I don’t blame Ayn Rand. I blame Batman.
Adam has become an enthusiastic fan of the comics. And so I have been learning about the comics.
American comics generally participate in an ideology which radiates out from a central preoccupation with crime. And not any crime. The two great crimes are jewel robberies and bank robberies. There’s a reason for that: these crimes make the rich the victim.
This is the great animating vision of the primal American super-world. Once you catch on, you can detect it in other children’s books as well. It nourishes the topsy turvy vision of reality that infects American politics, and that identifies celebrity with heroism.
Unfortunately, the political struggle for the hearts of children has not been fought very hard by the American Left. Mister Moneybags, that funny character who pops up in translations of certain texts of Marx, never made it to Gotham City. But as I have recently learned, looking around the Internet, some radical factions in the post 68 generation turned their eyes to this theater of struggle.
My discovery of this site has been eyeopening: https://children68.hypotheses.org/. Unfortunately, it does not have a long list of these ultra-leftist books. And so far, it neglects comic books. On the other hand, it does give publicity to a book that still needs to be translated into English – Histoire de Julie qui avait une ombre de garçon.
But to return to the comic book world – here one faces an ideological conundrum at the very root of the superhero ideology. Alan Moore has, I think justly, called the mania for superheros a “cultural catastrophe”; his phrase evokes that idea of a cultural product that squats like a nightmare on the shoulders of the living.
“To my mind, this embracing of what were unambiguously children’s characters at their mid-20th century inception seems to indicate a retreat from the admittedly overwhelming complexities of modern existence. It looks to me very much like a significant section of the public, having given up on attempting to understand the reality they are actually living in, have instead reasoned that they might at least be able to comprehend the sprawling, meaningless, but at-least-still-finite ‘universes’ presented by DC or Marvel Comics. I would also observe that it is, potentially, culturally catastrophic to have the ephemera of a previous century squatting possessively on the cultural stage and refusing to allow this surely unprecedented era to develop a culture of its own, relevant and sufficient to its times. “
The super antihero, I suppose, is yet to be born. My suspicion is that it can’t be born in a world inscribed with the principle that the rich are victims – a world of childish mystification.