Charlie Chaplin and the Road to Freedom

road to freedom

"More than machinery, we need humanity."

By Sam Yang - Get similar updates here

In 1940, Charlie Chaplin put aside the Tramp character to write, direct, and star in "The Great Dictator." Rather than his usual slapstick comedy, "The Great Dictator" was a thoughtful political comedy, that not only satirized but also denounced authoritarianism.

In the film, the Barber, played by Charlie Chaplin, is mistaken for Hynkel, the great dictator. Hynkel, being an obvious stand-in for Adolf Hitler.

Rather than letting this opportunity of mistaken identity slip through his fingers, the Barber addresses a crowd as Hynkel, to explain that he's had a change of heart. And Charlie Chaplin delivers what many consider to be one of the greatest speeches ever to be recorded.

Though "The Great Dictator" was a criticism of the Nazis, it rings especially true today. Because in many ways, the Nazis won. Now, I'm not going to go into the typical storyline about racism in America. No, that's too obvious.

What everyone ignores is the not-so-obvious, but the one we're constantly immersed in. Like fish, since Nazi efficiency has become like water, we no longer see it. But it makes sense then that World War II was the marriage of Nazi efficiency and Japanese Imperial efficiency.

The Nazis and the Japanese didn't win World War II but in many ways, they won the war of work...

Subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

*Special thanks to: Emily C. for her pledge on Patreon.

Things Discussed

  • Charlie Chaplin and "The Great Dictator"

  • Criticism of Hitler and Nazism

  • The inhumanity of hyper-efficiency

  • How Germany and Japan won the war of work

  • Defining freedom

  • What is utilitarian ethics

  • Commodifying ourselves

  • Social media and partialism

  • Giving up our free will

  • Individuality

  • Our misguided envy of machines

  • Runaway capitalism

  • Robot is old Slavic for slave

  • World War II

  • Nazism and mental health

  • Seinfeld and the Soup Nazi

  • Pointless productivity

  • Income inequality

  • Projecting our culture onto other cultures and learning nothing

  • The need for community

Books I Recommend:


If you'd like to support my podcast and help me do this full-time, become a patron on Patreon (a site where you can monetarily support your favorite content creators). As a thank you, you will get access to bonus episodes along with transcripts for every episode (including this one)

Related Episodes: