catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

Squadron Supreme – libertarian popular culture

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Before the deconstructionist Watchmen which satirised and reinvigorated the superhero genre there was the Squadron Supreme (1985). Essentially this was a Marvel comics rip-off of DC Comics’ Justice League of America which was a team comprised of DC’s most popular characters. Some of these characters, with some modifications, have since then been reused in Marvel’s Supreme Power series written by Babylon 5’s writer, J. Michael Stracynski .

The basic premise – the superhero team, Squadron Supreme, decide that the best way to fix the problems on earth that they frequently have to mop up on an ad hoc basis, is by seizing power from earth’s governments and installing themselves as dictators. Later, one of the Squadron Supreme members invents a behaviour modification device that can turn criminals into law-abiding citizens against their will, and start using it to empty out America’s prisons. The Batman character, Nighthawk, dissents from the start, and ends up working with his former criminal enemies to forge a team that infiltrates his former allies in order to depose them to restore humanity as masters of their own imperfect fates. The comic book ends up as a great tragedy with the loss of many noble lives pitted against each other in a battle to the death. Here is part of what Nighthawk says to Hyperion (the Superman character) when finally confronting his former team-mates. The politics of the comic book is you could say, more libertarian than even my own personal preferences as it is also strongly anti-gun control as evidenced in the following speech by Nighthawk (yes it sounds kind of cheesy by today’s standards but this is a comic book written in 1985):

Let’s leave morality out of this for a moment. You want to know what’s the biggest argument against what you and the Squadron tried to do? It’s that you created a utopia that needs you to constantly maintain it.

All of the things you’ve given the world – behaviour modification, gun control, abolishment of the militia, hibernacles – all those things only work for the good of society as long as you basically good-intentioned people oversee them.

But what happens when you’re gone? Can future generations be trusted to use what you’ve created as nobly as you did? I think not.

Your utopian system is a failure because it requires beings as powerful and good as you to prevent its abuse. Today’s utopia could be tomorrow’s totalitarian state – all because you gave men the means to create it!

Better to dismantle your ‘perfect’ system and let the government of that imperfect species – man – be an imperfect system he is capable of handling!

Written by Admin

November 26, 2005 at 9:50 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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