Top Ten Communist Moments in “Burn Notice”


As we all know, television is the most communist form of popular culture ever invented. It is no surprise then, that the USA channel spy show “Burn Notice” is so full of communism it is literally bursting at the seams. Some episodes are so tightly packed with anti-capitalist revolution that you’re tripping over it with every step. Here are ten (the most communist number) noteworthy examples.

###1. The times when Michael speaks Russian

Russian is, of course, the most communist language that ever there was. Michael Westen, the show’s protagonist, is an ex-spy who worked indirectly for the US government. He apparently worked in Russia for quite a while, and thus he knows the language. Of course, we can all agree that speaking Russian is basically the same as having liquid communism ooze out of your mouth.

Various Episodes

###2. Diversity of Tactics

In any revolutionary movements, tactics must be somewhat flexible as you adapt to changing situations. These two nuggets of helpful advice seem contradictory, but work best together.

“The key to a good knife defense is to control the knife hand and strike with everything you've got.”
“Fighting is often about tactical retreats, like running away from two knives.”

Season 1 Episode 4 “Old Friend”

###3. The Colossal Infeasibility of Capitalism

Capitalism is inherently impractical, as any good communist will tell you. And what is more capitalist, and more impractical, than money?

“Anyone who has handled large amounts of cash can tell you it's one of the toughest things in the world to move. It's heavy and dense; dead weight. If it's on fire, of course, that complicates things further.”

Season 1, Episode 6 “Unpaid Debts”

###4. The Vulnerabilities Of “Security Culture”

Security culture involves making sure your defenses are able to protect you and your information from any attackers. However, even the most secure systems can be vulnerable to manipulation and an attacker using your own security protocols to the detriment of your organization or movement.

“It's tough to compromise a well thought out security system, but making someone think you can compromise it, well, that's much easier.”

Season 1, Episode 8 “Wanted Man”

###5. Attracting the Right Amount of Attention

Secrecy and subterfuge are important for a communist, but so is the ability to use unwanted attention to your advantage.

“If you can't get through a door without attracting attention, the next best thing is to attract a lot of attention.”

Season 1 Episode 9 “Hard Bargain”

###6. The Master-Slave Dialectic

Exploring the relationships of power and control between those in power and those who aren’t is crucial to any understanding of capitalism and communism. Power is not just about domination or destruction, it’s about management and manipulation. Ultimately, the fact that the master relies on the slave becomes their greatest weakness.

“When someone turns you into an asset, their main weapon is fear. If you fear poverty or exposure or death, that's what they use against you. Their worst nightmare, then, is an asset with no fear.”

Season 2 Episode 1 “Good Soldier”

###7. Leadership

This one speaks for itself.

“A certain kind of leader insists on controlling every aspect of an operation, so that nothing can possibly go wrong. The downside to insisting on controlling everything is that when something bad happens people tend to think it was all part of your plan.”

Season 2 Episode 5 “Scatter Point”

###8. Encryption

You can put the cell-phones in the sink, encrypt your messages, and talk only to people you trust, but as long as some of your activity is public, information is getting out. Sometimes it’s more about being aware of this, then of trying to prevent any and all access.

“With today's powerful encryption, it's usually a waste of time trying to decipher coded communication. Tap the data stream of even a low-level spy and you're just going to get incomprehensible garbage. Just because it's garbage, doesn't mean it's worthless though. A network analyzer can tell you how much information someone's accessing and how encoded it is. If someone starts using heavy-duty crypto and changing their security protocol, you know you've touched a nerve. And sometimes that's enough to tell you what you need to know.”

Season 3 Episode 7 “Shot in the Dark”

###9. Playing to Expectations

It can be tempting to make a show of strength in any movement or struggle. It can be empowering to do so, but it can also be a mistake. The fight for communism is not necessarily about feeling good, it’s much more pragmatic than that - and much more idealistic.

“Dealing with an aggressive adversary isn't always about showing strength. Sometimes it's best to show weakness. If they believe they can dominate you, they'll drop their guard. Of course, that means getting dominated.”

Season 2 Episode 7 “Rough Seas”

###10. The Relationship Between “Symbolic” and “Real”

What’s real? Breaking a window? Occupying a building? That’s what shows up on the news, while the pragmatic bureaucrat fighting for a small reforms never does - are they being symbolic? The truth is neither, and both. The symbolic has a real effect, and visa versa. Understanding the relationship between the two is vital for the communist struggle.

“There's an element of theater in any offensive campaign. It's not just about bullets and bodies. Killing people usually creates more problems than it solves. It's about undermining your enemy's will to fight, destroying the morale of his troops, sending the message that fighting back is useless because the battle is already lost.”

Season 2 Episode 11 “Hot Spot”


Written on November 23, 2016