Management: 12 Days 2018 continues with highlights from this Spring. Spoilers for Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These.
This Spring was a mediocre season. Hinamatsuri was a fun and heartwarming family comedy-drama but its jokes can get stale when you watch it consistently. HeroAca was a time for fun Saturday-morning cartoons–I was basically waiting for Deku to grow out of his self-destructive phase, for Bakugo to grow out of his inferiority complex, and praying for Tsuyu, Momo, Todoroki, and the rest of the crew to get screen time. Golden Kamuy wasn’t on my radar until summer–big mistake. Thus, the anime I looked forward to the most each week was the Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These (henceforth LoGH).
This being my first exposure to the LoGH storyline, I was immediately impressed by the story of war tactics, politics, and empires: the stuff I used to gravitate towards when poring over history books. I was a bit disappointed at how comically simple-minded everyone else was compared to Reinhard and Yang, which lessened the impact of their ingenuity. However, I did resonate quite strongly with the show’s portrayal of ideological dogma.
In LoGH, the Free Planet Alliance was formed in opposition, and continues to stand in opposition to the Empire. It is supposed to stand for ideals that echo those found in today’s Western Liberal Democracies: democracy, social mobility, a rules-based society with a respect for human rights. These ideals are upheld by its ruling class and bureaucracy. By themselves, these ideals are portrayed as good.
However, LoGH also shows us individuals who weaponise ideological orthodoxy for personal gain. In the hands of these individuals, the argument goes like this: a) this society’s ideals are good , b) my viewpoint/opinions/proposed plan is in line with this ideology, c) yours aren’t, d) therefore you must suffer the social consequences. In LoGH, we see this weaponisation almost as an irresistible force sucking the the Alliance into continued war against the Empire, and also dooming their invasion force once it reaches Empire territory.
War is costly in both economic and human terms, so it’s understandable that groups of people should advocate for peace and rebuilding. However, in the Alliance, war against the Empire has been framed as a righteous war of liberation, and advocating against it is seen as advocating for oppression. Thus, when the politicians who seek a boost in popularity before a tight election, they propose an ill-timed war campaign. Opposition to the general war effort, including by other politicians, war widow Jessica, and Yang Wen-li, are doomed to failure .
As the Alliance invasion force enters Empire territory, we see officers bent on promotion who weaponise ideology in order to silence the opposition. Under their influence, the strategy of the invasion becomes guided not by advice of the military experts, but by those who can best show off their ideological orthodoxy. Thus, the force pushes too deep into enemy territory, exposes its supply lines, dawdles when it should retreat, and is lucky not to be obliterated by the Empire.
Humans have come up with many well-meaning ideologies, but any of them can be distorted for personal gain and used to persecute rivals by labeling them as heretics. We’ve seen this time and again, in the political fights of various Churches, in the purges of Communist Russia and China, in the petty fights on the internet, and here in LoGH. Beware of people who weaponise ideological dogma.
You can read my other articles for 12 Days of Anime here..
: this premise is commonly accepted by whatever overarching group is involved, be it a nation, an ethnicity, a family, or any real or virtual community.
: Yang even suffers property vandalism from pro-war extremist groups. While this is not directly related to using ideological orthodoxy for personal gain, this still shows the powerful social pressures to conform to mainstream ideology.