Pete Docter / Kemp Powers – Disney/Pixar

Soul is a powerful movie about a jazz musician who passes away but refuses to go peacefully away to the “great beyond”. It is essentially a story about life and how wonderful and precious it is; we should not linger and waste the one chance we get to live it.

The music in this movie is phenomenal. As someone who loves music and, in particular, the improvisational style and rhythm of jazz and funk, it was wonderful to hear the trombone, piano, and saxophone pieces played excellently throughout the movie. As someone who also enjoys Japaneses anime, the movie had a lot of beautiful and surreal scenery that resembled very much the Studio Ghibli style of animation. Coupled with the heartwarming and introspective themes, it was a fantastic movie.

Albeit not a specifically libertarian or even remotely politically themed movie, as the State was mostly completely absent (besides Terry), there were 2 fairly minor parts of it I would love to explore here. The lines were both spoken by the character Tina Fey plays named 22. Fey has been making some fairly profound political statements lately between this and the excellent Mr. Mayor, to be reviewed here soon in the future. =)

22 is a child-soul who refuses to go to earth because she thinks it’s unfulfilling there; besides, she has everything she could ever want here forever! She’s gone through tons of “mentors” who are people in history who try to advise her about how wonderful life on earth can be, and she dismisses them all out of fear and out of not realizing how wonderful life on earth actually is.

Abraham Lincoln, The Liar

One of her mentors, Lincoln, is someone that 22 calls a liar. This goes against the official narrative that “Honest Abe” was anything but a liar; why he was completely honest! It’s part of his nickname, after all!

An example of Lincoln’s deceptive side is seen at the outset of the War Between the States. The southern port of Charleston was home to Fort Sumter, from which the federal governments surveyed the ships coming in and collected the duties/taxes “owed” it. When South Carolina seceded, one of their demands was for the federal government to desert the fort, and if not at least to not reinforce the fort with additional soldiers, weapons, ammunition, etc. Lincoln expounded publicly that he was just sending food down to the fort because the poor, starving soldiers there were hungry and in desperate need of supply (when actually they had been being brought food by the local people in Charleston and had plenty to eat/drink), and so he sailed several ships into the harbor intent on landing at the fort.

The confederate soldiers there realized his duplicity, as the ships were indeed stuffed to the gills with additional soldiers and weapons and not just food, and so proceeded to fire at the ships forcing them to leave the harbor. Lincoln had lied.

He also lied when he created the Emancipation Proclamation. This document was said to “free the slaves”, but in a slight of hand he had only freed the slaves within the rebellious colonies’ borders. He did not free any slaves in the Northern colonies with it and in fact enforced the fugitive slave act up to and throughout the war, the law which required the federal and state governments to track down slaves and return them to their masters no matter what state they escaped from and to. Merely revoking this law would have easily and peacefully crushed slavery throughout both the North and the South, but he never did that.

He didn’t lie directly about his war crimes, but he certainly was not very forthcoming about them. He marched his army into newspaper organizations who dared to oppose his war or publish editorials against him and arrested their editors, shutting down dozens of them. He censored all telegraph communications and used the post office to not deliver certain newspapers that did not speak highly of him. He suspended Habeas Corpus to make sure he could arrest anyone at any time for disobeying him. Even congress was not immune; one them who opposed him was jailed and then deported and permanently banned from his home in Ohio.

Other war crimes involve specifically targeted civilians and starving them by destroying their crops and fields, firebombing Atlanta in only what could be considered a violation of international law at the time, burning down any city or house his generals came across, and then ordering the remaining civilians still alive, now homeless, to march into the wilderness even right before winter with whatever they could carry. One of his soldiers lamented:

“Never before have I witnessed so much wanton destruction as on this march. The soldiers are perfectly abandoned.”

Emma LeConte wrote about the Union march into Columbia:

“As soon as the bulk of the army entered, the work of pillage began… The fire on Main Street was now raging, and we anxiously watched its progress from the upper front windows. In a little while, however, the flames broke forth in every direction. The drunken devils roamed about, setting fire to every house the flames seemed likely to spare. They were fully equipped for the noble work they had in hand. Each soldier was furnished with combustibles compactly put up. They would enter houses and in the presence of helpless women and children, pour turpentine on the beds and set them on fire. Guards were rarely of any assistance – most generally they assisted in the pillaging and firing.”

She also wrote how the soldiers cut up the fire hoses so that no one could put the fires out. After the attack, she wrote “there is not a house, I believe, in Columbia that has not been pillaged – those that the flames spared were entered by brutal soldiery and everything wantonly destroyed.”

By shutting down the newspapers, he effectively lied about how he was destroying the lives and property of many men, women and children who were not directly involved with the war. This was pursued as a war of genocide. General Sherman himself stated that his ultimate goal was:

“extermination, not of soldiers alone, that is the least part of the trouble, but the [general] people.”

How could Lincoln have commanded this army capable of such cruelty and destruction without being also a liar to those who “supported” him up North? Certainly, there is no record of him admitting to authoring his campaign of terror and genocide waged against innocent civilians anywhere we know of.

Andrew Jackson, Lincoln’s ideological nemesis

22 also says that Andrew Jackson is on the 20 dollar bill while Lincoln is on the penny! Lincoln freaks out and screams NOT JACKSON!

While Lincoln and Jackson never directly interacted with each other politically, and despite them both being very much in favor of war (especially against the native Americans) and the suppression of secessionist movements, Jackson was a state’s right advocate while Lincoln was a centralist. Jackson wanted the states to each have their own powers (except secession), while Lincoln wanted the federal government to have as much power as possible and the states as little as possible.

In short, Jackson followed the more Jeffersonian and moderate libertarian (minus his support of war, slavery, etc) approach to politics, while Lincoln was the typical Hamiltonian, strong, centralized government type.

Jackson conquered the central bank of his time. Far before the Federal Reserve, the Second Bank of the United States was manipulating currency and interest rates, causing booms and busts, and generally disrupting economic activity as all central banks do. Jackson refused to renew it and the bank was dissolved. This of course did not mean the government was out of the banking business, far from it; there were many laws that perpetuated the same economic destruction via banking by the more local and smaller state banks and private banks, they just caused the economic destruction to a lesser degree than what can be done with a central bank.

Lincoln wanted to bring the central bank back and, indeed, moved forward towards that goal with his Green Backs issued after the Civil War. He was very much in favor of inflationary money printing, as he knew that the primary recipient and beneficiary of the newly printed money would be his government and the railroad corporations he was so closely linked to.

Indeed, the fact that Jackson was put on the Federal Reserve notes at all is likely just to poke fun at the fact that despite his mighty struggle to defeat the centralized power of the political bankers, they ultimately won.

For the sake of humanity and the economic future of mankind, hopefully they will not have won forever.

George Orwell, the Truth Teller

In another beautiful scene with 22, a young student comes to the door and tells her that she wants to quit band and school. 22 replies that her mentor, George Orwell, said:

“State sponsored education was like the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket. ‘The ruling class’ core curriculum stifles dissent.”

While Orwell never specifically said this as far as we know, he was certainly no big fan of government power or of their education system. He said:

“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”

Certainly the best way to deny and obliterate understanding is by taking children for 8+ hours a day into a government education system to teach them propaganda and to be good, dutiful citizens who obey the government. Hitler certainly knew this when he set up his Hitler Youth program with the intent of getting young children to ideologically conform to his nationalistic goals and to obey him unquestioningly. Murray Rothbard wrote in his brilliant essay Education: Free and Compulsory:

“It is a grave and unanswerable indictment of compulsory state education that these modern totalitarianisms [of Fascism, Nazism, and Communism] were eager to institute compulsory state schooling in their regimes. Indeed, the indoctrination of the youth in their schools was one of the chief mainstays of these slave states. …At the base of totalitarianism and compulsory education is the idea that the children belong to the State rather than to their parents.”

Indeed, we know from the origins of the coercive model of the taxation based public school system in Prussia that it was originally meant to totally suppress the goals of the individual to be subordinate to the goals of the central, dictatorial State. The inspiration for this school model came from Martin Luther who preached complete submission and obedience to State absolutism. It is also no coincidence that Prussia was one of the most militaristic States in western Europe at the time, devoting a mass sum of taxation towards raising and training armies. Compulsory education went hand in hand with compulsory military service.

Children who did not attend or were truant were seized from their homes and placed in government facilities. Compulsory education at the time was also used in Europe to destroy the languages and culture of minority groups; the State would declare a “national language” and that was what the schools taught.

In America, the earliest public schools date back to the Massachusetts Bay colony, the most dictatorial of all the American colonies at the time. The colony government imposed restrictions on clothing, activity, gambling, working, prices, religion, etc etc etc. It also imposed the very first system of compulsory education in the world in 1642, and it was constructed by the Calvinist/Puritans for the means of religious indoctrination.

Interestingly, the next major chapter in the history of public schools in America was fought over by the Catholics vs the Protestants/Pietists in the late 1800s. The Protestants tried to wipe out Catholicism itself via the public schools. The NYC school textbooks spoke of “the deceitful Catholics” who were “necessarily morally, intellectually, infallibly, a stupid race.” Children were taught about the evils of the Popery, alcohol, and other Pietist moral mandates.

“[The role of the public educator is] to collect little plastic lumps of human dough from private households and shape them on the social kneadingboard.”

Edward Alsworth Ross

Not content to improve their own ranks with morality, the progressives of the early 20th century needed to remake society with their own moral edicts. As Murray Rothbard notes:

“Thus the foundations of today’s massive state intervention in the internal life of the American family were laid in the so-called “progressive era” from the 1870s to the 1920s. Pietists and “progressives” united to control the material and sexual choices of the rest of the American people, their drinking habits, and their recreational preferences. Their values, the very nurture and education of their children, were to be determined by their betters. The spiritual, biological, political, intellectual, and moral elite would govern, through state power, the character and quality of American family life.”

It is no coincidence therefore that the rise of universal, tax based government education of children would emerge in America at almost exactly at the same time (from the 1870s to the 1920s). It seems that 22 is correct that the ruling class would indeed use it to stifle dissent and minority opinions.

Some progressives of this time called for even more drastic measures: Frances Wright and Robert Owen called for children to be taken from their parents at the age of 2 and put in 24 hour facilities only to be released when they were 16. The parents would be allowed to visit from time to time. Everyone would be dressed the same, fed the same, study the same things, own the same things, and would have the same “pleasures” whatever that means. It was to be the perfect idealization of egalitarianism. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed, but their work had a great influence on those intellectuals and educators who were creating the public school system at the time.

Orwell was right, and so was 22 speaking words that Orwell didn’t speak or write.

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