We just read the most controversial panel in Alan Moore's V for Vendetta:
Some readers never forgive V for kidnapping Evey, deceiving her about the location, and torturing her to the brink of madness. Others agree with V that only this ordeal could free Evey from the mental imprisonment into which she was born: "I didn't put you in prison, Evey. I just showed you the bars." At first, Evey violently rejects this claim: "You're wrong! It's just life, that's all! It's just how life is. It's what we've got to put up with. It's all we've got. What gives you the right to decide it's not good enough?" V's response is worth quoting in full:
"You've been in a prison so long, you no longer believe there's a world outside. That's because you're afraid, Evey. You're afraid because you can feel freedom closing in upon you. You're afraid because freedom is terrifying. Don't back away from it, Evey. Part of you understands the truth even as part pretends not to. You were in a cell, Evey. They offered you a choice between the death of your principles and the death of your body. You said you'd rather die. You faced the fear of your own death and you were calm and still. The door of the cage is open, Evey. All that you feel is the wind from outside.”
What do you think? Is this argument convincing? Why or why not? What is your opinion of V and his values at this point in the story? Post a thoughtful response below, supporting your judgments with evidence from the text and real-world examples.
As a prelude to Alan Moore and David Lloyd's V for Vendetta, we introduced three political philosophers who theorized society as a particular kind of "agreement":
Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau agree humans form societies for some kind of mutual benefit. But because they have different beliefs about human nature, they disagree about the nature of that benefit, and the shape society should take. Hobbes and Rousseau take opposite positions about human nature, leading to opposite views on government, as explained in this short video. In contrast to Hobbes's insistence on an absolute monarchy to protect us from ourselves, Rousseau believes that that no official government is needed, because people can govern themselves according to their own voluntary social contract. John Locke, as explained in this video, took the compromise position that there should be an official government, but only to protect the "natural rights" of life, liberty and property - and any State which violated those limits could be overthrown.
Your task is to give your opinion on one or both of these questions (25 points):
a.) Whose theory of human nature and government is best, and why? We began to discuss this in class, so you can elaborate on points you started making or reference classmates' ideas.
b.) Some philosophers argue that a "contract" is the wrong model for thinking about society, since we are simply born into a social world we did not help create or even agree to join. Instead, they emphasize how any society is defined by power struggles over who gets to make the rules. This tradition includes thinkers like Niccolo Machiavelli and Friedrich Nietzsche (the "God is dead" guy). Do you think there is any truth to this argument? Why or why not?