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Batman Lessons: Beware Greed Disguised as Fairness

Columnist says The Dark Knight Rises more like Dickens’ ‘Tale of Two Cities’ than Rand’s ‘Atlas Shrugged’

Christopher Nolan’s epic work, The Dark Knight Rises, reflects more the conservatism of Edmund Burke than Sean Hannity, writes Ross Douthat at the New York Times.

It’s a realistic perspective:  Sure, there are problems with our society. But that doesn’t mean we do away with our whole Constitutional order. The Founders said it again and again—“if men were angels no government would be necessary.” The fact that we have to have government is an acknowledgement that we all as human beings fail from time to time. But that’s a problem with human nature:  and pretending you can eradicate difficulties, by denying who we are and pretending we can be perfect, always leads to Reigns of Terror.

Nolan brilliantly portrays a modern day “reign of terror,” as Cillian Murphy’s character sits as a judge high on a ridiculous ramshackle pile of furniture—a fantastic caricature of those who make a mockery of justice in the name of “fairness.” But, as you see in the movie, there is nothing fair about those who have upended the social order. Incidentally, the revolutionaries, who try to take on the cops, look a lot like the Occupiers.

Douthat writes:

“[Nolan’s] model, as the movie’s literary references make clear, is ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ rather than ‘Atlas Shrugged,’ which means that he’s trying to simultaneously acknowledge the injustices of the existing regime while suggesting that both the revolutionary and anarchic alternatives would be much, much worse.

“Across the entire trilogy, what separates Bruce Wayne from his mentors in the League of Shadows isn’t a belief in Gotham’s goodness; it’s a belief that a compromised order can still be worth defending, and that darker things than corruption and inequality will follow from putting that order to the torch.”

What makes Nolan’s movie so great, in part, is that it’s deeply thoughtful. He’s not trying to score cheap political points; there isn’t red meat. And for that reason, the images and the dialogue stick with you for awhile giving you plenty to think about as our country, like Gotham, faces a decision:  Should we try to make things better, within our system, or should we upend the whole order, in the name of greed disguised as something called fairness?

Read his column here (1 page).


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