John Locke, the Real Mockingjay

would you believe me if i told you these two were basically the same person?

President Snow is a horrible dictator and its up to Katniss Everdeen to restore political equality, however, this is a fictitious situation. However, put aside the actual dystopian thriller parts of the hunger games and analyze Panem as a government, and you have a start contrast to John Locke’s social contract about governments. First off, for those who don’t know, Panem is a totalitarian government run by one major city that oversees 12 districts that get lower and lower in ranking by number. The plot of the Hunger Games, and most specifically, Mockingjay, involves the (SPOILER ALERT) overpowering of the central government by the common people. This scenario isn’t that outrageous. There are numerous totalitarian dictatorships in the world, and these big governments are a pretty scary situation.

Now, take John Locke and his social contract. “Nothing can make any man [subjects of commonwealth], but his actually entering into it by positive engagement, and express promise and compact. This is that, which I think, concerning the beginning of political societies, and that consent which makes any one a member of any” (Locke) Basically, John Locke’s social contract is stating that governments only have power when the people give the government faith and power. Everyone has the ability to be fearful and alone in the world, or governments have the ability to exist, although merely at an illegitimate level, but it is only when people truly believe in their government that a government is able to take control. Locke then also considers the government to go on to oversee its people as an unbiased judge who is fair and kind.

Basically, that is a stark contrast to what Panem is. In terms of Locke’s social contract saying that the people are the ones who give the government power, Panem instead has a government who rules with a cast-iron fist, and is not afraid to use its “Peacekeepers” to kill anyone who opposes them. In terms of the government being an unbiased judge that oversees its people, the Panem capitol dictates everything about every sub-district it has, once again, ruling with a cast-iron fist that is a little hard to call forgiving. Plus, the capitol is notorious for its propaganda and media manipulation, so as far as the unbiased judge goes, Panem’s capitol doesn’t do the best job. John Locke had a pretty good idea of what a social contract for a government should be, and it shows how bad a government can be to the health of its people and its society when an entire government goes one hundred percent against a good description of government power.

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One thought on “John Locke, the Real Mockingjay

  1. I think it’s important, when applying a social contract theory to any government’s situation, whether that be in real life or in your fictional example of the Hunger Games, to understand that Locke by no means says there is only one way of governing. Quite clearly, the citizens of Panem, just as the citizens of the USSR, for example, were not in a state of nature yet also weren’t locked into Locke’s version of the social contract. Good post!

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