The New ‘Final Fantasy VII’ Is More than Just a Nostalgia Trip

This post contains story spoilers for Final Fantasy VII Remake.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

As much as I like the gameplay, this game does nothing for me politically, because in the end the ideological perspective of the narrative is fundamentally liberal and not revolutionary. The politics in that game, or rather the historical politics that this game wants to portray (the left-wing terrorist groups during the Cold War all over the world, as was mentioned in the review), were a politics of retreat and defeat. Faced with the decline of the mass movements of the 60s and early 70s, small groups of radicals saw this kind of revival of the old ‘Propaganda of the Deed’ from the late 19th/early 20th century, as the only way to continue the struggle. Not by being the revolutionary movement, but by triggering it. It’s a stupid notion, but it’s not surprising that radicals that did indeed knew better, after a wave of truly revolutionary struggles desperately searching for their remaining political agency, can only find terrorism (though we can argue that they had an important impact, even though not necessarily the one they wanted).
Illusions of grandeur aside, this is something that they and other left-wing groups at the time understood very well, but that this game cannot. Absent any conception of social history and struggle, not to mention structural perspective), a morality tale, with all it’s typical moral troubles, is all it is capable of delivering.
For a piece of mainstream entertainment (Not to mention a Video Game), the political themes and the handling of them are bold (in 1997, as well as today), but what they are not is radical (in the proper sense) or even revolutionary.

What is radical and has potential to be truly revolutionary are, for example, the quasi-insurrectionary movements that have sprung up over the last couple years. The Yellow Vests, the movement in Chile or even in Hong Kong (though the danger of it being consumed by right-wing nationalist forces is high). Why should be obvious, seeing as who is the practical revolutionary subject, in contrast to terrorist groups is. What we are seeing right-now globally (yes, also in the US) is the beginning of a resurgence of social mass struggles in all of their various forms. In light of the wheels of history accelerating again, so to speak, a narrative about “left-wing” terrorism and the small group of radicals, appears almost dated imo. Certainly far more than in 1997.
For the first time in almost 50 years, it’s time for widespread mass struggles again. Let’s make the most of it.

P.S Yes, even with the “social-distancing” of Corona, the collective struggles continue, if not from the people lucky enough to self-quarantine at home, while being able to pay rent. But even if you are, get involved in tenant organizing, please.

1 Like

It seems to me after so many years on the left, that the “vanguard” or “cell” fantasy is the left-wing equivalent of the right-wing “one righteous man” popcorn fantasy. I know that, during times when I was at my lowest (for reasons both political and psychological), sitting around and dreaming about being part of a direct action cell, or a guerrilla movement, could be incredibly cathartic. I wanted to consume and make media that would allow me to live out that fantasy vicariously.

But, like the Rambo narrative, the “vanguard” narrative is only practically speaking a fantasy. I’m not a Leninist, and never have been, and the media-flattened notion that a handful of people can spark off a mass movement that will function less like a population with a general will and more like a natural disaster–it’s problematic in a whole lot of ways. When we examine the mass movements of the past, say, thirty years, we find very few people “swept up in history,” and very many people willingly making sacrifices, continuously, day after day, until they’ve either succeeded or, as often has been the case, there’s nothing left to sacrifice.

Every member of a riot or protest, for good or ill, very definitely chooses to be there; it’s harder to choose than not.