Psycho-Pass stands as one of the greatest shows to come out among the recent seasons. I say this despite having read several reviews claiming it to be an average show. No doubt the current philosophy which advocates greater government control and regulation in people’s lives is partially to blame for such poor reviews of the series. For example, my brother has told me of people reading Huxley’s A Brave New World raving about the perfect society therein. Of course, one may argue that my own political philosophy of liberty under the law and limited government make me blind to how much happier people could be under the totalitarian systems of both A Brave New World and Psycho-Pass.
At any rate, before I consider Shogo Makishima’s merits and demerits, let me delineate the deficiencies of the society in which he lives. First, it limits the freedom of what kind of career one wishes to pursue. Of course, this has the benefit of reducing unemployment and people’s angst about what career they should pursue. Also the findings of the tests may very well indicate one’s true vocation. Mikhail Botvinnik, the brilliant World Chess Champion of the 50’s and early 60’s, may indeed have wished to become both a scientist and a chess player; but, ought he not have had the freedom to merely pursue chess if he wished instead of the U.S.S.R. telling him that he must be a scientist? Test scores are a good indicator of talent; yet, had the Catholic Church relied on test scores alone, St. John Vianney, to our great loss, would never have become a priest. Then, who would have become the patron of parish priests?
Besides the loss of freedom in choosing one’s career, this society has also lost its sense of justice and courage. The most fortunate people are the very enforcers who may be eliminated at will! One of the most telling scenes occurs when a man murders a women in the middled of a crowded street as the mob merely rubbernecks. One is reminded of a story in modern Britain where an old man was nearly beaten to death on a bus as the passengers looked on. In both cases, the onlookers would have been punished for assisting the victim. Only the police have the right to self-defense and defending a third party. Is it me or do not the majority of the citizens of Psycho-Pass seem little better than swine?
My final objection to this society lies in its destruction of the moral imagination. (Yes, Albert Camus and Russell Kirk have caused me to start viewing practically everything under the theme of the moral imagination. I promise to eventually beat this horse to death, but my dear readers may have to wait a while.) Man has essentially been reduced to their economic and carnal sides. The evidence of this lies in that literature is no longer considered essential to schooling; though, books do seem to be readily available. Society believes that the psychic part of man must merely be mollified, not nurtured.
Oddly enough, the most literate and artistic people in this series tend to be the killers. What so drives this anti-social behavior? Surely not the humanities! I would have to say that the killers’ very literacy, especially Makishima’s, makes them outcasts from society. And between the level of outcast and wild beast stands only the mountain man—as the friend who helped Inspector Shinya Kogami’s investigation may be considered. People need society and other minds who are capable of relating to them. Otherwise, isolation builds mistrust and finally malice against one’s fellow men leads to the darkest depths of misanthropy—unless one has received a special mission and grace from God so as not to need the society of other men anyway.
Indeed, the only person with whom Makishima could relate to was Kogami, who wished to kill him. Therefore, one impetus for Makishima’s crimes would be to form a connection with Kogami! Talk about killing for love!
But, in the idea of killing for love lies the reason for Makishima being a villain instead of a hero. Good acts must be accomplished through good means and for a good end. If either the means or the end is evil, the whole act is wrong—a sin. It is obvious that Makishima wishes for a better society than the present one; however, encouraging heinous crimes in order to reveal the flaws of such a system hardly counts as heroic! Better was his attempt to infiltrate police headquarters in order to expose the real nature of the Sybil System; but he ought to have found a different method of depleting the building of personnel than by instigating mass riots!
Makishima’s one shining moment (Major Spoilers ahead!!!!) has to be where he turns down the Chief’s offer to join the Sybil System himself. Who does not love how he turned down the temptation to become a cog in a semi-omniscent machine? That he told off the Chief as the Chief was so certain that he would leap at the chance to exchange his humanity for a purportedly superior existence? I almost cheered when he called up Kogami to inform him that he was still at large.
Makishima could easily have been a hero if he did not resort to crime in order to achieve his ends. If only he had taken a page from Lelouch Lamperouge in using just methods for ousting a tyrannical authority! But, just methods always are the most difficult and are undertaken with the most risk. One wonders whether Makishima could have been successful. After all, if the Soviet Union could send someone to the gulag after a trial having found him insane for believing in God, how much more easy would it have been for the Sybil system to have executed Makishima as an extreme malefactor sans a trial? Then again, when the majority of the citizens’ mental states have been reduced to that of cattle, could he really foment enough dissension to induce peaceful change? Especially when society discourages literate and intellectual activity?
I rather find myself at a loss to suggest methods of reform. Perhaps the last method Makishima devised to destroy the Sybil System was the one which he ought to have attempted first. I really wanted him to succeed. The Old Testament prophets had a more receptive audience than Makishima met in the society of Psycho-Pass! Others who hated the Sybil System limited themselves to blogging complaints among their inner circle online. Perhaps the most one can do in a society more oppressive than any tyranny in recorded history is to shake the dust off one’s feet and leave. In exile, one can imitate Solzhenitsyn in writing novels and short stories about the evils of this system, hoping to change people’s minds and hearts or do something more effective: pray.
Attempting to reform such an emasculated, gutless, and heartless society seems impossible for any being less than God Himself. Violently attempting to bring such a society to its senses can only lead one to villainy—as was the fate of Makishima.