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How Wagner's Ring operas are like the U.S.

Alberich and Wotan betray love for power

Brunhilde concludes the Ring Cycle by returning the ring to the Rhine and setting Valhalla on fire.
Brunhilde concludes the Ring Cycle by returning the ring to the Rhine and setting Valhalla on fire.

It would appear as though our political system is at the start of Wagner’s Ring Cycle. You may recall that The Ring starts with the dwarf, Alberich, stealing the Rhinegold in order to create a ring of power with which to enslave the masses and create tremendous wealth. Alberich must curse love in order to claim the Rhinegold.

Alberich can be viewed as the unbridled industrialist raping nature for profit. He doesn’t care about anything except power and wealth.

The next scene in The Ring is set in the glittering towers of Valhalla. Wotan, the king of the gods, has paid the giants, Fafner and Fasolt, to construct his fortress. Their payment is the goddess of love, Freya.

Video:

Ring Cycle – immolation scene

Act III, Scene 3, Bayreuth, 1992

Act III, Scene 3, Bayreuth, 1992

Wotan has also betrayed love for power. He appears to be “the good guy” but if we observe his actions, he is exactly like Alberich, the bad guy. Over the course of the entire cycle, everyone who comes into contact with Wotan or Alberich’s ring is destroyed.

Wotan reneges on paying the giants with Freya. In exchange for Freya, the giants, Fafner and Fasolt, demand that Wotan pile up treasure in front of her until they can’t see her anymore. Wotan then steals the treasure from Alberich, including the ring. He piles the treasure up but the giants can still see Freya. Wotan places the ring on top of the horde and the giants are satisfied.

Fafner then kills Fasolt in order to possess the ring. Later Fafner, now transformed into an almighty dragon, is killed by Siegfried. Siegfried is the grandson of Wotan. Siegfried is stabbed through the back by Alberich’s son Hagen.

Brunhilde, the daughter of Wotan and wife of Siegfried, concludes the Ring Cycle by returning the ring to the Rhine and setting Valhalla on fire. She then jumps into the flames as the whole thing burns down.

We might hope in the U.S. for a hero who is free from the entanglements of wealth and power to come and save us. In the Ring Cycle, that was Siegfried and he was murdered by those who were controlled by wealth and power.

Like all great powers of the past, The United States will fail. It’s just a question of when and how.

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Brunhilde concludes the Ring Cycle by returning the ring to the Rhine and setting Valhalla on fire.
Brunhilde concludes the Ring Cycle by returning the ring to the Rhine and setting Valhalla on fire.

It would appear as though our political system is at the start of Wagner’s Ring Cycle. You may recall that The Ring starts with the dwarf, Alberich, stealing the Rhinegold in order to create a ring of power with which to enslave the masses and create tremendous wealth. Alberich must curse love in order to claim the Rhinegold.

Alberich can be viewed as the unbridled industrialist raping nature for profit. He doesn’t care about anything except power and wealth.

The next scene in The Ring is set in the glittering towers of Valhalla. Wotan, the king of the gods, has paid the giants, Fafner and Fasolt, to construct his fortress. Their payment is the goddess of love, Freya.

Video:

Ring Cycle – immolation scene

Act III, Scene 3, Bayreuth, 1992

Act III, Scene 3, Bayreuth, 1992

Wotan has also betrayed love for power. He appears to be “the good guy” but if we observe his actions, he is exactly like Alberich, the bad guy. Over the course of the entire cycle, everyone who comes into contact with Wotan or Alberich’s ring is destroyed.

Wotan reneges on paying the giants with Freya. In exchange for Freya, the giants, Fafner and Fasolt, demand that Wotan pile up treasure in front of her until they can’t see her anymore. Wotan then steals the treasure from Alberich, including the ring. He piles the treasure up but the giants can still see Freya. Wotan places the ring on top of the horde and the giants are satisfied.

Fafner then kills Fasolt in order to possess the ring. Later Fafner, now transformed into an almighty dragon, is killed by Siegfried. Siegfried is the grandson of Wotan. Siegfried is stabbed through the back by Alberich’s son Hagen.

Brunhilde, the daughter of Wotan and wife of Siegfried, concludes the Ring Cycle by returning the ring to the Rhine and setting Valhalla on fire. She then jumps into the flames as the whole thing burns down.

We might hope in the U.S. for a hero who is free from the entanglements of wealth and power to come and save us. In the Ring Cycle, that was Siegfried and he was murdered by those who were controlled by wealth and power.

Like all great powers of the past, The United States will fail. It’s just a question of when and how.

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