Clearly having trouble with Robert Coville’s conclusions earlier, Anthony Painter seems to only reluctantly suppose that Batman is a rule of law doubting conservative. But, come on, this is too easy.
His age-old fight for truth, justice and the established social order, as Coville terms it, is done from in that very framework of conservatism, of bringing about order and the law; the difference here is that he is not maintaining it.
This is important I think, especially to what conservatism is and what it is in history.
Instead of trying to explain it myself, I will quote generously from Ed Rooksby’s recent article on what conservatism stands for where he says:
It’s clear that what most alarmed Burke about the revolution was not the violence (he wrote before the terror set in) and it will not do either to say that it was the overthrow of the constitutional order as such that really angered him (he supported the American revolution). What he really feared about the French revolution was that it was driven by, and put power into the hands of, what he called “the swinish multitude” – it perverted “the natural order of things”, which was that the wealthy should rule and the poor should remain subordinate.
Burke is that great true conservative thinker, but he did not do so by accepting the existing order on its own merit – even if that order could be defined as traditional. This is the interesting part of conservatism.
The conservatism of someone who simply exists to restore the existing order because all change is perceived of as dubious within conservatism is a myth. Whereas for Burke, he didn’t trust the existing order (or indeed the coming order) because he felt them swine-like, immature, and not able to bring about the real conservative ideal, that of an elegant “natural” order.
Of course this is all fine. The real point here is that Batman, rather than being a conservative, is actually a Communist.
Batman is perceived by some as a philanthropist. But as the Ludwig von Mises Institute has noticed, regarding Batman:
the implicit message [of philanthropy] is that such actions are morally and economically superior to running a successful industry.
So in the market place of doing good, if Batman was a philanthropist then he would do this alone to undermine industry-led, trickle down capitalism – perhaps in the spirit of von Mises himself whose opinion was that:
The riches of the rich are not the cause of the poverty of anybody. The process that makes some people rich is, on the contrary, the corollary of the process that improves many peoples’ want satisfaction.
Instead Batman seeks to change the very core of industry itself, to get to its root, to try and directly undermine those owners of the means of production.
The problem of Batman’s Communism is that he is alone in it. He doesn’t engage the party, nor does he organise at the point of the trade union. This is perhaps what has confused the Socialist Party. In their review:
As Batman, his main concern is reacting to visible street-level crime, only going after corrupt capitalists if they’ve got a mob connection. With working-class youth lacking jobs or leisure facilities and turning to gangs as a source of income, the best thing he can think of is a luxurious party to get his super-rich buddies to fund a politician who pledges to be tough on crime.
Batman is operating at the level he knows how to, satisfying the class war where he is able to engage in it on the ground. His Trotskyite entryism, engaging with on-side politicians in the political mainstream is proof of his weakness.
Of course trying to ensure order is not the preserve of conservatism. It is very much in the Communist DNA, too. When Communist officials in China manhandled Christian Bale as he tried to talk to activist Chen Guangcheng during a visit, they did it not to maintain anarchy, but to restore order.
The real Batman (not the false one, parading around as Christian Bale) wants an orderly society that befits a later Communist one that he wants to pursue alone. Call this the conservative core of Communism if you will, but that would be wrong. Conservatism is as deep into Communism as white is on rice.
So is Batman a conservative? Only insofar as conservatism cannot be separated from Communism itself. Is he right to be a Communist? No, of course not, Communism is dead!