Hunger Games - PANEM - THE CAPITOL

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Panem, the country in which Katniss and her family live, is a totalitarian state.  In such a place, the national government runs (or attempts to run) nearly all aspects of a person's (and a country's) life. This image depicts the impact of a totalitarian government on its people.


Katniss and her family live in a country called Panem.  Located in North America, Panem is split into Districts.  We could compare those "districts" to "states" or "provinces."  Panem originally had 13 functioning Districts; now it has 12

The country is run by a government called "The Capitol."  The Capitol is actually a totalitarian regime which governs nearly all aspects of a person's life.  Goods and services, produced by the 12 Districts, must be sent to The Capitol.

Totalitarian governments can order citizens to do whatever they want them to do - because - such a government has absolute power.  Governments, however - even totalitarian governments - are still just made-up of ... people. 

Often the people who run totalitarian governments are despised by the rest of the country's citizens.  Sometimes government functionaries - like those in George Orwell's novel 1984 - are referred to as "Big Brother."

People - who have taken (or have been given) "total" political power - make life-and-death decisions impacting others.  Such "power-hungry" people usually tend to put themselves first, satisfying their own needs and desires at the expense of everyone else.

Because individuals are actually the driving-force behind totalitarian governments, those individuals "in charge" are also at risk.  Their biggest risk is rebellion from others who have "had enough" of rules, regulations, orders and whatever additional tools people who run governments use to compel others to do their will.

One way a totalitarian government prevents rebellion is to kill, imprison or exile potential dissenters.

Another way a totalitarian government prevents rebellion is to exterminate people the rulers dislike:

Panem's totalitarian government tries to prevent rebellion against The Capitol by ordering people in the 12 districts to fight each other.  That is one reason why The Capitol holds "The Hunger Games" - to focus aggression between citizens instead of citizens against the government. 

Another reason for the games is to remind the people of Panem that the government will crush any uprisings.  That is what happened when The Capitol obliterated District 13 decades earlier.

Government, thus, is not an "it."  Depending on the structure, government could be either "us" or "them." In the case of The Capitol and the Districts, the structure is clearly "them" against "us."

Let's visit one of the districts - District 12 - the home of Katniss Everdeen.


ISSUES AND QUESTIONS TO PONDER:  Can you envision any circumstances which would justify a totalitarian government?  What would those circumstances be?  How should such a government be structured?   

In 1887, Lord Acton - a British historian - said this:  "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."  Do you think that statement is true?  If so, does it have anything to do with the creation of the Hunger Games?  Why, or why not?

Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 3706

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