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The end of heroic spies

R.E.D. means retired, extremely dangerous. Unfortunately, this pun shan’t catch. Apparently, some young bureaucrat with delusions of efficiency retires men specialized in retiring those with whom the government disagrees, if you follow… Administration vs. the executive does not sound like the fight of the century, but it discloses the limits of government by regulation: The virtues of the virtuous men.

The old & the new have come into conflict. Let’s just say filial piety has been declared obsolete, as tradition itself. – Being ignorant, the bureaucrats are innocent of the conflict they have caused. An admixture of corruption & incompetence ensures that they lack perspective. As well, they are professionals, experts. Their victory is such that the conflict is silent. Therefore, they have lost their awareness of their own newness, impermanence, & origins. The old, though defeated, retain their honor. The new, efficient & now comfortable democrats, are unlovable.

The oldest old, like your grandparents, is Ernest Borgnine: He might as well have been thrown into a retirement home. Old people usually live off memories, but he remembers secrets, being an archivist, the private part of the public life. Espionage somehow makes the public private. It disguises necessities of government as private preferences. Law ends up looking like accidents. Curiously, private life allows, indeed requires it. How public is a government defending the private lives of the private? Where’s the honor there? But can war & intelligence be conducted by popular vote or Congressional debates?

The old lost once. They are back for revenge. Our protagonist, Frank Moses, emphatically denies this. But what do you call it when you return evil to the evil? Perhaps revenge is a means to his end. He pursues happiness: We begin to learn his story when he falls in love with a young woman. Why should Frank Moses believe in the immortality love promises? He no longer believes in the government’s immortality.

This story shows us what spy stories we have seen before. It reflects on spy stories to show us that executing men & executing laws go together, perhaps America’s great problem. Compare that with spying: Spies are democrats, but they know & do the evil necessary for the democratic good. Writers equally share the outlook of their audiences, but they know its dangers & limits. The poet wants to shock us whenever he asks us to choose which killers are good & which bad. This is the dark truth that the genre is always concealing: The dark arts of war are as immoral as necessary. This is why in our story the government is not loveable: Public consent can only conceal the truth about necessity. Perhaps the concealment is also necessary…

A funny action movie. See it.