The Halloween season has given me some impetus to think about the horror genre. A while back, an academic named E. Michael Jones was on the Patrick Coffin show explaining how he thought about the horror genre. He has written at least two works on this subject: Monsters from the Id: The Rise of Horror in Fiction and Film and Sex with Monsters. Jones believes that the modern horror genre arose as a reaction to the free love movements of the 19th century and reached its full flowering following the Sexual Revolution. Many persons were hurt by the myriad problems which inevitably arise from sexual licentiousness and enjoyed a cathartic reaction from a central message of many horror stories: sex can kill you.
School Days might be the anime locus classicus for such a theme, but my dear readers know–know even a priori–that playing Don Juan for a length of time is going to lead one to embarrassing, painful, and even dangerous situations. People don’t like being used as playthings, and the relatives of the playthings take an even dimmer view of such conduct. The fact that one’s partner consents to the relationship does not take away from the feeling of being used. The Sexual Revolution tried to paint promiscuity as a desirable thing, even promoting contraceptives and abortion so that women could participate in “consequence- free” sex.
Yet, lust is a vice. Vices are all ugly and undesirable. Some might appear as insignificant as a pesky fly, but this fly is on the same spectrum as cockroaches, sewer rats, and ultimately demonic beings too horrible to contemplate–like the alien in the famous horror flick Alien. Alien itself, with all its sexual innuendos, is essentially a metaphor for the horror of lust in its full bloom. Vice is a monster which can terrorize its victims to the grave and into hell.
Well, that’s enough about lust. Lust is not the monster in Goblin Slayer. (Part of this post is supposed to be about Goblin Slayer, isn’t it?) The metaphor in this anime is very easy to pick up, because our hero tells us outright. When our party of heroes debates the origin of the goblins, the Goblin Slayer says that his sister told him that goblins descended onto earth from the green moon out of envy for how rich and fertile the earth was. Consider this also: the last two commandments of the Ten Commandments directly command people not to envy their neighbor’s wife or their neighbor’s goods. What do the goblins in this anime primarily concern themselves with? Rape and plunder.
You might be wondering now why the author of this fantasy horror decided to make envy the monster. Along with lust, envy metastasized into a political movement during the 20th century. With promises of equality, envy was advanced under the names of socialism and communism. Curiously, many people color socialism with tones of charity, which is the opposite of envy. Charity, however, rejoices in a neighbor’s good–even if the neighbor’s good is more than our own. Envy wants all its neighbors to have nothing more than itself, i.e. envy wants equality at very least.
In recent times, the political dialogue about political systems and political philosophy suffers from a confusion of ideas. People confuse the notion of a welfare system with socialism. Socialist societies have systems of welfare, but not all systems of welfare belong to socialist societies. Indeed, when people point to Scandinavian countries as positive examples of socialism at work, they are actually pointing to capitalist societies with welfare systems. The government may take more than half of the average man’s earnings, but it permits free markets and free enterprise. As in United States’ politics, a person may argue for welfare systems without adhering to socialism.
Remember that socialism is defined as a system where the state owns all the means of production, aka all the capital. There is another system where one entity owns all the capital: slavery. After all, slaves are not allowed to own goods or to order their own lives; yet, what a marvelous equality exists among people denied the fruits of their labor and the right to act in their self-interest! If everyone lives in the same kind of house, is rationed the same kind of food, is given the same medical care, and works the same job, what little room is left for envy! The socialist state and The Servile State are one in the same. You may protest, “But, the socialist state is rule by the community, not rule by the one, as in a slave state.” Yet, in practice, socialist states always have a select few with the power of life and death and full rights over the liberty and property of others. After all, how can one ever have a direct democracy in a state with tens of millions, hundreds of millions, or over one billion people?
All the same, one cannot but marvel at how much people praise equality and socialism. Human flourishing only requires one form of equality: equality before the law. I recently came across a brilliant passage from C. S. Lewis. In his short essay “Screwtape Proposes a Toast,” we are shown a vision of demons banqueting on the damend in hell. In part of the speech, Screwtape praises “the spirit of democracy,” which is envy. Even though democracy has much to recommend it, this system can be brought down by its own instinct for leveling the citizens. The following passage is very interesting and deserves to be quoted in full:
And therefore resents. Yes, and therefore resents every kind of superiority in others; denigrates it; wishes its annihilation. Presently he suspects every mere difference of being a claim to superiority. No one must be different from himself in voice, clothes, manners, recreations, choice of food. ‘Here is someone who speaks English rather more clearly and euphoniously than I—it must be a vile, upstage, lah-di-dah affectation. Here’s a fellow who says he doesn’t like hot dogs—thinks himself too good for them no doubt. Here’s a man who hasn’t turned on the jukebox—he’s one of those goddam highbrows and is doing it to show off. If they were honest-to-God all right Joes they’d be like me. They’ve no business to be different. It’s undemocratic.’
Now this useful phenomenon is in itself by no means new. Under the name of Envy it has been known to the humans for thousands of years. But hitherto they always regarded it as the most odious, and also the most comical, of vices. Those who were aware of feeling it felt it with shame; those who were not gave it no quarter in others. The delightful novelty of the present situation is that you can sanction it—make it respectable and even laudable—by the incantatory use of the word democratic.
Lewis, C. S.. The World’s Last Night: And Other Essays (pp. 64-65).
Even as envy is the most odious and most comical of vices, a goblin is the most odious and comical of monsters. If goblins did not cause so much harm to the world of Goblin Slayer, everyone would despise and mock such creatures. The only way for the envious to gain even a modicum of respect is to indulge their wish for other people to suffer evil. In the quest to crush all forms of superiority, the plain mar the beautiful, the poor rob the rich, the foolish mock the wise, the weak chain the strong, and the sinful crucify the saints. Such is the monster of envy!
Charity is a far different creature. Charity concerns itself with giving rather than taking. No one forces charity to offer its gifts, because it would not be charity if someone compelled it. You see how charity operates in the relationship of the Goblin Slayer and his party of adventurers. Indeed, most RPG-style parties are based on the principle of charity–even if it’s a charity required by the adventurers’ situation. Since no member of the party suffices for the quest, each member provides their own particular set of skills for the good of the whole. There is great inequality between all of the members: none has all of the skills and strength needed to fulfill the quest. At the same time, each one freely offers what they have for the success of the party. Inequality makes each individual a necessary and important gift to the community, and, at the same time, not able to flourish outside of that community. The slogan of charity will always be: “All for one, and one for all!”