Thursday, July 23, 2015

Impose Costs on Voters

The moral critique of democracy in The Dark Knight
On the “innocent” boat, one man is clamoring to use the detonator and save themselves at the expense of mere criminals. The boat’s officers conduct a vote among the passengers to decide what to do. This is the proper democratic thing to do, and, as always, “the people” feel justified in being collectively selfish, voting to save their skins. The interesting thing, though, is that no individual is willing to carry out the vote. The ship’s officers refuse to do such a thing. Even the very man most insistent on using the detonator finds himself unable to do it when given the chance. It was one thing to be a member of the mass, even a member loudly advising it. When the decision actually falls on one’s individual head, things appear in a different light. One then feels oneself as an individual soul standing before the judgment of God. One’s sense of personal honor rises to the front. In fact, we see on the convicts’ ship that even the most hardened criminal may scorn trying to save his life in this way. Nolan is arguably being romantic in this scene–although I loved it–yet the point stands that a man assumes his full moral stature only by standing apart from a democratic mass. Here the recurring message of the film shows forth most clearly. A system must either force someone to take personal responsibility or it will involve everyone in moral corruption.
There is zero cost or responsibility for voting today, but a small cost would be enough to push millions of people out of the electoral process.

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