ling king backround article cover

This touching coming-of-age story takes a dark turn when you apply the political rantings of a grown man on the internet. Here’s why Marxism Ruins The Lion King.

I’ve read way too many “Class” and “Marxist” perspectives of The Lion King in my day–and let me tell you, they’re all shit. Most recently, I read one of the most disgusting and vulgar pieces of work I’d ever written. The internet has given people with no knowledge of anything, far too much access to the internet that I go on. Luckily, I know everything and I’m always right.

Responding to Lunatics Who Know Nothing About Marxism

scar and his role as a marxist revolutionary from a random prezi online
An absolutely batshit series of sentences. I swear I did not make this.

First of all, what in the fuck? Scar was not Vladimir Lenin. Scar was an opportunist to the tune of Khrushchev after Stalin’s death. Even if I were to concede that the Hyenas are working class, Scar ridicules the Hyenas. Scar doesn’t view the Hyenas as his equals and Scar is not a class traitor.

Scar doesn’t want the Hyenas to rise up and be equal in society–He demands Class Collaboration. Scar does manipulate the ignorance of the Hyenas, true. Still, Hyenas want to reap the extra food at the expense of the masses, not any kind of “Socialism”

Scar is more like the leader of a gang or a mercenary army like the USA’s “Blackwater” or Russia’s “Wagner Group“. Throughout the film, Scar refused to show an ounce of sincerity. He is self-interested and when given the opportunity, crowns himself the new King. Scar pretty much turns the Hyenas into the LAPD beating up every animal in the Pride Lands. On what fucking planet is that like a Communist Revolution? (Unless those damn squirrels were hoarding nuts) And, hello?? Why does no one ever mention there are other animals in the Pride Lands?

hyennas on top and wagner group on bottom comparison image
The Hyenas are workers, yes, but they’re also Hitlerite reactionaries led by a Nazi

Class Analysis

Here’s the real breakdown:

  • Lions are the Bourgeoisie

Lions, through their physical strength, established their domination over Pride Rock. Lions teach their cubs to justify their continued reign with the concept of “The Circle of Life”. Pretty much-saying Lions are always the superior and dominant species of all the land.

For comparison, our Capitalist class justifies its own existence through things like “Neoliberalism”. Freedom here means freedom for corporations to skirt and dismantle government regulations. Capitalists set themselves up as the dominant profiteers of the Industrial Revolution. They crowned themselves the new “Kings”, and made up the reasons for why we could never let that change.

Mufasa and Scar are both Capitalists in this comparison. Neither one of them shows any interest in changing anything at the core of society. Scar wants to put himself in power. Mufasa wants to ensure his son continues to reap the benefits of being King. Neither one of them opposes the hierarchy, one isn’t shy about his disdain for the rest of Pride Rock.

It could be that we see the Hyenas in such a negative way because it’s propaganda from the Lions’ perspective. To that, I ask you to consider Marx’s, The Communist Manifesto, and Karl’s description of the Lumpen.

The Lumpen is bribed towards reaction. The Hyenas go against the interests of all animals for their own benefit. They literally turn into the Waffen SS. The Hyenas are downtrodden workers (or more likely peasants) but they’re also Nazis.

  • All the other animals are the Peasantry (& Proletarians if you’re creative)

Most animals in the Pride Lands besides the Hyenas and Lions should be seen as Peasants. They all take part in the “Circle of Life” economy but are hunting on their own for themselves. All the animals are subject to the justification of the “Circle of Life” as the destiny of many of the animals’ lives. If you’re creative, think of which animals are closest to Proletariats–I’m thinking Bees.

With all this in mind, The Lion King is not a story of a working-class revolution against the Monarchy. At best it is a successful version of whatever the fuck the Wagner Group did in Moscow that one day. A Private Mercenary Gang staged a Coup on the Pride Rock Kingdom and replaced the King with a new King. Very Working Class!

So, The Lion King doesn’t represent Marxism… No shit right? Well here’s where we get to the real Marxist perspective. The Lion King should’ve been about the animals abolishing the monarchy. I know what you’re going to say, “That would make the movie worse”, “It’s based on Hamlet”, “It’s a movie for kids” Fuck you.

Some Lessons

Mufasa and Scar should’ve been guillotined. Simba should’ve learned from his experience with Timon and Pumbaa. Simba shouldn’t see himself as superior to the rest of the animals because of his father. Instead, Simba tries to push his backward views on others. He spends a nice time with the regular animals and in the end goes back to his life of luxury at the top of the ladder again.

Contradictions, as we all know, make up the entire world we live in. Mufasa is the “Good King”. Yet, he keeps what is essentially a slave (Zazu) by his side to aid in raising his son and running errands. From a young age, Simba is told that the “Circle of Life” is the only way in which civilization can continue to exist. The only alternatives shown to the audience are the wastelands full of criminals. Or the hedonistic life of the fat and lazy, Timon and Pumbaa.

On one hand, is the evil of Fascism. On the other, the tropes of the Socialists who don’t want to work. In the center is the Status Quo. The only system that brings peace to the world. A system in which a small group of animals rules over society. This small group is only ever being replaced by close relatives to those already in power. (Or how about another single Party? Hmm… interesting)

gif of hyennas doing nazi march in the lion king 1994
Remember when the Hyenas were Nazis??? Literal Anti-Communist Hyenas

The Return of the “Good King”

It’s no surprise to find these kinds of simple, but poignant, ideas about films made in the 1990s. On purpose or not, The Lion King depicts The End of History and the Last Man by Francis Fukuyama. Fukuyama argued the dissolution of the USSR was the end of political development beyond Liberal Democracy. The Lion King ends not in a newfound form of government or societal structure–But in a return to the “Good King”–A return to Capitalism.

A “coming-of-age” story that is actually a “coming to terms with the inevitability of fate and the rigid hierarchies that define every aspect of our lives” story. The animals in the Pride Lands never rise up and fight the Lions. Even though many agree that the Kingdom isn’t benefitting them. Only the reactionaries ever stir up enough violence to threaten the system. Little white nationalist-y there, no?

The resolution of the film is heartfelt, and I love the movie, don’t get me wrong–But it’s a sad ending too. There are plenty of positive themes in The Lion King. It also could’ve made a statement about society. The Lion King missed the opportunity to tell a story about real change. Instead, making a movie about how everything is good how it is and nothing should change.

Beyond the Status Quo

In real life, the people who own the corporations, own our governments… These are the Lions, the ones who justify their existence through “Freedom”, “Liberty”, and “Democracy”. In a blowback effect, reactionaries end up tightening the grip of the Status Quo against the revolutionary ideas in existence. In the USA, the closest we’ve gotten to a revolution was J6. Run self-interested opportunists and ignorant followers of reactionary ideology.

In this sense, The Lion King does represent Marxism quite well. It accentuates the need for another alternative to our society. The Lion King from this perspective is almost a gut punch by the end. A return to the same. With the inevitable, next challenger, the next Scar, the next Trump, the next Biden. When does it end?

I love horror movies, but The Lion King is scarier than the vast majority of horror–It’s a terrifying reality that we all live in every day, one in which we are powerless to “The Circle of Life” or… “The Free Market”.

– Chris

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