the Party commands the gun, and the gun must never be allowed to command the party." - Mao Zedong
Read the books. Watch the movies. Owning a gun, or even a bow and arrow, carries the death penalty. The reason for this is simple: An unarmed society is a society full of slaves. The Districts are Hitler's labor camps writ large. (And yes, the leader of the National SOCIALIST German WORKERS Party was a leftist.) Would anyone with a gun put up with the government seizing their child to fight in some sick game? Taking the guns out of the hands of the people and placing them all into the hands of the government is a common tactic of every totalitarian government and was pioneered by the Left. Oddly enough, gun control in the United States started as Jim Crow laws that sought to keep blacks from owing firearms. Yep, you guessed it. It's easier to lynch a man that can't shoot back to defend himself. And those are the same laws pushed for by the Left in the states today, only now it's the state doing the lynching and the general citizenry, as opposed to just one race of it, that is forced into subjugation.
Even in the Hunger Games, where the entire POINT is to kill everyone the Capitol still doesn't want anyone getting funny ideas about guns. I don't see that as just a coincidence. The fact of the matter is that guns are dangerous to oppressive governments and the Capitol knows that. What if the kid with the gun won and told other people how to use guns? (And for the record, no that's not as easy as the movies make it look.) They're scared of guns. They're scared of what the people will do if given the ability to resist. They're communists.
Media production and consumption are controlled by the Capitol
"A newspaper is not only a collective propagandist and a collective agitator, it is also a collective organizer." - Vladimir Lenin
Leftists have always understood the power of the media, whether in their hands or the hands of their enemies. I wish I saved the notes I took for a paper on the effects of nationalism on the troops serving on the Eastern Front during World War II. The Capitol uses the media both to inform and to terrorize. Forcing people to watch the Hunger Games every night is an intentional reminder of the war they have lost. It is also a reminder that things will be worse if they rebel again. Snow states as much in his office. He uses the games to take hope away.
Media control is thought control and it's something that every Communist government has used. Lenin, yes, but also Ma, Stalin, Pol Pot, Ho Chi Minh, the list goes on. Control the media and you control the message. Control the message and you control belief. Control belief and you control the people. It's simple really. It's what the Capitol does. It's what Communists do.
The Peace Keepers are Ubiquitous
"We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we've set. We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded." - Barack Obama
One of the defining characteristics of a fully developed Communist state is it's ability to react overwhelmingly to threats within its own borders. The media controls the mind, the national security apparatus controls the bodies. Whether it's the secret police ala the KGB or its forerunner the NKVD or tanks rolling on Tiananmen Square, a hard left government must always have the means to crush an uprising should they lose control of any aspect of the society for one to develop. The Peacekeepers are clearly that force. They're feared by the populace. They're never shown serving the public, but simply in keeping it in check. Would you call a Peacekeeper to help you find your lost child? Neither would I.
Oh, and let's talk about District Thirteen for a second. Don't they beat people up for the "crime" of over-eating? They're more Communist than the Communists. And who does Katniss execute at the end of the series? President Coin of District Thirteen. The one who allows this to happen. So, we execute the Communist who is more Communist than the Communist and this is a book a rebellion against a rightist government? Huh?
So here's my question:
Why is it that an avowed leftist has written a book where the central government is controlled by leftists? Where food is withheld from people to enforce obedience and given to them in reward for government service ala the zeks in Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago? Could it be because, even to an avowed leftist, a truly leftist government is the scariest thing she cold come up with? That her villains are ultimately the very thing she claims to support? I mean, how much proof do you need? When your own supporters think that you're the worst case scenario isn't it time to back up and evaluate what you're doing?
At the end of the day, I think that a work (series of works?) like this reveals the problems better than anything else in fiction could. Yes, there are real world examples of why this doesn't work. Some have happy endings, the death of Nicolae Ceaușescu being the most obvious example. Others still don't. North Korea is still imploding. China is still nominally Communist while working toward a free market-ish economy. It should be noted that the lives of the people are improving.
There is a disconnect here and it bothers me. I don't get how to get my head around the fact that a supposedly leftist individual can write a book that's all about a rebellion against an obviously leftist government and this is supposed to make sense. Now, don't get me wrong. I love the books. That's why I put the effort into A.) reading them and B.) writing about them. I just don't get it. Any help figuring this one out would be appreciated.
The books and movies of The Hunger Games series are available at the links below: