Let me say publicly that DonBoy’s answer exudes a combination of intuitive genius and confidence that make me think DonBoy is going to do big things in his life. -- Steven D. Levitt (Freakonomics blog)
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
You've heard of the "Green Lantern Theory of Geopolitics", right? Matt Yglesias named it here:
As you may know, the Green Lantern Corps is a sort of interstellar peacekeeping force set up by the Guardians of Oa to maintain the peace and defend justice. It recruits members from all sorts of different species and equips them with the most powerful weapon in the universe, the power ring.In my recent political science reading -- which, as it happens, concerns the circumstances under which all of the heroes of the Marvel universe might be forced to wage a World War Hulk -- I decided that Matt got the color right, but the character wrong. The key is in the Hulk's semi-catchphrase:
[...] The important point is that, when fully charged what the ring can do is limited only by the stipulation that it create green stuff and by the user's combination of will and imagination. Consequently, the main criterion for becoming a Green Lantern is that you need to be a person capable of "overcoming fear" which allows you to unleash the ring's full capacities. [...]
Suffice it to say that I think all this makes an okay premise for a comic book. But a lot of people seem to think that American military might is like one of these power rings. They seem to think that, roughly speaking, we can accomplish absolutely anything in the world through the application of sufficient military force. The only thing limiting us is a lack of willpower.
"The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets!"
I think this captures the psychological stance better than the GL business. I never understood what "exercising will power" is really supposed to mean, anyway; the best I can visualize is a very intense frown. It's like "thinking hard", but with your character. Tenuous stuff. Now, getting mad? We all understand that. So we're being told that if we just get mad enough, our resulting strength will enable us to achieve any goals, no matter how non-responsive to anger they might be.
Furthermore, doesn't this track with the bile from the right? It's not that liberals are being accused of not having enough "will"; the cry goes up, "Why aren't you properly angry, like we are? WHAT KIND OF A MISERABLE WRETCH DOES NOT SHARE OUR ANGER, AND OUR LOVE OF OUR OWN ANGER? BLOGS SMASH!" It ties directly into all the other rageaholic right-wing stuff.