Nature of the beast

Gottfried : It’s good that this is all coming out, very good. But now I think you need to protect yourself from so much negative female energy. (The Party, 2017)

Never one to be afraid of being out on the furthest limb, this review of a satirical film is about politics. Rushed to a release in time for the Berlin Film Festival, ‘The Party’ captured the mood of European intellectuals during the Brexit decision, not even waiting for the images to be coloured in 😉

Gottfried’s comic role, the irritating meditator

Centre stage is Janet (Kristin Scott-Thomas) celebrating a promotion to Minister of Health with a gathering of ‘friends’, whose distaste for each other is palpable, when breaking news causes her to switch between the dutiful wife and animalistic seeker of revenge (her words). Fidelity is a forlorn notion, portraying the Left as being afflicted by base desires just as much as Trump is. Gottfried is a life coach, pathetically trying to counsel at the point of crisis. In the promotional press conference, actor Bruno Ganz (who played Hitler in the much parodied ‘Downfall’) quips that he wanted to please his Chancellor by portraying a good German.

What are we then to make of the Germans who participated in Hitler’s Reich? Doubtless that any soldier on the Russian front of whom you’d asked where he’d rather be would answer “home, with my loved ones”. During WW2 their military had sworn an oath to Hitler, and 15,000 were executed for choosing desertion (of which 9,372 were recorded up until Nov 1944) rather than faithful service. In 1955 their soldiers became unique amongst all the world’s, when Innere Führung was enshrined – the duty to follow inner conscience first. That oath against corps mentality is sworn at a memorial on the site of the execution of the Führer’s assassination plotters. Respect.

Prescribed school text for many years, the bleak vision of schoolboys behaving as how adults had shown them: ‘Lord of the Flies’ 1954, was the first of Golding’s four novels on war’s aftermath. The violence accompanying obedience to the pack is horrific. It’s again being re-made as a film, but with an all female cast. That decision was based upon thoughts of bullying as being perpetrated by both genders. This in itself has horrified tweeters such as yoga teacher @taisling, who’re of the opinion that women wouldn’t ever be so cruel – but choosing rather than defending the gentler sex, opting instead for an attack on the male Directors.

Only males are alphas?

The Amazons of Greek mythology left little historical proof of women as warriors. To rely on singular examples of women behaving badly, such as the world’s wealthiest woman Gina Reinhart’s suggesting African slave labourers at $2/day, isn’t appropriate to mob behavior. However 43% of female respondents voted for self-confessed sex offender Trump, against 57% preferring Clinton. So only some 7% went beyond party allegiance to support the sisterhood. Presidential war-mongering and confrontational policy has subsequently alienated more men than women during his first year, both sexes standing to lose much. Social anthropology reveals that dominance behavior is common to humans and primates, there’s infighting where the gender is over-represented. Women can be as competitive as men, amongst each other.

Enthusiasm for conflict is driven by circumstances, not testosterone. The German people were suffering embargoes after WW1, much as Trump wants to apply to Iran. Desperate need to protect one’s family as their provider isn’t far removed from maternal care for one’s young. It comes down, as the Buddha taught, to ‘conditions arising’. Max Weber wrote *, incorrectly, that Buddhism has no bridge to social ethics, but scholars over the last century argue that the teachings apply equally well to group dynamics. “In contexts of social disputes, one can find the origin of discord within oneself“.

* Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Religionssoziologie (Tübingen, 1920-1921)

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