Marxism has a pretty bad reputation these days. And that reputation is well-deserved. Every country that tried Marxism in the 20th Century failed. They failed to preserve the basic human rights of their people.
Karl Marx was correct when he observed that conflict and war is driven in large part by money. But he was way off in his optimistic analysis of human nature.
In Marx’s theory, it is inevitable that the workers of the world are going to take over their factories and overthrow their capitalist governments. Then, the German historian explained, there would be an interim period of oppression that he called the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.
Finally, a Utopia of equality and justice would be achieved and the Dictatorship would melt away. This is where Marx failed us. This final step can never happen. Dictators do not voluntary give up their power. And in the rare case that a tyrant actually does retire, there will always be another strong man eager to step into the power vacuum. Man’s innate desire to lead trumps all moral considerations.
On its face, writer/director George Romero’s “Day of the Dead” is an ultra-violent zombie flick. But “Dead” is a different sort of horror movie, in which the true villain is human nature.
The story begins after society has been destroyed. Millions of flesh-eating ghouls roam the earth; man is almost extinct. Twelve people are living in an underground research center. They are heavily armed but impossibly outnumbered.
About half the people are soldiers looking to kill zombies and half are scientists who want to figure out how to understand the zombies. The two sides are perpetually at odds.
At the start, the lead soldier is killed. The scientists rejoice. They feel like the Soviets must have felt in 1924 when Lenin died. “Surely this must be the time when authority dissolves away and things get great!” Nope. The poor scientists get their own little Stalin in Captain Rhodes.
Captain Rhodes jumps right into the power vacuum and begins ruling his mini-kingdom with fury and violence. He doesn’t trust the scientists and he wants to shut down their experiments.
Rhodes is an over-the-top bad guy. He does nothing but bark orders and shout. However, he isn’t wrong. “Day of the Dead” goes from dark to macabre in the final act when we learn what the lead scientist has actually been working on in secret.
George Romero has a bleak view of humanity. You can’t trust authority. You can’t trust the military. And you can’t even trust scientists. To this day, scientists actually experiment on animals. Some scientists are so arrogantly certain that they are doing noble work that they don’t think they need to exhibit restraint or decency.
“Day of the Dead” isn’t the best George Romero movie. But it teaches an important lesson about humanity. The reason why Marxism and all other Utopian societies fail is that some men blindly crave leadership and there is no way to suppress their ambition. Civilization and civility are fragile and should not be tossed aside in the name of fairness or justice or any other idealistic fantasy.
Put simply: the Founding Fathers were right all along: the best option we have is Parliamentary democracy. A society with a constitution and a permanent legislature has a chance of avoiding the horrors of dictatorship and tyranny.