*Warning* Minor Movie Spoilers
Richard Weaver once wrote, “One may be accused here of oversimplifying the historical process, but I take the view that conscious policies of men and governments are not mere rationalizations of what has been brought about by unaccountable forces. They are rather deductions from our most basic ideas of human destiny, and they have a great, though not unobstructed, power to determine our course”.
This view that, “Ideas have consequences” is nothing new. The cross we bear as a culture is failure to see past our own selfish understanding to what becomes of others (including entire generations) when we fail to realize that our ideas echo across the world, with sometimes horrible ramifications. The best panaceas to decadent ideas are the lessons of history and culture. We see ideas like socialism in our society, and wonder why they wouldn’t be good for everyone. Then we see what ideas, taken to their truest form mean for a free people and a society. The end of socialism, in its truest form is godless entropy, as seen in the French Revolution. People fail to see past their own understandings, and what ideas, taken to their most pure form would mean for everyone.
With that being said we also have lessons from our culture.
Batman the Dark Night Rises is such a lesson. It warns of the veracity of what anarchic control such as the Occupy movement would do if carried out fully. What do the people of Occupy stand for? The Movement stands by the facts that if the wealthy would share, everything would be fine. That the rich prey on those less fortunate, that our economic society is some kind of zero-sum game. While all of these premises are false, this very real movement fails to see the consequences their ideas can have on a society.
I cannot illustrate these points more clearly than with the new Batman movie. The villain, Bane, is the walking embodiment of what Occupy stands for. And, Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman is the allegory for the misguided hoi polloi of those who fall prey to dangerous ideas.
There is a scene early in the movie when Catwoman is dancing with Bruce Wayne. She tells him that he has no idea how the world works. Because he is rich, he does not understand the toil and hardship the rest of the populace must endure just to get by. Catwoman thinks there is no hope for her situation. She has resorted to crime, and justifies it with, “the wealthy already have too much”. She sticks to her “Robin Hood” principles and embodies someone who deals the thin gray line between what she knows to be true, and what she wants to be true.
Then comes Bane, There are two very telling sequences in the movie that show Bane as the Occupy man he is. The first comes when he takes the Gotham Stock Exchange hostage, implementing his part of a master plan at the cost of the “rich”. But the most telling scene comes while he stands in front of a government building. As he stands in the umbrage of stone steps and columns he says he only wants to give the city back to the people. He wants everyone to have their “fair share”. He plans to give Gotham their city back, so they can finally have what they “deserve”. The rich have no more rights as far as Bane is concerned. Though notice that the only one who gets the good end of this deal is Bane, who gets to rule over the “free” populace.
He accomplishes his scheme with violence and mayhem, and for a time his plans succeeds. Gotham becomes cut off, and anarchy rules. People can do as they please. There are no courts of corrupt lawyers and judges anymore, only a chaotic and violent form of punishment set in place by Bane himself.
As we come to see, when people get their fair share, they get less then what they had. Not only do they lose what possessions they may have, but they live in fear of violence from others.
One of the most important ideals to take away from Occupy in its truest sense is this: When people give their liberty for a shoddy form of freedom they end up not with a better society, but with a much more grim society. The film teaches that you cannot give up liberty to get liberty; you give up liberty for tyranny.
As Catwoman sees the effects of what “fair share” means she realizes how wrong she’s been. She understands that the true nature of evil comes not from the rich, but from the acquiescence of liberty for something people feel they deserve. Catwoman sees that taken to its truest sense, the Occupy movement is just as chaotic and violent as totalitarian regimes before it, and that she’s made a mistake in believing the lie.
What can break this tyranny? Well, Batman of course, in the form of a rich, man giving what he has to those less fortunate because he has the means to do so. Batman embodies what the free market and the ideals that come with it are.
There is a young cop in the movie named Blake who can be seen as the person who believes if they work for what is true and right can make it, just like Batman. He is the embodiment of the true American spirit, which is alive today. His story in the movie tells us that it may be hard, and it may not be fair, but with the principles we have to guide us it is more than possible.
The film ultimately teaches that the only way to gain true freedom is to work for it. There is no such thing as soft tyranny, only tyranny. In the end, it’s capitalism that saves the day from Bane and Occupy. It’s those who want something, working hard to get it, not waiting for it to come to them. Batman many be able to save us from tyranny on screen, but we must do it ourselves in this life. We must stand against those who would bring down the most successful principles the world has ever seen because of a misguided cause.
Those kinds of ideas are bad ideas.
And all ideas have consequences.
“It is always better to have no ideas than false ones; to believe nothing, than to believe what is wrong.”
~ Thomas Jefferson