Saturday, November 16, 2013

How "The Wizard of Oz" Refutes the Liberal Narrative

I have been pondering for several months how this classic childhood film presents a remarkable metaphor for the failure of the liberal/progressive/statist view of government. Consider the plot:

A group of humble individuals finds their lives disrupted by frightening events beyond their control. Their entire world is literally turned upside-down, and they find themselves in strange, scary new circumstances. Now, they fear they are out of control of their lives, and they are terribly anxious about their future.

One victim of the disaster seeks a return to her normal world. Another believes he hasn't the courage to meet the fearful challenges ahead. A third fears he lacks compassion and dedication. Yet another wonders whether he has the brains to survive on his own.

From a bunch of "little people," they are told about a wondrous far-off city, where a great and powerful wizard will provide them everything they seek and need -- merely by magical decree. Desperate, they embark upon a difficult pilgrimage to that city of power and favors, which is topped by a towering monument. There, acting like craven beggars, they visit and supplicate themselves before the all-powerful wizard, pleading for his aid. And he promises to fulfill their heart's desires.

But there is a catch. The supplicants are told that first they must pay a price for his help: They must agree to go out and do the wizard's bidding, undergoing a host of ordeals on his behalf. The price of his help is servility. Intimidated, they agree to do so. They perform the tasks he has ordered, suffering terribly, but mastering every challenge along the way. 

At last, they return in triumph and insist that the wizard keep his end of the bargain. But he balks and refuses, accusing them of insolence and improper deference to one of his exalted station.

Suddenly, an innocent young pup pulls back the curtain. The Great and Powerful Wizard is revealed to be nothing more than a pathetic old con man: an incompetent fake, who had achieved his power and status over the little people only through his ability to spin glowing Narratives that promised them whatever they wanted . . . and told them whatever they wanted to hear.

In the end, the adventurers come to a shocking realization. Each discovers that, all along, he or she already possessed all the brains, heart, and courage to live happy lives, to produce whatever they needed, and to accomplish great things. They learn that, all along, they could have stood self-reliantly on their own, solving their individual problems creatively and productively, without paying endless tribute to, or accepting endless abuse from, any fraudulent, conniving, self-appointed "wizards" living parasitical lives of luxury in some distant center of power . . . .


All right, folks: Having now revealed "The Wizard of Oz" as a highly subversive Narrative of individualism, one that brilliantly mocks and fatally skewers the "progressive" Narrative, I wonder how long it will be before the Regime tries to ban it?


Vvajk said...

An excellent insight Robert. As I was reading this post, it also came to mind that the characters in The Wizard of Oz truly may have been lacking in the qualities that they desired to have, but ironically they were able to truly find and develope those qualities while on their journey to Oz and while trying to accomplish the task that The Wizard gives them. They didn't believe in themselves because they had never challengedt themseleves, had never been put to the test. It was through the journey and the suffering that they were able to actually, acquire and develope the very attributes they were seeking.

Hank Brown said...

Never heard it decoded that way. But I like it. Only other analysis I've read of it breaks it down as a criticism of Christianity and western culture.

tmswork said...

Ironic, isn't it, that "history" repeats itself, again and again.


Scott Bury said...

Since the books have been around for over a hundred years, I think you have nothing to worry about.

But I have a problem with your premise: you don't really define "liberal," nor do I see much of a connection between your description of the plot with what I perceive as "liberalism." In fact, today, I see the liberal-conservative debate, such as it is, as murky, suffering from lack of definition, no agreement on terms among any of the debaters and a pronounced tendency to fall back on tired old arguments based on unproven assumptions.

I think that the whole left-right political analysis is a bankrupt paradigm. It's time to start thinking in terms of what's really happening.