Extreme nihilism, in a PC package

Patrick H. writes:

About whether the Batman films are conservative: they’re not.

Consider an example from The Dark Knight: the Joker has rigged each of two ferry boats to explode if the vessel’s occupants do not trigger by midnight a device (available on each vessel) that will cause the other vessel to blow up. One of the ferries carries criminally insane prisoners. The other ferry holds respectable people. As the deadline approaches, each vessel makes a different choice.

The prisoner’s leader chooses death over dishonor. He grabs the detonator and throws it overboard. The respectable vessel votes to destroy the other guys, but their leader is too cowardly to make himself push the button. The deadline passes, and neither vessel has triggered its bomb.

Good thing for both of them! You see, the Joker was joking. The bombs were rigged to blow up the very same vessel they were on! Not the other one, after all! (That Joker. He’s such a joker.)

Question for VFR readers who haven’t seen The Dark Knight but who think the movies might have a conservative message: What race was the prisoner’s leader?

Answer: if you have to be told, you’re a liberal.

P.S. The answer of course is that the prisoners’ leader was a Negro. Being criminally insane, he might have been expected to do the bad thing and blow the other boat up, but he was a Negro, which means Noble Negro, so no way he was doing the wrong, dishonorable cowardly thing. That was for the other boat. That was for those other people. (Oddly, he wasn’t played by Morgan Freeman, but that’s because Freeman was already playing another Negro in the film, also Noble, the brilliant, savvy, witty black business and technological genius who really runs the multi-billion dollar Wayne Enterprises for that useless white figurehead Bruce Wayne. I can’t remember who played the leader on the respectable boat. He was pudgy. He sweated a lot. His character was a coward, and so were his people.

And he was white. But you knew that already, didn’t you?

- end of initial entry -

Dave T. writes:

Wait a minute, is there really such a thing as being both nihilistic and politically correct at the same time? To be politically correct is to affirm the values of the left, in which case some values are being affirmed and nihilism (i.e. the absence of values) is not. Perhaps The Dark Knight was only explicitly affirming nihilism with the Joker’s actions and thoughts in order to titillate the masses and thereby obscure the more banal values of the left that are being implicitly reaffirmed through such characters as the one played by Morgan Freeman. What if the true lesson of The Dark Knight is that the masses are so bored by the left that the latter feels the need to dress up their tired morality tales of inequality in nihilist garb.

LA replies:

I’ve explained this before (most recently two weeks ago), but it’s such a difficult and important issue that I don’t remind repeating the point as many times as it takes.

Nihilism does not mean an absence of values. That is the popular, unreflecting definition, and it is simply wrong. Since there is no human being who doesn’t value anything, if nihilism means having no values, there would be no such thing as nihilism. What nihilism means is the denial of objective truth, particularly of objective moral truth. Yes, there is an extreme stage of nihilism where one seeks only to destroy, but that is very rare. In fact, nihilism, as the denial of objective moral truth, is the dominant belief system of the modern liberal world. As I wrote in a comment two weeks ago:

“Our contemporary nihilists believe in and enjoy all kinds of things, but they don’t believe that there’s any objective moral truth backing up the things they believe in.”

Also, I recommend again the entry, “Are we entering the final stage of nihilism?” which concisely explains the four stages of nihilism.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 23, 2012 04:46 PM | Send

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