Bryan Caplan  

Why Read The Watchmen?

How Many Americans Could Pass ... A "Why Not?" Moment...

Probably thanks to the new movie trailer, the classic graphic novel The Watchmen is now #2 on Amazon. It's well-deserved. I can't say enough good things about this book - I've read it at least ten times. But for skeptical EconLog readers, this one should be enough: The Watchmen is the Best... Utilitarian Parable... Ever.

HT: Steve Blatt, who gave me The Watchmen as a birthday present back in 1992 or so.

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Daniel Corradi writes:

Alan Moore is a literary genius.

Grobstein writes:

Is the idea that good utilitarians should accept the ending gambit as justified? Maybe so.

Let me also recommend Vinge's The Peace War (a Hugo winner), which at least considers the idea that a deadly authoritarian-socialist world government was necessary to defuse the existential risk of great-power war.

Dan writes:

No "The," just Watchmen, Bryan.

I don't get what you mean by utilitarian parable, unless you mean it's a good disproof of utilitarianism (by showing what it justifies). If you mean it is evidence for utilitarianism, that's odd.

I think he simply means that the endgame of Watchmen is about a policy that sacrifices the few (in a horrific way) for the general welfare of the many. (See also Vonnegut's Sirens of Titan).

And I don't think Bryan's identification of it as the "best utilitarian parable ever" is an endorsement of such a policy, just of the quality of the graphic novel.

drobviousso writes:

Due to being a bit younger, I didn't read Watchmen until after the arms race was good and over. It's really fascinating to read it through the lens of knowing that the arms race did not in fact lead to the end of the human race, and never thinking otherwise. It makes it an unintentional but very powerful critique on both the superhero genre (in a way that was never expected), and the various social do gooders out there today, from food shortage alarmists to the anti-GMO crowd to the environmental apolicptarian.

Isegoria writes:

I found Moore's work very much a product of its time — and of Moore's left-anarchist politics.

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