"Agent, you should know that there are some on this committee who feel, given your service record, both for this country and against it, that you belong in a penitentiary, not mouthing off on Capitol Hill."
Simon_Jester wrote:The thing is, she does this after committing a massively anti-authoritarian act, exposing a vast international conspiracy dating all the way back to the literal Nazis, or rather to the group of Nazis that got kicked out of the Nazis for being too Nazi and mad-science.
She's not a fascist, she's an anarchist who's friends with the Incredible Hulk. There's a difference.
"You're not gonna put me in a prison. You're not gonna put any of us in a prison. You know why?"
"Do enlighten us."
"Because you need us. Yes, the world is a vulnerable place, and yes, we helped make it that way. But we're also the ones best qualified to defend it. So if you want to arrest me, arrest me. You'll know where to find me."
That's not anarchism. That's a superior class of people, immune to the law because of their specialness. It's the SHIELD/Avengers' world, we just live in it and hope that their next wacky project doesn't kill everyone.
The entire plot of The Winter Soldier
revolves around Black Widow and Captain America finding out that SHIELD is massively corrupted and infiltrated by a literal
fascist organization, one that explicitly plans to drag the world into totalitarian slavery. And deciding that the only way to do anything about it is to do a huge datadump of classified SHIELD files into the public domain on a scale that makes Edward Snowden look like a penny-ante 'anonymous source.'
When Black Widow says "yes, the world is a vulnerable place, and yes, we helped make it that way," she's talking to congressmen who are complaining because she just outed SHIELD and HYDRA.
Because her actions neutralized the agency that was right up there with the CIA/NSA/etc. in the military-security-industrial complex.
She's talking about how she just actively fought (literally fought
, with guns in her hand) to bring down one of the largest, potentially most oppressive agencies of state control and domination on the planet.
Is she responding with arrogance? With a claim to be specially privileged because her talents are needed? Yes, she is. But this is not the arrogance of a fascist. This is the arrogance of someone who just dragged the metaphorical king off his throne and threw him out on his ass in the street, because he was oppressive.
All I'm asking here is that we keep track of the difference between 'fascist' and other words that do not mean the same thing as 'fascist' means. "Arrogant prima donna" is not the same as "fascist." An anarcho-libertarian who thinks the world is better off being defended by private individuals than government agencies could also
be arrogant and say that they were indispensable and therefore could not be punished or arrested.
I guess it was all fine, as not long after Stark builds/flees from/destroys Ultron, he is apparently put in charge of the superhero police.
, I think they did wind up dragging things back into the "privileged special snowflake heroes" with that, but it's largely beside the point I originally made.
K. A. Pital wrote:
Simon_Jester wrote:...You did not know? The character in the story you cite, and the character we now know as "Superman," have absolutely nothing in common, except for the words 'super' and 'man' in the name.
Indeed, nothing in common except for the overall concept (super-powered man) and the creator of the character? Why are you bitter?
Stas, you have a choice. You can argue about "Superman," the character who dresses in blue and flies around Metropolis. Or you can argue about stories involving superhuman characters in general.
Right now you're conflating the two and it is not honest.
If you want to talk about "Superman," the character as such... Siegel and Schuster never conflated their 1933 "Super-Man" and their 1938 "Superman." The two individuals were obviously, massively different in every way.
If you want to talk about stories involving superpowered characters in general, fine... But in that case, you cannot claim that the idea of superpowers dates back only to 1933. You have to go further. You have to bring in every powerful individual with exceptional abilities in all of fiction. Talk about Doc Savage and Tarzan of the Apes. Talk about the Nyctalope. Talk about H.G. Wells' The Invisible Man.
Heck, go back to ancient times and talk about mythical folk heroes descended from the gods.
Simon_Jester wrote:Superman's greatest and most notorious enemy, Lex Luthor, has more in common with the 1933 "Super-Man." At least Lex Luthor is bald and has an exceptionally powerful mind as his sole special ability.
That is the evolution of the concept. When Superman became the good guy, you had to create a bad guy for him. It didn't help, sadly, because Lex Luthor is an Earth intellectual, and Superman is a rural-grown superhuman. Strong alien punches bad smartass in the face, wow. Anti-intellectualism and a search for perfection among the rural folk were, unsurprisingly, both related to the fascist man.
Except it was never
that simple. Other heroes were themselves scientists using their inventions for good, other villains were themselves ultra-powerful thugs.
As others have pointed out, superhero stories are about very simple things, and yet at the same time an enormous mass of supporting detail grows up around them. By cherrypicking the details, you can make them sound like anything
. You can make the same story sound like communist propaganda, or fascist propaganda, or homosexual propaganda, or all three at the same time.
It's the equivalent of a Rorscach inkblot test: what you see in these stories tells us more about you than it does about the story.
Simon_Jester wrote:Is the ultimate fascist ideal of the man a selfless servant of the public who devotes vast amounts of time and energy to defeating those who would violently enslave the public? One who makes no claim to rule or to tell others how to live, except insofar as he protects them from violence and criminality? One who sides with no political action? One who does not demand adulation or even recognition, and in fact actively hides his own identity so that he can go about anonymously doing good in his guise as 'Superman' while still living a normal life as a journalist?
Nietzsche would vomit at the behavior of Clark Kent, 'Superman.'
And in his earliest comics, Superman regularly took on racketeers, large corporations, and the like- organizations that fascists rarely opposed. Throughout his time as a fictional character, his greatest enemy has been the renegade technologist leader of a large, powerful corporation.
Nietzsche's concept of a superman was largely that of a human who derives his/her moral imperatives from his own intelligence, not from religion or tradition. I don't know if Nietzsche would have been dissappointed with Clark Kent.
That aside, the ideal of a heroic character who solves problems with violence, and by extralegal means, is not totally alien to the fascist ideal.
Nor is it alien to the communist ideal, or to the anarchist ideal, or to the libertarian ideal. Or to any
political ideology. Virtually every political ideology that has ever existed has been willing to resort to violence and extra-legal means to overcome threats and enemies.
I'll concede your point about Nietzche- but I hope you'll understand my real point, which is that Superman behaves extremely altruistically, respects others, does not seek to elevate himself above other people, and actively avoids
dominating the world with his exceptional powers even though he could do so easily.
Calling this 'fascist' stretches the term 'fascist' so far that it becomes a meaningless word. Superman is a character we almost have to wish were real, because he would make the world an objectively better place. It is a disservice to those who rightly
fought fascism in all its incarnations, to use the term 'fascism' to describe things that are good and that we would welcome if they appeared in our world today.
Yes, you really don't. The character of Captain America originated as a sickly American who wanted to fight Naziism by any means possible, even at the risk of his own life through undergoing dangerous experimental medical procedures to make him fit for combat. This origin story never changed. In modern times, the character of Captain America has repeatedly dissented from his own government whenever he felt that this government was behaving in a tyrannical or indecent fashion.
I think a part of the recent story had Captain America exposed as a deep Hydra agent or something. Which of course prompted an outcry. I said I did not know about the origin of the character, but by now it is just another typical male superman, with extreme militarism at base.
You can care about the origin of the character, or not. You can care about what has been done with the character during the seventy-five years
of his portrayal in fiction, or not.
But you cannot just cherry-pick the few random details you happen to have overheard that support your preconceptions. Not while ignoring or simply not having heard of the mountain of details that contradict your preconceptions.
Stas, your argument appears to be that because physical fitness is an ideal revered by fascists, a fictional character of extraordinary physical strength is necessarily fascist. Or that because being 'a man of action' is an ideal revered by fascists, a fictional character that does things is necessarily fascist.
No, but if you combine many fascist ideals into one, you'd get something like that. The hero is male (fascists loathe females except as breeders and mothers and wives of soldiers, after all), militaristic and/or has rural origins, and is in perfect physical condition. This condition helps him fight against evil intellectuals. Anti-intellectualism, and glorification of burly rural men a-la pastorale are all related to the fascist search for the male aesthetic. You cannot pretend otherwise.
Okay, so let us take Superman.
Superman was raised in a rural area, but now lives comfortably in an urban area. His rural upbringing is not portrayed as making him superior in and of itself. His physical condition is 'perfect' in that he has powers and abilities like being able to fly and shoot laser beams out of his eyes; this is not quite the same as the fascist ideal of physical conditioning. Most of his enemies are NOT 'evil intellectuals,' they are simply criminals with exotic powers, or alien conquerors, or other beings that don't fit into your narrative. Lex Luthor is the exception, not the rule.
Or let us take Captain America.
Steve Rogers grew up in a city. He is portrayed as having an exemplary moral compass, because of his altruism, courage, and willingness to stand up to tyrants. His physical condition is indeed 'perfect' in a more reasonable sense of the term, but he was born a feeble and sickly man, and he was made
into this powerful specimen by the super-science of men who were fleeing Nazi oppression. When the actual fascists try to create a similar 'super-soldier,' they create the Red Skull: an individual who is evil and hideous morally as well as physically. Most of his enemies are NOT 'evil intellectuals,' they are in fact the very fascists you claim that Captain America is one of, and this has been consistently true for decades regardless of what one random comic author happened to do in one story neither of us knows much about.
Are you going to argue that because Hitler was a vegetarian, vegetarianism is fascist?
. There's a difference.
I was mocking your position because it strikes me as absurd. You are digging through enormous mountains of random minor facts in search of the specific correspondences that let you cherry-pick support for your position, while ignoring counterevidence or simply pretending it does not affect your conclusion.
This is why I challenged you to precisely define fascism first, rather than throwing a pile of vaguely related allusions and associations at me.
I would like to take my time to elaborate this argument.
Given how very poor your arguments have been so far, and how much of them relies on rhetoric and on conflating unrelated or dimly related things... Maybe you should just stop advancing other arguments and wait
until you are ready to explain yourself properly. To rigorously define fascism, and explain coherently how comic books fit into that definition.
And to do this while remembering that if comic books can be shown NOT to fit the definition, or if the definition itself is wrong... that can actually invalidate your argument, not just force you to walk away without changing your mind.
Because otherwise, all this conversation is just an endless string of opportunities for you to proclaim victory and get home before anyone calls you out on it.