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Batman Really is the Ultimate Capitalist Superhero

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A post at Peter Rollins unmasks Batman as the ultimate capitalist superhero. I disagree with the heart and soul of his thesis, namely that

Batman is unable to see that the subjective crime he fights on a nightly basis is the direct manifestation of the objective crime he perpetrates on a daily basis. The street crime is the explosion of violence that results from greedy, large industries obsessed with the increase of abstract capital at the expense of all else.

I consider the exact opposite to be the case. Bruce Wayne perpitrates no crime by day; he violates no property rights nor does he have a State-granted monopoly over his industry. His workers and customers are free to associate with other businesses. From this it follows that Wayne can only satisfy his greed from creating products that satisfy his consumers needs and by offering his workers decent working conditions.

This is precisely the reason that socities built on private property ownership were historically regarded as the most altruistic and charitable. In addition to providing really cheap kerosene to Americans, John D. Rockefeller  was a prominant philanthropist. Socities where forced altruism is the norm result in cultures of entitlement, violence and contempt for property and fellow humans.

There is however one obvious reason why Batman is the ultimate capitalist superhero.  The buraucrats of Gotham city preside over a monopolised judicial and domestic defence system. All monopolies are bad from the point of view of the consumer as such arrangements will tend to raise the price and diminish the quality of the service provided. Gotham is constantly under threat from thieves, drug-dealers and murders. However Gotham’s residents cannot choose an alternative defence provider, nor will they receive compensation from the city if it fails in its defensive duty.

Quite simply, Batman is the challenger to Gotham city’s self-sanctioned monopoly over justice and protection from coercion.  He circumvents the State’s monopoly on legitimate violence and acts as a privately-provided “public” good as an alternative to a poorly maintained, currupt State-run monopoly.

Perhaps this is why Batman is Ron Paul’s favourite superhero!


Written by 20000miles

August 22, 2009 at 3:12 am

Posted in economics, justice

Tagged with ,