Monday, April 09, 2007

The "Hope" of Charlie Chaplin

"Hope" is The Great Dictator speech from 1938--1940. Charlie Chaplin was one of the greatest comedians and independent filmmakers of his time. Hollywood had nothing to do with this film. "The Great Dictator" (written, directed, and starring Chaplin) is one of my all-time favorites. I recommend watching it for its humor, wit, and daring political satire (not only of Hitler, but fascist Mussolini, and we even laugh about Jewish life in the Ghetto.)

This film was made at a time when it actually wasn't accepted politically to be (really) opposed to Hitler's regime. Chaplin foresaw the future conflicts and was more visionary than Hollywood-types, who were incapable of political action or acting for humanity and would have rather made cheap consumerist spectacles and not been involved in the politics of their time unless to reinforce dominating power structures.

This video is the broken dream I have. The reason why everything is shifty and broken is because Chaplin's dream is broken for me. It is my secret dream, as a left-libertarian, a complete free society. It's utopian, but I am deeply skeptical about whether we have "the love of humanity in our hearts" as Chaplin says. I believe people are dirty and unlovable. Greed doesn't poison mens' souls--they are already poisoned. Chaplin's dream may be assumed broken before it has even been dreamt. Paradoxically we still must fight for our freedom despite our unbearable natures.

"Let us fight for a new world!"--is Chaplin's phrase, but we have stopped fighting against our dominators. Seventy years later, have we seen Chaplin's new world? We still let the states of obedience take power, as super-states control the world's resources and direction, they regiment our lives ideologically, tax our labor to buy machines for war-making. A vicious cycle. And we stand by idly while our labor is controlled and used for destruction and symbolic death. We are still enslaved! We are not free! And Chaplin's dream has not come true.

Paulette (Hannah) Goddard's Schillerian sentimentality at the end represents the one for whom the good message landed on fertile ground. Her fruit is ripe and she is ripe for her fruit. She is ready for this new world--the kingdom of God within her--and she is ready to fight for her freedom.

"There is an old illusion, which is called good and evil. So far the wheel of this illusion has revolved around soothsayers and stargazers. Once man believed in soothsayers and stargazers and therefore believed: 'All is destiny: you ought to, for you must.' Then man again mistrusted all soothsayers and stargazers, and therefore believed: 'All is freedom, you can, for you will.' O my brothers, so far there have been only illusions about stars and the future, not knowledge; and therefore there have been only illusions so far, not knowledge, about good and evil."

~On Old and New Tablets, Zarathustra

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