Saturday, April 21, 2012

Charlie Chaplin's Speech --- The Bitter Irony of Populism

Speech from Charlie Chaplin's
'The Great Dictator'

I am tired of populists who look to ensnare the souls and  minds of human beings, as if appealing to their sense of self tied in with their meaning in a group will liberate man from his present predicament. The heart of man is wicked, who can know it? Since it is the heart of man, not his head or his body, which is the most corrupted, it is a matter of the heart, not the Weltgeist, not the Volkgeist, which can set them free. Maintaining the Germanic sentiment, it is the HeiligeGeist, the Holy Spirit, which alone can transform a man, not just Man. Everyone of us cannot reduce ourselves to a part of the global whole, for to God all the nations of the world  are a drop in the bucket --- nothing more. Enough with these deprived pleas to the common brotherhood of man. As fallen creatures, we share the same burden, but let us not debase ourselves into assuming that we can break free from our common problem through our common, concerted, collective efforts. Dead men cannot make themselves live. Instead, the dead can only bury their dead.

The following speech, fromthe Charlie Chaplin talkie "The Great Dictator", is a great piece of rhetoric, yet so far gone from reality and invested from beginning to end with unrepentant pandering to the basic goodness of man, and that "holding hands together", we can overcome. Who is this "We" that politicians, proletarians, problem-makers are appealing to? Some ideal community, perhaps, yet one which man cannot make on his own.

This "great piece of rhetoric" is the epitome of the bitter irony of populism. Men and women in a nation demand that their government listen to the people, yet by seeking to expand the reforming role of the government, they are undermining the very freedom that they wish to protect and promote.

I'm sorry but I don't want to be an Emperor, that's not my business. I don't want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible, Jew, gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another, human beings are like that. We all want to live by each other's happiness, not by each other's misery. We don't want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone and the earth is rich and can provide for everyone.
The way of life can be free and beautiful. But we have lost the way.

He does not want to be an emperor, yet behold, he is egging on a faceless, teeming, crowd, doing all that he can to stir their hearts to one idea. By saying "We", this dictator is already trying to control everyone. He wants to make himself savior, he declares, abusing the Holy Scriptures, that all the differences, the spice of life, the nations of the world, can be collapsed in the brotherhood of man, that we all want "each other's happiness." This phrase, tinged with irony, does not withhold the truth, latent in its bland subtlety. Indeed, we do want other people's happiness, because we are not willing to receive or conceive the means on our own to get what each of us needs. We envy others more than we want to be happy. Many people operate according to these conditions, no doubt about it. We certainly do want other people's happiness.

Greed has poisoned men's souls, has barricaded the world with hate;
has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed.

Greed is not an external element of man which must be refused. It is endemic to his being, which must be removed only by regeneration of the heart.

We have developed speed but we have shut ourselves in:
machinery that gives abundance has left us in want.
Our knowledge has made us cynical,
our cleverness hard and unkind.
We think too much and feel too little:
More than machinery we need humanity;
More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness.

On the contrary, machines, industry, productivity has enabled us all to live with greater freedom. A return to the tribe, to atavism, will not activate a renassiance of the soul, will not revive the dead spirits of mankind. We do not need to think less of feel more, we need to believe, and to believe requires adherence in something far Greater than ourselves, not just to our understanding. God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all define, confine, and refine -- nothing that man can do.

Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.

The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men, cries out for universal brotherhood for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me I say "Do not despair".

There is no goodness in man as he is, there is no universal brotherhood. There is paternalism of the state, there is the growth of the government at the expense of liberty, freedom of conscience, freedom of religion.

The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress: the hate of men will pass and dictators die and the power they took from the people, will return to the people and so long as men die [now] liberty will never perish. . .

There is no human progress without God, and no man can be good, no state can take the place of the Almighty.

Soldiers: don't give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and enslave you, who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel, who drill you, diet you, treat you as cattle, as cannon fodder.

Don't give yourselves to these unnatural men, machine men, with machine minds and machine hearts. You are not machines. You are not cattle. You are men. You have the love of humanity in your hearts. You don't hate, only the unloved hate. Only the unloved and the unnatural. Soldiers: don't fight for slavery, fight for liberty.

Yes, indeed, only the unloved hate, but the love of man, the favor of others, cannot supply us the Unconditional love that Only God has given us through His Son, Jesus Christ, dying on the Cross to make us whole, holy, and one with God our Creator and Lord and Savior.

In the seventeenth chapter of Saint Luke it is written:
"The kingdom of God is within man"
Not one man, nor a group of men, but in all men; in you, the people.

The worst references scripture distort and do not reveal the majesty of Grace. Here is the true reference:

"And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:

"Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. " (Luke 17: 20-21)

The kingdom of God is not within "man", an amorphous concept which means nothing. Every person on this earth is not an abstraction. Such thinking has justified cataloguing people by race, color, creed, and religion, has justified housing people in segregated quarters, ghettos, camps. The limitations of an abstract mind have abstracted the truth of who we are before God, and has therefore justified the mass killings and genocide of entire ethnic groups. No, Jesus said to the worst of us, the Pharisees, that even in them the Kingdom of God may be found. It would take the Pharisee of Pharisees, and thus the worst of sinners, to declare in its fulness the Finished Work of Jesus Christ and the true boundaries of the Kingdom of God within us:

"For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." (Romans 14: 17)

We do not have the Kingdom of God within us at birth. We must be borm again, repent and receive the gospel -- it's so easy, such an offense to man, who wants to do more and be more in his own feckless efforts.

You the people have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness. You the people have the power to make life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy let's use that power, let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give you the future and old age and security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power, but they lie. They do not fulfil their promise, they never will. Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people. Now let us fight to fulfil that promise. Let us fight to free the world, to do away with national barriers, do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men's happiness.

"You the people have the power." No. We. Do. Not. "We the People" must be checked in our power, not just from the government, but even from ourselves who would run the government according to our own dictates. There is no one "people" to which we belong. A "people" requires a politic, a policy, and a policing power which restrains as much as possible while using as little as possible.

Soldiers! In the name of democracy, let us all unite!

Democracy, ""the people rule," yet which people? What makes any one of us a member of the "demos"? What does it mean to be a "man", to be a "person"? Each one of us must be alive for that.
. . .

Look up! Look up! The clouds are lifting, the sun is breaking through. We are coming out of the darkness into the light. We are coming into a new world. A kind new world where men will rise above their hate and brutality.

The soul of man has been given wings, and at last he is beginning to fly. He is flying into the rainbow, into the light of hope, into the future, that glorious future that belongs to you, to me and to all of us. Look up. Look up.

The soul of man is dead apart from the indwelling Holy Spirit. We receive this grace through faith, not by our works, not by any wonders which we can conjure up on our own. If we look up, let us see Jesus, sitting at the right hand of the Father, in all honor and all glory, representing us as perfect and righteous. Not to the state, not to the crowd, not to the masses, but to the Lord God Almighty -- He is the one who sets us free.

No comments:

Post a Comment