Big Boss with David, the man.
A World of Men, Not Snakes
By Ravi Singh
Posted on October 17, 2010
This is the second part of a two-part series of editorial articles covering
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. The
first part questions the consistency
and logic behind Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops and Peace Walker existing within
the same fictional canon.
SPOILER WARNING: The following editorial discusses plot details from the recently
released Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. If you have not yet played the game and
wish to avoid any spoilers please refrain from reading anything below. Perhaps there
is something else you'd be interested
in looking at for now.
With the sequel of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker already practically guaranteed
to happen by Hideo Kojima himself, it is of little use discussing the necessity
of one. Such a debate never seemed to be of great importance with regards to the
creation of Snake Eater, Portable Ops, Guns of the Patriots and Peace Walker itself--and
in this case, Peace Walker actually did leave plenty of plot holes behind.
To speculate what to expect in a sequel is no different than authoring boring fanfiction,
with less homoerotic scenes. In essence, nobody gives a fuck about what a fan thinks
could be in the sequel unless said fan has a crystal ball. Considering all of the
theories cooked up by fans at the end of Sons of Liberty and what actually ended
up happening in Guns of the Patriots, Peace Walker 2 might actually be a remake
of Metal Gear where Big Boss is actually an AI and the real Big Boss loses his memory
and is rebranded by The Patriots as Solid Snake. It's farfetched, sure, but we didn't
think Eva was a brilliant plastic surgeon, but look at what happened in Guns of
Instead, much like the conversation on the problems that arise from Portable Ops and
Peace Walker being in the same canon, we should focus on Peace Walker itself and
what it is trying to say on it's own. Yes, yes, of course, nukes are bad and peace is good. Everyone
got that and Hideo Kojima apparently made it so that everyone would get it by slapping
us with "peace" as much as possible. However the one thing people are rightfully
confused about is the ideology of The Boss and Big Boss. What the fuck is all of
this business about "being a gun" and "putting guns down" or whatever?
In order to make sense of Big Boss' defection from The Boss despite him crying over
a misunderstanding in Guns of the Patriots, we have to understand the ideology that
Big Boss eventually championed: the ideology that Solid Snake opposes and an ideology
that The Boss would have disapproved of.
OUTER HEAVEN PRINCIPLES
He also believes in Santa Claus!
A lot of fans assume Big Boss was always a one dimensional "evil" character
up until Snake Eater where he is shown to be a lovable guy who likes to shape plastic
explosives into butterflies. It's true that in the first Metal Gear, Big Boss is
your typical villain with the minor twist of being your commander, but once Solid
Snake sets foot into Zanzibar Land, the real Big Boss is shown.
Yes, he's batshit insane. However, he has his reasons. While the final battle in
Metal Gear has Big Boss irate over shooting himself in the foot by sending Solid
Snake to Outer Heaven, his speech in Zanzibar Land is more of a lecture on the political
and economic structures he wanted to replace with his own . Big Boss isn't a villain
just because he's a villain, he actually had motives, much like anybody in real
life. Too often the "villains" of history are (rightfully) shown in a negative light,
but rarely do people look into why they did what they did, instead summarizing them as evil.
Backtracking from the grand speech before his defeat at Zanzibar Land, we already
see the sympathetic Big Boss and his savior status with Gray Fox's tragic childhood,
Dr. Pettrovich Madnar's inability to return to the scientific community due to his
Metal Gear research and even far back to near the beginning of the game when Snake
realizes that Black Ninja, the guy who is throwing ninja stars at him, is Kyle Schneider--the
Outer Heaven Resistance member who provided Snake with assistance back in 1995.
Black Ninja: It's... it's me... Schneider,
Kyle Schneider. Remember me?
Snake: Schneider? ...You were in the Resistance
at Outer Heaven! But... I thought they killed you!
Black Ninja: You've still got a lot to learn,
Snake. I was almost killed, but not by them. By
you, and your country.
Snake: What are you saying, Schneider?
Black Ninja: ...Snake, after you destroyed Metal
Gear, NATO launched a massive bombing campaign against
Outer Heaven. All of us Resistance fighters...and
the children of Outer Heaven...they didn't care
about any of us. There was no escape from the flames...
They died like animals in a cage.
Snake: I... can't believe this...
Black Ninja: Think about it. The children of
Outer Heaven were originally was orphans and refugees
from all over the world. They were a liability...
and NATO didn't want to deal with them...
Black Ninja: You're no different. They'll forget
about you, too...
Big Boss would have been completely justified to kill him at the spot when he
ran to him after getting fucked over by NATO. Instead, Big Boss takes him in and
lets him rise in Zanzibar Land's ranks.
Black Ninja: But he wasn't like them...
Black Ninja: He came... and saved us from annihilation.
He forgave us for what we'd done. He gave us a new
land to call home... A new family...
Snake: He did...? You mean...
Black Ninja: Snake, you'll understand soon...
what a wonderful man he is... Snake... I owe you
a debt. There's no hate between us. I'll tell you
where Dr. Marv is. It's what he would want me
Big Boss risked his life to save Schneider and others
even though they took up arms against Outer Heaven.
That final line is also a curious one. It's a theme played throughout the Metal
Gear series; Big Boss is a consistent man of honorary principles who helped soldiers
and war orphans during times when nobody gave a shit about them. Things get even
more complicated with the introduction of The Patriots and at that point, even fans
begin to wonder if Outer Heaven was an authoritarian state set up to take down the
totalitarian rule of the Patriots, much like how Metal Gear RAY was a Metal Gear
designed to destroy nuke-launching Metal Gears.
"You saw those children, didn't you? Every
one is a victim of a war somewhere of the world.
And they'll make fine soldiers in the next war.
Start a war, for its flames, create victims... Then
save them, train them... And feed them back onto
the battlefield. It's a perfectly
logical system. In this world of ours, conflict
never ends. And neither does our purpose... our
- Big Boss
Zanzibar Land's capital assets.
After the fall of Zanzibar Land, the other products of the Les Enfant Terribles
Project ended up mirroring Big Boss' efforts and, ironically enough, The Patriots
themselves seemed to have set up a war economy. The reasoning behind it for both
parties are completely different though. Big Boss found a war economy a necessity
in human nature. The Patriots found it as a great way to expand it's powers.
Historically speaking, nations in war tend to increase in their size and scope even
in nondefensive institutions, using the war effort and national security as excuses.
The Patriots managed to create an illusion of a privatized free-market war, which
in reality was controlled by The Patriots and thus allowed the United States to
be directly engaged in war without appearing to be directly involved. Not too far
from the truth today, actually.
Big Boss' war economy on the other hand was very transparent and decentralized.
Outer Heaven and Zanzibar Land were militant states. Their main export is kicking
ass. To this degree, maybe Big Boss' forgiveness is more of a trait of a good businessman
than a saint--an army at war is willing to get any able man it can, and Black Ninja
was certainly able. The war orphans Big Boss rescues, from Gray Fox to the kids
at Zanzibar Land, all seem to be capital for Big Boss' enterprises.
BIG BOSS, BIG EGO
Big Boss as a founding member of a highly centralized
new world order.
It should be clear from the actions of Ocelot and Big Mama that Big Boss was
meant to be revived and fill the vacuum which The Patriots would leave behind in
their destruction. I've already explained
this a bit as fans still mistake Ocelot and Big Boss as the heroes of the Metal
Gear series, but it is Naomi Hunter who somehow convinces Big Boss to face Solid
Snake in order to prevent Snake's suicide and bring himself to zero stead via FOXDIE.
Before this change of heart though, Big Boss has shown an arrogant elitist behavior.
Big Boss was a founding member of The Patriots. While it could be argued that The
Patriots were never meant to be what it ended up becoming, it planned on basically
controlling nations behind the scenes and dictating what they do. After disagreeing
on multiple points such as how he is being portrayed to the world, Big Boss drifts
away from Zero's Patriots and starts his own version of The Boss' will in Militaires
Sans Frontieres, or MSF. Even here he is seen as somewhat of a pushover, easily
agreeing with his partner Miller's demands to relocate, expand, get involved with
foreign conflicts and other activities Big Boss--who at this point still refused
to be referred to by this name--initially was wary of.
Then, in 1974 something happens. A machine that minutes ago was about to launch
a nuke that would probably have ignited all-out nuclear war starts to sing and march
off into the ocean, killing itself. This machine is equipped with artificial intelligence
that is based on The Boss built by someone who loved her in a way Big Boss probably
couldn't understand, and once it is set to launch, it's supposed to launch on
principle. Then it fucking hit him, or at least he thinks it does; The Boss
didn't just let herself be killed, she let herself and her ideals die. At this point,
he throws away that The Boss' bandana he still wore and officially accepts the title
he earned for killing her.
Snake: ...She betrayed me, Kaz.
Miller: She what?
Snake: In the end, she put down her gun. And
when she did... she rejected her entire life up
to that point... including me.
Miller: What do you mean?
Snake: In giving up her life, she abandoned everything
she was as a soldier...
Miller: And you consider that betrayal?
Snake: I won't make the same choice as her. My
future's going to be different.
Snake: Yeah, that's right. From now on, call
me Big Boss.
Fast forward a couple of decades and it's clear that he has grown past his taste
for snakes and instead feeds on his own ego. Observe when Snake uses Big Boss' own
quote during his FOX-HOUND days as a way to explain how he'll defeat Big Boss empty
Snake: "Never give up. Fight until the end.
Always believe you will succeed, even when the odds
are against you." ...Those are your words.
Big Boss: Even I make mistakes from time to time.
It's no surprise that this leader complex projected itself to people like Ocelot
and Big Mama who gave a large amount of their effort to destroy The Patriots by
reviving Big Boss. After all, what good is your so-called liberty when your perfect
leader is burnt to a crisp?
Big Boss: The only thing that satisfies your
cravings... is WAR! All I've done is give you a
place for it. I've given you a reason to live.
Snake might have taken Miller's advice over his
own gut feeling, but Big Boss definitely took matters
into his own hands afterwards, especially after
Pacifica Ocean reveals herself as Zero's spy and
Miller revealed that he knew it all along.
Big Boss and the cult of personality that was developed believed in the fall
of The Patriots, but also believed in Big Boss becoming the leader of Outer Heaven.
Only he can offer people such as Solid Snake himself "a reason to live." Maybe someone
else has better ideas? At this point, it doesn't matter. Big Boss will only listen
to Big Boss. As an orphan told Snake:
Kid: The one-eyed man is like our daddy.
He doesn't like grown-ups.
Perhaps Big Boss hates "grown-ups" because he hates other people telling him what
to do? It would be a stark contrast with his days at MSF when he was always open
to ideas, suggestions and advice. Children tend to be more open to other people's
ideas and are usually far more dependant than adults. This is perfect for a place
where there's no room for individuality. Otherwise, the great armies of Outer Heaven
and Zanzibar Land would have been a clusterfuck of soldiers who'd fight each other
to the death over trivial matters such as military food rations.
Big Boss wouldn't have any of that. He shouldn't either--he's a military leader,
not a philosopher. He's not writing non-fiction books or lecturing at university
halls, he's running an army. In a military, there is leadership and you do not question
that leadership. In Outer Heaven and Zanzibar Land, that leader is Big Boss. Seems
simple enough, but what happens when the military becomes the state? Same thing
that happens when this phenomenon occurs in real life: the head of the military
is now the head of the state.
There is a misconception that anarchy is a simple belief that there are no rules
so you can do whatever the fuck you want. This might be true for some young people
who just want an excuse to cause a ruckus at their culdesac but in reality, anarchism
has a wide variety of schools of thought. Anarcho-collectivists for example believe
that the state and private property should cease to exist and instead the means
of production will be collectivized and thus owned by everybody. In contrast, anarcho-capitalists
believe that the markets would be the natural nonaggressive means of life in the
stateless society. Anarcho-collectivists believe that anarchy also includes doing
away with hierarchies while anarcho-capitalists mock the democratic processes that
anarcho-collectivism would require despite being stateless.
Outer Heaven might seem like an anarcho-collectivist idea, but it's not. The workers
do not engage in a democratic process to determine how things will be. It's Big
Boss who chooses--clearly there is a hierarchy here. There are more anarchist doctrines
that varies between social and individual schools of thought but none seem to fit
Outer Heaven. It's definitely an anarchist philosophy though due to the lack of
desire for an established state. As a result, I've decided to coin the term anarcho-militarism
to describe the goal of Outer Heaven.
"Our father - His dream was to create an
army of free citizens, one that answered to no government...
- Liquid Ocelot
Instead of communes or the free market, anarcho-militarism suggests that people
will be free of nations and citizenship, instead taking up arms and join tribal
militaries so that they can fight others. To Big Boss, this is "logical" and perhaps only natural
"This is only the beginning, Snake. America
will descend into chaos... It'll be the Wild West
all over again. No law, no order. Fire will spread
across the world. The people will fight... And through
battle they will know the fullness of life. At last...
Our father's will... His Outer Heaven... Is complete."
- Liquid Ocelot
Anarcho-militarism is Big Boss' will. While the idea of having no choice outside
of being a soldier seems totalitarian to many in the modern western world, in Big
Boss' view, it is the only means of true liberty in the world.
LETTING THE WORLD BE
So what is The Boss' will? It seems like after forty years, Big Boss finally
"Boss... You were right. It's not about changing
the world. It's about doing our best to leave the
world... The way it is. It's about respecting the
will of others... And believing in your own. Isn't
that... What you fought for? At last... I understand
the meaning behind what you did. At last... I understand
the truth behind your courage."
It is often misinterpreted that The Boss meant, literally, to let things be the
way they are. In that case, The Boss is rooting for some kind of pacifistic neutral
political philosophy. However, this is closer to what Big Boss incorrectly believed
in 1974 The Boss' will was. Really, it seems more like a catch phrase to yet another
anarchist philosophy: voluntarism. Voluntarists believe that all forms of human
actions should be as voluntary as possible. The initiating use of force is against
voluntarist principles although self-defense towards those who initiate force is
acceptable. If we apply this thinking to what is The Boss' will, we see that "leaving
the world the way it is" means to leave individuals the fuck alone. They see government
as creating conflicts internationally through means of force. Remember, it is the
state that took everything away from The Boss.
"The foibles of politics and the march of
time can turn friends into enemies just as easily
as the wind changes. Ridiculous, isn't it? Yesterday's
ally becomes today's opposition. And this
Cold War? Think back... When I was leading the Cobras,
America and Russia were fighting together. Now consider
whether America and Russia will still be enemies
in the 21st century. Somehow, I doubt it. Enemies
change along with the times, and the flow
of the ages. And we soldiers are forced to play
along. I didn't raise you and shape you into the
man you are today just so we could face each other
in battle. A soldier's skills aren't meant to be
used to hurt friends."
- The Boss
The Boss isn't necessarily an anarchist, mind you. She seemingly sought to restore
the Philosophers to their original form and to some degree believed in liberal institutions. However, the key principles of voluntarism do echo with her words.
Similarly, while Solid Snake might not be an anarchist, he certainly following similar
volunatrist thinking at least through Philanthropy.
Philanthropy's logo and motto. "To let the world
be" is not a reactionary, conservative or nihilistic
viewpoint but rather a voluntarist one.
It's no coincidence then, that Philanthropy's motto is "To Let The World Be."
The group clearly has an ideology but it doesn't use force to get closer to it.
Remember, Snake was armed with a non-lethal weapon during the Tanker incident and
had to arm himself with a handgun only after Gurlukovich soldiers invaded the ship
killing Marines left-and-right. Even with regards to Metal Gear units, Philanthropy
simply leaks information as opposed to destroying what's essentially private property.
Even as individuals within Philanthropy, Snake pulls the voluntarist line of thinking:
"We're here on our own, not under anyone's
orders. We have our own battles. Otacon's here for
someone -- I'm not."
This seems similar to Big Boss' rhetoric in his speech to Outer Heaven near the
end of Peace Walker:
"We go where we're needed, fighting, not
for government, but for ourselves. We need no reason
to fight. We fight because we are needed."
However, while Snake is talking about individualism, Big Boss is merely speaking
for the collective that he is controlling. It's true that many, if not most, of
Outer Heaven's soldiers are under Big Boss by their own free will. However, while
Solid Snake mentions the different reasons behind Philanthropy's involvement for
each individual, Big Boss merely groups their reason for action simply because it's
"needed." In fact, he states "we need no reason to fight." Compare this once again
Snake: I know you didn't have much in terms
of choices this time. But everything you felt, thought
about during this mission is yours. And what you
decide to do with them is your choice...
Raiden: You mean start over?
Snake: Yeah, a clean slate. A new name, new memories.
Choose your own legacy. It's for you to decide.
It's up to you.
In an ironic twist, Solid Snake seems to have taken on the will of a woman that
he never even know about who happened to have had a profound influence on his enemies.
It was the people who knew her--Zero, Ocelot, Big Boss, Sigint, Paramedic and Eva--who
twisted it into their sick ideologies. In the end though, Big Boss rejects anarcho-militarism
and unlike the other founding members of the Patriots, embraces voluntarism. Indeed,
Big Boss lets Snake know of the new liberty that he can now experience.
"It's almost time for me to go. And with
me... the last ember of this fruitless war dies
out. And at last those old evils will be gone. Once
the source of evil returns to zero... a new one...
a new future... will be born. That new world...
is yours to live in. Not as a snake... but... as
a man. Know this... Zero and I... Liquid and Solidus...
we all fought a long, bloody war for our liberty.
We fought to free ourselves from nations... and
systems... and norms, and ages. But no matter how
hard we tried, the only liberty we found... was
on the inside... trapped within those limits. The
Boss and I may have chosen different paths... but
in the end, we were both trapped inside the same
But you... you have been given freedom. Freedom
to be... outside. You are nobody's tool now...
one's toy. You are no longer a prisoner of fate.
You are no longer a seed of war. It's time for you
to see the outside world with your own eyes. Your
body... and your soul... are your own. Forget about
us. Live... for yourself. And find... a new lease
on life. Boss... you only need one snake--No...
the world would be better off without snakes."
Big Boss in regret over his actions in 1964 and
his transformation in 1974.
Without The Patriots and the cult of Big Boss dictating the events in the world,
there is no need for men like David to become Snake. His associations will now truly
be voluntary. This is the world The Boss envisioned and seems to be what Snake wanted
as well, where there is no need for "Snakes" for free men will live in a nonaggressive,
but self-protected, society. How long such a society can exist has yet to be seen
though, both in real life and within the Metal Gear canon.