Dorothy and Toto dispel the illusion of power
by Brian Wright
Sometimes I wonder whether the moral allegory of The Wizard of Oz is all we need to set the world straight. Remember the timeless movie we Boomers grew up with as a spring ritual on TV: A girl on the threshold of adventurous maidenhood finds herself in a daydream that turns into a nightmare—until she realizes everything she needs is right here at home. Symbolism is rampant within the original turn-of-the-19th-century novel by Frank Baum, and in the movie none more so than the scene where Dorothy, her dog Toto, and her three farmhand-surrogate protector-friends enter the chamber of the Great Oz:
His functionaries put them off by telling them, “who are YOU to be bothering the great and powerful Oz?!” They manage to finagle their way into the Big Room, only to be rolled over by a wall of sound and the giant holographic image of the Man Himself conveying faux rage:
“I AM THE GREAT OZ!”
“But we’re only here because Aunty Em wants me back and to help these poor loser friends of mine man up.”
“Okay, but would a small government handout be out of the question?”
“YOU ARE INFINITELY LESS SIGNIFICANT THAN GNAT FECES!”
“Dude, why are you being so mean?! C’mon guys, let’s go find that Good Witch of the North and score some more of the magic potion.”
In the meantime, little Toto noses around and finds the enclosure from which the audio-visual barrage seems to be coming, pulling back the curtain and revealing a befuddled little geezer trying to work the controls.
“Ignore that man behind the curtain!” bellows the sound system. But it’s too late, Dorothy has the whole thing figured out. He’s just an “ordinary old man who wandered into the Land of Oz from Omaha long ago in a hot air balloon.” In other words a bureaucrat who got pushed way above his pay grade. [In the movie, the wizard doesn’t have any real power, but because of his office—and his humane wisdom—he helps out the supplicants.]
We can look at moral of this scene in the kindest way…
That is, the little ol’ guy represents a harried Joe who first gets into government because, “Hey, they were hiring.” Then, like Wesley Mouch (in Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged), he keeps getting elevated because the powerbrokers feel—because he’s such a complete nonentity—that he’ll play ball and never be a threat to them. Occasionally, though, Mr. Third-Assistant-Nobody-with-the-Million-Dollar-Smile-and-Crowd-Pleasing-Patois starts believing his news releases… sycophants crawl out of the woodwork to fashion him into a cult hero: Wiz for Life. He adopts the Idi Amin strut and shows he’s a man of the people by picking winners during ‘March Madness.’ [None of which causes the powerbrokers to miss a beat, but the people expecting an actual public servant at Wiz level are sorely vexed and as often, systematically destroyed.]
And the band plays on.
The Land of Oz develops a Wiz System—it doesn’t matter who the Wiz du jour is, or how many subordinate Wizzes occupy the central government posturing as leaders. Over time, the people adjust because the powerbrokers manage the emanations—especially the electromagnetic ones—the people receive from institutions of learning or media or even popular culture. Everyone’s mantra from the second day of kindergarten becomes “Hey, who be we peons to question the Oz?”
Viewed as a whole society, the Wiz System deteriorates in the absence of independent thinkers and doers. Controllers and Controlled are plain lousy at creating anything more productive than ‘he-said/she-said’ texting apps. Society thus becomes a weak organism prey to malevolent beasts like the neoconservatives or the Chairman Mao wannabes of the left…
… OR benevolent forces, too: little girls like Dorothy and little dogs like Toto, who in their innocence and loyalty to life upend the unfulfilling Wiz system in a heartbeat.
As we view the awesome immensity of modern state power with its cradle-to-grave Body Snatcher efficiency of mind control over the masses, let those of us in the human liberation community not despair of our prospects for a free, compassionate, and abundant society. [In this regard, on a high-intellectual note, it’s worthwhile to read Murray Rothbard’s marvelously encouraging monograph, Left, Right, and the Prospects for Liberty.] The statist system we’re so anxious about becomes a house of cards when anyone questions it.
All it takes to set things aright is one little boy calling the Emperor naked.
Or one little girl and a dog to find the Wizard’s power illusory.
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