Thoughts and observations on Green Arrow, classical liberalism, freedom, comic books and matters of social justice.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Individual vs. The Collective

In the first issue of Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adams’ Green Lantern/Green Arrow run Oliver confronts Hal with an ambiguous choice between good and evil. The lawful owner of a low income apartment complex, most probably one which houses those on public assistance, is attacked by his own tenants. Green Lantern automatically defends the landlord and Green Arrow argues the case for the tenants. Thus begins a near 12 issue exploration of the difference between “legally” correct and “morally” correct.

On the surface it seems Green Lantern is on the side of the establishment, a supporter of “The Rule of Law.” Conversely would not Green Arrow be championing mob rule; the ability of any man to defy authority for a self-designed moral code? As with any writing you must consider context. These characters operate in an alternate America, a comic book America. In this republic, vigilantism “may” be illegal but it is certainly tolerated and even supported by government and law enforcement. Police routinely work hand in glove with costumed “crime fighters” and the public at large commonly support their efforts as well.

So the fact that Oliver Queen wear a mask and catches criminals on his own dime does not make him an anarchist or social reformer per say, in his world it’s just another way to express one’s individual rights. And that’s what I believe is Green Arrow’s central theme, the rights of the individual as opposed to the goals of the collective. Even though that shady landlord had every right to maintain his property as he saw fit, Ollie fought for the rights of the individual to stand against that establishment expression by civil disobedience; even so far as acting with aggression armed with a bow and arrow.

The modern liberal is a child of the state. An arm of the collective.

Green Arrow strikes at the heart of this being, armed with bow and arrow and a recognition of the free-man’s right to revolt in protecting their inalienable rights.

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