Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Why Lost is Better than the Matrix and What IR Has to Say About It All


Why is Lost better than the Matrix?  Well, many reasons and not just the deliberate avoidance of an eight minute lecture by the Architect.  Because the entire Matrix series ends with an incredible commitment.  Neo and the machine promise to keep the peace, but there is nothing to stop the computer from breaking its word.

In International Relations, the fundamental problem is that the world is one without government, a.k.a. anarchy.  Not disorder, but that there is no police force and judge to make sure that countries keep their commitments.  So, countries in the world and actors in the state of nature have to find ways to make binding commitments as they negotiate.  And this is where institutions come into the picture much of the time, but this is all very hard.  Why do we care about this?

Because this most recent episode of Lost showed several times actors making promises that were incredible in the sense that they could reasonably believed.  We saw that between Sawyer and Widmore earlier in the season.  We saw that last night between Ben and Smokey and between Smokey and Widmore.  How can Ben believe that Smokey would let him live and give him the Island?  Not even before he made the last statement of the night was this a promise with any credibility or enforcement mechanism.  Why would Widmore tell Smokey the truth?  Not sure why Smokey would believe him, but Smokey gives his word?  Um, sure.

Anyhow, I am absolutely positive that we will see on Sunday night that Ben and Widmore knew that Smokey has been a lying sack of smoke, and were playing a long, Harry Potter-esque con a la Snape.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I just read in the comments of one of the many blogs & articles I am inhaling a cool idea: we need Miles to get to the caves and be near the bodies (skeletons) of Mother & Man In Black to "hear" some vital intel on how to kill Smokey (or otherwise indicate how to keep the light, well, lit ... )