William Wilberforce was born on August 24th, 1759. He was a relentless abolitionist who spent most of his adult life attempting, and finally succeeding, in getting the UK Parliament to ban slavery. In terms of sheer numbers affected and magnitude of effect, his ultimate victory is one of the most libertarian moments in history. He is celebrated in the excellent film Amazing Grace.
This post tracks developments in “The Ballad of Richard Jewell” a new film by Clint Eastwood that tells the story of fake news victim Richard Jewell, a hero who was mocked into an early grave by the press.
Links: IMDB | Wikipedia
8-4-19 | Film to Hit Theaters in December
Per the World of Reel, “the film’s production started in June and now, here we are, just two months later and there are plans to release The Ballad of Richard Jewell in December.”
4-19-19 | Clint Eastwood to Direct New Film About Fake News Victim Richard Jewell
Per Breitbart: “Richard Jewell was a 34-year-old security guard at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia, and at first he was rightfully hailed as a hero after he discovered a backpack filled with explosives and risked his own life to evacuate the area. Unfortunately for Jewell, the acclaim didn’t last long. He was overweight, white, and a southerner — the perfect target for our left-wing media.” The FBI profiled him as a suspect and fed the media embarrassing details of his life, which were then transcribed by an unquestioning media that loved the pathetic loser narrative. An early Fake News victim, his life turned into a case of “trial by media.” Although completely exonerated when the real bomber was caught, Jewell never recovered from being turned into a national joke, and died of diabetes, heart and kidney disease in 2007. He was 44.
Ron Paul was born on August 20th, 1935. He has been an outspoken and passionate advocate of liberty, running as the presidential candidate of the Libertarian Party in 1988. He also produced the At Issue series, which illustrated libertarian principles and aired in 1989.
He was “songified” in this Michael Gregory clip, which advocates drug legalization.
Ron Paul was also celebrated in this Jordan Page song, The Light of the Revolution.
It’s noteworthy that five of the most libertarian films ever made were produced by Britain’s Ealing Studios in the brief period, 1949-1957. These were among the much-praised “Ealing Comedies” that have become a classic genre in their own right.
Ealing Studios was by no means a hotbed of free-marketers. Studio head Michael Balcon was an explicit supporter of the post-war Labour government, and indeed under his management the studio produced some films very sympathetic to socialism, such as They Came to a City. But even in these productions you sense not so much a desire for the heavy hand of government intervention, as simply a yearning for the return of the “we’re all in this together” community spirit of wartime Britain, and for people to just be kind and decent to one another.
In any case, the five Ealing films noted here for their libertarian content — usually consisting of mild organized resistance to the kind of bureaucracies typically associated with the classic welfare state — express a tone very much against the domination of the individual (or groups of individuals) by the State.
These films are notable as well for being some of the best examples of British comedy ever produced, still popular sixty years later, as evidenced by their recent digitally-remastered re-release.
The first of these was produced in 1949. Passport to Pimlico tells the story of a London borough, which discovers through the unearthing of an ancient document that it has a legal basis for secession. For a short time the borough declares itself an independent country, and benefits in that moment from the repeal of licensing and quotas. The independence doesn’t last, but the film nonetheless has the tone of pushing back a bit against the heavy hand of bureaucracy.
Whiskey Galore, also released in 1949, is very much in the same attitude. It relates a tale of comedic desperation, in which a small Scottish village has run out of its beloved whiskey. Suddenly a shipload of liquor runs aground just offshore. The villagers are just about to recover the cargo, when an uptight official forbids it because the cargo has not been taxed. That brings the village together in a small rebellion against the official’s authority, and everyone gets their whiskey after all.
A third film in the same vein, Green Grow the Rushes, was released in 1951. In this film, an old charter granted by a king entitles the locals to a degree of independence but the central government no longer respects that ancient legal document (one thinks of the Magna Carta). The locals, however, have not forgotten their rights, so when the Ministry of Agriculture sends in officious bureaucrats to improve agricultural production by meddling with local farms, the bureaucrats find the community to be…just a bit uncooperative. (It was actually produced not by Ealing but by A.C.T. Films Ltd. However, the film so successfully mirrors the Ealing style it is commonly included among the “Ealing comedies.”)
The same year produced my personal favorite libertarian film of all, The Man in the White Suit, about a research scientist who invents a revolutionary new fabric that is both indestructible and stainproof. When unions and manufacturing interests realize that an everlasting fabric would mean an end to their jobs and profits, they gang together and bring in government regulators to stop the inventor. In an odd coincidence, the story pits Alec Guiness (who would later play Obiwan Kenobe, of Star Wars fame) in the lead against a wizened, slow-moving Lord of The Ministry of Trade, who wheezes menacingly, not unlike Darth Vader, Obiwan’s nemesis of twenty years later.
One last libertarian film came out in 1957, All at Sea (titled Barnacle Bill in the UK). Alec Guiness again starred, this time as a retired Royal Navy captain who decides to invest in an amusement pier. Shortly after purchasing the pier, corrupt local officials decide to condemn and seize it for their own benefit. But the captain, the proud descendent of a long-line of seafarers, is no pushover, and he knows something of maritime law and naval battlefield tactics!
Libertarians will find much to enjoy in these five films, and fans of British humor in particular should certainly see them without fail.
It’s an odd thing that they were made in such a short period by this small studio. One suspects that interesting political conversations were going on there, at least among a few. Two of these films, The Man in the White Suit and Whiskey Galore, were directed by Alexander Mackendrick, and two, Passport to Pimlico and All at Sea, were written by T.E.B. Clarke.
How to See Them
Libertarian comedians? Ten made this list, though there are likely many more. Of course, comedians are by their nature difficult to pin down into a political category — they tend to want to mock in many directions — but these selections have at least frequently tilted their comedic swords at the State.
“Tim Allen gets to the elephant in the room fairly quickly.”
“I never thought I was a libertarian until I picked up Reason magazine and realized I agree with everything they had printed.”
“The kind of coal-black humor once found in many a stand-up routine.”
–Hollywood In Toto
“Dominic Frisby (‘mercurially witty’ – the Spectator) is the world’s only financial writer and comedian.”
“A magician who’ll loudly disdain magic, a comedian who doesn’t do straight comedy, and a provocative public intellectual.”
“Jeremy McLellan is a standup comedian from Charleston, South Carolina, where he has twice won citywide standup comedy competitions, and where Charleston City Paper named him the best local standup comic.”
“A sort of libertarian Lenny Bruce.”
“No stranger when it comes to speaking his mind about things that are considered by some to be politically incorrect.”
“Stanhope possesses a range of stunningly effective stand-up skills and a talent for subtle verbal phrasing. More importantly, he speaks out not only about sex and drugs and so-called perversions, but also about social and political hypocrisy. And his rants command attention because he clearly means every single thing he says.”
“Smart, passionate, impressively quick witted and bursting with infectious confidence, this is stand up that grabs your attention and Alistair Williams is quickly solidifying his place as one of stand up’s most exciting rising stars.”
–The Comedy Club
Free for teachers: award-winning videos and teaching tools on economics and politics are available from several organizations, as given below.
More than 300,000 teachers and homeschoolers already use Izzit for classroom materials. Izzit offers tons of free videos (DVD and streaming) on a variety of topics — all free for teachers.
Per Izzit: ” We provide U.S. based educators and homeschoolers with free educational videos designed to promote critical thinking skills and respectful debate among students. Our teaching units include a variety of teacher resources, with full teacher’s guides that include free worksheets, lesson ideas, discussion questions, graded online quizzes, and more. We also offer two free daily Current Events articles which include discussion questions and vocabulary words. Reminder email service available. Need to know the relevant educational standards? We provide that.”
Stossel in the Classroom offers DVDs, lesson material, and a $1,500 essay contest — all free for teachers. Content includes a series of economics and politics videos (both DVDs and streaming) based on the work of award-winning TV journalist John Stossel, complete with lesson plans, graphic organizers, activity suggestions, viewing guides, assessment, and vocabulary.
This program also offers an essay contest for students, with cash prizes and an all-expense-paid trip to NYC for the winning student, an adult chaperone, and the teacher who submitted the essay. More than 150,000 teachers have made Stossel in the Classroom part of their lesson plans. “Stossel in the Classroom was created to encourage critical thinking in our schools. By making it easy for teachers to include a fresh perspective in their classrooms, these videos have inspired millions of students to expand their understanding of free markets and of life.”
Stossel in the Classroom provides materials both through its homepage.
Although not specifically directed at teachers, Free to Choose TV offers an outstanding series of free high-quality streaming PBS documentaries. The content is best accessed via the homepage as it’s well organized there, but a companion organization Free to Choose Network is where the content is housed on YouTube.
The makers of this short film, based on a Kurt Vonnegut story, went out of their way to make engaging classroom materials related to it. The story “depicts a dystopian future in which, thanks to the 212th Amendment to the Constitution and the vigilance of the United States Handicapper General, everyone is ‘finally equal.'” It’s a thought-provoking film on topics including resistance, art overcoming oppression, and equality, ideal for discussion. Both the film and the classroom materials are free for teachers.
Could a young YouTube star be the truth-teller Russia needs? Per Deutsche Welle, “A strong majority of Russians approve of Stalin’s rule, and young adults have never even heard of his Great Terror campaign. Now, YouTube star Yury Dud’s film about the legacy of Stalinist repressions is shaking the country.” The documentary, Kolyma: The Home of Our Fear, is aimed at Russia’s younger generation and has so far been viewed an incredible 16 million times.
“I don’t know about you, but all my life, I’ve been hearing my parents say: ‘Be careful, don’t attract unnecessary attention, it’s dangerous. And, besides, we’re simple people — we don’t decide anything.’ My parents are wonderful people. But I wanted to understand: Where does the older generation’s fear come from?”
Here’s a cute ad for the new book Socialism: The Failed Idea That Never Dies, by Dr Kristian Niemietz of the (British) Institute for Economic Affairs. The book goes through multiple examples of historical socialism, documenting a consistent pattern: at first the socialist country is cheered as a great example of socialism, then as it fails intellectuals conclude it’s not real socialism. Rinse and repeat.
When Marilyn Monroe died — over half a century ago, on August 5th, 1962 — of an apparent suicide, it was Ayn Rand who came to her defense, savaging popular culture for treating Marilyn Monroe with insufficient respect. Per the Atlas Society, “While the two could be viewed as different as night and day, at least physically, it was Rand who seemingly ‘got’ Monroe, not only her cinematic charms but also how she was a bright soul battered by the world. A takedown, it seems in hindsight, that contributed to her death. Ayn Rand penned an essay about Monroe that appeared in the Los Angeles Times, and it reads as if she had a window to the screen legend’s wounded psyche.”
This post tracks developments in “Mises vs Marx: The March of History,” a new short film that envisions a rap battle of ideas between Ludwig von Mises, the acclaimed Austrian economist, and Karl Marx, the well-known pedophile and inspiration for global mass slaughter.
8-4-19 | AEIR: Mises, Marx, and the High Art of a Rap Video
Jeffrey Tucker offers an inside look at progress on the film so far, commenting “it is Hamilton for economics, reducing vast treatises and a century of economic theorizing – indeed, the main debate in modern history – into rhyming couplets that speak to the core debate today in public life.”
6-23-19 | Indiegogo Funding Page Launched
A new rap battle video is in the works: Mises vs Marx. And you can help.
Remember the Hayek vs. Keynes rap battle videos? They have been viewed OVER 10 MILLION TIMES and translated into languages around the world. This is unheard of for short films about economics. People who had never heard of Hayek were introduced to him in the most entertaining way possible. Well, the creators of those videos are making a new one: Mises vs Marx — and they are raising funds to make it the best possible. They have already hit their initial funding goal, but have big ideas to make the film the best possible and to market it like crazy. Want to help? Here’s their Indiegogo funding page.
If you’ve never seen their Hayek vs. Keynes rap battle videos, here they are…