Clint Eastwood is not only a successful actor and director, but also a talented political thinker. Once the annals of the thinkers of freedom of our time are made, there will certainly not be the neurotic Žižek, the pretentious Fukuyama or the enraptured Chomsky, but the cold, sober and reduced Clint Eastwood. Dirty Harry. Who has not written a single book. As if books are important to think politically. Attitude is important. Attitude is a small thing that makes a big difference, Churchill once said.
In times of mass hysteria, it is most difficult to remain sober and impartial, because hysteria, regardless of whether it manifests itself as a collective or individual, is the greatest enemy of freedom. A hysterical man is not free, just as much as a hysterical society is not free. Being hysterical means running into the first ball and chasing it fanatically until something breaks – either the ball, the head, the foot, or any other part of the body or equipment. And goals are less important, because to a hysterical person, it is much more important to run and run, regardless of the real result. Therefore, hysterical people, as well as hysterical peoples (sorry, there are no hysterical peoples, but only peoples who are prone to fall into hysteria in unfavorable circumstances), do not have any constructive result, but are, on the contrary, prone to (self) destruction. Hitler was hysterical. To some extent, Napoleon and Caesar were also hysterical. All tyrants are mostly hysterical. As all defenders of freedom are mostly sober. Sober-minded that is, as it’s less important if they sip a bottle of whiskey like the good old Winston back then. And here we come to Clint Eastwood, a man who went a few steps in sobriety beyond Churchill, who remained, in his own “fluid” way, exclusively at the level of sobriety of spirit. Clint Eastwood is not just an actor and director, Clint Eastwood is in fact a view of the world. Weltanschauung, as German philosophers once said. And that is the main thesis of this text.
What is that view of the world? Some naive, hysterical and infantile fan of Dirty Harry would say that it is a violent, warrior, militant view of the world. But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, we have already said that it harms both freedom and the brain. It hurts free thinking, in a word.
In order to unravel the riddle of Clint Eastwood’s view of the world and the main premise of his political philosophy, we must move away from the stereotype of Dirty Harry waving a magnum and shooting at everything that flies. First of all, Dirty Harry is not Dirty Harry, he is actually a state. Simply put, Inspector Callahan is not some crazy cowboy, but an organ of law and order. But a very atypical “organ”. An individual, a freelancer, a man with his own opinion. Everything that is not typical for “organs”. Everything that is not typical for “organic” (read: police) states in which “organs” are everything. And all that is typical of free states in which free opinion is allowed, or at least tolerated. Dirty Harry is actually a metaphor for a state that is, admittedly, armed (as every state must be), but which is quite free-minded, and that free-mindedness does not get in the way of its effectiveness. Inspector Callahan is not a fascist as can be heard in superficial comments and interpretations (he would already be wearing a uniform and leather suspenders if he were a fascist), but Dirty Harry is some strange kind of liberal. He works for the institutions of the system, yet again these institutions get on his nerves due to inefficiency, he keeps order and law, and again he tends to occasionally create chaos or use a certain “shortcut” to solve things and, finally, at the end of the working day he likes to quietly drink beer (using all the charms of private life), instead of parading through the streets at night in a leather suit with a magnum as some orthodox fascist would do (in one of the sequels of Dirty Harry, Callahan is dealing with police officers in leather suits a la Judas Priest which took their job a little too seriously).
Dirty Harry is not, therefore, some hysterical fascist. Dirty Harry is actually a free thinker. Whose free opinion is in the function of the system. This only becomes clear to us when we consider the “political existence” of its explicit embodiment, Clint Eastwood himself, a man who has always been attracted to politics but who was always smart enough never to give in completely, while remaining powerful in it and in public opinion. The relationship between Clint Eastwood and politics as a very specific and dangerous trade testifies to one, for average people and average minds, rare trait of sobriety. A man who could have easily been a governor, congressman or senator, and maybe more than that. (!!!) never wanted it. The only political office that Clint Eastwood held, a few years in two terms, was the mayor of the miniature California town of Carmel (Carmel-by-the-Sea), and that time passed in peace and order without any shooting and forgiveness, but to the general satisfaction of the citizens who in his tenure received more civil liberties and more concrete material benefits, since he abolished some pointless administrative bans (e.g. the bizarre ban on the sale of ice cream cones, as well as some other irrational administrative bans).
The situation is even more interesting when we consider his party and ideological preferences. Young Eastwood registered as a “Republican” as a 22-year-old, but that didn’t stop him from giving alternate support, sometimes to Republicans, sometimes to Democrats, depending on the political issues on the agenda, and to, for the rest of his life (thank God he is still alive), think politically with his head (and his head, thank God, still serves him well.) So in the late 1960s and early 1970s he supported the conservative Nixon, at the same time criticizing him for the Vietnam War and the Watergate affair. In the early 2000s he supported Democrats in California for their environmental program, while re-supporting Republicans nationally in the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns. His speeches against Obama are notorious, but even more famous are his congratulations to Obama after the victories when he said that “Obama is now his president to whom he wishes all the best, because that is the best for all of us at the same time.” Eastwood did not read a single book on political consensus and political culture, but he acted as if from a textbook of democracy – the elections are over and the divided nation must reconcile in order to function at all.
But let’s move on, Eastwood, who fired a million bullets in his film roles, didn’t have a hair on his tongue to criticize every American unnecessary war – from the Korean War, through the Vietnam War, all the way to those in Afghanistan and Iraq, believing the U.S. shouldn’t take on the role of world policeman. Also, the “gunslinger” Eastwood is among the well-known proponents of gun restrictions in the United States. He is against the ban on abortions and same-sex marriages and he often criticized the hard republican wing for its rigid stance on these issues. Yet again, he isn’t a supporter of abortions and same-sex marriages, he simply believes that everyone should decide on these issues personally, without interference of the state, Dirty Harry or someone third. Political philosophy of Clint Eastwood is to simply “live and let live”. He declared himself as a social liberal, but he also registered himself as a libertarian. He said that “he doesn’t see himself as a conservative, but neither as a radical leftist”. To hell, some will say – Dirty Harry, who tirelessly fought the scum from the streets of San Francisco, is, in fact, a very moderate guy. He is actually a very tolerant guy. And therein lies a great dialectical turn. Because the strongest are the most tolerant, while the most intolerant are those who lack something, so they find that they hate this or that, or that they cause problems for this or that. Hysterical people are never tolerant. Sober people are always tolerant. Because sobriety means strength and freedom at the same time. Strength and freedom of spirit.
After all, the political philosophy of Dirty Harry alias Clint Eastwood is actually the political philosophy of the moderate center. He stands where the poles touch as a liberal among conservatives and as a conservative among liberals and leftists. For someone else, such an attitude would be bad and he would either be lost or discredited. But such an attitude suits him perfectly and naturally. Probably because it is in the natural balance of the poles. Both political and cosmic. Not to mention his healthy lifestyle (specific diet and lifelong training), which is another topic that we will cover in one of the following blogs. When Dirty Harry comes up on the agenda again. And when again there is a need to point out sobriety in the face of all hysteria. Political and those others.
Author: Neven Cvetićanin