Tuesday 3 September 2019

Maybe in my dreams I'll be skinny

"When you vote you are exercising political authority, you are using force and force, my friends, is violence - the supreme authority from which all other authority is derived."
Of course, when Michael Ironside spoke those words, he likely didn't know he was taking the piss out of fascism, as he'd been in so many dreadful films with questionable politics at that stage that he probably just assumed Hollywood was finally back at the uncritical-fawning-over-Nazis phase and was trying to cash as many paychecks as he could to pay for his bunker in the hills where he and his family could wait out the race war.  He probably didn't think too much about the fetishism of fascism in the script for Starship Troopers and took it at face value as being generally in favor of it much as reviewers at the time did, and much as Robert Heinlein did when he wrote the original novel, if we're being honest.
For years, though, it wasn't the impressive CGI swarms or the lunk-headed "teens" lurching around the screen delivering hammy dialogue that I took away from the movie, it was the line spoken above, clearly satirical, during a scene in which Michael Ironside's character explains how the failure of democracy led to global society becoming homogenised under authoritarian populists and OMG THATS JUST LIKE THE NOW TIMES! it's only now that I realise that I lacked the nawoose... the nuews,  the noose, the nuose... that I lacked the brain learning to understand that democracy is a largely coercive construct comprised of various branches of government who enjoy a monopoly on the use of violence or the legal power to impel compliance.  What Michael Ironside's highly memorable character whose name I have never bothered to learn because why would I? was saying is that the use of a vote is a form of coercion, the transfer of the will of a faction of the collective onto the whole.  It's a tremendous responsibility that probably shouldn't be squandered on voting for a bloke in a furry costume or dressed like Darth Vader, because there are knock-on consequences to protest voting just as much as there are for not voting at all.
 Anyway, at the heart of Starship Troopers is a meditation on who has the right to exercise violence and why, and it says a great deal about me that my attempts to mentally wrangle with the current political quagmire in the UK brought about by the failed neoliberal experiment and the worrying possibility of violence breaking out brings me not to some book about Bolshevism by a dead commie who lived through all of this before, but to the Robocop Man's big stupid film about the space army, but hey - we're all just trying to figure this stuff out in our own way and this is my process, I guess.

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