I think it was Glenn Beck who first introduced me to the film Network. But it was Bill O’Reilly exploding at the Banking Queen that gave me my own Mad as Hell moment and convinced me the film was frighteningly topical. For those who haven’t seen it, this film is set in a fictional 1970s depression, during which an angry news anchor at wit’s end, Howard Beale, takes to the airwaves to preach his message of raw and righteous anger and discontent to the people. And so the Mad Prophet of the Airwaves is born.
After watching it a few times, I’ve picked up on two scenes in particular that have really captured the shifting mood of the nation since the SHTF last fall. The first is about releasing the pent-up anger we all felt at the time: I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!!
I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s worth; banks are going bust; shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter; punks are running wild in the street, and there’s nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there’s no end to it.
We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat. And we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be!
We all know things are bad — worse than bad — they’re crazy.
It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don’t go out any more. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we’re living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, “Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials, and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone.”
Well, I’m not going to leave you alone.
I want you to get mad!
I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot. I don’t want you to write to your Congressman, because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street.
All I know is that first, you’ve got to get mad.
You’ve gotta say, “I’m a human being, goddammit! My life has value!”
So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!!”
But since then, that anger has worn off, and so it would with Beale in the film. A people can’t stay outraged and furious for very long — our oppressors know this, and it gives them patience. They know that we will eventually grow weary, and cease to passionately defend our life, liberty, honor, and property. We will cease to defend our individual humanity:
[A]t the bottom of all our terrified souls we know that democracy is a dying giant, a sick, sick dying, decaying political concept writhing in its final pain.
I don’t mean that the United States is finished as a world power. The United States is the richest, the most powerful, the most advanced country in the world — light years ahead of any other country.
And I don’t mean the communists are going to take over the world, because the communists are deader than we are.
What is finished is the idea that this great country is dedicated to the freedom and flourishing of every individual in it.
It’s the individual that’s finished.
It’s the single, solitary human being that’s finished.
It’s every single one of you out there that’s finished.
Because this is no longer a nation of independent individuals. It’s a nation of some two-hundred-odd million transistorized, deodorized, whiter-than-white, steel-belted bodies, totally unnecessary as human beings and as replaceable as piston rods.
Our overlords are rushing along, seizing upon our ennui to fast-track our transition to collectivism. These bastards are usurping our sovereignty and trampling over our God-given right to our own individual personhood. Such systems always fail, often spectacularly, because no force on earth can succeed in destroying what God continually gives to each and every one of us: humanity.
But until that day, we’re finished. Grab your ankles, America, because we’re not just in for a recession, or even a depression. No, what awaits us is shaping up to be something far more agonizing– total collapse. Buy guns. Not to fight off the government — because you can’t — but to fight off the mobs. Convert a large portion of your savings to physical gold and silver. Learn to be self-sufficient. Prepare while you still can.