Hobbes & Caged Lions: A Video Metaphor for Occupy

[T]he underlying terror of death is what drives most of the human endeavor. — Moore & Williamson

Knowing that, take a look at THIS VIDEO of a family of tourists as they thoroughly enjoy themselves while a lion tries its best to eat their baby (courtesy of WhoIsIoz, one of my favorites).  At least one of them wonders aloud whether laughing at the specter of death was “right”.  Find yourself thinking there was something inherently problematic with a family caterwauling like jackals in the face of death?  I certainly did.

If we reach back to political theorist and all-around curmudgeon Thomas Hobbes and accept his work as fact (ugh), fear of death was the organizing principle that had us leave the state of nature to form civil society.  It’s important to note that Hobbes’ lifetime and career were contemporaneous with the English Civil War (1642-1651) and much of his work was informed by the violence, death, and destruction endemic to those times.

Fear, according to Hobbes, suffuses and shapes human life. It pervades the state of nature, of whose many miseries the “worst of all [is] continual fear,and the danger of violent death.” ‘It is both the sole origin of civil society (“the original of all great and lasting societies consisted not in the mutual goodwill men had towards each other, but in the mutual fear they had of each other”) and the only reliable means of its preservation (“during the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war, as is of everyman, against everyman.”) At once the principal cause of  war and the principal means to peace, fear is the basis both of man’s most urgent plight and of his only possible escape.  

Hobbesian Fear, Jan H. Blits, Political Theory , Vol. 17, No. 3 (Aug., 1989), pp. 417-431
Pessimistic Hobbes saw that fear has uses — it wasn’t the primary driver of humanity even if it was the ultimate organizing factor.  For Hobbes, insatiable thirst for power is the primary human characteristic and self-knowledge of that power-hunger is the root of civilizing fear and paranoia.
So what happens when a small sect of humanity is altogether freed from fear?  When an elite few understands all the levers of power are pulled in the direction that benefits them most?  Their avid power-pursuit goes unchecked and those individuals would become blatant, belligerent, and unapologetic in their pursuit of self-interest, no?  If you have a moment, watch that video again and then watch this: Wall St. Traders Laugh at Occupy Arrests    See any similarities?
*I’m in no way advocating violence here.  These are simple comments about what monetizing politics a la Citizens United could do to the status quo and the hyper-inequality we’ve seen perpetuated in this country since the 70s.
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