“Soon, many Afrikaners were calling themselves Doppers, after the little metal caps with which they snuffed out candles. They called themselves Doppers because they were deliberately and consciously extinguishing the light of the Enlightenment, so that they could do what they had to do in darkness.”
If you haven’t seen the found-footage, superhero flick Chronicle, you should. Apart from telling a great, chilling story with achingly real characters, Chronicle presents a thought-provoking example of how confabulation (consciously or unconsciously creating fictional narratives to alleviate cognitive dissonance) allows us to justify the unjustifiable.
The video clip linked to the picture above says it all. The villain in the film comes to see himself as an Apex Predator – at the top of the human food chain, a lion amongst men. His power gives him the absolute right to crush lesser mortals, like a child stepping on an ant. Which he does, leading to horrifying results. Sadly, he is part of a cycle; the wrongs he commits are instigated by wrongs he suffered himself. In the end, there were no winners.
Part of the brilliance of the film is the way in which this character develops into a monster; he can’t intentionally inflict harm on people until he ceases to see himself as one of them. It’s this piece that has something to tell us about the decline of capitalism and why our world is becoming an increasingly polarized place. It's less an indictment of a given system than it is a comment on the human condition.
Lions, you see, aren’t individual actors – they’re a species. While lions might hunt gazelles with impunity, there are social consequences when lions compete with each other. When individuals or groups of people try to see themselves as resting at the top of the food chain, they consciously or unconsciously establish a false divide between themselves and everyone else. While distinctions of “other” justify actions or indifference that would be unconscionable directed at “one of our own,” these divisions are completely false – and they have consequences.
In fact, if history tells us anything, it’s that sooner or later, you reap what you sow. It’s a lesson we seem to be doomed to repeat.
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