Dictatorship of the Proletariat in Gotham City | Slavoj Žižek on ‘The Dark Knight Rises’

By Slavoj Žižek.

Exclusive on Boitempo’s Blog.

Para a versão em português, clique aqui.

Warning: the following article contains spoilers of The Dark Knight Trilogy

The Dark Knight Rises attests yet again to how Hollywood blockbusters are precise indicators of the ideological predicament of our societies. Here is a (simplified) storyline. Eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, the previous installment of the Batman saga, law and order prevail in Gotham City: under the extraordinary powers granted by the Dent Act, Commissioner Gordon has nearly eradicated violent and organized crime. He nonetheless feels guilty about the cover-up of Harvey Dent’s crimes (when Dent tried to kill Gordon’s son before Batman saved him, Dent fell to his death, and Batman took the fall for the Dent myth, allowing himself to be demonized as Gotham’s villain), and plans to admit to the conspiracy at a public event celebrating Dent, but decides that the city is not ready to hear the truth. No longer active as Batman, Bruce Wayne lives isolated in his Manor while his company is crumbling ling after he invested in a clean energy project designed to harness fusion power, but shut it down after learning that the core could be modified to become a nuclear weapon. The beautiful Miranda Tate, a member of the Wayne Enterprises executive board, encourages Wayne to rejoin with society and continue his philanthropic works.

Here enters the (first) villain of the film: Bane, a terrorist leader who was a member of the League of Shadows, gets hold of the copy of Gordon’s speech. After Bane’s financial machinations bring Wayne’s company close to bankruptcy, Wayne entrusts Miranda to control his enterprise and also engages in a brief love affair with her. (In this she competes with Selina Kyle, a cat burglar Selina Kyle who steals from the rich in order to redistribute wealth, but finally rejoins Wayne and the forces of law and order.) Learning about Bane’s mobilization, Wayne returns as Batman and confronts Bane, who says that he took over the League of Shadows after Ra’s Al Ghul’s death. Crippling Batman in a close combat, Bane detains him in a prison from which escape is virtually impossible: inmates tell Wayne the story of the only person to ever successfully escape from the prison, a child driven by necessity and the sheer force of will. While the imprisoned Wayne recovers from his injuries and retrains himself to be Batman, Bane succeeds in turning Gotham City into an isolated city-state. He first lures most of Gotham’s police force underground and traps them there; then he sets off explosions which destroy most of the bridges connecting Gotham City to the mainland, announcing that any attempt to leave the city will result in the detonation of Wayne fusion core, which has been taken hold and converted into a bomb.

Here we reach the crucial moment of the film: Bane’s takeover is accompanied by a vast politico-ideological offensive. Bane publicly reveals the cover-up of Dent’s death and releases the prisoners locked up under the Dent Act. Condemning the rich and powerful, he promises to restore the power of the people, calling on the common people to “take your city back” – Bane reveals himself to be “the ultimate Wall Street Occupier, calling on the 99% to band together and overthrow societal elites.”[1] What follows is the film’s idea of people’s power: summary show trials and executions of the rich, streets littered with crime and villainy… A couple of months later, while Gotham City continues to suffer popular terror, Wayne successfully escapes prison, returns to Gotham as Batman, and enlists his friends to help liberate the city and stop the fusion bomb before it explodes. Batman confronts and subdues Bane, but Miranda intervenes and stabs Batman – the societal benefactor reveals herself to be Talia al Ghul, Ra’s daughter: it was she who escaped the prison as a child, and Bane was the one person who aided her escape. After announcing her plan to complete her father’s work in destroying Gotham, Talia escapes. In the ensuing mayhem, Gordon cuts off the bomb’s ability to be remotely detonated while Selina kills Bane, allowing Batman to chase Talia. He tries to force her to take the bomb to the fusion chamber where it can be stabilized, but she floods the chamber. Talia dies when her truck crashes off the road, confident that the bomb cannot be stopped. Using a special helicopter, Batman hauls the bomb beyond the city limits, where it detonates over the ocean and presumably kills him.

Batman is now celebrated as a hero whose sacrifice saved Gotham City, while Wayne is believed to have died in the riots. As his estate is divided up, Alfred witnesses Bruce and Selina together alive in a cafe in Florence, while Blake, a young honest policeman who knew about Batman’s identity, inherits the Batcave. In short, “Batman saves the day, emerges unscathed and moves on with a normal life, with someone else to replace his role defending the system.”[2] The first clue to the ideological underpinnings of this ending is provided by Gordon, who, at Wayne’s (would-be) burial, reads the last lines from Dickens’s Tale of Two Cities: “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.” Some reviewers of the film took this quote as an indication that it “rises to the noblest level of Western art. The film appeals to the center of America’s tradition – the ideal of noble sacrifice for the common people. Batman must humble himself to be exalted, and lay down his life to find a new one. /…/ An ultimate Christ-figure, Batman sacrifices himself to save others.”[3]

And, effectively, from this perspective, there is only one step back from Dickens to Christ at Calvary: “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Matthew 16:25 26) Batman’s sacrifice as the repetition of Christ’s death? Is this idea not compromised by the film’s last scene (Wayne with Selena in a Florence café)? Is the religious counterpart of this ending not rather the well-known blasphemous idea that Christ really survived his crucifixion and lived a long peaceful life (in India or even Tibet, according to some sources)? The only way to redeem this final scene would have been to read it as a daydream (hallucination) of Alfred who sits alone in the Florence café. The further Dickensian feature of the film is a de-politicized complaint about the gap between the rich and the poor – early in the film, Selina whispers to Wayne while they are dancing at an exclusive upper class gala: “There’s a storm coming, Mr. Wayne. You and your friends better batten down the hatches. Because when it hits, you’re all going to wonder how you thought you could live so large, and leave so little for the rest of us.” Nolan, as every good liberal, is “worried” about this disparity and he admits this worry penetrates the film:

“What I see in the film that relates to the real world is the idea of dishonesty. The film is all about that coming to a head /…/ The notion of economic fairness creeps into the film, and the reason is twofold. One, Bruce Wayne is a billionaire. It has to be addressed. /…/ But two, there are a lot of things in life, and economics is one of them, where we have to take a lot of what we’re told on trust, because most of us feel like we don’t have the analytical tools to know what’s going on. /…/ I don’t feel there’s a left or right perspective in the film. What is there is just an honest assessment or honest exploration of the world we live in – things that worry us.”[4]    

Although viewers know Wayne is mega-rich, they tend to forget where his wealth comes from: arms manufacturing plus stock-market speculations, which is why Bane’s stock-exchange games can destroy his empire – arms dealer and speculator, this is the true secret beneath the Batman mask. How does the film deal with it? By resuscitating the archetypal Dickensian topic of a good capitalist who engages in financing orphanage homes (Wayne) versus a bad greedy capitalist (Stryver, as in Dickens). In such Dickensian over-moralization, the economic disparity is translated into “dishonesty” which should be “honestly” analyzed, although we lack any reliable cognitive mapping, and such an “honest” approach leads to a further parallel with Dickens – as Christopher Nolan’s brother Jonathan (who co-wrote the scenario) put it bluntly: “Tale of Two Cities to me was the most sort of harrowing portrait of a relatable recognizable civilization that had completely fallen to pieces. The terrors in Paris, in France in that period, it’s not hard to imagine that things could go that bad and wrong.”[5] The scenes of the vengeful populist uprising in the film (a mob that thirsts for the blood of the rich who have neglected and exploited them) evoke Dickens’s description of the Reign of Terror, so that, although the film has nothing to do with politics, it follows Dickens’s novel in “honestly” portraying revolutionaries as possessed fanatics, and thus provides

“the caricature of what in real life would be an ideologically committed revolutionary fighting structural injustice. Hollywood tells what the establishments want you to know – revolutionaries are brutal creatures, with utter disregard for human life. Despite emancipatory rhetoric on liberation, they have sinister designs behind. Thus, whatever might be their reasons, they need to be eliminated.”[6]

Tom Charity was right to note “the movie’s defense of the establishment in the form of philanthropic billionaires and an incorruptible police”[7] – in its distrust of the people taking things into their own hands, the film “demonstrates both a desire for social justice and a fear of what that can actually look like in the hands of a mob.”[8] Karthick raises here a perspicuous question with regard to immense popularity of the Joker figure from the previous film: why such a harsh disposition towards Bane when the Joker was dealt with lenience in the earlier movie? The answer is simple and convincing:

“The Joker, calling for anarchy in its purest form, critically underscores the hypocrisies of bourgeois civilization as it exists, but his views are unable to translate into mass action. Bane, on the other hand poses an existential threat to the system of oppression. /…/ His strength is not just his physique but also his ability to command people and mobilize them to achieve a political goal. He represents the vanguard, the organized representative of the oppressed that wages political struggle in their name to bring about structural changes. Such a force, with the greatest subversive potential, the system cannot accommodate. It needs to be eliminated.”[9]

However, even if Bane lacks the fascination of Heath Ledger’s Joker, there is a feature which distinguishes him from the latter: unconditional love, the very source of his hardness. In a short but touching scene, we see how, in an act of love in the midst of terrible suffering, Bane saved the child Talia, not caring for consequences and paying a terrible price for it (he was beaten within an inch of his life while defending her). Karthick is totally justified in locating this event into the long tradition, from Christ to Che Guevara, which extols violence as a “work of love,” as in the famous lines from Che Guevara’s diary: “Let me say, with the risk of appearing ridiculous, that the true revolutionary is guided by strong feelings of love. It is impossible to think of an authentic revolutionary without this quality.”[10] What we encounter here is not so much the “Christification of Che” but rather a “Cheization” of Christ himself – the Christ whose “scandalous” words from Luke (“if anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and his mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes even his own life – he cannot be my disciple”(14:26)) point in exactly the same direction as Che’s famous quote: “You may have to be tough, but do not lose your tenderness.”[11] The statement that “the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love” should be read together with Guevara’s much more “problematic” statement on revolutionaries as “killing machines”:

“Hatred is an element of struggle; relentless hatred of the enemy that impels us over and beyond the natural limitations of man and transforms us into effective, violent, selective, and cold killing machines. Our soldiers must be thus; a people without hatred cannot vanquish a brutal enemy.”[12]

Or, to paraphrase Kant and Robespierre yet again: love without cruelty is powerless; cruelty without love is blind, a short-lived passion which loses its persistent edge. Guevara is here paraphrasing Christ’s declarations on the unity of love and sword – in both cases, the underlying paradox is that what makes love angelic, what elevates it over mere unstable and pathetic sentimentality, is its cruelty itself, its link with violence – it is this link which raises love over and beyond the natural limitations of man and thus transforms it into an unconditional drive. This is why, back to The Dark Knight Rises, the only authentic love in the film is Bane’s, the “terrorist’s,” in clear contrast to Batman.

Along the same lines, the figure of Ra, Talia’s father, deserves a closer look. Ra is a mixture of Arab and Oriental features, an agent of virtuous terror fighting to counter-balance the corrupted Western civilization. He is played by Liam Neeson, an actor whose screen-persona usually radiates dignified goodness and wisdom (he is Zeus in The Clash of Titans), and who also plays Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace, the first episode of the Star Wars series. Qui-Gon is a Jedi knight, the mentor of Obi-Wan Kenobi as well as the one who discovers Anakin Skywalker, believing that Anakin is the Chosen One who will restore the balance of the universe, ignoring Yoda’s warnings about Anakin’s unstable nature; at the end of The Phantom Menace, Qui-Gon is killed by Darth Maul.[13]

In the Batman trilogy, Ra is also the teacher of the young Wayne: in Batman Begins, he finds the young Wayne in a Chinese prison; introducing himself as “Henri Ducard,” he offers the boy a “path.” After Wayne is freed, he climbs to the home of the League of Shadows, where Ra’s is waiting, although presenting himself as the servant of another man called Ra’s al Ghul. At the end of a long and painful training, Ra explains that Bruce must do what is necessary to fight evil, while revealing that they have trained Bruce with the intention of him leading the League to destroy Gotham City, which they believe has become hopelessly corrupt. Ra’s is thus not a simple embodiment of Evil: he stands for the combination of virtue and terror, for the egalitarian discipline fighting a corrupted empire, and thus belongs to the line that stretches (in recent fiction) from Paul Atreides in Dune to Leonidas in 300. And it is crucial that Wayne is his disciple: Wayne was formed as Batman by him.

Two common sense reproaches impose themselves here. First, there were monstrous mass killings and violence in actual revolutions, from Stalinism to Khmer Rouge, so the film is clearly not just engaging in reactionary imagination. The second, opposite reproach: the actual OWS movement was not violent, its goal was definitely not a new reign of terror; insofar as Bane’s revolt is supposed to extrapolate the immanent tendency of the OWS movement, the film thus ridiculously misrepresents its aims and strategies. The ongoing anti-globalist protests are the very opposite of Bane’s brutal terror: Bane stands for the mirror-image of state terror, for a murderous fundamentalist sect taking over and ruling by terror, not for its overcoming through popular self-organization… What both reproaches share is the rejection of the figure of Bane. – The reply to these two reproaches is multiple.

First, one should make clear the actual scope of violence – the best answer to the claim that the violent mob reaction to oppression is worse than the original oppression itself, was the one provided long by Mark Twain in his A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court: “There were two ‘Reigns of Terror’ if we would remember it and consider it; the one wrought in hot passion, the other in heartless cold blood… our shudders are all for the ‘horrors’ of the minor Terror, the momentary Terror, so to speak, whereas, what is the horror of swift death by the axe compared with lifelong death from hunger, cold, insult, cruelty, and heartbreak? A city cemetery could contain the coffins filled by that brief Terror which we have all been so diligently taught to shiver at and mourn over; but all France could hardly contain the coffins filled by that older and real Terror, that unspeakably bitter and awful Terror, which none of us have been taught to see in its vastness or pity as it deserves.”

Then, one should demystify the problem of violence, rejecting simplistic claims that the XXth century Communism used too much excessive murderous violence, and that we should be careful not to fall into this trap again. As a fact, this is, of course, terrifyingly true, – but such a direct focus on violence obfuscates the underlying question: what was wrong in the XXth century Communist project as such, which immanent weakness of this project pushed Communist to resort the Communists (not only those) in power to unrestrained violence? In other words, it is not enough to say that Communists “neglected the problem of violence”: it was a deeper socio-political failure which pushed them to violence. (The same goes for the notion that Communists “neglected democracy”: their overall project of social transformation enforced on them this “neglect.”) It is thus not only Nolan’s film which was not able to imagine authentic people’s power – the “real” radical-emancipatory movements themselves also were not able to do it, they remained caught in the coordinates of the old society, which is why the actual “people’s power” often was such a violent horror.

And, last but not least, it is all too simple to claim that there is no violent potential in OWs and similar movements – there IS a violence at work in every authentic emancipatory process: the problem with the film is that it wrongly translated this violence into murderous terror. Which, then, is the sublime violence with regard to which even the most brutal killing is an act of weakness? Let us make a detour through Jose Saramago’s Seeing which tells the story of the strange events in the unnamed capital city of an unidentified democratic country. When the election day morning is marred by torrential rains, voter turnout is disturbingly low, but the weather breaks by mid-afternoon and the population heads en masse to their voting stations. The government’s relief is short-lived, however, when vote counting reveals that over 70% of the ballots cast in the capital have been left blank. Baffled by this apparent civic lapse, the government gives the citizenry a chance to make amends just one week later with another election day. The results are worse: now 83% of the ballots are blank. The two major political parties – the ruling party of the right (p.o.t.r.) and their chief adversary, the party of the middle (p.o.t.m.) – are in a panic, while the haplessly marginalized party of the left (p.o.t.l.) produces an analysis claiming that the blank ballots are essentially a vote for their progressive agenda. Unsure how to respond to a benign protest but certain that an anti-democratic conspiracy exists, the government quickly labels the movement “terrorism, pure and unadulterated” and declares a state of emergency, allowing it to suspend all constitutional guarantees and adopt a series of increasingly drastic steps: citizens are seized at random and disappear into secret interrogation sites, the police and seat of government are withdrawn from the capital, sealing the city against all entrances and exits, and finally manufacturing their own terrorist ringleader. The city continues to function near-normally throughout, the people parrying each of the government’s thrusts in inexplicable unison and with a truly Gandhian level of nonviolent resistance… this, the voters’ abstention, is a case of truly radical “divine violence” which prompts brutal panic reactions of those in power.

Back to Nolan, the triad of Batman-films thus follows an immanent logic. In Batman Begins, the hero remains within the constraints of a liberal order: the system can be defended with morally acceptable methods. The Dark Knight is effectively a new version of the two John Ford western classics (Fort Apache and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance) which deploy how, in order to civilize the Wild West, one has to “print the legend” and ignore the truth – in short, how our civilization has to be grounded onto a Lie: one has to break the rules in order to defend the system. Or, to put it in another way, in Batman Begins, the hero is simply a classic figure of the urban vigilante who punishes the criminals where police cannot do it; the problem is that police, the official law-enforcement agency, relates ambiguously to Batman’s help: while admitting its efficiency, it nonetheless perceive Batman as a threat to its monopoly on power and a testimony of its own inefficiency. However, Batman’s transgression is here purely formal, it resides in acting oin behalf of the law without being legitimized to do it: in his acts, he never violates the law. The Dark Knight changes these coordinates: Batman’s true rival is not Joker, his opponent, but Harvey Dent, the “white knight,” the aggressive new district attorney, a kind of official vigilante whose fanatical battle against crime leads him into killing innocent people and destroys him. It is as if Dent is the reply of the legal order to Batman’s threat: against Batman’s vigilante struggle, the system generates its own illegal excess, its own vigilante, much more violent than Batman, directly violating the law. There is thus a poetic justice in the fact that, when Bruce plans to publicly reveal his identity as Batman, Dent jumps in and instead names himself as Batman – he is “more Batman than Batman himself,” actualizing the temptation Batman was still able to resist. So when, at the film’s end, Batman takes upon himself the crimes committed by Dent to save the reputation of the popular hero who embodies hope for ordinary people, his self-effacing act contains a grain of truth: Batman in a way returns the favor to Dent. His act is a gesture of symbolic exchange: first Dent takes upon himself the identity of Batman, then Wayne – the real Batman – takes upon himself Dent’s crimes.        

Finally, The Dark Knight Rises pushes things even further: is Bane not Dent brought to extreme, to its self-negation? Dent who draws the conclusion that the system itself is unjust, so that in order to effectively fight injustice one has to turn directly against the system and destroy it? And, as part of the same move, Dent who loses last inhibitions and is ready to use all murderous brutality to achieve this goal? The rise of such a figure changes the entire constellation: for all participants, Batman included, morality is relativized, it becomes a matter of convenience, something determined by circumstances: it’s open class warfare, everything is permitted to defend the system when we are dealing not just with mad gangsters but with a popular uprising.

Is, then, this all? Should the film just be flatly rejected by those who are engaged in radical emancipatory struggles? Things are more ambiguous, and one has to read the film in the way one has to interpret a Chinese political poem: absences and surprising presences count.  Recall the old French story about a wife who complains that her husband’s best friend is making illicit sexual advances towards her: it takes some time till the surprised friend gets the point – in this twisted way, she is inviting him to seduce her… It is like the Freudian unconscious which knows no negation: what matters is not a negative judgment on something, but the mere fact that this something is mentioned – in The Dark Knight Rises, people’s power IS HERE, staged as an Event, in a key step forward from the usual Batman opponents (criminal mega-capitalists, gangsters and terrorists).

Here we get the first clue – the prospect of the OWS movement taking power and establishing people’s democracy on Manhattan is so patently absurd, so utterly non-realist, that one cannot but raise the question: WHY DOES THEN A MAJOR HOLLYWOOD BLOCKBUSTER DREAM ABOUT IT, WHY DOES IT EVOKE THIS SPECTER? Why even dream about OWS exploding into a violent takeover? The obvious answer (to smudge OWS with accusations that it harbors a terrorist-totalitarian potential) is not enough to account for the strange attraction exerted by prospect of “people’s power.” No wonder the proper functioning of this power remains blank, absent: no details are given about how this people’s power functions, what the mobilized people are doing (remember that Bane tells the people they can do what they want – he is not imposing on them his own order).

This is why external critique of the film (“its depiction of the OWS reign is a ridiculous caricature”) is not enough – the critique has to be immanent, it has to locate within the film itself a multitude signs which point towards the authentic Event. (Recall, for example, that Bane is not just a brutal terrorist, but a person of deep love and sacrifice.) In short, pure ideology isn’t possible, Bane’s authenticity HAS to leave trace in the film’s texture. This is why the film deserves a close reading: the Event – the “people’s republic of Gotham City”, dictatorship of the proletariat on Manhattan – is immanent to the film, it is its absent center.


[1] Tyler O’Neil, “Dark Knight and Occupy Wall Street: The Humble Rise” Hillsdale Natural Law Review, July 21 2012.

[2] Karthick RM, “The Dark Knight Rises a ’Fascist’?”, Society and Culture, July 21, 2012.

[3] Tyler O’Neil, op.cit.

[4] Christopher Nolan, interview in Entertainment 1216 (July 2012, p. 34.

[5] Interview with Christopher and Jonathan Nolan to Buzzine Film.

[6] Karthick, op.cit.

[9] Op.cit.

[10] Quoted from Jon Lee Anderson, Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life, New York: Grove 1997, p. 636-637.

[11] Quoted in McLaren, op.cit., p. 27.

[12] Op.cit., ibid.

[13] One should note the irony of the fact that Neeson’s son is a devoted Shia Muslim, and that Neeson himself often talks about his forthcoming conversion to Islam. 


All of Slavoj Žižek’s books published in Brazil by Boitempo are avaiable in ebook form. If you’re interested, find out more in the links below:

Revolution at the Gates: Lenin – The 1917 Writings * ePub (Livraria Cultura |Gato Sabido)

The Parallax View * ePub (Livraria Cultura | Gato Sabido)

Welcome to the Desert of the Real! * ePub (Livraria Cultura | Gato Sabido)

In defense of Lost Causes * ePub e PDF (Livraria Cultura | Gato Sabido)

Lacrimae rerum: essays on modern cinema * PDF * (Livraria Cultura | Gato Sabido)

First as Tragedy, Then as Farce * PDF (Livraria Cultura | Gato Sabido)

Living in the End Times * ePub (Livraria Cultura | Gato Sabido)

Also, there’s an article by Žižek on Boitempo’s Occupy: Protest Movements that Took the Streets (along with David Harvey, Mike Davis, Tariq Ali, Immanuel Wallerstein and others) * PDF (Livraria Cultura | Gato Sabido)


Boitempo Editorial is one of the most prestigious independent leftist publishers in Brazil, publishing house of radical thinkers from the classics of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Leon Trotski and Vladimir I.U. Lenin to György Lukács, István Mészáros, Slavoj Žižek, Alain Badiou, Giorgio Agamben, Perry Anderson, David Harvey, Mike Davis, Fredric Jameson and Tariq Ali. Among the Brazilian authors, publishes some of the greatest leftist intellectuals of our time, such as Emir Sader, Leandro Konder, Maria Rita Kehl, Michael Löwy, Ricardo Antunes and Vladimir Safatle. For Foreign Rights, visit our website or contact blog@boitempoeditorial.com.br.

29 comentários em Dictatorship of the Proletariat in Gotham City | Slavoj Žižek on ‘The Dark Knight Rises’

  1. Michel cernay // 09/08/2012 às 9:25 am // Responder

    I am surprised at the references Zizek gives to revolution and communism, and to the OWS reference.
    Such a big confusion ! The riots against riches in the streets have always been results of unbearable hunger (1789), or injustice (L.A. racial police killings). They are spontaneous, and last a short time. Opposite to that, the massive systematic repression on riches is lead by centralized dictatorship of a ruling party and his police (Stalin…Red Khmers).
    Against such unplanned and random riots, it is also true hat any kind of repression, as cruel as it can be, which killed people by thousands in Paris (June 1848, May 1871) has been justified by the Law, and even by the Church, just like Martin Luther had done during the Peasant’s war in Germany 3 centuries before.
    What Zizek does not notice is that, as soon as the workers’ movement builds up an Organization, a Party, the repression slows down drastically, because the “riches” get someone to talk to and negociate, and because the virtual violence of the Poors is channelized through trade unions actions and elections. Thenafter, a revolutionnary Take of Power in defined like a WAR action (Lenin: insurrection with the Red Guards), an extension of the war itself (Mao, after the Japanese defeat), or guerrilla (Castro, more than el Che), far far away from any “RIOT”.
    Hence, is totally false this equality between “”the people’s republic of Gotham City, dictatorship of the proletariat on Manhattan “” and the fact that “”film’s idea of people’s power: summary show trials and executions of the rich, streets littered with crime and villainy… A couple of months later, while Gotham City continues to suffer popular terror… “” I do not say that random terror never exists; just that communist system is the opposite of it- though another kind of oppression ( but this is another story).
    1, comment.
    Blame it on the incapacity by the Establishment to understand anything about Left and Right, Work and Capital, by the FilmMakers, or by Zizek himself, nonetheless, this critic,which shoud have been expected from Zizek, about the “amalgame” between mass riots and People’s Republic, is cruelly MISSING.
    Actually, this assimilation can be understood from a psychological point of view. The ransacking of the city during 2 monthes! Of course, in any movie, even in SF, a whole state, a whole planet is condensed in a single city. Ergo, Gotham stands for the whole of United States, and its corruption refers to the days of Batman’s birth: Prohibition, Untouchables, Maffia, early 30’es. In the 21st century, the Evil has to be elsewhere. The point is that the riches of Gotham are afraid, and have to suffer a long-lasting ransacking, not anymore from the mob (mobsters, maffia), but from the.. mob (the People mobilized). No surprise that this ransacking is exactly the fate they themselves impose on the workers, the victims of mortgages, the natural recourses, the oceans, and the Earth in general. This is where the psychology says: you are afraid of seeing in your victims the very crime you are committing yourself, and you cannot stand to watch it it, so you have to crush it at any cost. The People is clothed with the sins of the predator capitalism, and the mass anarchy, lawless trials, refer more to the de-regulation of the neo-liberalism that has left both simple employees and share-holders in a real jungle where the CEO are those who trick their financial balances and the banksters handle the interest rates at their will, in full dark secrecy, in the SHADOWS of their gated clubs.
    Many comments have been made about OWS. From a european point of view, this denounciation of capitalism appears obviously socialist, “left wing”, i.e.: liberal. Though, the OWS members share a lot of their vocabulary with LIBERTARIANS, they feel a deep attraction towards somebody as Ron Paul, who is located on the right of the Republicans. They mix the odds they suffer from Wall Street, with the power Washington imposes on the States and the Citizens. Definitely, OWS is not meant to ransack a city, but is bent towards setting a kind of primeval free market of free individuals trying their luck.
    So I do not understand why Zyzek keeps up with this analysis that the movie is a metaphore of the Establishment’s fear of OWS people, as these protesters are not poor people hating the riches, but individuals craving for wealth, for a democracy where people do have their share on this “land of opportunities”. Instead, he should criticize this confusion, and show that OWS is more embodied by Batman himself than by the rioters.


  2. I agree with much of your analysis. While the overt message of the film is almost indisputably reactionary (rich arms dealer teams up with noble cops to stop murderous leftists), there is still something going on here that critics on the Left should be careful not to dismiss too hastily. Any film that even acknowledges inequality or systemic injustice in a capitalist democracy is noteworthy, even if it’s only in the sense of a heavy-handed liberal message movie about the needy or unfortunate. But The Dark Knight Rises goes further — when have we seen such intoxicating images of radical people’s power and revolutionary insurgency on the Hollywood big screen? Especially in the biggest movie of the year? Mr. Zizek is quite correct that something elusive and explosive courses through this film. My heart soared at seeing the socialites of the Upper East Side hauled out of their penthouses and dumped on Park Avenue. Ultimately this sense of contemporary capitalist society’s vulnerability and corruption has to be pressed back into the box of a heroic story about fighting crime and (paradoxically) preserving the rule of law by breaking the law, but The Dark Knight Rises still captures a sense of things being terribly wrong and the people at the top being terribly insecure. My friends at Tropics of Meta have actually put forward a similar analysis:



  3. This isn’t a good analysis. It sure as hell isn’t funny. And, it definitely isn’t zizek piece.


    • boitempoeditorial // 13/08/2012 às 1:15 pm // Responder

      Dear Nicolai, Boitempo Editorial is a Brazilian publishing house.

      We’re the main editors of Slavoj Zizek’s books in Brazil. This article was written by Zizek and sent to us for publishing in this Blog, just like he has done before with several other articles (that you can find here: http://goo.gl/F5oOW), although this is the first one that we choose to publish both in portuguese and english. However, we do have plans to keep publishing the original english version of the texts from now on.


  4. There is a particular passage from CLR James’ ‘The Black Jacobins’ that would complement Zizek’s view (and mine which he cites) of Bane.

    “The slaves destroyed tirelessly. Like the peasants in the Jacquerie or the Luddite wreckers, they were seeking their salvation in the most obvious way, the destructIon of what they knew was the cause of their sufferings; and if
    they destroyed much it was because they had suffered much. They knew that as long as these plantations stood their lot would be to labour on them until they dropped. The only thing was to destroy them. From their masters
    they had known rape, torture, degradation, and at the slightest provocation, death. They returned in kind. For two centuries the higher civilisation had shown them that power was used for wreaking your will on those whom you controlled. Now that they held power they did as they had been taught.”


    “The cruelties of property and privilege are always more ferocious than the revenges of poverty and oppression. For the one aims at perpetuating resented injustice, the other is merely a momentary passion soon appeased.”


  5. Fredy Brown // 10/08/2012 às 1:36 pm // Responder

    The Dark Knight rises pictures OWS participants in the true aspect: bunch of confused useful idiots that can be used for purposes much worse and greater than those they oppose.


  6. PathetcImpostor // 10/08/2012 às 5:43 pm // Responder

    Aren’t you embarrassed about pretending to be Zizek just in order to get more clicks? Your analysis pretty bad that is no wonder that you gotta borrow a big name to make people read this crap


    • boitempoeditorial // 10/08/2012 às 7:22 pm // Responder

      Fellow reader, Boitempo Editorial is a Brazilian publishing house.

      We’re the main editors of Slavoj Zizek’s books in Brazil. This article was written by Zizek and sent to us for publishing in this Blog, just like he has done before with several other articles.


  7. PathetcImpostor // 10/08/2012 às 11:08 pm // Responder

    This is simply factually wrong, there is no other original Zizek article on this blog.
    Try again.


    • boitempoeditorial // 13/08/2012 às 1:18 pm // Responder

      You can find several articles, interviews and info on Zizek’s books here: http://goo.gl/F5oOW

      You’re right about the fact that this is the first one that we choose to publish both in portuguese and english. However, we do have plans to keep publishing the original english version of the texts, from now on.


  8. Reblogged this on braddunne.


  9. This is not Zizek.


    • boitempoeditorial // 13/08/2012 às 1:16 pm // Responder

      Dear V, Boitempo Editorial is a Brazilian publishing house.

      We’re the main editors of Slavoj Zizek’s books in Brazil. This article was written by Zizek and sent to us for publishing in this Blog, just like he has done before with several other articles (that you can find here: http://goo.gl/F5oOW), although this is the first one that we choose to publish both in portuguese and english. However, we do have plans to keep publishing the original english version of the texts from now on.


  10. Reblogged this on PROF NUTON and commented:
    Thanks Leigh – not the first time I see some relation between Bruce Wayne and christian symbolism.


  11. nescireaude // 14/08/2012 às 9:18 am // Responder

    I’m surprised that the authorship of Zizek is questioned.

    This text is totally in line with the recent writings of Zizek, in which he raises the question of the nescessity and perception of revolutionary violence. I don’t really understand the irritations about the text, which i find to be really interesting.


  12. nescireaude // 14/08/2012 às 9:27 am // Responder

    I just noticed the article is also linked from Slavoj’s egs-site:



  13. Reblogged this on erkembodee comentado:
    crumbling ling


  14. There are two ways of changing people: opression or sugestion, and there is no such pacific revolution, stop sympathizing with that. Things change by human action and not by the rule of matter, and who are you to conduce the change of others anyway?


  15. I question the author’s reading of the movie. While Bane called the uprising one of the people, it is clear that he holds power and continues to operate independently. He saves Talia with just a few words, and even the judge shown in the people’s court is none other than the villian of a previous Batman movie. Bane inspires the uprising, but continues to consolidate power while it, briefly, takes place. Then he is clearly in charge and clearly has a separate agenda he is pursuing. Any actual members of the people’s uprising are, in the words of a previous poster, useful idiots. Bane uses them as cover while he puts his real plans in place. If I am correct, then, the author’s whole thesis is in danger.

    A more useful example from popular culture might be the Trade Wars in Star Wars. Darth Sidious, then still the Supreme Chancellor, is behind the Trade Wars, which he starts in order to set the conditions for his real attempt at a take-over. He traumatizes Anakin Skywalker and legitimizes the Clone Army before they even appear. When he finally takes power he is cheered. In Batman Bane sets up the uprising, which legitimizes the blockade of Gotham by the military and the paramilitary. He, too, is seen as a liberator/terrorists by those who are unaware of his real, yet secret, agenda and actions.


  16. Step Three:  Treatment of Environment In addition, you will want to vacuum your carpet.

    I also know that two wrongs do not make a right, although two lefts most certainly do.

    Babesiosis is a vicious disease that is most common
    among young animals, puppies are especially susceptible.


  17. Moving review


  18. Sixteen Days after the Dark Knight movie debuts, a man with a blue turban gave his life stopping the gunman who killed 6 people. The man with a blue turban named Satwant Singh Kaleka!


  19. I read this post fully concerning the comparison of hottest and previous technologies, it’s awesome article.


  20. After that, the worst school massacre since Calvin Coolidge was in Sandy Hook. Jesse McCord Lewis, the illegitimate child, saved 11 lives that day.


  21. Jesse McCord Lewis was the cousin of Benjamin, William, and William Temple Franklin. So does, Victoria Leigh Soto.


  22. That year in 2012, the shooting victim was James: This time, James Radley Mattioli, a look alike of Mark A. Mattioli. Mattioli is the name of the cat allergy discoverer. Rest in peace, James.


  23. There is another hero: Mary Sherlach. She is the direct descendant of the American Revolution.


  24. Gotham City no FLIX


  25. Jack Reginald Beaton, Jr. is a true hero. So does, Brett Erin Schwanbeck. So does James Sonny Melton (the “Sonny” is not a nickname but a part of his given name like Sonny Curtis). So does, Erick Steven Silva (a man of Mexican origin). So does, John Joseph Phippen. So does Christopher James Hazencomb. So does Taylor Winston a hero. Due to the so many victims of Las Vegas, the heroes list is endless.


39 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Ditadura do proletariado em Gotham City: Artigo de Slavoj Žižek sobre “Batman – O Cavaleiro das Trevas Ressurge” | Blog da Boitempo
  2. Wednesday Night Links: Žižek, Affleck, and More « Gerry Canavan
  3. Slavoj Žižek on ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ | Progressive Geographies
  4. A Revolution in Gotham?: Žižek on The Dark Knight Rises « The Paltry Sapien
  5. Na na na na na na na na na na….. « Josh Watches Movies
  6. Slavoj Zizek sobre la última entrega de Batman
  7. Af hverju fór Egill Helgason út af Batman myndinni í hléi? | Hið persónulega og pólitíska
  8. Thinking Politics in The Dark Knight Rises « Indecent Bazaar
  9. The Dark Knight Rises and Research Plummets « The Guilty Conscience
  10. Links – August 12, 2012 | zota
  11. Breakfast in America: August 13, 2012 | Recess Appointment
  12. reprise: the dark knight rises « the regular grind
  13. Kester Brewin » Thoughts on The Dark Knight: Weaponised Violence, and Hand-to-Hand Fighting
  14. Review: Avengers Vs X-Men #10 - Page 9
  15. Ditadura do proletariado em Gotham City: Artigo de Slavoj Žižek sobre “Batman – O Cavaleiro das Trevas Ressurge” « Ficção e Não Ficção
  16. Proletäriatets diktatur i Gotham City « ужас
  17. » Lo visto y lo leído August 19, 2012 Big Blogger
  18. La Dictadura del Proletariado en Gotham City - Slavoj Zizek
  19. Gotham City und die Revolte | Golem - Journeys through the Other Space
  20. The politics of The Dark Knight Rises, or How Liberals Rule Hollywood | the first casualty
  21. The people’s republic of Gotham « difisin
  22. Anarquía y perversión de la razón en The Dark Knight Rises | Pijamasurf
  23. Anarquía y Perversión de la Razón en The Dark Knight Rises
  24. Bat Memories Part Two: The Dark Knight That Rises In Us All « Dr. Vincent M. Gaine
  25. Dictadura del proletariado en Ciudad Gótica ¦¦ Slavoj Žižek « Los Sueños de Piedra
  26. Un final digno de Hollywood | elhorizontal.com
  27. Dark Knight Review | John Hilliard's Blog
  28. Slavoj Žižek: 1st half of 2012 | 0909
  29. Slavoj Žižek: 2nd half of 2012 | 0909
  30. Gotham City, Once and Sometime New York | Redrawing the New York-Comics Relationship
  31. The Depiction of Occupy Wall Stret Movement In The Movie of Dark Knight Rises (2012) | façon de penser de l'apprenant
  32. The Fascist We Deserve: The Authoritarian Ideology of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy | bigtallwords
  34. NOLAN’IN LiBERAL MESİHİ: BATMAN – forexlitimes
  35. 影評:《敦克爾克大行動》(Dunkirk) – 將來雖好適榻香。
  36. 《敦克爾克大行動》(Dunkirk):曼妙對位法下無法休止的困境 – VALLIS
  37. Critical Fantasies
  38. Gotham City, Once and Sometime New York – Martin Lund
  39. Narrative and Neoliberalism – MustReid

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