Ronald Reagan and Alan Moore: Great Minds Think Alike?

Ronald Reagan was famously conservative; Alan Moore’s politics are less famous but still widely enough known: the British writer is an anarchist. But as Matt Yglesias reminds us, there is an interesting overlap between the thinking of the two men. (Spoiler alert for those who haven’t read Watchmen; you might not want to read any further).

The plot of the Watchmen involves the end of the Cold War after a faked alien invasion unites humanity.

Reagan, too, often used the idea of an alien invasion as a heuristic pedagogical tool to argue that Cold War difference could be easily settled.

“At our meeting in Geneva, the U.S. President said that if the earth faced an invasion by extraterrestials, the United States and the Soviet Union would join forces to repel such an invasion,” Mikhail Gorbachev noted on February 17, 1987, wryly adding:  “I shall not dispute the hypothesis, though I think it’s early yet to worry about such an intrusion…” 

(More examples of Reagan talking about hypothetical space aliens can be found here).

Reagan to his credit had a real horror of nuclear war, which made him think about scenarios that could lead to peace. His willingness to talk to the leaders of the Soviet Union, much criticized by his hawkish conservative supporters, was his most praise-worthy political trait.

Carter Scholz, in the hostile review of Watchmen quoted in an earlier post, drew an interesting connection between real world political thinking and Moore’s fantasy: “And, alas, the world is full of indecent politicians masquerading as super-heroes, and their plots are even cruddier than Moore’s. Which may in fact be the twisted point of Watchmen after all: as in the despising alleys of sub-literature below, so above in the marbled halls of polity. A thought to leave all of us a’shudder.” But as it happens, in this case the overlap between public policy and pulp fiction had a happy outcome.

3 thoughts on “Ronald Reagan and Alan Moore: Great Minds Think Alike?

  1. I’m going to have to track down this Scholz review, which I’m not remembering myself at all, but this amuse-bouche skirts libelously close to authorial fallacy: say, rather, that there is an overlap in the thinking of Reagan and Ozymandias.

    Damn, sir, but you are actually making me feel sorry for Alan Moore. —I’m trying to figure out what’s happened in the world that makes it sane to read the ending of the book as “Yay! The superheroes have saved us once again!”

  2. Alan Moore’s “Watchmen” is a brilliant defense of Left fascism. It mainly works by lampooning American society, culture and history, so it attacks Western liberalism obliquely – the idea that eventually is got across is that the enemies of the Left, no matter how much integrity or principle they have on their side, no matter how lucid or rational their arguments, inevitably deserve only a quick death. Because otherwise the world will be destroyed.

    Reagan didn’t so much topple the Left in Russia so much as oversee the collapse. The Soviet Empire was a self-created hell of Marxist manufacture. That the Left for decades have been advocating exactly such a hell, calling it “paradise”, is a source of great embarrassment for them – as it should be – but like neo-Nazis who deny the Holocaust, they are not quite willing to give up on their monstrous amoral dreams of power and so wish to remake their legacy.

    “Watchmen” creates a fantasy world that is especially appealing to such people. This is why Alan Moore is so enthusiastically lauded. As for Reagan, I doubt he’d even heard of Alan Moore during his lifetime.

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