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5 Ways To Defend Humanity With Anime Movies and Traditional British Philosophy

More on California Roll Conservatism courtesy of Roger Scruton's writing and Hayao Miyazaki's art.

Jon Bishop


August 15, 2013 - 7:01 am

Rolltip 1. Build a Community.


I’ll be honest:  Chihiro, later called ‘Sen,’ begins the film as a whiny kid. She’s frightened of everything, and she constantly complains. Her parents, though, aren’t different—they think only of themselves. It’s why they get into trouble.

This could be said of most of the characters in the film. Yubaba, the “villain,” is concerned with the upkeep of her business — namely, she wants cash. She doesn’t care about the rest of her employees in the Bathhouse, a place that offers respite to weary ghosts. But those who work for her aren’t much different. They steal and gorge and double-cross.

Such behavior creates a lack of community. But, unfortunately, this is encouraged in our modern world. We are taught to give into our lowest passions and destroy ties to others.

Roger Scruton argues that this is demonstrative of the ‘I’ attitude. In his book The Uses of Pessimism, he writes that “the ‘I’ attitude seeks change and improvement, overcoming the challenges presented by nature.” He contrasts this with the “we attitude,” which he says “seeks stasis and accommodation, in which we are at one with each other and with the world.”

After all, as Scruton writes, we “belong to a kind, and that kind has a place in nature.” We “depend upon others in countless ways that make it imperative to seek their approval.”

Chihiro needs to learn this. And we do, too.

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All Comments   (5)
All Comments   (5)
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My favorite Miyzaki movie is Porco Rosso.
Lesson - All men are pigs, but sometimes we get better...

I love the depiction of "Fighter Pilot Heaven," too.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Every one of Miyazaki's movies is meaningful, while completely accessible, and visually beautiful. Brilliant entertainment for all ages. The man is a master of his art.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I think you (and Scruton) have the right of it. After all, what we call conservatism is the foundation of all progress. Conserving what is good from generation to generation is the only thing that makes it possible to improve; trying to reinvent the wheel every generation is a complete waste of time, and ensures that nothing good will ever survive. Tradition is more powerful than law, and ofttimes bad traditions last far longer than they should. However we can't even recognize bad traditions if we don't conserve the learning of the past. If we don't know about past mistakes we'll just repeat them ad inifinitum. Conservatism should be about balancing the past with the future, preserving every good thing for the next generation, and I mean every good thing, whether it's the Constitution or "I Love Lucy" reruns or Meditations of Marcus Aurelius. "Spirited Away" reminds me a lot of "The Scouring of the Shire" in "The Lord of the Rings." There are good things tossed away by both political and economic progressives, who think nothing should stand in the way of their goals. We need to be judicious, balanced, and careful. But that is of course antithetical to the left, who want: perfection now! And if they can't have it (which they can't), they don't mind destroying everything just for spite.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I loved this movie but hadn't really looked at it through a political lens. Now I like it even more.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Nice article and interesting points. I see a LOT of negativity and in-fighting among conservative groups. Tip 1 applies most succinctly to them.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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