Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Most Libertarian Superhero

I recently found out that the Green Lantern is making a run for the mayor of Washington D.C. He is even running against Spider-Man, Superman, Batwoman and The Atom. Although these heroes have proven themselves qualified in saving lives, I'm not so sure they would get my vote in an political election. So then who would a self respecting comic book nerd libertarian want as his mayor?

The obvious choice is Batman. By taking the law into their own hands vigilantes are inherently libertarian, but Batman is most famous for this. This can be clearly seen in my favorite Batman comic to date: All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder by Frank Miller. You can also see his anti-government roots in my favorite comic of all time Red Son. Here Batman rises to stop a power hungry soviet Superman (trust me its worth reading). There even seems to be an economic incentive in Batman/Bruce Wayne's actions:
At times, the Batman movies even hint at the possibility that big businessmen actually have a self-interested incentive to help provide the public good of reducing violent crime. After all, they stand to lose a lot of profit if high crime rates reduce investment and drive away their customers and skilled workers. Precisely because of the vast size of his firm, Wayne has less incentive to free ride on the crime-fighting efforts of others in providing the public good of crime control. He will capture enough of the benefits of crime-fighting to justifying investing in it, even if he has to pay a very high proportion of the costs himself.
However, if you take a closer look you realize Batman is more of an fringe conservative than a libertarian. He is regularly breaking up shipments brought into Gotham that have not been regulated by the city. He is a staunch advocate for limiting drug use and gambling. And most importantly, his solution to the problem of crime is not better laws, but better politicians. "I believe in Harvey Dent" is the mantra of the most recent Batman film. This sounds more like an an Obama fan than a libertarian to me.

The second obvious answer comes from another recent film, The Watchmen. Rorschach is the moral voice of the series. He will, in his own words, "Never compromise. Not even in the face of Armageddon." Even the DC characters he was based on, Mr A and The Question, seem to lean libertarian. There is even a hint of the importance of personal choice written in his journal:
Dog carcass in alley this morning, tire tread on burst stomach. This city is afraid of me. I have seen its true face. The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout "Save us!"... and I'll look down and whisper "No." They had a choice, all of them. They could have followed in the footsteps of good men like my father or President Truman. Decent men who believed in a day's work for a day's pay. Instead they followed the droppings of lechers and communists and didn't realize that the trail led over a precipice until it was too late. Don't tell me they didn't have a choice. Now the whole world stands on the brink, staring down into bloodly Hell, all those liberals and intellectuals and smooth-talkers... and all of a sudden nobody can think of anything to say.
However, whereas Batman was a long term optimist, hoping one day to hangup his cape and cowl, Rorschach seems to think man is corrupted to a point of hopelessness. But libertarians are optimists. We see how much life has improved, we see the silver lining of hard times, and we certainly don't see Harry Truman as a role model.

Although I am big fans of Batman and Rorschach, their love of freedom pales in comparison to the most libertarians superhero, V. Like our previous heroes he's a little crazy, but his insanity drives him to an anarchist libertarianism unspoiled by traditional conservatism. He has a defense of terrorists that only our founding fathers could appreciate. And he able to do what all libertarians dream to do, influence the people to stand up and take back the liberty they deserve:
Good evening, London. Allow me first to apologize for this interruption. I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of every day routine- the security of the familiar, the tranquility of repetition. I enjoy them as much as any bloke. But in the spirit of commemoration, thereby those important events of the past usually associated with someone's death or the end of some awful bloody struggle, a celebration of a nice holiday, I thought we could mark this November the 5th, a day that is sadly no longer remembered, by taking some time out of our daily lives to sit down and have a little chat. There are of course those who do not want us to speak. I suspect even now, orders are being shouted into telephones, and men with guns will soon be on their way. Why? Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn't there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who's to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you're looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror. I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn't be? War, terror, disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you, and in your panic you turned to the now high chancellor, Adam Sutler. He promised you order, he promised you peace, and all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent. Last night I sought to end that silence. Last night I destroyed the Old Bailey, to remind this country of what it has forgotten. More than four hundred years ago a great citizen wished to embed the fifth of November forever in our memory. His hope was to remind the world that fairness, justice, and freedom are more than words, they are perspectives. So if you've seen nothing, if the crimes of this government remain unknown to you then I would suggest you allow the fifth of November to pass unmarked. But if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek, then I ask you to stand beside me one year from tonight, outside the gates of Parliament, and together we shall give them a fifth of November that shall never, ever be forgot.

2 comments:

  1. Anonymous11:10 PM

    Your answers were all wrong. V is clearly a left-wing anarcho-terrorist, not a libertarian - even if you think he's justified, his views are not even close to either Nietzschean or Randian-style libertarianism. For the most part you're just reading your own values into an ambiguous environment - which is what mythology is for, but you're making a mistake if you take your internal use of symbols as actually part of the comic book Universe. Batman is more an anarcho-fascist (using criminal means to prop up a decadent police state that is practically indistinguishable from the gangs it fights). Frank Castle (the Punisher) is more of a libertarian than Batman, as Frank clearly has no regard for any government anywhere and lets his own conscience guide him. Frank Castle is also something of a psychopath, but that's what you'd have to be to have the balls to actually try to enforce justice in this shithole society full of conformist apes and their maudlin irrationality.

    The most libertarian superheroes are the Question and Mr. A by Steve Ditko as well as Anarky (in some incarnations).

    Generally speaking most comic book writers, being college-educated art fags, are vaguely liberal pinheads who think the guv'ment protects us, and they love to promote the intrinsic dignity of the idiot herd. Comics are written for the general public, which is stupid, statist and ignorant.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Fair enough. Though it's worth noting I using the movie version and not the more anarcho comic book version.

    ReplyDelete

You are the reason why I do not write privately. I would love to hear your thoughts, whether you agree or not.