The U.S. as a Modern Day Sparta?

Leonidis Bush
The film characterization of Leonidis I might well represent a modern-day leader from the ‘west’ (Greece) rising up in the face of an eastern overlord. (SKG/CTD)

We don’t usually get out to first-run movies. My wife and I prefer to watch them at home, from the comfort of our couch. Today, we made an exception for 300.

Sharon wrote a great review of the film at our Connecting The Dots site. The symbolism in 300 was a little murky for me, but she caught it. I can’t say whether Frank Miller and Zack Snyder built the imagery into the film or whether it happened organically, but I recommend Sharon’s review.

One thing we should note, however, when honoring the brave Spartans who fell at Thermopylae: Sparta and Greece weren’t exactly as free as the movie would have us believe. The ruling council of Sparta was composed of wealthy oligarchs. The Spartans themselves comprised only a small part of the population; most of them were Helots, not exactly free but not quite chattel slaves, similar in status to medieval European serfs.

Keep that in mind if you see the film. The 300 fought magnificently (and not alone; 700 Thespians fought alongside them) but it wasn’t for “freedom”, not as we know it.

In fact, the Spartan system wasn’t all that different from 21st century America: A wealthy oligarchy controlling the political apparatus, directing a military-industrial complex supplied by a mostly passive middle class.

“But we’re not serfs!” you say.

Oh, yeah? Americans’ rate of savings is now a negative number for the first time since the Great Depression. How many of us actually own real property–our homes or tangibles, like precious metals? Not equity in your home; I mean the whole thing.

Not as many of us as in the past. In the ‘50s, homeowners averaged upwards of 80% equity. In 1973, equity averaged 68.3%; by 2005, it had dropped to 56.3%. And this happened while home values increased dramatically. In other words, more of our personal wealth is tied up in our homes than in the past while our exposure to sudden and unexpected fluctuations in the housing market has also increased.

SatireWire hit it on the head:

Low Interest Rates Help Many Fulfill The American (Banker’s) Dream

Minneapolis, Minn. ( — Showing no ill effects from a weak economy, housing numbers released by the National Association of Realtors today showed that a record 75 million Americans are now participating in the mass self-delusion that they, and not their banks, actually own their homes.

“Home ownership is the fulfillment of the American (banking industry’s) dream, and we are proud to announce that more Americans than ever have been able to (help lending institutions) achieve that dream,” said NAR President Richard Schicter.

After putting 20 percent down on a $235,000 house yesterday morning, Minneapolis pediatric nurse Stephanie Doogan officially became the 75 millionth American to take part in the widely accepted fantasy.

“Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted to (deceive myself into believing I could) be a homeowner,” said Doogan, 35. “Well, look at me now! Me, little Stephanie Doogan, I actually have a place I can call 100 percent (minus 80 percent) my own!”

Across the country, other (people in denial concerning their status as) property owners expressed similar satisfaction.

“There’s nothing like taking a walk around your (bank-owned) house, then going outside and kneeling down in your (bank-owned) lawn and grabbing a handful of (the bank’s) dirt to make you realize how precious (their) land is,” said 28-year-old Matt Jackson, who(‘s bank) bought a $210,000 home on New York’s Long Island last year. “It makes me feel as though I really have something that no one can take away from me (unless I miss so much as one mortgage payment).”

Added Devon Knight, who recently (thinks he) purchased a condominium in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor: “When I was renting an apartment, if the furnace went out, I had to get the landlord to fix it. But now, if the furnace goes out, I have to fix it!… hold on, I’m losing the illusion here… why is that good again?”

“Equity,” said Jay Harrington, Knight’s mortgage broker at First Union. “Just remember, you have equity. And next to the right of every single American (major corporation) to have a say in who gets elected, that’s the most sacred thing you can (pretend you) have.”

Tied to land we do not own, working to support a military-industrial complex that has the power to seize us or our belongings if it serves the interest of the state. Welcome to Sparta.


4 responses to “The U.S. as a Modern Day Sparta?

  1. “Just remember, you have equity…that’s the most sacred thing you can [pretend you] have.”

    Oh, how I agree with that! And, even if, somehow, we ever manage to pay off the bank–we can never pay off the U.S. Government, who will [quite literally] have us thrown out on the street, and have our often-beloved ‘property’ taken from us, if ever we fail to be able to pay our[their]taxes!

    Once I realized, and, very sadly, understood that awful fact–I felt such a terrible loss, and sadness for all of us–even if we manage to pay off the bank, the government will never let us forget that we never truly own the property, since, their taxes never, ever end–even if our income/self-sufficiency very well might, some day–not to mention that totally frightening land-theft idea, behind “Immenent Domain”–now, how very sad is that? More than very.:(
    Thanks, Derek.

  2. you need help!

  3. Ridiculous. You people find propaganda in everything. Can’t you ever just go to a movie and watch it without trying to conjure up some “secret message” that’s in it?

  4. Ummm… No, probably not.

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