I saw the movie 300 last night. I will not review the movie here except to discuss its politics. Sparta was a closed, totalitarian state with a very small ruling class of landowners and a monarchy. Nearly all Spartans were forbidden to engage in trade and free enterprise. Spartan men were impressed into military service for most of their lives. State-sponsored ritual infanticide was practiced. (All this was depicted reasonably well in the film: I am not complaining about historical innaccuracies!) So I was disgusted (though not really surprised) to hear the King and Queen give speeches about how "freedom is not free" and how they were all free men fighting for freedom. Apparently, this is some other meaning of "freedom" of which I was unaware.
I was similarly puzzled when I watched the new Star Wars trilogy. In those films, Queen Amidala gave stirring speeches about how she was fighting for democracy--although the only democracy her people enjoyed was the right to elect an absolute monarch from time to time. (And even so, the position was apparently also hereditary since her daughter was automatically made Princess.) Likewise the powerful Jedi Council--an institution that admitted only a few persons with special blood--also managed to style themselves as protectors of democracy, with straight faces. In fact, the only democratic institution in the Star Wars galaxy is the Imperial Senate: a Senate mind you, with highly disproportional representation and appointed membership.
I am tired of watching movies where people surrender their liberties for freedom, where people torture to protect human rights, and where Kings and Queens are the spokespeople for democracy. We were warned about this kind of doublethink sixty years ago.
"Freedom means the freedom to say two plus two equals four. If that is granted all else follows."
--George Orwell, 1984