Cobra Kai is one of the most successful and popular sequel spinoffs to have been made in the last few years. It enjoys this success not only for its nostalgia and respect for the characters that made the Karate Kid trilogy so beloved (ahem… take notes, Lucasfilm) but also for its willingness to portray the truth.
Season three of the series, now on Netflix, feels at times like an allegory of America today, with some important lessons conservatives and classical liberals can take away from it. Be advised: spoilers ahead.
In a nutshell, two karate dojos have been duking it out. Cobra Kai, run by Johnny Lawrence, uses a very aggressive form of karate that is best exemplified by their motto: Strike first, strike hard, no mercy. The kids who join it are largely social outcasts who suffer a lot of bullying at their high school. What they find in Cobra Kai is not only a sense of camaraderie that they seldom have ever felt but a way to climb the social hierarchy and escape the bullying they endure. Unfortunately, the selfish and aggressive nature of this style of karate corrupts a lot of the kids who do not know how to properly handle the power they now possess, and, as a result, they become bullies.
Contrast that with Miyagi-Do, led by Daniel LaRusso, which practices a very conservative form of karate that focuses on self-defense. They aren’t perfect, and their lack of aggressiveness is oftentimes detrimental to them. Cobra Kai students often abuse the high school’s woke rules and policies, which are obviously a facade that accomplishes nothing but aggravating the issues at hand. Miyagi-Do students often find themselves on the sour end of these social justice policies but are powerless against the institutional power of the school. Contrary to what they claim to do, the rules are what enable the real bullies.
In season two, Johnny agrees to let John Kreese, his evil former sensei, join Cobra Kai. The already corrupted students become even worse under Kreese’s tutelage, and things reach a climax when both dojos get into an all-out karate brawl at the high school. Miguel, Johnny’s mentee, is partially paralyzed in the fight, and Johnny is forced out of Cobra Kai.
In season three, Kreese makes it clear to his students that he doesn’t care about them at all, only that they win. He holds an extreme vision of morality. To him, there is no good or bad; there is only weak and strong. That philosophy is what drives Johnny out of Cobra Kai and motivates him to start another dojo: Eagle Fang Karate. Though their visions don’t align perfectly, Eagle Fang and Miyagi-Do must join together to defeat the radical John Kreese, and that is what matters most.
Daniel LaRusso learns that “Sometimes you have no choice but to kill… If an enemy insists on more, then you take away their ability to wage it.”
The lesson here is not really that one should kill their opponent. It is that if your enemy insists on being more aggressive, you should not stay passively waiting for him to de-escalate. He takes that philosophy to heart at Miyagi-Do, and it is what allows him to reconcile with the aggressive, but not immoral, Johnny Lawrence and Eagle Fang karate.
I believe that Cobra Kai is an allegory for today’s political climate.
Conservatives, represented by Miyagi-Do, have not fought back against bad ideas and tyranny. They have played too much self-defense, and are paying the price dearly. Cobra Kai represents classical liberalism. It isn’t evil in itself, but it is more aggressive and doesn’t hold itself to the same strict moral principles that the conservative Cobra Kai does. Because of that, it was hijacked by the aggressive bullies, the radical left that cares only about power.
Conservatives and classical liberals, like Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang, need each other to fight against the radical left in the culture war. Marxist ideas have infiltrated so many of our core institutions, and no one side is going to be able to fight it alone. Disputes about mere policy issues are secondary to the battle of ideas going on.
We are facing a group of people that do not hold anything close to resembling our sense of morality, a group that advocates for positions the majority of America doesn’t even support but goes along with because they are being bullied. Together we can stop this, and, though it will be a tough fight, it is a cause well worth fighting for.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.