Liberty is on the rise. Daily, people are realizing the dangers of fascism, it’s growing strength, and the dangers of the all present surveillance state. increasingly, movies are offering commentary on troubling current events; specifically the increasing surveillance state. Few movies outline these developments more than Marvel’s newest movie, Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
On its surface the latest Captain America movie is a great action adventure, showing main character Steve Rogers adjusting to the present day and a new reality. Rogers and Nick Fury continue their philosophical sparring from The Avengers and take it up a notch. Captain America regularly tells Fury that they aren’t they’re using fear not protecting freedom. Fury is about pre-emptive threat neutralization and Rogers believes the punishment should come after the crime. Fury insists that Rogers is being too idealistic and he must “accept the world as it is, not as he would wish it to be.” They’re lessons many of us have been learning Captain America is a total libertarian hero, idealistic and focused on freedom above all else. He’s not a nationalistic fanboy anymore but realizes how precious and delicate freedom truly is. He’s a narrative for many of us who have come to the freedom movement.
Underneath the adrenaline rush action movie, The Winter Soldier is a smart and fascinating commentary on our world and the growing intelligence state. The comparisons between S.H.I.E.L.D. and the NSA are difficult to miss. S.H.I.E.L.D. monitors everything and is seemingly everywhere, as Agent Coulson said in The Avengers, “if it’s got a camera or a microphone, its eyes and ears for us.” The Winter Soldier takes that a step further and shows what can happen if such an apparatus becomes compromised. The dangers are terrifying.
Spoiler Alert: Later in the film Rogers discovers what happened to S.H.I.E.L.D. and H.Y.D.R.A. during his long nap. In a slightly bizarre scene, Rogers finds out that H.Y.D.R.A. determined that the best way to gain the control they sought was to not force people to submit to their order, but to frighten them into sacrificing their freedom for the promise of security. Over the next seventy years, they then decide to penetrate and infect S.H.I.E.L.D. rebuilding their powerbase from within. It was at this point I couldn’t help but think of the parallels to the progressive/fascist disease of both our political parties and how they are attempting to perform the same coup; encourage us to sacrifice our liberty for security. The final piece to this puzzle is an algorithm designed by head H.Y.D.R.A. scientist Dr Zola which targets people based on data such as tax returns, bank and medical records, and predicts whether they will be an enemy to the “order” of society. It’s closer to science fact than many would like to think about.
The end game of The Winter Soldier is one which has been discussed before. In a 1975 interview, Sen. Frank Church said this:
[America's Intelligence gathering] capability at any time could be turned around on the American people and no American would have any privacy left. Such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.
If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology.
I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that [the NSA] and all agencies that losses this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross of that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.
If Sen. Church was fearful of the technological potential for tyranny in the intelligence community then, today he’d be rocking himself back and forth in a fetal position.
The Zola algorithm from The Winter Soldier exists today; it’s called TIPS. T.I.P.S. is a data mining operation which monitors all internet traffic everywhere and then predicts what people will do. It’s a modern day A.I. which looks at everything from extra utility usage to figure out whether you have company, or who you’re associating with, the possibilities are terrifying. Like Sen. Church and The Winter Soldier warns, there would be no place for a rebellion to hide.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier gets this danger, champions freedom and gives the audience a hell of a thrill ride doing it. Most people will love The Winter Soldier for the action and character interplay. Lurking beneath however, is a message of freedom, messy as that is, warnings against fascism and a vision of what can happen if bad people get a hold of the power we’ve given them. Captain America is a hero libertarians cheer for and audiences everywhere will enjoy. If they really understand what this movie is trying to say, that’s a win-win.
Views expressed are not endorsed or put forward by Turning Point USA