After the realization I had of Thoreau two nights ago from reading the first chapter of Walden, this seemed relevant. I wrote this in June.
Small Introduction: In college, I had a conversation with a teacher that went along something like this, “Why are you such a communist?” His reply was, “Because of Robin Hood.”
In America, parents have their children watch Disney’s classic animated films, they are entertaining, they have a few teachable moments, and they are good enough for me to still enjoy them. Although, almost of the villains are rich white people, most of their motivations, except Madame Medusa and Cruella DeVille, are personal. Most children have their introduction to wealth distribution by the 1973 classic Robin Hood. I understand that the version my teacher spoke of was most likely the 1938 Errol Flynn version. However, since this conversation seven years ago, a few of my friends have cited the Disney version. It is considered the definitive source for my generation.
So flash forward to 2009, I was reading Rand’s most awesome and life changing Atlas Shrugged, and halfway through the book they introduce the pirate Ragnar Danneskjöld. Ragnar is not just any pirate he has a noble mission. He steals and destroys the cargo of ships which are the beneficiaries of government handouts. The government has begun passing laws that any competitive advantage a company might have is unfair and therefore illegal. Through taxes, fines, and downright theft the government levels the playing field; mostly to help out the friends, or donors of the corrupt politicians. Ragnar tracks down these vessels and steals what ever material he can, and sinks the rest, since he feels the recipients of the materials did not earn it and are only the arbitrary “winners the government officials have picked. What he steals, he gives back to the rightful owner the government has taken it from in the first place, since they will be able to produce goods the world needs from it. He is truly re-leveling the playing field the legislature has tilted in favor of its cronies.
Philosophically though, he states he is out pirating to destroy a man, when asked what man, he replies, “Robin Hood. …He was the man who robbed the rich and gave to the poor. Well, I’m the man who robs the poor and gives to the rich – or, to be exact, the man who robs the thieving poor and gives back to the productive rich.” When I read this I had a revelation, although I understood his motives, Ragnar was all wrong and so was everybody else - and as it turned out, so was I. Robin Hood was the epitome of freedom. He lived in the woods as a bachelor, he derided the abuse of the poor, as well as stuck up for them, and most importantly, he spent his life insuring the economic freedom of his countrymen while a corrupt steward sat on the throne.
See, Robin Hood didn’t really steal from the rich and give to the poor, that is only the outward appearance. What he really did was take back the money that the “phony king” had illegally stolen from the citizens of England, by use of an oppressive tax structure, there by enslaving the entire country to the whims of the government. By the time the dust clears, as long as logic is present, all will see Robin Hood only protected the residents of Sherwood from the tyrannical Prince John. Never did he steal from the citizens of Britain, only the prince and his henchmen. The money was not taken by those who earned it, only from those who took it out of circulation by force of law, thereby keeping it from earning anything or allowing it to be used in the creation of goods and services.
This is the true reason every soul in Sherwood was destitute, not because of some unseen millionaire oppressing the people to slavery, it was the will of the government by illegal seizure of private citizens’ property. This, is (even in Robin Hood) actually proven to be illegal, when King Richard steps back into England and sees what has transpired during his absence, he restores the balance, pardons Robin, and punishes Prince John. Robin, by being exonerated is proven to be an agent of the very government he was protecting the people against. He was acting in accordance to what is true and just. The criminal, just as ironically, was an agent of that same government using it to oppress the people. By stepping outside his proper role, Prince John proved he was not truly an agent of the government he claimed to control. All is evident throughout the movie as the citizenry remarks about it several times, by lamenting King Richard’s involvement in the Crusades, looking toward his return as their salvation with hope, and referring to Prince John the First, to the point of ridicule, as both Prince John the Worst and The Phony King of England.
Ragnar did have a purpose similar to Robin Hood’s and his moral crusade was one and the same, as the people Ragnar stole from were the recipients of large taxpayer funded government bailouts. His beneficiaries were the same as Robin’s as well, the hard working people who use the money to purchase goods and services, and in turn create more wealth for all involved. Ragnar was only misarticulating the point of the Robin Hood legend to opposite effect. Robin Hood should not be “killed in the mind of men,” but celebrated; and his true mission should be known to all. He should be exalted as a paragon to freedom and justice, since he did not wait for King Richard to return in hopes that he would see the results of the tyrannical episode, he did what any hero would do, he believed in himself enough to do what is right no matter what the consequences. Needless to say he was vindicated in the end by his pardon, and he got to marry Maid Marian in the royal court - now, I am not really into bestiality, but Maid Marion is one fine looking animal.
So, in a sudden turn of events, I can say, the reason my friends and colleagues are such communists isn’t because of Robin Hood at all, it is because they are all short-sighted, close-minded, idiotic doughheads who refuse to see what is really going on in the world. The actions of Robin are completely situational, he never just went out stealing from anybody he passed by willy-nilly without disregard. Remember, he left Maid Marian and her family alone, and although they did not get into it, you can tell they were wealthy. They just saw what they chose to see, regardless of the truth that was presented to them. These people would probably never read a book like Atlas Shrugged anyways, or anything else that may be just as eye opening. So as it turns out, our dashing hero is a supporter of small government, individual liberties, and economic freedom for all - he’s a libertarian!