The Inevitable Collapse of Watchmen

Thursday, December 9, 2010
By Paul Martin

by Thomas Luongo

“Do you hear that, Mr. Anderson? That is the sound of inevitability. It is the sound of your death.” Those words, spoken by Agent Smith to Neo while choking him in The Matrix, articulate the great lie that statists use to force us to accept their rule. Sometimes the arguments are nakedly dismissive of human potential, à la Agent Smith, and sometimes their arguments are more subtle; masked by literary pretension and cloaked in a veneer of pragmatism and realpolitik. However, the underlying philosophy of statism is the same; man is a beast/virus/plague that needs to be controlled by their betters. There has to be something above man controlling his actions, someone higher up the food chain, as it were. It is the way of things. It is inevitable, so stop resisting, submit, and be thankful for our guidance.

Inevitability is a central theme in Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ graphic novel, Watchmen. John Osterman’s transformation into Dr. Manhattan, a being that is “…proof God exists, and he’s an American,” is the son of a watch-maker who sees all of time concurrently, not as a linear stream as we do, but as a tapestry depicting the interplay of the natural laws of motion. So does Adrian Veidt, Ozymandias, or so he thinks, and it is for this reason that he embarks on a lifelong quest to alter the shape of humanity, remolding it in his image. If Dr. Manhattan is the embodiment of the Deist god the cosmic clock-maker, then Adrian is the opposite, a meddling god, intent on improving his creation through his intervention. Veidt believes he is the only person with the insight, compassion and the will to do what is necessary in the face of man’s inherent barbarism. He executes his plan with a single-minded ruthlessness leading to the climactic wiping out of New York City.

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