Liberty v. Order Introduction to Politics and Political Analysis Braunwarth
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest • Written by Ken Kesey • Grew up in Oregon, Most likely to succeed • Won fellowship to creative writing program at Stanford • Became a volunteer to test new drugs at the local VA hospital • Discovered LSD and became interested in alternative methods of perception • Worked in a mental institution and spoke extensively with the patients
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest • OFOCN explored themes of individuality and rebellion against conformity • Common themes at a time when U.S. was actively committed to opposing communism and totalitarian regimes • But Kesey directed criticism at American institutions themselves • Revolutionary approach that would find greater expression during the 1960s • Novel was published in 1962 and was an immediate success
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest • Started a commune in CA and became an LSD guru • Led the Merry Pranksters on a road trip across the U.S. with numerous subversive adventures • Movie was released in 1975 without Kesey’s permission • Nominated for 9 academy awards and swept the 5 major categories
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest • This film is an allegory • Everything in this film is symbolic of some aspect of society • What is the major conflict? • What are the major political symbols? • What does Nurse Ratched represent? • The psychiatrists and administrators? • What about McMurphy? • The Patients? • The Chief?
Nurse Ratched • What does she symbolize? • How does she maintain order on the ward? • How does she get people to her desired outcomes? • Does she solely rely on physical force? • Why do the orderlies follow her? • Is she dishonest? • What is your opinion of her? • Does she have to maintain order? • Would you like to go to her job every day?
Randall McMurphy • What does he symbolize? • Is he a threat to the order of the ward? • Is he dangerous? • Is he crazy? What is crazy? Who decides? • Does he know what he is up against? • What happens to him in the end?
Freedom/Liberty • Why the basketball game/fishing trip/betting/drinking/sex? • Why too much f***ing and fighting? • Why is it important that McMurphy “tries”? • Does McMurphy want to tear down a system or build a better one for the patients?
The Chief • What does he symbolize? • Why the big man/small man language? • What happened to his father? • What is Kesey trying to say about the modern society?
The Patients • What do they symbolize? • Do you feel sorry for them? • Do they take responsibility for themselves? • Do they have power? • Why don’t they leave? • What empowers them and what emasculates them? • Have they really changed at the end?
Power/Order/Security/Conformity • Where do the nurse and McMurphy get their power? • Do people like order and conformity? • Does conformity lead to oppression? • What about critical thought? • What does this say about democracy? • What about the voting • How do the losers respond if they don’t like the outcome?
Thoreau • How does this film relate to Thoreau’s On Civil Disobedience? • What happened to Thoreau and McMurphy? • Can you fight the power? • What other Options do we have? • What is Thoreau’s opinion of government? • Why does Thoreau feel this way? • Can a democracy with majority rule act unjustly? Why? • How does Thoreau answer the following question: “Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once?
Braunwarth’s Participatory Democracy • What is the advantage of participatory democracy? • What is Mill’s argument regarding the liberty of tastes and opinions? • Do we see this occurring in OFOCN? • How does Nurse Ratched encourage or discourage this behavior? Why? • How do the goals of order and freedom come into conflict here?
Maslow • What do we need to satisfy before higher-order goals like love and freedom? • What do you give away for safety and security • What if you really are safe but you don’t feel safe?
Kohlberg • At what level of moral development are the patients at? • Is this true for society at large? • How can/does power command obedience in society?
Milgram • What is the peril of obedience? • Why do people obey the scientist? • Would you follow through to the end?