President Snow: Seneca… why do you think we have a winner?
Seneca Crane: [frowns] What do you mean?
President Snow: I mean, why do we have a winner? I mean, if we just wanted to intimidate the districts, why not round up twenty-four at random and execute them all at once? It would be a lot faster. [Seneca just stares, confused]
President Snow: Hope.
Seneca Crane: Hope?
President Snow: Hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective. A lot of hope is dangerous. Spark is fine, as long as it’s contained.
Seneca Crane: So…?
President Snow: So, contain it.
President Snow and his chief propagandist, Seneca Crane, have a discussion that could be taking place between president Obama and chairman Bernanke today. Hope is a funny thing. If the ruling class removes all hope, then the masses begin to feel they have nothing to lose and revolution becomes a foregone conclusion. For the elites of Panem, hope is used as a method of control. President Snow understood the danger of allowing the downtrodden multitudes too much hope. The Hunger Games allows one child to survive out of 24. The districts are forced to remember the iron grip of the Capitol every year, while rooting for an unlikely hollow victory of one child surviving.
The parents of children in the districts hope their children aren’t chosen. They hope they’ll scrounge up enough food to survive another day. They hope they don’t get killed in a mine explosion. They hope the peacekeepers don’t break down their doors and imprison them for illegal hunting. They hope they can endure another week. Snow knows that as long as they have only a faint hope to maintain their subsistence level lifestyle, they are unlikely to rebel. Seeing a sixteen year old girl openly defying the Capitol and awakening a spirit of humanity and courage in the subjugated masses is a huge threat to the ruling class.
Katniss Everdeen ignited the flash of hope in the districts when she befriended a young girl from District 11 named Rue. The contestants are supposed to kill each other, but Katniss protects the young girl. When Rue is killed, Katniss decorates her body with flowers as a means of memorializing Rue, which the television audience in the districts views as defying the Capitol. As she walks away from Rue’s memorial and back into the fight, she turns to the cameras and gives a three finger salute. The three fingered salute of District 12, a gesture rarely used, means thanks, admiration, and good-bye to a loved one. Her message to the people watching is they have a common enemy. They don’t have to fight each other because a tyrannical government commands them to do so. Once the beaten down and subjugated masses began to understand the other districts were not the true enemy, the flame of liberty was kindled.
Katniss had experienced an act of kindness and mercy earlier in the novel when she had reached the end of her rope and had failed to scavenge any food for her helpless mother and sister after her father’s death in a mine explosion. Her thoughts were dark and dire.
“I couldn’t go home. Because at home was my mother with her dead eyes and my little sister, with her hollow cheeks and cracked lips. I couldn’t walk into that room with the smoky fire from the damp branches I had scavenged at the edge of the woods after the coal had run out, my hands empty of any hope.”
In the world of District 12 bread signifies hope. Food symbolizes hope as freedom from hunger. When Peeta sees Katniss and her anguish, he shows compassion for her. He purposely burns some bread from his parents’ bakery and throws the bread to Katniss, who is huddled outside in the rain. Later on, as Katniss thinks about the meaning of this interaction with Peeta, she says,
“To this day, I can never shake the connection between this boy, Peeta Mellark, and the bread that gave me hope.”
One of the key undercurrents of the Hunger Game trilogy is what happens in a world where all hope seems to be lost. Through small acts of kindness, like providing a few loaves of bread or honoring a departed contestant, hope can be sparked, and a spark can turn into a flame, a “girl on fire.” In this way, Katniss comes to embody the hope of a better future, a liberated and free Panem. When an authoritarian regime can no longer keep the populace sedated with bread and circuses, they turn to oppression and force.
With 47 million people wallowing in poverty and real median household income lower than it was in 1999 a pallor of hopelessness has descended upon our land. Banking and corporate interests have captured the economic, financial and political systems to such an extent the people no longer have any say in how this country is governed. The people are given a choice of flavors in what passes for elections by the corporate interests that choose the candidates. Once a politician attains office and does what they are instructed by the financial interests that fund their campaigns, they become rich and powerful. This is why 90% of incumbents are re-elected despite Congress having a 12% approval rating in polls.
The last 13 years has confirmed the country is run by one party, as the Republican figurehead rolled out new trillion dollar entitlement programs, fought undeclared wars, created an Orwellian organization to spy on Americans, and drove deficits to staggering levels. Now the current Democrat figurehead has rolled out a disastrous new trillion dollar entitlement program, continues to fight undeclared wars, drones innocent people in foreign countries, secretly collects data on every American, and has driven deficits to epic heights.
The Crisis began in 2008 with the Wall Street created worldwide financial implosion, spurred by the greatest control fraud in history. The bankers and politicians have implemented “solutions” that have further enriched the kleptocratic parasite class, while impoverishing savers, seniors, and the working middle class who played by the rules. The temperament of the country has continued to darken and societal trust is imploding, just as Strauss & Howe predicted in 2007.
“As the Crisis catalyzes, these fears will rush to the surface, jagged and exposed. Distrustful of some things, individuals will feel that their survival requires them to distrust more things. This behavior could cascade into a sudden downward spiral, an implosion of societal trust.” - The Fourth Turning
When a tyrannical privileged class has taken their greed and avarice too far, reaped the remaining spoils of a declining empire and the exploited hordes begin to grow restless, the oligarchs will always utilize their mercenaries to retain control and keep the multitudes cowering and fearful. Even though the financial elite have been harvesting the riches of our bountiful land for decades, it only started to become apparent to a few aware critical thinkers in the late 1990’s. It is no coincidence the War on Terror has been used as an excuse to pass the Patriot Act, unleash the NSA to gather every piece of electronic data generated by all American citizens, militarize local law enforcement agencies, conduct military “training exercises” in major cities, roll out drones to monitor the activities of the people, subject citizens to degrading body searches in airports and train stations, install surveillance cameras throughout the land to monitor our every move, use Bernaysian propaganda techniques and create fake terrorist plots to keep the masses trembling and terrified.
The ruling class leeches lost their blood sucking grip on the financial markets in 2000 and again in 2008. As the common people have lost their trust in the financial and political leaders and their propaganda techniques wear thin, truncheons, guns and a vast treasure trove of weapons and surveillance equipment are being prepared for use against the people.
The Party put forth an unknown hope and change teleprompter flim-flam man in 2008 in a last ditch attempt to sooth the masses and allow the fat cats to continue feasting, with the periodic purging in the vomitorium when their gullets were stuffed. The proof of a single ruling party has never been clearer, as a supposedly liberal populist democrat has fallen into line and followed the orders of the Financial Industrial Complex, Military Industrial Complex, and Sickcare Industrial Complex by not prosecuting one criminal banker, letting Wall Street write the 800 page Dodd Frank bill, ramping up our wars in the Middle East while spending more on Defense than Bush, and gladly allowing the insurance and drug industry to write the 1,000 page Obamacare abortion of a law. At the same time he has taken the Orwellian surveillance state to levels that would have been considered criminal and impeachable in 1990. The two heads of the ruling party play their parts to keep the masses distracted, believing voting actually matters, while fighting the wrong enemy.
The parallels between the Hunger Games novels and our current situation are innumerable. But the dehumanization of a society is the most significant analogy between the dystopian culture of Panem and the greed and materialism of our late stage declining empire. It will not be war, plague or famine that sets the stage for our collapse. A moral sickness has engulfed the soul of our civilization, spread by the dark forces of wickedness occupying the throne of power on Wall Street, Washington DC, and in the boardrooms of mega-corporations across the land.
“It neither kills outright nor inflicts apparent physical harm, yet the extent of its destructive toll is already greater than that of any war, plague, famine, or natural calamity on record — and its potential damage to the quality of human life and the fabric of civilized society is beyond calculation. For that reason this sickness of the soul might well be called the ‘Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse’. Its more conventional name, of course, is dehumanization.” – Ashley Montagu
The financial elite have used the power of mass media propaganda and jurisdiction over the public educational system to turn accountable thinking citizens into irresponsible irrational consumers. The ultra-rich men, constituting the invisible government described by Edward Bernanys, have used their control of the currency and monetary system to create a plantation society of enslaved debtors who have been trained like monkeys to consume when they are not facebooking, twittering or twerking. This dehumanization is in full display on Thanksgiving/Black Friday as the corporate fascists stir the masses into a frenzied materialistic orgy of pandemonium for cheap electronics produced by slaves in China, doing jobs formerly performed by Americans. Corporate profits have reached all-time record highs as the Ivy League MBA CEOs have used global wage arbitrage to de-Americanize their work force, convinced the lowly wilfully ignorant American serfs to spend money they no longer have on crap they certainly don’t need, and paid themselves billions in bonuses for successfully destroying the former middle class by the book.