Dreyer’s *Day of Wrath* (this post is full of spoilers)

Yes this movie dates from 1943 but I don’t think it is (mainly) about the Nazi persecutions, and every review I have seen on-line seems to misunderstand the film rather badly.  First, it is a #MeToo film.  Anne is abused and in essence raped (repeatedly) by her much older husband Absalon, who is a powerful figure in the local community.  He saved her mother from being burnt as a witch, and in return took her body and matrimonial hand, never asking if she wanted this.  She ends up wishing for his death “hundreds of times,” and the movie focuses on how this marital experience hollows out her inner shell.  Her illicit romance with Martin, Absalon’s son, was never emotionally real and was mainly intended as an escape from her servitude and perhaps also as a bit of revenge.

The second theme of the movie, related to the first, concerns the equilibria of belief in witchcraft.  If some of the citizens believe in witches, some of the otherwise powerless women will pretend to be witches, to win some power.  Anne does this, as she knows that powerlessness is the worst thing in this society.  (The older Herlofs Marthe also left some uncertainty about her powers to reach demons and the like.)  Of course this strategy has potential downsides, especially when some women are burnt as witches, but ex ante it can make sense to parade as a witch with some probability.  For Anne, powerlessness is perceived as so bad she is even willing to be a witch ex post.  Of course she killed Absalon by poisoning his beer, not by placing a hex on him.  Even when facing death, she can’t give up the one source of perceived power she might aspire to have.

Comments

I understand this film was a metaphor for living under totalitarian rule (whether it is fascist, communist, or any other variety). Of course, totalitarian can be at the micro level (a domineering and abusive husband) or at the macro level (fascists). The risk that the powerless rise up against the powerful is what gives the powerful pause for concern. The Southern slave owners lived in constant fear that the slaves would rise up and kill the slave owners. The Stono Rebellion is one such rebellion. Then there are the Israelites (the Jews): who knew that the powerless Jews would rise up and challenge anti-semites everywhere, as if by witchcraft. Human's have a natural instinct against oppression, oppression of any kind. Libertarians understand and appreciate that natural instinct.

"Human's have a natural instinct against oppression, oppression of any kind."

I'd say nothing of the sort.

More in keeping with Tyler's review, I'd say that humans, being social primates evolved to operate in small hierarchical groups, try hard to gain and keep any measure of power they can. That can mean rising up to take it (and very often turning on one's fellow thereafter, see Revolution Eats Its Own), crushing dissent to keep it, jockeying for position or favor within a given hierarchy, etc. There is no instinct against oppression, else you wouldn't see so many reversals like that performed by Aung San Suu Kyi recently throughout history.

"Humans have a natural instinct against oppression, oppression of any kind."

Too abstract, lacks concretion. Do humans have a natural instinct against being in the state of oppression? Yes, although there are exceptions. Do humans also have a natural instinct, not at all in conflict with the former, to perpetrate oppression? Yes, but again, there are exceptions.

I have not seen the movie, but reading what you wrote, I can’t help but think how fundamental the right of exit is. Instead of trying to manage all those sick power relationships you mention, why the protagonist does not just send everybody to hell and look for another life somewhere else?

Maybe the movie is in a context where a divorced woman in charge of a mother cannot move. But this is not the current situation of the Western world. Everybody able to work can just move out and start again. The transformative power of such an option in a western society that for 1000 years was characterized by serfdom linked to the land cannot be overestimated, and it is the most important legacy of the Enlightment and its political ideology, (classical) Liberalism.

When I see all the time spent by modern American “liberals” in trying to micromanage society through an unbelievable array of self-contradicting positive rights segmented along the most ridiculous definitions of human being (gender, race, wealth, sexual preference, etc), I cannot but wonder how stupid, arrogant and outright tyrannical they all are. I am so tired of all these assholes empowered by the ballot box in the hands of the bovine mob of voters. Fuck them all, just respect my nature-given right of disassociation.

Who's stopping you from disassociating? Just exit already.

Lol.

Can I start to engage in voluntary trade with other free people, like selling them heroin? Can I keep my kids home instead of sending them to those weapons of mass (de)instruction that are the schools whose curriculum must be approved by your disgusting State? Will your thugs stop to show up at my place to charge me millions of dollars to pay for your health-care, your kids instruction, your pension and your parasitical welfare? Can I send to hell those same thug when they say I can’t build my house as I want in my owned piece of property? Can I keep owning my Dragunov without having to hide it?

Until I can, get down from that horse, you are just a leech living off other people blood.

Hold on there, psycho. You are conflating right of exit (just GO already) with a bunch of other stuff. You can disassociate from all those awful restrictions any time you like! Vaya con Dios!

Y donde quieres que me vaya? No hay ningún lugar en el mundo donde no me chinguen con esas violencias.

Beside, why could I not disassociate from you if I am in my own piece of land? I just want to be let alone in my place, why you keep coming to tax and regulate and kidnap me? I never signed no fucking social contract, nor my father did, even if that was relevant: http://files.libertyfund.org/files/2194/Spooner_1485_Bk.pdf

Well, that's sort of the point, there's no place in the world that allows you to live your childish anarchist hermit fantasy. Or rather, very few places. There are some inhabited places with very little State presence.

So either move to one of those or stop whining (and cussing, so angry!) like a 15 year old who just wants to be LEFT ALONE, MOM!

Massimo, the irony of your complaint lies in the very fact that these micromanagers are seeking to address systematic disadvantages that those oppressed have no practical option to choose exit to escape from. They most likely have over-reached in many ways, but you appear quite oblivious never-the-less.

What do you mean with the word “oppression”? In my opinion, somebody is oppressed when he is forced to act against his will, or he is prevented to do something that he had a natural right to do, e.g., anything that does not infringe on the liberty of others.

In a (classical) liberal state, oppression is not possible (with the exception of a very light level of coerced taxation, 3.5% of GDP at the times of Grover Cleveland, for example) because it is based on two premises: the absolute equality in front of the law of any human being, 2) the liberty of doing whatever you want provided it does not infringe on the liberty of others.

For example, I am old, bald and ugly. No woman wants to sleep with me. I am being discriminated, of course. But I am not oppressed, I do not have any positive right on them, e.g. I do not have any right that they behave against their will and sleep with me.

A black man is often (stupidly and insensitively according to many, me included) discriminated against by racist employers that do not want to employ black people. But he is not oppressed, just I am not oppressed by the women. Actually, when the statutory law forces the employer not to follow his personal preferences to be a racist, the employer is the oppressed. A racist might be an asshole, but it is his nature-given right to be an asshole. The black man becomes oppressed only if the racism becomes state-imposed, as it was under Jim Crow, or in the northern “sunrise-towns”, with their sheriff-imposed warnings at the entrance about “Nig****, don’t find yourself in town after sunset”. In that time it was the State that forced the discrimination, it was not just the product of personal preferences. This, of course, violates condition number 1, the equality of everybody in front of the law.

I tell you who is oppressed in today world in which State coercion is an ever growing cancer. It is the poor guy that cannot make a living shaving beards to willing clients because he does not have a professional license. It is the entrepreneur that has to have a certain number of women in his board. It is the young that is forced to leave San Francisco because politically corrected rich guys impose ridiculous zoning legislation not to mix with the hoy polloi and the scarcity of housing price out the less wealthy. It is the shopkeeper that is forced to serve a client that he does not like. It is the widow whose plot was stolen from the government through eminent domain so Trump could build his parking lot. It is the Mormon that wants to have 4 willing wifes but he is prevented to do it by the violence of the State. It is the entrepreneur that serves willing clients importing heroin from Asia and some thugs stole his merchandise at the airport and kidnap him for decades.

It is not the homosexual that want a homophobic guy to serve him, just as it is not the straight guy that pretend to enter a lesbian disco against the will of the owner that does not want his clients transformed into a zoo for the voyerism of the straight guy. It is not me, too old and bald to attract women, but it is the woman that might decide to sleep with me in exchange for money but she is prevented to do so by State, our enemy.

Wow. Here is a conversation in which I actually agree 100% with both sides.
But there is a simple solution to your disagreement. There is no need to have laws redistributing resources from one community to another. Instead, couple a free market to inclusive social norms that demand equal treatment of individuals. There is no libertarian restriction on refusing to buy things from racist employers, or on shunning people for expressing sexist beliefs. Nobody's violating a racist's rights by refusing to do business with him or be friends with him. So the only questions is what sort of society we want, and which people should be more tolerated - people with black skin, or people who wish to be intolerant of people with black skin. And if they don't like it, they should be (and largely are) free to drop out of society and go live in a hut in the mountains.

People should be able to vote with their feet, but they can do it only if communities offer ample variety in their rules.

I do not even care that much that the default rule is that the baker is forced to serve the gay customer, which is an instance where a fake positive right tramples the baker more fundamental negative right of disassociating with whoever he wants. I do think it is ethically wrong, but I can live with it, as far as the statists let people build communities in their private land where this rule does not apply.

Taxation is more complicated, but as Viking say, 90% of it is redistribution, not real public goods. Those communities should have the right to opt out of those redistribution schemes. Of course, statists will never allow it, because most people would immediately abandon their collectivistic hellholes.

You will likely know that during the Cold War a pretty strong argument from the West was that while in the West it was always possible to build Communist enclaves in private land, in the Communist countries you could never be allowed to create a capitalist enclave. As far as current Western countries do not allow people build their own communities with whatever rule they want, statist won’t have any ethical justification (in this specific case they didn’t even try with the old Rawls canard, the veil of ignorance), they will always recur to non-arguments like ”don´t be childish”, which basically means “You will not do that because if you do I will send my thugs to beat you up to pulp”.

You don't really owns the land. The moment you stop paying tax, you will find out who the true owner is. That's not just a social contract but a real contract. The kind that can put you in jail. Sorry to upset your feelings. Reality can be hard to stomach when you have childish beliefs. Time to grow up.

My parents were too poor to afford a nanny, so you are a liar. And ignorant to boot. For example, you ignore the ancient but once common allodial ownership of land: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allodial_title
Alas, the nation States after Westphalia almost eliminated the concept, although it still exists in Scotland and especially in the Orkneys.

Regarding your post, you are just stating the obvious, without any ethical justification. Everybody knows that in virtually the entire world “land private ownership” is an oxymoron, because the State can steal it from you using violence through eminent domain (by the way, I can’t see how you can construct a violent, unilateral action into a “contract”). That’s exactly why I stated that we are denied our nature-given right to disassociate from smartasses like you.

Also, it is not time “to grow up”. It is time to ignore the bootlicking sheeple like you and fight back. Not with violence, difficult to justify and a sure losing strategy, but instead exploiting the increasingly desperate situation of the modern welfare-warfare states. Try to google “private cities”.

Good idea. Please go to a private city and stop bothering us grownups.

The right to exit one country requires the right to enter another. Given today's political climate those rights won't exist for many that need them. Also, I agree with msgkings, if you hate these "micromanaging liberals" then you should take your own advice and move.

@Massimo

Some recent liberal buzzwords are "lashing out" and "dehumanizing", and I suspect these terms contain a good dose of "Projection", to use their own psychobabble.

As you are pointing out in other words, the current redistribution state is the second age of slavery. We have a central government that probably spends in excess of 90% of its budget on items that are not for the common good. One could argue that the defense budget is for the common good, however that probably could be reduced by 80%, and still keep USA safe from foreign invasions. The bloated defense budget is just one among many pork barrels.

The key to keep this going, is that those exploited must be dehumanized, otherwise ethical concerns come in the way. The way this is executed is to make up a myth that the middle class is rich because of past exploitation of blacks, theft of land from Mexico and so on. The truth is that the current success of decedents Japanese Americans that were interned (often bankrupted in the process), Jews that were persecuted for centuries and Chinese ravaged by the opium wars, civil wars, great leap forward, cultural revolution disproves this narrative.

All prosperous nations (and indeed most crappy ones) function using what you so childishly label 'slavery'. That's the price you pay to live in a functional first world country, you have a fairly significant state to deal with.

There are a few places with minimal state intrusion, but those places are pretty rough. So you can either understand the world you live in or throw tantrums like Massimo until you find a nice private city to live in. Don't hold your breath.

Dumb me. I split my time between Monaco (income tax: 0%) and Honduras (income tax: 30%), and I was stupidly feeling that it was in Tegus that I had to load up and pay bodyguards.

Only the little people pay taxes.

If it weren't for black people, we wouldn't have income taxes!
Now I understand.

One of the best movie ever. Happy to see Tyler write about it.

A good companion film to see along with "Gertrud", which is basically the same story set around 300 years later.

Talking of witches, evil, poison, "marital experience hollows out her inner shell", murder, and so forth, how's Mrs Clinton these days?

Burn! Take that, Killary!

I like how Hillary gets to live rent-free in that roach motel head of yours.

We should be more concerned with Mr. Clinton. He fortunately dodged a bullet. He didn't need the extra scrutiny being first husband would have brought. He doesn't have many years left, I think he has earned the right to spend his remaining time getting high, plastered, and hanging out with skanks!

I thought that movie was a bit too slow for my tastes. Still it was easier to watch than that famous French movie also produced under German occupation (o yeah, children of paradise). I think that this movie is about how Dreyer likes to shoot movies in minimalistic style with a minimum number of details (so that each the impact of the elements of the movie on the viewer are maximized), and his movies are all very religious (like his Joan D'Arc movie).

Let us be blunt. Americans are getting ever more desparate as they see their regime crumbling like a cake around them. The shutdown is just the latest proof that the American regime is being destroyed by its own internal contradictions and that only by adopting President Captain Bolsonaro's ideas can America expeirence a new birth of freedom.

The second theme of the movie, related to the first, concerns the equilibria of belief in witchcraft. If some of the citizens believe in witches, some of the otherwise powerless women will pretend to be witches, to win some power.

This isn't just true for women, or for witchcraft. You can generalize it to lots of other situations in which belief in some sort of pseudoscientific idea allows powerless people to think they have some sort of power, or make others think they have power. Self-delusion might even be more common than other-deception. All sorts of people believe in energy healing. Racism could be put in this category too - you might be dirt poor and uneducated, but at least you're better than the negros in the next town over.

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