The Circle of Life

I had the opportunity to re-watch the The Lion King recently, and I was astounded at how secretly rightist and traditionalist the film is. (Granted, the mainstream media did complain about this when the film was first released.)

For starters, Disney’s most popular film about Africa doesn’t feature any Black people (unless you count the voices of James Earl Jones and Whoopi Goldberg). Much more important than that is the fact that film depicts a certain longing for a kingly, pre- or un-democratic realm. The audience is encouraged to identify with Simba, a little lion prince before whom the entire animal kingdom is made to bow. As in Star Wars, the common man never dreams about democratic mediocrity, but aristocratic destiny.

And it gets better. Not only is the pride a monarchy, but the lions rule as a kind of brutal Herrenarten (master-species) over the entire savannah. All other animals kneel before their natural superiors. The lions, naturally, hunt down, slaughter, and consume their subjects (though this is never portrayed). But with great power comes social responsibility, and Simba’s father, King Mufasa, explains that the lions must hunt in moderation to preserve the balance of nature. They are part of the “Circle of Life,” with all the world’s creatures being, in a sense, united in their diversity.1

All is well under Mufasa’s rule—a large, muscular lion incarnating the traditional Aryan virtues. His brother, Scar, as is common in fairy tales, is visibly evil and could even be said to embody anti-Semitic stereotypes. Scar is lanky and dark-furred, if not exactly grotesque. Though apparently related (half-brothers?), the two look and act quite differently. “Well, as far as brains go, I got the lion’s share,” Scar explains. “But, when it comes to brute strength … I’m afraid I’m at the shallow end of the gene pool.”

Mufasa rules through strength and candor, the former enabling the latter. Scar, on the other hand, is both weak and selfish; thus he can only attain power by using his intelligence for deceit. There are indications that he may have acquired his facial scar (and name) during a revolt against authority.

Scar’s Revolution

Scar thus plots to overthrow Mufasa and murder Simba. Specifically, he exploits their virtues (which is arguably the highest evil). Namely, Scar takes advantage of Simba’s courage when he goads the young lion to prove himself by going into dangerous hyena territory (where Simba is almost killed); Simba’s credulity, by persuading him he is responsible for Mufasa’s death; Mufasa’s love, by getting him killed during an attempt to save Simba from harm; and finally Simba’s generosity, when Scar exploits a moment of magnanimity…

Scar achieves each success through lies and deceit, emotional manipulation, and pushiness. This is especially so in what might seem to be the least plausible moment of the film—when Scar convinces Simba, through sheer brazenness, that he is responsible for the death of his father and pushes the guilt-ridden, impressionable young lion to run away. (We could understand the rash actions of Simba as a kind of unconscious analogy to the extreme White guilt so prevalent in our society.)

Having eliminated the pride’s legitimate ruling elites, Scar organizes a political revolution through an alliance with a physically and morally inferior species—the hyenas. The hyenas are uglier, weaker, more stupid, more selfish, and more vicious than the lions. The Scar-Hyena alliance can fairly be compared with Bolshevism and Social Democracy in general: the lessers are cynically rabble-roused and viciously organized to overthrow their betters in the name of handouts, “equality,” and democratic lies, leading to a yet worse tyranny.2

This is all fairly explicit, as Scar brilliantly sings:

It’s clear from your [the hyena’s] vacant expressions
The lights are not all on upstairs […]
I know it sounds sordid
But you’ll be rewarded […]
The future is littered with prizes
And though I’m the main addressee
The point that I must emphasize is
You won’t get a sniff without me!

The nature of Scar’s revolution is also evident from his exchange with the hyenas after he presents his plan to kill Mufasa and Simba:

Female hyena: Great idea! Who needs a king?
Hyenas: No king! No king! La-la-la-la-laa-laa!
Scar: Idiots! There will be a king!
Male hyena: Hey, but you said, uh…
Scar: I will be king! Stick with me, and you’ll never go hungry again!
Hyenas: Yaay! All right! Long live the King!

After Mufasa’s death and Simba’s flight, Scar explicitly justifies his takeover of power in the name of inter-species reconciliation and unity:

Yet, out of the ashes of this tragedy, we shall rise to greet the dawning of a new era … in which lion and hyena come together, in a great and glorious future!

Diversity, Scar implies, is our greatest strength!

This setup however proves immediately disastrous. The cackling hyenas exploit the lionesses, who hunt animals on their behalf. The pridelands’ ecology is overtaxed by the lion-hyena wealth transfer, and soon all is turned black and desolate; indeed, all life disappears due to this parasitic relationship. The state of the realm reflects the King’s black heart and flouting of Nature’s law:

One law for the lion and ox is oppression.

Simba’s Awakening

Meanwhile, Simba runs away into the wild, meeting the meerkat-warthog duo, Timon and Pumbaa. The two introduce the princeling to fecklessness, individualism, and abandonment of family. This is summed up in the famous song “Hakuna Matata,” by which Timon and Pumbaa convert Simba:

Hakuna Matata!
What a wonderful phrase
Hakuna Matata!
Ain’t no passing craze
It means no worries
For the rest of your days
It’s our problem-free

Simba grows to adulthood in this undignified bachelorhood, living on a diet of insects; he forgets his pride. As Pumbaa explains: “Home is where your rump rests.” Yet Simba is unfulfilled. One night, the three look up to the stars and speak:

Simba: Well, somebody [Mufasa] once told me that the great kings of the past are up there, watching over us.
Pumbaa: Really?
Timon: You mean a bunch of royal dead guys are watching us? [Laughs] Who told you something like that? What mook made that up?
Simba: Yeah. Pretty dumb, huh?
Timon: Aw, you’re killing me, Simba.

Is this not a perfect metaphor for the Sixties? Simba, who had been taught that his life had a meaning as part of a chain of family links reflected even in the heavens, finds his father, ancestors, and faith mocked and discredited. He walks off to descend into nihilism and depression.

Simba is found, however, first by his childhood sweetheart, Nala, and then by the baboon mystic Rafiki. Rafiki takes Simba before a vision of his father:

Mufasa: Simba …
Simba: Father?
Mufasa: Simba, you have forgotten me.
Simba: No. How could I?
Mufasa: You have forgotten who you are, and so have forgotten me. Look inside yourself, Simba. You are more than what you have become. You must take your place in the Circle of Life.
Simba: How can I go back? I’m not who I used to be.
Mufasa: Remember who you are. You are my son, and the one true king.

Simba thus rediscovers his forgotten roots, his identity, his place in the cosmic order; relearning these, he knows what he must do, what his destiny is. This was not magic. Mufasa was not resurrected. Rather, Rafiki explains, “He lives in you.” Our forefathers live on in us, in the flame of memory we maintain, and in our blood. A man’s descendants are but refracted, endlessly reshuffled reflections of himself. Simba’s awakening is painful, but as Rafiki explains, fecklessness is no solution: “Oh yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it, or … learn from it.”

Having rediscovered his identity, Simba embraces his duty. Then it is a short matter of returning to the pridelands and overthrowing Scar through manly force, although the evil king does try one last time to manipulate Simba emotionally into incriminating himself for Mufasa’s death. In the end, Scar falls among the hyenas … where he is brutally devoured alive as kind of immanent justice.3

Politically Incorrect Pop Culture

The Lion King is, thus, a racial, identitarian Bildungsroman and political parable, and, in its way, a deeply anti-democratic and anti-leftist one. On another level, many of the themes could be understood as spiritual and ecological.

This raises the question: How was such a politically incorrect film like The Lion King ever produced? Why did it—does it—resonate with the public?4

I doubt the film executives Jeffrey Katzenberg, Peter Schneider, or even Roy Disney, consciously set out to make a film about racial identity and national duty.

That said, children’s films are quite often fairly wholesome (with some obvious exceptions and The Lion King’s key issue—of a youth looking for independence and then being reconciled to responsibility—is a common and healthy one. But then, The Lion King goes beyond this.

Firstly, there is the subject matter of Nature itself—with both its hierarchical “balance” ever-present and the struggle for survival—is completely at odds with liberal political correctness. Darwinian realities are incompatible with bourgeois niceties and “Blank-Slate-ism.” That said, most likely the writers did not think too much on this subject, with all politically incorrect themes safely quarantined in a fantastical tale about talking lions.

Secondly, producers of popular culture necessarily make films that, if they are to be successful, resonate with their time and with the deeper soul of their viewers.5 And, despite mass media and ideological brainwashing, every viewer will experience some politically incorrect realities in the world and his soul will be defined more by genetic characteristics molded by millions of years of evolutionary history than Marxist professors. This explains the traditional gender norms in the extremely popular Twilight trilogy and the aristocratic ethos of epic fantasy and science fiction films such as The Lord of the Rings. The soul and dreams of man are anything but democratic (even if, for opportunistic reasons, a majority may be flattered into embracing egalitarianism).

I can only speculate that The Lion King’s themes were informed by and resonated with the fears and hopes of the American public of the early 1990s. The world had just come out of the half-century-long Cold War and from under the specter of Communism and totalitarianism. Both of these forces had sprung from Bolshevism, a political phenomenon that has many parallels with Scar’s revolution.

No doubt, too, the film had parallels with the 20th century history of the United States, where a traditional WASP elite, basically favorable to White America, was replaced by a hostile elite bent on “multiculturalism.” The film was released during the Clinton years, those heady days of “the End of History” having effectively solved all our political questions: there is no higher form than a consumerist social democracy, we were told—“Hakuna Matata!” And the United States was explicitly being put on the path to becoming a “minority-majority” land, as expounded by the president himself. Many White Americans, as continuous Hispanic settlement in particular became an accepted part of national life6, could sense that their nation and culture were slipping away from them,7 and that their wealth and commonweal was being siphoned off to an ungrateful emerging “new majority.”

Simba’s tale then has much relevance to our situation. Let us listen again to Mufasa, notwithstanding the kitsch:

You have forgotten who you are, and so have forgotten me. Look inside yourself… . You are more than what you have become. You must take your place in the Circle of Life.

Across the Western world, egged on by hostile or feckless elites, the Baby Boomers sang “hakuna matata” without a thought for the long-term consequences of such selfishness and narcissism. Only now, thanks to experience, the passing of generations, and the freedom of the Internet, we are beginning to rediscover our identity … and our duty

  1. These are themes that will be familiar to National Socialists and deep ecologists. As in National Socialist ideology, there is the idea that some life is superior to and rightly rules over other life, but that ultimately all is united in the same family and that one must rule responsibly, ecologically. There is explicit rejection of the Judeo-Christian conceit that there is a kind of mystical break between completely equal featherless biped and the rest of life, considered ripe only for exploitation by the “equals.” ↩︎

  2. The song parodist Uncuck The Right has done a song on the similarities between the Scar-Hyenas relationship and that between the financial speculator George Soros and the #BlackLivesMatter moves. Uncuck The Right, “Fall in Line,” YouTube, September 10, 2015, ↩︎

  3. I believe Sam Dickson has said African-Americans should be given Manhattan to form a Black Republic. ↩︎

  4. The only piece of egalitarian propaganda I could identify was when the lioness Nala is shown to be able to pin down Simba in a fight … twice. ↩︎

  5. Black comedians often provide the most staggeringly politically incorrect material, such as Richard Pryor on Black criminals, Dave Chapelle on welfare and reparations for Blacks, Chris Rock on instinctive Black racial pride, or Aaron McGruder’s entire oeuvre, from commentary on Black violence (“nigga moments”) and the paradoxes of combined-and-uneven development between high technology and dysgenics (“nigga tech”). ↩︎

  6. The only Hispanic reference in the film is a hyena asking once. “¿Qué _pasa?” But I am no doubt reading too much into this. ↩︎

  7. On this, it is worth re-watching King of the Hill, where issues of alienation between rural Texans and New York elites is explicitly alluded to and all the characters are, in effect, alienated, impotent, flailing conservatives (be he the stoic Hank, the literal cuckold and Right-wing conspiracy theorist Dale/Rusty Shackleford, or the pathetic Bill, whose compensatory and patriotic “inarticulate yelling” lives on meme form. ↩︎