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Post By
Grey Gargoyle

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 10,065
In Reply To
The Mandarin

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 5,476
Subj: Classic Mandarin (birthright & destiny) / Post 9-11 Mandarin (zeal)
Posted: Wed Aug 09, 2017 at 08:44:38 am EDT (Viewed 154 times)
Reply Subj: Absolute freedom is an oligarchy
Posted: Sat Aug 05, 2017 at 04:37:15 pm EDT (Viewed 142 times)


    Here's the thing I've come to realize via listening to Ayn Rand worshipers both in real life and on Fox News rant endlessly about their desire for freedom from regulation: absolute freedom is an oligarchy ruled by the strong.

    Real freedom in an adult context requires a great deal of regulation. Ayn Randites don't want real freedom in an adult context. They want an absolutely free jungle in which they are the de facto oligarchy because they have more power than anyone else.

    Thus do I think The Mandarin is very much in keeping with the sort of Ayn Rand worshiper one might see on Fox News: someone who wants the absolute freedom of the strong to prey on the weak by using their strength to create a de facto oligarchy. What they believe in really, is a form of social darwinism, but it is distinct from Apocalypse's form of social darwinism in that it sees oligarchy as the natural and preferred result of freedom.

In my answer I will use the term :
- Classic Mandarin when I speak about the Silver Age character when he appeared in stories done by Stan Lee & Don Heck,
- Post 9-11 Mandarin when I speak about the 2000s version of the character.

In my opinion, post 9-11, the backgrounds of both Iron Man & Mandarin were fundamentaly changed to update the characters for the 21th Century.

In Warren Ellis' Extremis story, Iron Man has to deal with terrorism. On the contrary, in the Silver Age, Iron Man's origin was linked to the Vietnam War. It isn't the same kind of threat.

I think that, when the Knauf brothers decided to update the Mandarin's background, they used Warren Ellis' story as a direct reference.

Since Extremis, Iron Man's origin has been linked to terrorism.

Thus, the Knauf brothers decided to turn the Post 9-11 Mandarin into the ultimate terrorist : a fanatic who is ready to sacrifice nearly everyone on the planet, including himself, for his cause (which is to spread the Extremis virus and transform the survivors into supermen).

This version of the Mandarin is compatible with your vision of the character.

Indeed, post 9-11, the Mandarin may have become an extremist who only believes that the strong should be free to prey on the weak , opposing Tony Stark, a free entrepreneur who believes in a well-regulated society.

But when I read again the origin of the Classic Mandarin, I see something radically different.

Like you said in older posts, Stan Lee & Don Heck were people of their time.
So, they had vivid memories of the instability of Asia during WWII, the 1945-1949 Chinese Communist Revolution, the 1945-1949 Indonesian War of Independence, the 1946-1954 Indochina War, the 1947-1948 Indo-Pakistani War, the 1950-1953 Korean War, the 1950 Invasion of Tibet, the 1950-1958 Islamic insurgency in Northwestern China, the 1959 Tibetan Uprising, the 1962 Sino-Indian War ... and they were contemporaries of the Vietnam War.

Basically, in 1964, Asia was a continent where the majority of the population lives in nondemocratic regimes and where both the USA & Western Europe were worried by the instability of the area and, at the same time, were using it as a surrogate battlefield.

Not all Asian dictatorships were communist. Some were authoritarian nationalist (such as Thailand & Indonesia).

The way I see it, Classic Mandarin's beliefs are closer to conservative authoritarianism than radical libertarianism.

I agree with you that absolute freedom is an oligarchy ruled by the strong but I don't think that Classic Mandarin believed in freedom.

Here is what I see when I read again the first page of his origin :

- Mandarin starts his story by speaking about his birthright. He is a direct descendant of Genghis Khan. Thus, his duty above all is to keep the prestigious legacy & proud traditions of his family alive, contrary to what his father did.

- He says that his father was foolish enough to marry beneath him, a high born Englishwoman. Thus, Mandarin believes that Asian Borjigin dynasties are superior to English nobility. It isn't the talk of a man who believes that society should be an absolutely free jungle where the strong would prey on the weak. It is somebody who believes in a caste system, that social discrimination & hostility towards Westerners are legitimate, and that, even among nobles, some have a much better lineage than others.

- Then, Mandarin explains that the fates themselves have had plans for him since his birth & the death of his parents. So, according to his beliefs, the dice were loaded at birth and he has to fulfill his destiny.

Thus, Classic Mandarin isn't a man who believes at all in freedom. On the contrary, he explicitely says that he believes in determinism & discrimination based on birth.

That's why, in my opinion, Classic Mandarin believed that he is the chosen one to restore traditional rules in Asia through the revival of an Asian Empire.

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