It’s no surprise that many state worshippers are quickly dismissing The Hunger Games trilogy as just another teenage romance story like the Twilight series, showing they are either too stupid to understand the many specific messages of the story or do see the messages but don’t want other people noticing them – especially the youth. I’ve seen some reviews where the trilogy has even been lumped into the category of being no more than a children’s series and associated with Harry Potter and Dr. Seuss.
Suzanne Collins did indeed write these books for young people and she should be commended for this. Instead of writing off the youth as a bunch of fools, she realizes, just like Ron Paul, that it is the young who have received the least brainwashing at this point in their lives.
The story is extremely dangerous to the State because seeds have been and will continue to be planted in people’s minds that maybe governments aren’t run by benevolent, selfless people, but rather sadistic, self-glorifying sociopaths.
Some on the left may perceive the first book as a battle between rich and poor, a portrayal of Marxist class theory, due to the protagonists all being poor and the antagonists all being extravagantly wealthy, but it is actually a perfect example of libertarian class struggle. The story is a battle between the tax payers and the tax eaters, although of a Soviet-level severity.
The Capital rules over twelve separate districts, similar to the United States, and each separate district is charged with producing a different good for the Capital including coal, agriculture, fabrics, and electronics. The only approved jobs most people can get are working for the government in some way, the majority working in whatever line of production the Capital demands of their district. Nearly all of what is produced goes straight to the Capital – not sold in voluntary exchanges, but expropriated by the Capital.
Most people, since they are severely restricted by the State in freely finding their places in the division of labor of an outlawed free market, are barely able to survive and starvation is always a looming problem. Leaving the districts is punishable by death and tall electric fences border the territories (to keep dangerous animals away, of course).
This is where any possibility of Marxist undertones vanishes: the people rely on black markets for their survival. It is reiterated many times by the main character Katniss that if it weren’t for the illicit market in her town, where people trade outlawed products and food for profit, survival would be impossible. The small bit of capitalism they illegally enjoy is what keeps them alive. It is clear that the government is the exploiter and the agorist entrepreneurs are heroes worthy of the highest praise.
The Hunger Games are the most sinister government program of the Capital. 75 years before the books take place, the districts initiated a rebellion against the Capital. The Capital responded by completely nuking one of the districts into oblivion. To rub salt in the wound and have the superiority of the State constantly displayed, the Capital annually conscripts two teenagers from every district and forces them to slaughter each other in an arena. The victor is rewarded with a wealthy life and celebrity among the creatures of the Capital and the victor’s district is given slightly more food than the other districts for the next year.
The spectacle is covered by the lapdog media in a stylish and fun fashion as if there is nothing morally wrong about the Hunger Games whatsoever. The people of the Capital view the games with excited pleasure, but the people of the districts are forced to view the event on big screens so their spirits can be crushed under the omnipotence of the State.
Most disturbing is how the State itself presents this event. The Capital considers the games to be a great, generous program and the coerced participants are treated as if they are the lucky recipients of the most wonderful opportunity.
It is the second book where the role of police comes into focus. The presence of peacekeepers in the districts increases exponentially as the Capital realizes the growing opposition among their subjects. The citizens aren’t fooled by the Orwellian term “peacekeeper” and are quite aware that the role of the enforcers is to keep the tax slaves obedient to the capital. The peacekeepers’ primary goal at this point is to squelch all dissent and disobedience, no matter how small.
As you can imagine, the types of people attracted to the “job” of being a peacekeeper are sadists who immensely enjoy dominating other people. Peacekeepers who openly object to the brutality of their superiors are severely punished, insuring that no moral person joins or remains among the Capital enforcers.
Mass rebellion eventually breaks out as the level of tyranny becomes intolerable, but, unfortunately, government power itself is not the enemy of the rebellion, just the particular present regime.
Libertarians will be pleased to see that the question Collins seems to be pondering by the third book isn’t what type of government is best, but whether we should even be governed at all. The reader is left with an undeniable feeling that the people of Panem would be better off not only without the current regime, but without the supposedly better replacement as well.
The reader is also urged to be highly suspicious of those who seek to grab state power away for themselves from tyrants as a strategy of advancing freedom, as they may very quickly resort to acts that make them just as evil in the process.
The primary issue of the series is war and it is at the final chapters where interstate war receives the complete uncompromising, unrelenting condemnation it deserves. There is no glory depicted. Libertarians often correctly point out that wars between countries are in fact wars between governments, but Collins shows wars between governments for what they really are: the State versus every single one of us. All sides will eventually commit atrocities, all sides become indefensible, no innocent on any side is safe from the State, and the people who bear the greatest costs are almost always those who least deserve it.