Tuesday, 26 August 2008

The Holocaust

I have watched and read a great deal about the Holocaust recently, not intentionally, just by coincidence various bits of media crossing my path. The three main sources; I’m watching The Counterfeiters and Schindler’s List (which I’m watching for the umpteenth time because it is such a brilliant piece of cinema and Steven Spielberg’s finest work), and I’m reading If This Is A Man and The Truce, both by Primo Levi. “The Counterfeiters” is on sale in HMV and you can get the both Levi books in one edition for £5 including postage from Amazon. I highly, highly recommend all of them.

The people targeted by The Holocaust were Jews, Gypsies, Soviets, POWs, Communists, ethnic Poles, other Slavic people, the disabled, homosexuals and political and religious dissidents. You can bet that any non-Caucasian ethnicity would have been on that list too had the Nazis got their way. The highest estimate for the victims of The Holocaust was eleven million people. 11’000’000. That is the equivalent population of Greater London, Greater Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool and Edinburgh combined.

To me, there are two things that stand out about the Holocaust. The first, and the most terrifying, is that this vast, unnecessary loss of human life, this rampant slaughter fuelled by hatred, was committed by human beings against other human beings. Smart, intelligent people did these unimaginably barbaric, senseless things to other human beings.

It says something about our weaknesses and fallibilities as a species, that we could do this to one another, that we could be convinced to desire to turn men into beasts and become them ourselves. I am not saying that it exists in all of us, the ability to scheme and sketch such horror, but it exists in a few, the malfunctioning people in our midst: the men that would be pathological serial killers if they had not risen duplicitously through the ranks of power to lead a nation. And through their charismatic leadership, through their manipulation of the media of their time, through their rhetoric, control of knowledge and political destruction of the liberties of their people, they convince their populace and their soldiers to not only engage in but revel in monstrosities that do not even exist in the deepest corners of most men’s souls.

The soldiers that helped commit the horrors of The Holocaust were no different from the British soldiers or American soldiers that are fighting in Iraq. They were sent to kill the Jews, tripped up and brainwashed into serving a political ideal that was beyond their comprehension. They were serving their nation’s leader; they were serving their country with all the fervour they could muster. They were freeing the German people from the shackles of the evil and the weak that lay in their midst. Is that any different from our soldiers freeing the Iraqi people from the evil of a dictator and the killers that lay among them? I don’t think it is.

I am not equating what our soldiers are doing in Iraq to The Holocaust, merely that both parties were and are soldiers. They do not question their orders, they love their country, and they put their lives on the line to do it. It is not in their mindset to analyse the orders they are given, for does not every patriotic man believe that his country, his home, is the one that is right in a conflict? I believe that most often they do. And when the ruler of the country and his minions is quietly subverting the rule of law, misinforming the populace and silencing dissent (especially in a world before information ever travelled really freely), what can a soldier or a citizen think? They would not know what their Government was really doing. Would one ever question, when all they hear is propaganda and they do not realise it, that the rulers of their country are engaged in the most unspeakable acts of horror ever imagined?

Yes, the most terrifying thing about the Holocaust, in my eyes, is that in another time, you or I, any of us in such a controlled situation, without access to free, independent information, yes unaware of, we could be controlled in such a way. We could be brainwashed and convinced into being a part of such hatred.

The second thing about The Holocaust that stands out to me, the one that I find most shameful and distressing about the whole thing, is that we allowed it to happen. By we I mean both the victims and those of us that lived free, far away.

What enrages me, to a point, is that the people that were rounded up in the ghettos, the people that were marginalised and put away, they never really fought against what was happening to them. There were a few uprisings, but for the most part, the people involved never fought back. They let it happen to them. They never thought that their rulers could commit acts of such terror against them. It was naïve in a way; they never thought their government would make them second class citizens, they never thought they would take their homes, move them into ghettos and treat them like animals, they never thought there would be random, unpunished killings in the street by soldiers. Liquidation of the ghettos, the work camps and mass murder were only escalations of that. They saw the propaganda, they saw the way they were demonised, yet they never thought it would reach such a scale.

There was an acceptance that things would never get that bad. There was even an acceptance that they could get by, or could stand by dehumanised. By the time they reached Auschwitz or Dachau they were already broken. They stood by and allowed themselves to be brow beaten by men with guns. Brainwashed bullies. There was never any desire it seemed, never any real fight amongst the mass of the people, to stop this happening to them; to risk something and fight. Of course there were groups of people who tried to rebel, but there was never a real uprising of the entire population. Paul Johnson writes: "The Jews had been persecuted for a millennium and a half and had learned from long experience that resistance cost lives rather than saved them. Their history, their theology, their folklore, their social structure, even their vocabulary trained them to negotiate, to pay, to plead, to protest, not to fight.” I suppose their nature, and the naivety of others never led them to believe that a bullet in the head of the ghetto would have been several lifetimes better than a bullet in the head in Auschwitz, but is the right to be counted as and treated like a human being not worth risking death for?

And then there were The Allies. We stood by. It is believed that we learned the truth about The Holocaust in 1942. We were already aware of the ghettos, yet we did nothing. And then once we had proof from survivors about what was happening, we still stood by. For three years, we did nothing to stop this greatest of collective nightmares of the human race. Why? I ask. Why? By the 1st of February 1942, the United States Office of War Information had decided not to release information about the extermination of the Jews because it was felt that it would mislead the public into thinking the war was simply a Jewish problem It decided to sit idly by and deceive its own populace in an effort to get them to support the war. Had they known the truth, would they not have demanded action? Would they not have recoiled in horror and slept restlessly in their beds knowing that the mass extermination of a race of people was occuring? I hope with all my being that they would have.

Apparently, many of the The Allies, just like the victims themselves, never truly believed the stories of the gas chambers or the sterilisation experiments that managed to escape from the camps like abused children fleeing from a raging parent. It was thought to be war propaganda, viscious rumours to make the Nazis seem all the more terrible. It was just too unbelievable.

It was only in April of 1944 that The Allies began to take reports seriously. Before then the tales of escapees were just too far fetched. Never before had such unspeakable destruction of human life been witnessed or reported on such a massive scale; there was no frame of referance in our history that led us to believe that such evil could exist within the dark recesses of man’s soul. It was apparently muted that Auschwitz should be bombed, one has to wonder if that would not have been more humane.

David Wyman, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Massachusetts, has asked: “How could it be that the governments of the two great Western democracies knew that a place existed where 2000 helpless human beings could be killed every 30 minutes, knew that such killings actually did occur over and over again, and yet did not feel driven to search for some way to wipe such a scourge from the earth?” During his second visit to the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem on January 10 of this year, President George W. Bush said to Condoleezza Rice, “We should have bombed it.”

I think it is difficult to say whether the camps should have been bombed, because methods of bombing at the time were so haphazard at the time. Personally, I feel that given what was happening in those prisons of the human soul, bombing may have been the more humane option.

And what do we learn now from The Holocaust? What is there about a war that happened sixty years ago, many of the survivors of which are now dead or in the twilight years of their lives. What is there that we, now living in a 21st century world of internets, twenty four hour media, instant worldwide communication, energy crises and global corporations can learn from this unspeakable event that was wrapped within the most destructive war the world has ever known?

To me, there are three things that stand out. That we must always, always question and never be afraid to question what it is that our governments and our media tells us. Never again can we let a leader, however righteous he may appear, control the media and the political system so fiercely. Never again must we accept the marginalisation of any section of society.

Never again must we allow ourselves to go quietly in the face of injustice and hatred. Never again must we permit our species to fall victim to the trickery of propaganda in an effort to mobilise their emotions against any people. We should not have stood for it then, and we should not stand for it now. Unfortuantely though, we do. We report but do not act against the acts of murder that Governments enact on their citizens in nations less fortunate than our own. We acknowledge the horror of The Holocaust, because it was immediate to us, it happened so close to where we are. But the atrocities that other countries are committing today are like smaller scale versions of such barbarity to the people involved in them. We can not allow their voices to be ignored like the victims of the extermination camps were ignored. We must speak out, pressure leaders for action and be prepared to actually, sometimes put ourselves out on behalf of those that are suffering. So many condemn such acts, and so many do so little about them.

And finally, the most resonating message that The Holocaust leaves, that all of us, every person on this planet, is a human being. We must remember that it was simple, common anti-Semitism, xenophobia or homphobia that allowed The Holocaust a foothold amongst the population of Germany. It was that ignored bigorty that no one ever really bothered with that become the soft flesh that its brutal, iron claws sunk into and received support in. From simple dislike came hatred. From hatred followed the second class status. From there the ghettos, and then the death camps. It all started from that simple, quiet, unspoken dislike for groups of people based on nothing more than how or where or to whom they were born. We cannot allow that to repeat itself. Because it will, one day, if we allow it. It happens still around the world. Rascism, homphobia, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia. It is not something we should tolerate or accept. Because it is a slippery slope from there, one that leads to the worst of human nature. And all it needs is one person with the charisma and the voice to gain a little support, and it could happen again. No one ever thought it could be possible in the twentieth century, we must never take such senseless hatred so lightly in the twenty first.

We must never let it happen again.

Saturday, 16 August 2008


I hadn’t intended to comment on the Russia situation so explicitly, but there’s nothing like the impending start of World War III to change one’s plans.

Up until yesterday I was pro-Russia in the face of an onslaught of Western propaganda to attempt to paint them as the aggressors in this whole Goergia/South Ossetia mess. The media and Governments of Britain and the US have been on a role of disinformation over the past week, despite Russia only stepping into the conflict to prevent genocide in the separatist state. Georgia has lobbyists working in the Governments of Britain and the United States (yes, like everything, politicians and policy are still up for sale in the ‘principled’ west), which caused the surge in propaganda.

Many have called out the hypocrisy of the US and UK in their attempt to attack Russia for “invading a sovereign nation in order to further their political agenda”, when we did exactly the same in the sovereign nation of Iraq (the Presumptive Republican Presidential Nominee John McCain never (laughably) went so far to say “In the 21st century nations don’t invade other nations.” Video here: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=Wenld5jcyUQ ). They have done this justifiably so, as it needs to be pointed out, but, in the last twenty four hours Russia has become equally guilty of the same hypocrisy.


In short, Poland has agreed to host ten missiles for the United States missile shield program, and Russia is very unhappy about it. So unhappy in fact, that they have threatened a nuclear attack against Poland.

While I was with them in support of the democratically elected separatist state of South Ossetia, they are now ignoring the wishes of democratically elected Poland. They are guilty of the same hypocrisy that the US and the UK have been demonstrating since Monday. This new development in fact lends a new slant to the Russian involvement in the Georgian conflict, one that looks like they may have been acting in their own interests alone all the time, and have just used the opportunity to crush the government of Georgia and bring them back under Russian rule.

While both Russia and Georgia have now signed the ceasefire agreement, committing a withdrawal of Russian troops with only limited patrols inside of Georgia, there has yet been no response from any western nation of this sudden nuclear threat. I advise any who do to tread very, very carefully. We are almost back on the nuclear precipice of the late 60s/early 70s once again. Not in many, many years have relations been so strained.

Rest assured, the Russian sabre rattling is foolish, any attack on Poland would lead to a united Europe and America turning Putin’s playground into glass. The worry is that this would only awaken the Chinese against us, and unite them with the Middle East against the West, leading to what I think it will be safe to say, will be the end of the human race.

Diplomacy is the way forward, and compromise is necessary (particularly on the part of the US, as one must ask the question why they even need a missile shield in these days of relative international peace) but with crooked morons in Washington and crooked morons in Moscow, both of whom refuse to back down (after all their penises are soooo big), the coming weeks and months may prove very interesting indeed.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Fixing Planet Earth: Religion

Faith. It is a quintessential human trait. A feeling that runs through all of us a tone time or another in our brief lives. When we look at a beautiful sunset, or out at the stars in the night sky and we sit and wonder; what bought us all here? What caused all of this, and us? What is the meaning of this life, and what happens when we die?

The questions we ask are those that no one can answer, no one has ever come back from the dead to tell us where we go, and no one can step outside of the limits of time and view the absolute grand scheme of this experiment we know as the three dimensional universe. So for an experience that is so shared amongst us, for a feeling that touches almost all of us at one time or another in our lives, why does it cause such a problem on this planet?

It is one of the great plagues of the human species, the war over who is right. Muslims, Christians, Jews, Atheists, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Mormons, Zoroastrianism, Baha’i, Agnosticism, Paganism, Candomble, Jainism, Rastafari, Unitarianism, Taoism, Shinto or Santeria. Break them down further and you have Catholics, Protestants, Evangelicals, Baptists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Sunni’s Shi’ites, Otrthodox, Reformists, Literalists or Spiritualists. And there is, among the most heavily followed of these faiths, a great deal of problems that spring from their devotees.

Primarily, we see the major global strife between Christians/Jews and Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs, and all of them and Atheists. Why? What causes this? And how can it be solved?

Firstly, let’s clear one thing up; the holy books of every single religion were written by men. Not by Gods. These men may have been claiming to take direct or indirect inspiration from God(s) – in the case of Islam Muhammad receiving word for word dictation – but there is not a single shred of proof for this, only the word of these authors. Whether you believe them to be true or not is up to you.

So, now we’ve cleared up that the divinity of any religious text is only alleged and purely speculative (and there is no argument on that), let’s try to understand why religion is one of the great sociological problems of our time.

The main reason that the religious are such pests (and in using the term religious I refer to atheists as well), is that they are convinced that they and they alone are right. There is a deep seated refusal amongst the human species to say “I don’t know.” This comes in the shape of many atheists as well, who, while they admit that they do not know how this current flow of time and existence came to be, many of them categorically rule out that anything supernatural had anything to do with it, comforted as they are in the belief (a key word) that science can – and will – eventually explain everything. That is belief; that is faith. We may reach a point in heading back towards the beginning of time where everything just suddenly happens; all scientific knowledge breaks down and no explanation can be found, creation (for example) just occurs, almost as if at random and by magic. Then, I think it would be pretty safe to say, that something beyond the simple limitations of science was and maybe still is at work.

But if this were the way of our world, with everyone stubbornly acknowledging their particular sect’s superiority over all others, there would not be so many regional and global crises that occur because of religion. If there is one word throughout history that can go hand in hand with the institution of religion, it is war. Not the wars that are fought for business (that’s a different article yet to come), but the wars that are fought on faith and for faith. The war that says I am right and you are wrong. This kind of war has several possible outcomes; ‘You are a heretic, you must die.’ ‘You are a heretic, you must convert.’ ‘You are a heretic you must leave this land.’ All three spring from that belief that one group is right and the other is wrong, and God itself says so.

Because it is only when the religious congregate and organise that they become really dangerous. Many militant atheists would love to bring about the absolute death of all religion, believing the world to be a better place without it. Many Christians would love to rid the world of the atheists and the Muslims, the only two major groups that are a threat to their unrivalled power. In this blind conviction that you and you alone are right, and that the nature of existence itself proves this, humans have and continue to commit terrible, terrible acts of harm towards one another.

The most current, and gravest, example of the problem of religious conviction comes in the shape of the Israel/Palestine conflict. One nation claims that the land is holy to them. The other claims that it is holy to them. One group claims they were promised this land by God and that The Torah confirms this. The other groups claims that their religion has always been based upon this holy land and that their Prophet ascended bodily from a section of this land. Neither will relinquish their claim, neither will back down. The internal politics within these religions then break out. Israeli terrorists attack and murder Palestinian people, grabbing their land in the process. Palestinian terrorists fire rockets into towns full of people. A fringe faction of Israelis attempt to escalate the conflict in the hope that it will bring about the coming of The Messiah. A fringe faction of Palestinians escalate the conflict hoping that it will bring about the coming of The Hidden Imam. Christian America lends backing to Israel, as they believe too in the God of Jesus Christ. The Islamic states lend backing to Palestine, as they believe that God is named Allah and that Muhammad is his Prophet. And the rest of us peace loving people who have and want nothing to do with it, us Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, Atheists, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Jains have to suffer because of these two groups of people that refuse to share.

What are we all to do? The Atheist would naively say “Kill the ignorant.” The Christian would say “Kill the heretics.” The Muslim would say “Kill the infidels.” The Sikh would say “Kill the unbelievers.” The Hindu would say “Kill the blasphemers.” All are convinced they are right. None of them have any proof.

And proof is what keeps these foolish ideals alive. Proof, or lack of it, is what makes a Catholic know that anyone who doesn’t follow the Bible is going to Hell. Proof, or lack of it, is what makes an Atheist know that nothing will happen at all. Proof, or lack of it, is what makes a Buddhist know that they will be reincarnated, or maybe even reach Nirvana. It’s a foolproof system that means you can never be proved wrong, and that your enemies will always be made to eat their own words. That is where this ludicrous Christian notion of ‘saving’ people comes from. “I’m only doing it because I don’t want you to go to hell.” To which you should always reply, “Disregarding the Bible, where is there any proof that hell exist or that I’m going there?” The other oft-used argument is the “Well what if you’re wrong?” To which you should always reply “Well what if we’re both wrong and we both get reincarnated as slugs?” Wouldn’t it be a disappointment to a Christian that when they reached Heaven they learned that there is no hell, and that Hitler has a bar there? Wouldn’t it be a disappointment to a Hindu to learn that the reincarnation he was expecting doesn’t happen, and that all his existence is over and was for nought?

These are the questions that would solve the problem of religion. These are the questions that would solve the problem of religious war, persecution and hatred. To point out to the Israelis and Palestinians that they are fighting over land for which their only claim is that a) an invisible man promised it to them during an Exodus that is proven never to have happened, or b) was the alleged sight of where a man bodily ascended into Heaven in a book that was so open to interpretation in its original form that it makes “What is art?” seem like a yes or no question. When an Atheist shouts down a religious person, ask them, “How did the universe come into being?” And when they’ve explained the big bang, ask them “And before that?” It’s speculative. It’s all speculative. Whatever helps get you through this complicated, irrational, difficult and crazy shred of reality we call life is fine, but when you start imposing it on others, when you start claiming that you alone are right, when you start calling other believers stupid and when you start warring over it because a voice in your head told you that the other people are wrong, you should really step back, objectively and say ‘What incontrovertible proof do I have that they don’t?’ Ignore the belief, ask yourself for proof.

If theocracies, churches built on bigotry and coffee houses full of intellectual superiority did that, we just might get a little closer to that God that lies at the end of every great question we’ve ever asked ourselves.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Fixing Planet Earth: The Food Crisis

Possibly the most globally catastrophic effect of the West’s current mishandling of its economic stewardship is the impact that it is having on food and the access that humans have to it. Credit crunches, recession, gas prices, oil supplies and the bottoming out of the housing market, all these great economic woes are, at their very end creating what the global food crisis. Rising population + limited land + limited crop + limited finances = not everyone can eat.

Now, before you start worrying your own little head about how this affects you, you can chill. Anyone from Western Europe or North America can sleep easy. A recession could be a killer, it could tighten belts and cause great hardship for families and individuals, but no one (who doesn’t have the capacity to budget and live within their means) will be going hungry because they can’t afford food. You may have to shop at Morrisons instead of Sainsbury’s or M&S instead of Harrods, you might have to give up goose liver pate and daily helpings of fresh mozzarella (my own personal weakness) but you will never reach the point where food becomes so pricey that you cannot afford to buy any of it.

You’re a Westerner, the only group of people in the world where being fat is a bad thing. The only group of people that have developed allergies to food. Go to Ethiopia, I doubt you’ll find anyone with lactose intolerance or a strictly white meat diet over there. Being fat in over half the countries in the world be an achievement beyond the wildest dreams of the average citizen. So don’t worry, you will be eating at the weekend.

No, the people that are suffering at the ends of the global food crisis are those that need food more than anyone. It is the farmers, the abattoir workers, the fruit pickers and the shepherds; the men and women that live off the land, often in inhospitable regions, who sell more food than they eat, just to be able to afford the meagre amount that they live off of. It is they, those at the bottom of the ladder that produce the worlds food that are the victims of this crisis.

The explanation for what is happening is linked directly to the current energy crisis (article link here: http://milesweaver.blogspot.com/2008/07/fixing-planet-earth-energy-crisis.html) and ties into an upcoming article about war and another regarding mutli-national corporations. The three things form the crux of the economic problem facing planet earth. The food crisis is the by product of inactivity/wilful ignorance over the food crisis and the economic disaster caused when war is used as a business tool.

The current problem is easy to break down (the figures are simplified guesses in order to illustrate a point). A farmer in Patagonia sells his meat for $5 a kilo. $2.50 goes on living expenses, $1.50 goes on eating and $1 is saved. His food, bought for $5, costs another $10 to transport from Patagonia to Wyoming, where it is processed and sold by Walmart for $20 a kilo to the average American consumer.

However, the current Gulf crisis is driving up oil prices, meaning the ship that transports the farmer’s meat now cost $20 to fill instead of $10. Walmart, refusing to take a hit in profits, use their economic bargaining might to force the farmer to drop his prices. The food he grows and buys for himself still costs the same amount of money, so for the $3.50 he’s now being paid, $2.00 goes on his living expense and $1.50 on eating. Life is tight, but liveable.

However, the problem of the energy crisis comes into play, as the cost of heating and lighting Walmart increases, as well as the cost of the gas to truck the meat from port to store. Walmart increases the price of its meat by $5 a kilo, meaning it is now sold to the customer for $25 a kilo. The energy prices have driven the company’s costs up by $10 however, so, using its economic might again, it forces our farmer in Patagonia to drop the asking price for his meat down to $2. Now, he has $1 to cover his living costs, and $1 to buy food. Yet the food he buys has still not dropped in price, if anything it has increased, as the cost of getting it to him has increased. Life is now tough, and getting enough food to survive is proving difficult.

And that’s the food crisis, in a simplified nutshell. The people that no one really cares about, the guys that produce most of the cheap food; those $3/£1.50 prime beef steaks that we refuse to pay a higher price for, are the ones that suffer the most. And no one knows about it. This is a social problem, caused by the media’s disinterest in reporting such cases, and preferring to focus on more salacious stories, or lay the blame at the victim du jour’s feet (currently Gordon Brown).

As mentioned earlier though, the food crisis is a by-product, it is cannot be solved alone. Maybe if people knew that their 8pence bananas were only that price because the guy growing them is struggling to survive then they wouldn’t mind paying a little more, but the food that funnels into the upper echelons of the human hierarchy is taken for granted, expected to be cheap, and any change would cause public outcry. The British or American public don’t care about starving farmers, because the news anchor on Fox or the editor of The Sun or Bono hasn’t told them to. The only way to solve the problem is by affecting the others; addressing the energy crisis, dealing with the problems of war and corporate might, and perhaps educating ourselves just a little bit better. If only knowledge were cheap food.

“And Here… We… Go!” The Lone Problem With The Dark Knight

It pains me to write this, because I love the movie so much, I think it’s one of the finest films to come out of the tired, turgid, dull and unadventurous Hollywood machine in almost a decade. However, there are two moments in the film that are unforgivable because they – when given a moment or two to think about them – shatter the entire mythos that Messrs Nolan have been building with their spellbindingly brilliant reinvented Batman movies.

The crime actually happens twice, though in different ways. The first occurrence, in the sequence that I felt was most worthy of being chopped – partly for the reason I am about to detail – was Bruce Wayne/Batman’s sojourn off into the South China Sea to go and play extraordinary rendition with the gangster Lau. The sequence (in my opinion) is more Bond than Batman, and is something that could and should have been dealt with within the confines of Gotham through sharper script writing. I know it was fun to see Batman travelling the world and in a different location, but his trip out into China causes the logical problem I am commenting on.

The second occurrence of this problem, comes far later in the film, I think not long after The Joker has been to the hospital. There is a moment when Gary Oldman’s Jim Gordon (probably the most underrated performance of the movie) says “We’ve got to call in the national guard.” Or words to that effect. It is the second occurrence of the logical problem. The problem that single handedly destroys the logic of any superhero movie.

The problem is this, the moment you take Batman to China, or the moment you refer to bringing in the national guard, basically the moment you root Batman in our reality and not in his own, you expose the absurdity of the story. If the Chinese Government – in between barring former gold medallists with agendas from the Olympics – are harbouring a known financier of one of the entirety of Gotham’s criminal society (let’s take Gotham as being about the same size as modern day Chicago, where the film was set) do you not think the CIA or the FBI would be involved? Do you not think he would not have been able to just march out of the country? And do you think America’s only way of getting this fellow back would be Batman?

When Gordon mentions bringing in the national guard, after The Joker has caused the havoc he already has, killing off public figures, cops, civilians and politicians left right and centre, do you not think the FBI, the CIA or – God forbid – the national guard would not have been bought in a little sooner to deal with him? Why would they leave the capture of this terrorist up to an ineffectual city police force? If the national guard couldn’t stop him, why doesn’t he head to New York or LA? We know the Caped Crusader doesn’t mind travelling. Again, do you really think Batman is America’s only hope of stopping him?

Batman Begins never encountered this problem because it was grounded in its own reality. There was no US Government or national guard to bring in and save Gotham. It was just Batman and the GPD. The moment you mention the national guard or renditions in China, you put Batman in our reality and he becomes silly. Would the Government not try to track down the man who kidnapped and illegally extradited a known and wanted criminal? Would anybody in the US Government stand for this vigilante crap that Wayne is pulling? No.

The film is amazing, without a doubt. Finely crafted, suspenseful, superbly acted and – almost – perfectly written (I did not have a problem with the film’s length). But in putting Batman in our world in 2008, you destroy the necessity for his character. You destroy everything about him. You make him a psycho in a rubber suit running around catching criminals. He ceases to be any type of hero or even anti-hero and is little more than a loon that the Government would arrest and put away. You turn The Joker from a psychopathic criminal genius into a lucky loon – cheapening his work into little more than domestic terrorism - who’s only getting away with what he’s doing because the national guard, the FBI or the CIA haven’t been called in.

Putting Batman in a world with Chinese Governments and national guards puts him in a world where he is obsolete, because The Jokers and the Laus would be dealt with before they become a problem. Because that’s what happens in the real world. Hopefully, for the follow up – if there is one (I’m assuming it’s inevitable) – Nolan will disregard these passing attempts to try and make Gotham a real place in our world, and Batman a real character, and keep him in the fantasy world in which he belongs. Otherwise, you really have to question why a Government that wiretaps its own citizens, tortures suspected terrorists and bombs the shit out of foreign countries that might be a threat, wouldn’t just seal off Gotham and ultrasound scan the city to find the Batcave, the villains hideouts, and the silly writers who – to me – take a film of near genius and reduce it merely to astonishing greatness.