Day 7: Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes


“Who watches the Watchmen?”

As a potential military conflict with Iran nears, as I am listening to Bush’s latest reasons for why Iran is becoming increasingly dangerous, as political scientists have moved the Doomsday Clock one minute ahead, I cannot help but feel like the dialectic is indeed crumbling beneath our feet and we are finding ourselves in a regressive historical development Hegel would have described as a historical tragedy (since it is to an extent repetitive). I am thus currently re-reading Alan Moore’s Watchmen, a fantastic graphic novel describing Reagan era US and world politics, social sentiment, etc. If you have not read it, do so as soon as you can. Especially in this moment where the threat of chaos and disorder results in an increasing turn toward authoritarian thinking and structures, one of Watchmen‘s central characters called Rorschach could not appear more timely and poignant.

I came across one quote that seemed almost too ironically perfect while listening to Bush go on an on about the need to defend freedom, democracy and all those other words with purely ideological connotations:

“It is the oldest ironies that are still the most satisfying: man, when preparing for a bloody war, will orate loudly and most eloquently in the name of peace.”

Just thought this was quite fitting (well, with the exception of the “eloquently” part, maybe). There is another interesting relation between Watchmen and the present political climate I would like to point out. The graphic novel is currently being filmed by Zack Snyder (without the consent of Alan Moore, of course, as was the case with V for Vendetta, From Hell, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, etc.). Zack Snyder’s latest film 300 will shortly be released and is a page-by-page adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel. While I admire Frank Miller’s work and did not even mind the film version of Sin City, I have to ask myself if making a probably very popular (first wide-release IMAX movie of 2007) movie version of Miller’s interpretation of the battle of Thermopylae between king Leonidas I of Sparta and king Xerxes I of Persia told from Leonidas’ perspective (which as a theme already occurred in Vol.3 of the Sin City series) may not degrade the film at least in part to a work of anti-Iranian propaganda, fuelling the sentiment of perceiving Iran/Persia as a historically warmongering empire.

Gotta keep watching the political and cultural watchmen!



  1. Yeah, been reading “The Guns of August” myself and it’s frightening how many parallels there are to the current run up to wider war in the middle east. Sometimes I think things haven’t changed in thousands of years, sometimes I think they’ve gotten worse. JMO —Doug

  2. Where’s a transparent Frank Miller Dark Knight movie? Super-chunky Batman thrashing the republican caucus, finding bush in arkham asylum? Some direct democracy.

    Iran is scary as hell. Nancy Pelosi said on the the Jim Lehrer report last night that “she believes the president” when he says we’re not going into iran. i can see why she’d say that for political reasons–we have a president (not for the first time, of course) whom we need to contain. Believing publicly puts her in a place to be horrified when we expand the theater. “You lied to the American People!”

    Again, again, again, again.

    If Jameson is right that we have no historical memory–the persia/iran connection will need to be made explicit. Seems likely the middle-east is largely already perceived as a warmongering region, though.

    Funny that the US, given its history of “police actions”, CIA incursions, and pre-emptive wars, is not.

  3. well, by the US, that is.

  4. @ Doug: thanks for your comment. And, yes, I agree, there are frightening parallels between the current situation and the events leading up to WWI–and the motivation for certain nations to potentially enter into such a war are precisely the same as well. Once again we might whitness a situation where people give their lives to secure a small leading cast’s economic and infrastructural interests. And while this small leadership is entirely limited by the constricting structural framework they are involved in, which it is due to persisting conflicts between politics and commerce unable to change, or to innovate in order to avoid conflict, we are asked to take on a similarly imagimatively static and uncritical position that ends its critical analysis once we have reached ideological dead ends marked by terms such as “democracy,” “freedom,” or by slogans such as “support our troops.”
    I have not read the entire book you refer to above, but I browsed through some passages quite a while ago and remember that it was exceptionally well researched and written. Don’t remember if it was motivated by a clearly detectable analytical model/agenda, though.

  5. @ Harvey: seriously! “Containing” is precisely the right way to look at this. And should this relationship between citizens and president alone not suffice to question the local implementation of the ideological construct of democracy the US is so keen on exporting?

    Is the relationship between me and a friend whom I have to keep from punching people in the face every time we leave the house really one that can be described as democratic, especially if he never listens to me anyway and I consequently get my ass kicked by the buddies of the person my friend punched while he walks away unscathed? Nevertheless I seemingly feel good enough about this friend to put him in charge of running my life.
    Again: welcome to the desert of the logical.

  6. Hmmm…maybe the analogy is less indicative of a friendship than of a relationship with a person whose dad tricked me into entertaining his son.

  7. Ha! Yeah, “democracy” here is something like a choice between which of two friends is going to kick you hardest in the balls. And that’s if you haven’t been disqualified from voting on things like that.

  8. I just saw that you have a Chuck Norris category. I’m hoping you run up the score on that one. Chuck and Bush in “The Octagon”?

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