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left to right above:  Dame Judy Dench, Jude Hill, and Ciarán Hinds in Belfast (Focus Features)


The Tyranny of Violence

Much has been said and written about the growing divide in American society between left and right, including in the pages of this magazine. But there is another growing divide in this country that is arguably more urgent, one that transcends ideological differences. It is a fight between those who seek to preserve order and civility, and those ready to wield chaos—either for their beliefs, for their personal gain, or perhaps for its own sake.
It is worth examining what happens to a society that breaks down due to internecine violence, especially as America and Western civilization drift downward into a spiral of tribalism, division, and open hostility. The consequences are so dire that we must take an accounting of not only what we find wrong with our country, but also what we value and would stand to lose if forces of chaos were to prevail.
Two recent releases—one a feature film and one an episodic series—that are based on events in very recent history show what happens when divergent violent forces within a society take over. The theatrically released Belfast, an autobiographical film written and directed by Sir Kenneth Branagh, depicts a working-class family living through “the troubles”—lasting from the 1960s to the late 1990s—in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Narcos: Mexico is a dramatic Netflix series in its third season—an expansive,...

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