Playing the Indian Card

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Is Superman a Fascist?

Superheroes in general, according to a recent piece in Salon magazine, “are a bunch of Fascists.”

How so? Apparently “The main problem is force: sheer physical force, which lies at the heart of the superhero myth…” This is “essentially a fascist concept.” Beyond this, it appears that superheroes are “hypercapitalist.”

Yes, superheroes defeat their enemies by sheer physical force. So did Churchill and Roosevelt, not to mention Lincoln or Washington. So, by this logic, they are more fascist than Hitler or Mussolini—who in the end failed to apply enough force to defeat their enemies.

Now, as to “hypercapitalism”: I doubt anyone can really figure out Superman’s favourite economic theory. But let’s suppose all these superheroes are capitalists. Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark, after all, are rich. This means they are not fascists. Fascism is a form of socialism: the Nazis were the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, and Mussolini split from the Italian Socialist Party. Stalin, whom our present writer also cites as a fascist, was the general secretary of the Russian Communist Party. If these guys were capitalists, who isn’t?

Flag of the Fascist Party, showing the fasces.

On the other hand, the one core belief of Fascism is corporatism, as the symbol of the fasces is meant to convey. Individualism is to be subsumed into the movement, the race, or the state.

The superhero, on the other hand, is the very embodiment of individualism—one man against the galaxy. The unique, colourful costume is the opposite of a uniform.

First appearance of Batman, 1939.
On top of that, it is an odd and possibly significant fact that the modern superhero is a uniquely Jewish invention. Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster, who invented Superman, were both Jewish; and he is the acknowledged first of the genre. Bob Kane, who invented Batman, was also Jewish. So is Stan Lee of Marvel, the genius behind the entire “silver age,” creator of Spiderman, the X-Men, Iron Man, and the Fantastic Four. So was his longtime collaborator Jack Kirby.

Superman appeared first in 1938. Batman appeared first in 1939. Stan Lee was born in 1922, and would have been 23 when World War II ended. His first writing job was on Captain America in 1941. Captain America's specialty was, of course, fighting fascists.And he started doing it a full year before America entered WWII.

Captain America #1, appearing a full year before Pearl Harbor.

Can anyone really believe these Jews were all secret Nazis, at the very time that Hitler was doing his worst to the Jews of Europe?

The golem of Prague. Remind anybody of The Thing?

In fact, the reverse is probably the case: the entire superhero genre was probably inspired by Jewish models, such as Samson, the Judges, David, and the Golem of Prague. The lone superhero fighting for justice and to protect the wider community has a long history in the Jewish tradition.

As a matter of fact, there's a thesis in that: the Jewish origin of the superhero.

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