Is the ‘Hunger Games’ Trilogy a Libertarian Manifesto?

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I’m about two hours away from finishing Mocking Jay, the last book of the Hunger Games trilogy. I wasn’t planning on reading the books, but once I got wind that there were some libertarian themes contained therein I figured…welllll, ok. So, do the books make up some sort of libertarian manifesto? One might think so based on this, this, this, this, and this.

My take? I was pleasantly surprised. I kept waiting for the typical progressive themes of “Yeah, these big-government types over here are bad, but these big-government types over here are good.” Instead, you get the pleasing “These big-government types over here are bad, and these others that you thought would be good? Well, maybe they aren’t any good either.” There does seem to be a pervading message that if all these power-hungry leaders would just leave people alone, they could take care of themselves and be just fine, and “just fine” would be worlds better than where they’re at. If you’re already of a mind to loathe the state these books will give you all the satisfaction you’re looking for, and it’s that much more satisfying to know how many other people are reading them.

No, it’s not exactly a libertarian manifesto. I don’t believe the author had any such intent, which actually makes it better as a tool for liberty-lovers, because there isn’t any sort of preachy, over-the-top message about government. The book merely appeals to the natural desire each of us as to be left alone to do our own thing. It’s about as much a libertarian manifesto as Star Wars is, which again, has libertarian themes, but isn’t a purposely libertarian story.

As far as being enjoyable, I did find it to be that. Yes, it was a page-turner, yes, I found myself going to extra effort to read more of it each day than I would normally do for another book – if I had my way I would have just sat down and gotten through all three books without taking a break.

That said, it’s not terribly well-written. It’s not bad, per se, but it could certainly use some polishing. There are times when the author insults your intelligence, giving you a punch line and then explaining it as though you’re a dimwit. There is a bit much of the two-boys-fighting-over-teenage-girl drama. My wife says this is every teenage girl’s dream, which I guess explains the success of both this series as well as the Twilight series. While cheesy in parts, I learned to look past it. After all, it’s not as though it’s unrealistic. Heck, the first time I asked my wife out on a date she turned me down because she already had a date planned for the same evening, so I guess I should even be able to relate. But for all its faults, the book is still interesting and enjoyable if one can get by those faults and look at the positives.

Will the book convert anyone straight over to the cause of liberty? Probably not. Can it be a step on that road, a building block in a young person’s or even older reader’s journey towards that end? Sure, and an enjoyable one at that.

Joshua Steimle [send him mail] blogs at Liberty Questions and Answers.

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