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The Invisible Hand in Popular CultureLiberty vs. Authority in American Film and TV$
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Paul A. Cantor

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780813140827

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813140827.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM KENTUCKY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.kentucky.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright The University Press of Kentucky, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in KSO for personal use.date: 17 October 2019

Order Out of the Mud

Order Out of the Mud

Deadwood and the State of Nature

Chapter:
(p.96) (p.97) 3 Order Out of the Mud
Source:
The Invisible Hand in Popular Culture
Author(s):

Paul A. Cantor

Publisher:
University Press of Kentucky
DOI:10.5810/kentucky/9780813140827.003.0004

Chapter Three analyzes the concept of “order without law” in David Milch's television series Deadwood. Set in a gold rush mining camp, the show investigates whether a community of self-interested individuals can develop functioning social institutions in the absence of traditional forms of government. Accordingly, Deadwood raises the same issues broached in the state-of-nature thinking of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Deadwood portrays people in a pre-political condition, although, as the chapter shows, it might be better understood as post-political. Deadwood is basically Lockean in its faith in private property and in the self-organizing power of society, while it maintains a Hobbesian anxiety about the fragility of social order together with a Rousseauian skepticism about civilization's ultimate value.

Keywords:   David Milch, Deadwood, state of nature, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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