Art Carden  

An Anarcho-Capitalist Disney Movie I'd Like to See: Who Paid for The Palace?

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Compulsory Attendance IVs Reco... I'm 90 Percent American and 10...

WARNING: CONTAINS FROZEN SPOILERS.

My daughter is four years old, which means we consume a lot of Disney Princess merchandise: movies, toys, etc. As one might expect, everyone in our house basically knows every word to every song from Frozen. It's a great movie, of course, but I'd love to see an anarcho-capitalist take on the Disney Princess narratives. Where did the resources come from that paid for the castle? In one of the songs in Frozen, Anna sings "who knew we had a thousand salad plates?"

Who paid for those thousand salad plates?

Perhaps Anna and Elsa's parents were the pictures of wise and benevolent rulers, trading protection of property rights for tax revenue, but who had their dreams deferred in order to pay for a thousand salad plates collecting dust in the palace?

The "benevolent ruler" view comes into question toward the end of the movie when there is a royal proclamation that the kingdom of Arendelle will no longer do business with "Weasel Town." Granted, the Duke of Weselton is a scoundrel, but why should the queen stand between her subjects and willing trading partners in Weselton? How is the edict to be enforced?

I suspect there are much darker histories behind the princes and princesses than Disney (or the original authors of the fairy tales on which Disney movies are based) is willing to admit. What happened before "once upon a time"? How did the royal families get their power? And how, for that matter, would they respond to competing providers of security services in their jurisdictions?

A friend once said a fish doesn't question the water in which it swims, so we can perhaps expect Anna and Elsa to be oblivious to the (likely) immoral ways in which their ancestors obtained power. One would hope, though, that if they were truly the paragons of virtue the movie makes them out to be, they would seek to make amends for the sins of their fathers post-haste.


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COMMENTS (13 to date)
GregS writes:

"The Little Mermaid" has a nod to the rule of law and the strength of contracts. King Triton tries to blast Ursula with his trident, but she deflects it with the contract signed by Ariel. Whatever authority he has, he is constrained by the rule of law. I'm sure there are other instances of this in Disney movies, where the royal family is actually bound by law.

nl7 writes:

Jason Brennan used a Disney tv show to illustrate that the ideal, utopian world would be an-cap. He was refuting the commonly held notion that socialism is perfect and ideal (even if people are too fallen and flawed to implement it correctly) and instead showed pretty simply that the best world is peaceful, cooperative, and free. Just like the ideal Disney world, where the characters own property own businesses, but trade with each other all the time.

Matt B writes:

It's even worse than you thought. The actual lyric is "Who knew we owned eight thousand salad plates?"

MikeDC writes:

Saying someone's dreams were deferred over the plates is wrong.

If I sell my services as a singer for $10,000, and then buy $10,000 worth of plates with the revenue, then nobody's dreams were deferred to buy the plates. It was a mutually beneficial exchange that gave me the revenue to by the plates. There was a transaction, and I can buy whatever the hell I want with the proceeds.

Likewise, if we begin in a state of anarchy in which everyone is free to claim property, I could claim a strip of unoccupied land and declare myself king of it.

Further, I could invite newcomers to settle on parcels of my land, subject to rules of behavior. In exchange for me adjudicating property disputes and protecting their rights, I could contract for tax revenues. Either of us would be free to leave the agreement at any time.

So... where's the difference between a benevolent king and a anarcho-capitalist utopia?


MG writes:

Art,

If you like speculation about "the dark stories behind the fairy tales", Disney does have a product for your: ABC's "Once Upon a Time". It's on its 4th season, but you can revisit -- I would -- Season 1 on Netflix. Two caveats: This is not a children's show. Economics and politics are not really behind many of the dark stories, but other human issues are.

Pajser writes:

You already have anarcho-capitalist version. Kings do not trade protection of property rights for tax revenue. They own all land in their kingdoms and tax is part of the rent tenants pay for the right to live on king's land. In England, "The Crown" is still formally "absolute owner" of the land, everyone else has "estate" only. Then you have the answer how king can proclaim that kingdom doesn't do business. It is his land, his way or highway.

How did royal families got their power? Monarchy is ancient form of organization, older than humanity. It results from need of complicated collective actions, which is possible only in form of monarchy - king, tribal chief or leader of the pack as planner - until language and basic maths are developed. Only then democracy becomes theoretically possible. So you have tribes, and tribes have chiefs, and if tribe homestead or conquers the territory - you get kingdom.

Pajser writes:
    nl7: "He was refuting the commonly held notion that socialism is perfect and ideal (even if people are too fallen and flawed to implement it correctly) and instead showed pretty simply that the best world is peaceful, cooperative, and free. Just like the ideal Disney world, where the characters own property own businesses, but trade with each other all the time."

Yes, we had extensive discussion here about it. Brennan is wrong, because in socialist society people systematically invest resources to satisfy the most important needs of the society, while in Brennan's ancap society, people invest most of the resources to satisfy their selfish interests, and they satisfy the most important needs of the society only occasionally. Yes, satisfying selfish interest is partly compatible with satisfying most important needs of society, but it is not the perfect match. As simple as it was, it is one of my favorite discussions. Noble Jason Brennan joined the discussion.

hanmeng writes:

Or are Disney narratives actually propaganda? Remember Para leer al Pato Donald (How to Read Donald Duck)?

MikeDC writes:

@Pasjer,
In any just society, but especially a "socialist" one, "the most important needs of the society" are the "selfish interests" of those who compose it.

Brad Warbiany writes:

"One would hope, though, that if they were truly the paragons of virtue the movie makes them out to be, they would seek to make amends for the sins of their fathers post-haste."

But they did! At the end of the movie, Elsa creates an ice-skating rink. That's making amends, right?

Howard Olsen writes:

Seems like they had a lot of timber to export. Also lots of ice.

can also assume they had plenty of shipwrights, barrel-makers and other wood-worker types who could make up a thriving manufacturing sector.

there's a scene where the Duke of Whisteton watches Hans pass out blankets and complains that he is giving away the kingdom's tradeable goods, so I guess they had a big blanket industry.

also their flower stalls suggest a thriving market for the local flora.

OTOH, there are strong hints of a more aggressive past in the decorative objects scattered throughout the castle (models of Viking long-boats, suits of armor, etc.)

there are also hints that the royal family had some sort of connection with the trolls and other "magical" sources. Perhaps the all purpose "magic" is the ultimate source of the royal family's power.

Yes, I might have a daughter who has watched this movie a few times

Rochelle writes:

I always wondered why Elsa passed a royal edict to give Christoph a monopoly on ice production...when she could literally make all the ice anyone in Arendelle would ever need, effortlessly.

Plus a monopoly.

The economics of that movie were crap.
But I was glad Christoph got his sled replaced because he had just paid it off, man!

Tracy W writes:

I was rather furious with the parents in that movie. Okay, I could understand them making mistakes with Elsa, but totally ignoring that their other daughter was going nuts with boredom? They couldn't find her some little girl, say a noblewoman's or servant's daughter, to be friend with?

Although saying "there are much darker histories behind the princes and princesses" strikes me as probably true of all of us (leaving aside the royalty detail). Some of my ancestors were involved in committing genocide against the Moriori.

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