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Rambo 3


The good life

Humiliated, Rambo can no longer tolerate the laws of men. He remembers Vietnam & can no longer tell the difference between Americans & the Vietnamese. The city has disappeared; war is everywhere, war is all. He reduces his captors & removes to the forest, climbing up the rocks and mountain. His ascent in nature invigorates him. City folks are strangers to the wild; Rambo is at home there. The police chase him & try to destroy him. By degrees, their contempt for Rambo gets them killed. Rambo turns the manhunt into a funeral procession. Man without the city is the most savage beast. Without the city, moralism is weak & the lawmen turn out to be unmanly.

In his retreat, however, Rambo refuses to kill a boy who then sets his hunters on his track; driven into mine caves, he is attacked by rats & he shows disgust. These actions betray his purpose. – They point to his education as a citizen, which comprises the distinctions between men & other people, citizens & aliens, human beings & animals. His self-understanding depends on the city; but the city requires peace. Whole by himself, Rambo does not need other people & he cannot kneel before the many. His contradiction is a reversal of the city’s contradiction. The city also creates the illusion it is whole by itself, but men’s self-understanding always extends to nature.

If peace & war are different, they have different causes. But peace is more attractive; & war a better teacher of necessity. If the city is natural, peace must somehow give an account of war. We have replaced war by just war, thus subordinating war to justice. Instead of admitting war is hell, we rather would say warriors are eternal in the memory of the city. Rambo cannot live in the city, but he can be buried there.

The civil power is split between the civilians & the powerful. Civilians believe law is all-powerful, which is a lie, because they are powerless & fearful; the powerful are flattered by this lie, but knowing the lawlessness of power, they cannot believe law makes their legitimacy. If the civilians admire Rambo, however, they can learn to strengthen the laws without weakening themselves.

How can the civil control the military? Soldiers are difficultly compelled: they are not so afraid to die that they can be threatened; & they are willing & able to fight. If not fear, then shame must hold them back from doing the unimaginable. The city forgot Rambo because it could not imagine Rambo. Sending him to war, the men of peace must have hoped he would die there. Apparently, Americans do not believe ghosts cause tragedies…