I just saw a movie today titled “The International”. It was a fairly typical dark cabal conspiracy storyline with an equally typical open ending designed to leave us feeling a bit hopeless to see the “bad” world ever change for the better. We can see a conscious effort in this movie to blame the ills of the world on the international banking community, which is merely a reflection of the current public craze over banking conspiracy theories.
The fact of this movie (and movies such as “Syriana” before it back when it was popular to demonize the big bad government involvement with oil instead) represents how little the public (and entertainment industry) understands power, politics or money. I find this sad in a way. Anyway, the movie was made fairly well, though they could have used a few more tactical advisors — I could sharpshoot it all day long, but in the end it was a story that was told a certain way, so whatever.
The real issue I would like to shine a light on here is how misunderstood the world of power really is. In the end banks do not run much of anything. They are facilitators of power, not the creators of power. Politics will always trump economics because politics is grounded in raw physical power (see Russia for an example of this). It would be an interesting exercise to go around anywhere in the world (contrary to popular belief Europeans are every bit as ignorant as Americans and Asians are generally apolitical to begin with) and ask middle-class people to describe Comminism, Fascism, Capitalism and give a general definition of the word “economy”.
The International comes most recent in a long line of movies which misinterpret the nature of the world for the audience and — intentionally or not — miseducate the public on social issues. Every such movie focuses on a single issue which is assumed to be negative and proceeds to deliver event after event — flimsy and contrived or not — which make it appear as though world events all pivot around this one issue. In Lord of War the issue was guns. In Syriana it was oil. In The International it is mysterious and ill-defines “international bankers”. There are hundreds of movies of this sort, and naturally if the logic of them held then they are all wrong. Which is proecisely correct: they are all wrong. The logic that gun dealers are the big evil of the world is entirely reversed in The International, where the bankers are the ones making decisions about who gets what and where. In Syriana it is big government involvement with the energy business that pushes the chess pieces around.
Which one is it? If we were to ask a typical person they would likely quickly answer “all of them” and in an effort to explain that answer generate a grand unifying conspiracy theory of the first rate. The problem is that it is none of them. Every one of these films, though highly entertaining (I especially enjoyed the style of Syriana and Lord of War had its moments) suffers from the same critical flaw: they reverse the causes and effects of power and decision making.
It is merely in the nature of man to struggle and want more. We fight. It is simply what mankind does. Therefore war exists. The first war was not precipitated by the construction of the first weapons, rather violence has always been a brutal and cold fact of life on this planet and humans used their minds to develop more advanced ways to win — because winning is what humans must do to survive. Even our more primitive primate cousins have tribal wars, the main difference is they do not punch nice neat holes in one another, they rip each other limb from limb and tear chunks of flesh out with their teeth. The very movie industry which produced the movie Lord of War is protected and safe itself from war because the world it exists in is protected by the largest, most numerous, most advanced armory in the world.
Oil does not make countries and economies move, rather those structures require motion and have been in motion long before the invention of the internal combustion engine (and will be in motion long after that design — and oil — is outmoded). Oil facilitates a ready and easily distributable means for motion and is therefore big business — not the other way round which would state oil is big business and therefore motion. As mentioned before, humans are survivors. If oil is needed by a group with money and money is needed by a group with oil, then those two will naturally begin trading, generally with no thought to differences in ideology. Both feel they are getting the better of the deal. Culture and geography will determine who will eventually win whatever conflicts will arise between the two — and to be sure, conflicts will arise because both societies are made up of people and people will always struggle against one another.
Banks do not make the decisions that make the world go around. The decisions are made and there is a value in facilitating such decisions. Whenever those decisions involve the movement and mass conversion of financial instruments of any kind there is a need for banking services. The banks did not create the underlying social structures of power, they are merely working for the people who actually have the power to make decisions. A bank does not tell a client what to do, and the idea that the control of debt generates a leveraged position over men of power (as the movie The International directly suggests) is ridiculous, because while bankers are holding paper, it is entirely within the ability of a man of power — who is holding weaponry — to tell the banker where to shove that paper. For a recent example of this see Ecuador’s recent default on national debt. The banks lost their shirts on that, but they are powerless to do anything about it because Ecuador has a military under its control and the banks have financial advisors and accountants under theirs.
My whole point here is to draw attention to the reverse reasoning which is so common and really clouds the waters of common understanding of the world. This mistaken reasoning is what gives so much room to filmmakers to influence public opinion, whether they intend to or not. People do not stop learning, they just stop realizing it after they leave school. Everything you read, see or hear is a tool of education and mental imprinting. This is not to say that there is a conspiracy going on or that you should be afraid (though there is definite media bias in many cases), but rather that we should be conscious of the fact that we are educating ourselves every day by what we choose to allow our brains to consume. We must guard against being loose-minded or allowing ourselves to have too relaxed of a mental posture because it allows us to accept, for example, a movie producer’s (mis)interpretation of the world’s serious issues instead of actively thinking and developing our own.
I haven’t forgotten about my Obama series. I am still working on the Afghanistan piece, actually, but was bogged down for several months by uneccessary distractions at work.