Saturday, July 28, 2012

War & Revolution: The Dark Knight Rises & the Great Socialist Lie

My very deepest condolences to victims and families of the terrible shootings in Aurora, CO: I had a cousin murdered in the Northern Illinois University shooting, and know these tragedies are incomprehensible; it is not only terrible for the families, and for Aurora, but for all America as well and all my thoughts and prayers are with the victims.
This post contains spoilers, as always, so please do not continue reading if you have not watched the film; if you insist on reading anyway, then please read this excellent synopsis of the plot with spoilers so you will have an idea of what is being discussed.  Please note in this power how the sign of the bat is in relief against the skyscrapers of Gotham; who built the skyscrapers? The upper-classes, of which Bruce Wayne is a member and this is the whole point of the film. In spite of the speech President Obama gave telling business owners they didn't make it on their own, Christopher Nolan prophetically knew to tell us all, yes, you did do it and don't let the socialist government take it away from you.
I had been extremely concerned that Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises (TDKR) would be a socialist/pro-Obama film (mainly because of rumors that Batman/billionaire Bruce Wayne would die) but The Dark Knight Rises has proven through and through that it is pro-capitalist and anti-socialist; other films professing capitalism have been extremely pro-capitalism, but have shied away from  attacking socialism except Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (which focused on being anti-socialist instead of pro-capitalist). Nolan, however, very carefully weaves the two stances together (pro-capitalist and anti-socialist) providing the most cathartic answer possible to the changes and destruction being wrought in America today by President Obama.
Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark (Iron Man) are nearly identical fellow billionaires. Filmmakers know we are educated audiences: we have seen films and we remember what we have seen and filmmakers use this to their and our advantage (Reader Response Theory). For example, Alfred (Michael Caine) finds Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) in the Bat Cave, where he hasn’t been in years, and confronts Wayne about getting his life back and Wayne tells Alfred, “There’s nothing out there for me,” invoking another Robert Downey Jr. film, Sherlock Holmes of 2009 when Holmes tells Watson (Jude Law) the same thing just before the execution of Lord Blackwood. In America, the land of wealth and opportunity, it’s fitting that two of our most beloved heroes would be billionaires, but they are not self-made, they are heirs to fortunes and industries built by others. Why? How does that substantiate the American dream today for us? If we look at it symbolically, we—like Stark and Wayne—have inherited a great legacy in America, and we have to protect it. Both billionaire super-heroes lose everything (Stark is left with nothing when he’s kidnapped in the first Iron Man and Wayne is framed for crashing the stock market and loses everything). Both men have physical impairments (Tony loses his heart and has to have the generator put in, Wayne has seriously damaged his joints and muscles to the point of being nearly crippled). Both billionaires invest heavily in “green energy” and both find it turned against them to end the world. Both billionaires risk their lives to carry bombs away from the financial capital of the world, New York City. But there is another similarity as well: both are capable of “fixing” the engine of the economy. As discussed in my post The Avengers @ War, it’s Tony Stark who starts up the “engine of the state” again after the SHIELD ship is attacked; Bruce Wayne fixes the “auto pilot,” in The Bat (the new helicopter/military plane Batman flies) and an auto pilot references the “invisible hand” guiding the economy which Adam Smith theorized in The Wealth Of Nations.  The importance The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises places on the “mis-investment” in green energy is two-fold: first, it reminds Americans about the government’s bankrupt alternative energy programs that has cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars and how, unlike the free market and free enterprise, the government (known as a command economy in socialism because the government decides what will be produced instead of the market via consumers) failed to understand the economic forces which could have made the alternative energy program a success. The second point is: capital. Socialism considers capital to be the root of all evil (excess wealth which private individuals/enterprise can invest in ventures they hope will prove profitable) is mis-handled when the government gets involved in directing the economy (the heavy, clumsy hand vs. Adam Smith’s invisible hand) and everyone loses.       
The Dark Knight Rises utilizes a surprising, old-school weapon as American and impressive as Captain America’s stars and stripes uniform: dichotomies. Starting in about the 1960’s, international politics and academics argued against the use of dichotomies such as man and woman, white and black, capitalist and socialist, rich and poor, elite and bums, because structuring society that way meant that a fraction of those falling into the “less desirable” category (such as “women” in the dichotomy of man and woman) would be politically, socially, sexually, financially and psychologically stigmatized by a society structuring itself to honor some (such as white men) and, the argument went, keep others in society down “in their rightful place” such as women or other political minorities. Nolan, however, brings this back and uses it to amazing efficiency realizing that such a bedrock of American ideology had been intentionally undermined by those wanting to take down our defense of social discourse against socialist agents such as Bane and Miranda.
Perhaps the two most important characteristics of Bane are his mouthpiece and the jacket he wears. Why does he wear this particular jacket? The under-part is made of sheep’s skin with leather on top. The phrase “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” fits Bane’s activity in the film, because after taking over Gotham he makes it seem like it’s “for the people” and the people are going to benefit from Bane’s condemnation of those who have oppressed “the people” and the rich and powerful will pay for their decadent ways. As events unfold, however, it’s the top-part of the leather-sheep skin jacket (the wolf) taking over, the animal passions and appetites leather symbolizes, and no one is safe from Bane’s “justice” and new program of social rehabilitation. As President John Adams said, a government strong enough to give you everything you want is also strong enough to take it away, and The Dark Knight Rises makes it clear that the power being ruthlessly exercised by Bane gives only to take back later.
By doing this, enemies of America were slowly but surely chipping away at the “bedrock” of American values and morality (just like Bane’s army chipping away at the underground structures of the city to cause it to collapse) so the demolition of dichotomies demolished American morality and, ultimately, our greatest weapon for fighting against socialism and communism was socially outlawed decades ago, leaving an open door for political dissidents to enter and be protected by the Constitution. (I AM NOT talking about superficial dichotomies like man and woman, rather, those such as good and evil, productive and lazy, success and failure, ideas which have been condemned wholesale by liberals because they want everyone on an artificially leveled playing field; please see the football picture caption below for more).
The second dominant characteristic of Bane is the mouthpiece and the inaudibility of some of what he says. First, the mouthpiece symbolizes the appetites (like the leather on his jacket) so we should be aware of the "wolf" more than the sheep. When we first see Bane, he and his thugs high jack a plane and one of the CIA officers ask him about his mask, “If I pull it off, will you die?” and because of Bane’s breathing patterns and the reference to the mask and life/death, it invokes Darth Vader. Why? Well, what do we know about Vader? He was a great warrior who turned to the dark side and mis-used his gifts. Because there was so much controversy surrounding Bane’s audio and whether Nolan should edit it to make it more audible, we must engage Nolan on the point of this “noise” intentionally left within the film (what we can't understand). Why would Nolan do that? "Noise” is an artistic device artists use in various mediums to accentuate what we are not hearing, what we should be listening for but aren’t hearing, or that something is being said that we can’t possibly hear. This is the reason Bane's audio is inaudible, to reflect the socialist discourse being carried on and how, when the government says it's going to provide health care, we should be listening for what they aren't saying: we are going to create the largest tax hike in history and create an ever greater dependence of citizens upon the government and take away your rights.
If certain dichotomies permitted enemies of America (and yes, we can call them enemies of America, that’s part of Nolan’s agenda, to free up the conservative vocabulary so we who are afraid of what’s happening can talk about it freely) to bury American ideals we now need to resuscitate, we can accept Nolan’s invitation and see Selina (Anne Hathaway) as a thief and not someone “under privileged,” and Marion Cotillard’s character Natalia as an import of foreign animosity intent upon American destruction and not her ulterior identity “Miranda” who stands up for rights of prisoners (the “Miranda” rights read to someone being arrested [prisoners are the first released as the “oppressed” later in the film]) just a political “other” in the sanitized language of liberalism. 
“Let the games begin!” Bane says, detonating a football field which collapses and he then introduces himself to Gotham. As long time readers of these pages know, that’s not just a casual comment, either in the film or in the context of other films released in the past year, specifically Moneyball and The Hunger Games.  In the context of TDKR, what does this mean? In terms of theory, a “game” is established by rules whereas “play” is the absence of rules. Moneyball taught us about re-inventing the rules of the game so that we could individually benefit from them; The Hunger Games, on the other hand, personalized the game of "supply and demand" the free market dominates and turned the war of products that capitalism is into a war of children. Similarly, Nolan sees a vast difference between capitalist and socialist economies, but his primary concern appears to be with the "revolution" being proposed by so many films such as Dark Shadows and Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. In revolution, which Bane calls for in the film, there are no rules, as evidenced by the mock court presided over by the Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy). Nolan further proposes that the playing field of the economy has now been "undermined" by the socialist party trying to take over America and I couldn't agree more (the exploding football field pictured above).  Why is game theory important to TDKR? In terms of "rules" or "anarchy," it makes us realize what chaos our world will be turned into if/when the socialist revolution takes place in America, as when Selina has been locked in jail and watches in horror as the prisoners take over Gotham. To socialists, the blowing up of the football field creates an artificially level playing field for all--so no one has any unfair advantages--but Nolan's dramatic image illustrates for audiences the violence and underhandedness with which this is done (turning a capitalist economy into a socialist economy).
Yet The Dark Knight Rises presents dichotomies within ideals, namely the capitalist hope and the socialist hope, capitalist change and socialist change, capitalist death and socialist death, capitalist freedom and socialist freedom. Why is this important? Because when someone starts talking about “freedom” today, the traditional understanding was freedom from government tyranny and freedom to make your own choices; today, socialists have changed freedom to mean freedom from responsibility, work, and not having to make decisions but letting the government do that for you and provide everything for you; freedom for socialists is freedom not to be an American. Nolan employs two strongly contrasting images to compare the capitalist ideals with the socialist agendas: the Pit and the ice field.
Orphans have been playing an interesting role in films of the last year because, symbolically, it means those who have no "motherland" or "founding fathers," so to this generation, there is a sense of being lost (America doesn't belong to them). Three important orphans in the film are Miranda (both parents dead), Bruce Wayne (both parents dead) and Blake (both parents dead). Miranda and Wayne are in diametrical opposition to each other, she symbolic of the forces of socialism and even evil (The League Of Shadows of which her father was the founder/head) whereas Wayne is a fighter for good and social justice; it's to Wayne that Blake looks up and is inspired by because this is how it really happens: we are meant to inspire each other to great things, and Blake intuitively knows that Wayne is Batman because Blake has pain he has to hide just like Bruce Wayne and that's the first mask Blake takes off only to find the other. But removing the mask of pain helps Blake understand why Wayne would turn his pain into a greater good for society (which is what socialism argues it alone can do) and that mask he wears as Batman is the mask of good. There is, however, another orphan outside TDKR to which we can compare both Blake and Wayne: Sam in Moonrise Kingdom. Because no one likes him (few people in America like socialism and the camp Ivanhoe sitting is like a commune), and he runs off with Suzy (a young woman she can symbolize the future "motherland" of America), Sam could be understood to be the future "Uncle Sam," the future government of America that will also be the law (because he's adopted by the sheriff and seen wearing a child's sized law uniform).  Wes Anderson's pro-socialist agenda then gives us a promise that even though the marriage between Sam (future socialist government) and Suzy (future motherland of America) wasn't binding, they have shared a journey together that won't fade away (the Obama years). TDKR, on the other hand, alerts viewers to the deadly forces undermining all of society and the consequences if those forces are allowed to succeed.
Miranda and Wayne are the strongest sets of dichotomies within the film: she is female, he is male; she was born into a prison of poverty, he was born into a mansion of wealth; her masked identity is being used to destroy the world and his masked identity is being used to save it. We are used to seeing Wayne Manor (where Wayne was born) but not The Pit, the prison where Miranda (Natalia) was born and escaped. At the point of juncture in the film, Miranda and Wayne switch positions and she is the controller of Wayne Manor (through Bane) and he is locked up in The Pit. What Wayne has to learn is how to climb out of the hell on earth that the prison is (because this prison is exactly what socialists see as a capitalist society).
Like all good critiques of capitalism, Nolan knows that capitalism is a great structure for economic activity but the people are flawed and easily lead astray whereas socialism is itself a flawed structure and no amount of good people can make it work, but by working to make people better, capitalism can be better. The "lie" of who killed Harvey Dent and what Dent did is the opposite of the "socialist lie" Nolan exposes in TDKR, but Batman's and Gordon's (Gary Oldman) collaboration for what they thought was a greater good failed miserably which is Nolan's acceptance of Adam Smith's theory that it's always best to act out of self-interest rather than the interest of society because we can't be as "all-knowing" as we must in order to know what will actually be for the best (i.e., if Batman would have been more interested in how people viewed him, then he would have allowed people to know the truth about Harvey Dent instead of trying to cover it up, rather like Alfred not giving Wayne the letter Rachel wrote telling him she was going to marry Dent and hence, Wayne holding onto her memory for eight years). Why does Nolan take time to do this? Someone who genuinely has society's best interests in mind--like Batman and Gordon--couldn't make the right call on this simple issue, so how on earth can a corrupt government decide what is best for society all the time in all circumstances (a socialist, command economy that controls all aspects of life)?
Like all films advocating capitalism, it starts by first showing the problems dishonest people have perpetuated even if their intentions were good. The first image of the film is of ice cracking, symbolizing the cracking of the facade that led to the breakdown of society, but this is juxtaposed against the second image of capitalism Nolan presents to us: the ice field. In the mock court mirroring the proceedings of the French Revolution, everyone is all ready guilty, they only have to be sentenced to death or exile. One character, claiming he is on the side of the revolutionists (I will talk more about him later) chooses exile and is led to a pond with thin ice that he must walk across; he does and of course falls into the icy water below, drowning. Why this? Because to socialists, this is what a capitalist "opportunity" is but it's better understood in relationship to what Wayne endures in The Pit. 
After Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) gives a speech about Harvey Dent, we see the CIA making a deal to rescue a kind of political refugee, Dr. Pavel, who wrote the paper about how to invent the fusion bomb Wayne industries built in order to create a self-sustaining, free energy source for Gotham (but has been turned into a bomb by Bane and Miranda). Bane needs Pavel to finish the conversion from energy-source to bomb so kidnaps him from the CIA but does a blood transfusion on Pavel into a dead body (left to die in the crash) so government officials analyzing the scene will think Pavel died in the crash. This transfusion between the identity of the bodies is also a play on the fusion bomb and the play on the identity of bomb and energy source, that which will condemn Gotham or deliver Gotham. We have also seen this “transfusion” in The Amazing Spider Man with cross-species genetics (taking DNA from an animal and transfusing it into a human) and we might see it in The Bourne Legacy when Aaron Cross’ (Jeremy Renner) chromosomes are transfused/switched with each other (from what we have learned in the trailer so I’m not prepared to talk about this film yet, but it’s something we will need to look forward to when it comes out). In both The Amazing Spider Man and The Dark Knight Rises, we have the “foreingness” of the introduction of the blood/DNA into the other body and on a small scale presents us with a mirror of what has been done to the economy by  the Obama administration: socialist policies (the Auto Bailout, the Wall Street Bailout, Obamacare, trillion dollar stimulus packages) have been introduced (transfused) into a capitalist economy.
(When Gordon and his fellow officers are forced to cross the ice, they are spread out enough that their weight distributes the pressure, thereby not cracking the ice. What is Nolan saying? No one in a capitalist society is on their own, they weigh their risks and everyone is taking the same calculated risk; the socialists, on the other hand, want you to believe you are all alone and you can't possibly make it in a capitalist society and you are going to sink and drown all on your own unless the government is there to take care of you).
I predicted she would be problematic and she is, yet she embodies and important aspect of American history as well: why people came here. Selina tells Wayne, “You start out doing what you have to and then people won’t let you do what you want to,” so she steals Wayne’s fingerprints (and his mother’s pearl necklace) for a trade on a computer program that will erase her poor criminal record and she can have a "clean slate" once again; why is this important? This has always been the legacy of America, that it's a land of opportunity where you can achieve your dreams and you have the satisfaction of working for those dreams and accomplishing something on your own (like Tony Stark building Iron Man with his own hands instead of it being "handed to him" like everything else in his life). Selina needing that clean record is also her needing someone to believe in her, like Bruce Wayne who can give her the chance she needs. Selina's ability to "crack an uncrackable safe" is Nolan's way of verifying that formula of capitalism: it doesn't seem like any of us "little people" could "crack into" the millionaires'/billionaires' club, but we can, this is America, and many of those who are at the top now are there because once they were at the bottom, and that's the secret combination, the formula, that capitalism offers for those who are willing to try. Hence, the stolen pearl necklace--pearls symbolize wisdom--is finally given to Selina because of her wisdom in doing the right thing and being rewarded for it by the country that always rewards its industrious children, America.
Bruce Wayne has to crawl out of the open-air prison (it's supposed to be hell on earth because all the prisoners can see the sky above them and nothing holds them back from scaling the walls and escaping, except that it can't be done; only one person has escaped and that was a child, Miranda/Natalia) and twice he fails. One of the other prisoners tells him two things: one, you have to be afraid of death and, two, you have to do it as the child did, without the rope (they have a rope which they tie around them so if they fall they don't fall to their deaths). Why are these the two secrets to getting out?
Bruce Wayne in The Pit, which is very similar to the orphanage Blake grew up in. Just as there is someone helping Wayne in The Pit, and there was someone to help Miranda in The Pit, there was someone to help Blake and that was Wayne Enterprises that made additional donations so boys like Blake would have safe havens for longer. We have the choice to believe that we are all alone, but Nolan doesn't want to make it easy for us to believe that, rather, where there is a will, there is a way; not everyone has the will, but for all who do, there is a way out and that is infinitely superior in providing the greatest good to the greatest number of people rather than a socialist society keeping everyone down and in the same place.
First, this is the notion of capitalist death, that you do or die, you don't die in the prison, but you lift yourself out of it (and this in turn inspires others to be able to lift themselves out of it, too) but that fear of death means that you will give it everything you have. Secondly, not climbing with the rope is the second rope image used in the film (at least): ropes (high-tech ones) are used to hold back the airplane Bane escapes from in the start of the film (because the government has been artificially holding back the "engine" of the economy which the plane symbolizes) and the second image is the rope prisoners tie around them to keep them from falling to rock bottom when they fail to climb out of The Pit. Nolan makes the argument--as all capitalists do and up to this time in history, nearly all Americans did--that the rope is the artificial means of government regulations and bail outs. If you don't have the artificial support of the government, you can make the leap you need to in your business/dreams, but if you are being artificially supported from failing, you can't successfully make that leap.
One of the great ways Nolan employs dichotomies throughout the film and on varying levels: prisoners. In the beginning of the film, Wayne is very much a prisoner of Wayne Manor (having retreated from public life after Dent's death) but he's also a prisoner in The Pit. When Bane releases the prisoners (pictured above like the storming of the Bastille during the French Revolution) all of Gotham becomes a prison for the "good people" who abided by the laws and were good citizens. This is what Nolan wants us to know about socialism: it turns life and the world upside-down.
When Natalia escapes and Bane is "consumed" by the other prisoners, that moment invokes The Day Of the Locust when Homer (Donald Sutherland) dies by being consumed into a mob after he stomped to death an annoying child. The Dark Knight Rises does the exact opposite with Bane saving a child and being consumed by the mob. The scene is important because it’s part of the inner-story of the story The Dark Knight Rises which, just like us now, decoding and working with the major elements of the film, we try to “identify” who is who and what is what, so Wayne tries to identify the major players of the story he is told in the Pit and in accurately identifying who is who, he solves the mystery of motivation. Like Dark Shadows, Americans tend to see two faces of socialist revolutions: a noble idea (Natalia/Miranda) and the brutality (Bane and the other prisoners). Bane being crushed by the mob suggests the fall of the Soviet Union and all the countries in the commonwealth abandoning the socialist system (the beating up of Bane and taking revenge on the brutal Soviet state). Natalia escaping would symbolize the "noble ideas" of socialism some are still attracted to today, parading around in the upper-classes and hiding in "save the world projects" intentionally bankrupting investors.
Why do people in the city start leaving the mark of the Batman in chalk around the city? It plays into Jacques Derrida’s idea of erasure: chalk is easily erased, but what Batman did for the city, and who he is and what he can do, “can’t be erased” from the city and the hearts of the people. Likewise, please note places where the "chalk bat" are left: buildings, streets, bridges, the infrastructure of the city, verifying that the upper-classes built up the city, not the government, rather, private enterprise. That’s why, after Commissioner Gordon has to walk across the ice, Batman gives him a flare which lights up a Batman mark on a tower in fire, because the “fire of love” for Gotham has been lit and people and Batman are willing to fight and die for it.
So there are some things that can’t be erased, and there are some things that should be erased, like Selina’s record, which Batman/Bruce Wayne willingly erases each time she betrays him and he still keeps giving her another chance and gives her the program to erase her criminal past for the “clean slate” (like a clean chalkboard) she wants to write her own story the way she wants. Isn’t that what many people coming to America wanted, after all? This is juxtaposed, even violently, against the “mock court” system which Bane constructs to put on trial all those Bane wants executed. Those being tried don’t have the benefit of innocent until proven guilty, they are all ready guilty and have only to be sentenced to death or death by exile. 
The way Bane gets the mask he wears appears to have been changed from an earlier trailer I saw of that snippet of the film was left out (where Bane is given an injection of some kind and he gains super strength and some madness as well). The general story Wayne is told by a fellow prisoner runs: there was a mercenary who fell in love with a leader’s daughter whom he married and he was sentenced to the Pit but was allowed to leave because his wife took his place but was pregnant; dying after the baby was born, the child grew in the Pit and was able to climb the wall to escape, the only person who had ever done so. Wayne identifies that child as Bane himself, but realizes too late that the mercenary was Ra's Al Ghul (Liam Neeson) and his daughter, Natalia, has been posing as Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) and she was the one, not Bane, who escaped.  So who is Ra's Al Ghul?
Nolan makes the imperative point that this is one of the reasons the upper-class and private industry is so important: technological advance. It was an important motivation in the first Iron Man that America had weapons no one else in the world did and TDKR makes the same case. The stealing of the tanks and other capabilities by Miranda and Bane from Bruce Wayne and Wayne Enterprises is Nolan's blatant attack on the socialist government "stealing" everything capitalism has done for the country and taking credit for it themselves as well as using what capitalism has done to benefit the country and turning it against capitalism as an accusation.
There is a pyramid relationship Nolan constructs: with Bane at the top, the radical socialist is supported by the mid-section, Miranda/Natalia, the daughter and avenger and, supporting both of them, is Ra's al Ghul, the leader of the League Of Shadows. Christopher Nolan does not have to be a Christian or a Republican to invoke traditional, 2,000 year-old iconography to communicate to his audience he knows we also know what these ideas and symbols mean, especially when we have all ready seen them employed in John Carter. "Ra's al Ghul means "head of the demon" in Arabic, there is no getting around it, and Nolan employs this to let us know that's exactly where socialism comes from. Because The Pit is likened to hell, and Ra's al Ghul appears to Wayne in “hell” and talks about his immortality, we can and probably should liken the leader of the League of Shadows to the devil, especially when his daughter Miranda/Natalia tells Batman about her detonating the atomic bomb, “I completed my father’s work,” inverting what Jesus told Mary in the Temple when He was twelve and Jesus did on the Cross. Which leads us to the question, why does Wayne sleep with Miranda?
Three important narrative devices are revealed in the scene of Wayne and Miranda being together: first, Wayne reveals that he thought Miranda had come from money and been rich all her life; secondly, we learn that Miranda knows how to “stoke the fire” because she will “stoke the fire” Bane starts with his people’s revolution in Gotham and, thirdly, that Miranda is “marked” (she has a insignia of scar tissue on her back in the form that looked like an upside-down “U” or “V”). These last two instances alerts the audience that Wayne and Miranda are mirror opposites: Wayne sleeps with Miranda-symbolically-because he sees his own motivations and identity in her (his desire to do good for the world with what he has been given) but she desires to turn what others have been given (the knowledge of making the fusion energy source) into the destruction of the world. Wayne sees "Miranda" as the "miranda rights" for the poor of the world, not the "miranda rights" of criminals who seek only their own power.
It helps to be able to identify other films The Dark Knight Rises sites or shares similarities with (one film doesn’t always know what is going to be used in another film so that strengthens the cultural ties when the same motifs and themes appear in more than one film). For example, when we first see Bane, it’s on a crashing plane, which we also saw in The Grey (symbolizing in that film the crashing vehicle of the economy; the tie between the two films are strengthened in that Liam Neeson appears in both. Two other films, Flight and another film about a flight to Tokyo film are also due out shortly utilizing planes, perhaps referencing 9/11). The symbol of the crashing plane being related to the economy is especially poignant in The Dark Knight Rises because ropes are used to “hold the plane back” from accelerating, suggesting, as in other places in the film, that the economic recovery of the country has been intentionally “held back” or weakened so the Obama administration’s policies would be accepted by the increasing number of unemployed and those having gas and groceries take out an ever increasing portion of their paychecks. The flood towards the end is mirrored by a flood in Moonrise Kingdom (and the upcoming Darren Aronofsky film Noah due out next year).  There is also a very clear reference to the 195* sci-fi film Them! Officer Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) finds a male teenager male at one of the many tunnels, which leads to where Bane’s army is working underground, much as the giant-killer ants were in Them! While my interpretation is far different than the main stream, it would make sense for Nolan to cite the film because the ants, as “workers,” are usually understood to be communists (the proletariat) working “underground” (in secrecy) to undermine America.
If Nolan re-invests certain dichotomies and an old vocabulary with new power, he’s also willing to reveal the inherent destabilization of the liberals’ jargon, specifically, demonstrating the variety of meanings in “rise” and “appetites,” both words employed by the Left today, but traditionally belonging to the capitalists and now being turned against them.
For example, there are at least three different meanings of the word “rise” utilized in TDKR: one, Bruce Wayne “rising” out of his personal darkness; two, prisoners “rising” out of The Pit and three, the lower-classes “rising” against the upper-class. Bruce finally letting go of Rachel to eventually embrace Selina is nothing short of Nolan proposing a new agenda for the upper-classes by not tending so much to the middle, professional class (Rachel was a lawyer but by no means rich) and instead investing in the lower and struggling class (Selina trying to rise up from her past). (There is far more to discuss on these points, however, we don’t have the time here).
The wrecking of Wall Street probably is not an accusation that it was staged by socialists and blamed on the upper-classes, but the scene certainly makes a statement: that it's possible that is what happened.
Secondly, Nolan utilizes the idea of “rising” from The Pit, which, as discussed above, refers to one rising from their poverty into a new social/economic class. But Bane and Miranda both “rose” from The Pit as well and while they probably thought they were doing “good for society” the only society they have in mind to do good for are those who have done criminal activities previously. So, with this in mind, Nolan begs us to answer his question: when rising from The Pit, who does more good for more deserving people, Bruce Wayne/Batman or Miranda/Bane?
Throughout the first part of the film, Bruce Wayne has a strange "growth" (like a mole) on the inside of his nose, close to his right eye. Why? Because of its proximity to the eye, Nolan probably wants to make the point that the upper-classes' judgment has been "flawed" or marred by obstacles, those save the world and green energy projects, for example, which Adam Smith would be arguing against because they are government sponsored and not truly projects of self-motivation and self-interest.
Thirdly, just as Bane calls upon the prisoners and lower-classes to rise against the upper-classes, so President Obama calls upon a rising against the upper-classes today. Is this pure self-interestedness on Nolan’s part? If we recall Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter and Dark Shadows, both films had characters who were “helping” the lower-classes to revolt against their vampire overlords (as the socialists call the upper-classes) and one of Bane's inside henchman working for Daggett can't believe the Revolution is going to turn against him because "he's one of them" and expects to be saved, just as those millionaires and billionaires supporting socialism think the revolution will take the other guys' money, but not theirs because they looked kindly upon the proletariats and sided with them. Nolan is issuing a warning that's not what's going to happen because that's never what happens.
There’s a bit of a problem with the family graveyard scene towards the end: Mr and Mrs Wayne each have crosses upon their tombstones yet Bruce Wayne’s does not; was he an atheist? Was that Alfred’s doing? Well, to some degree, we can’t say that it’s not a “holy” grave because it’s a lie, Bruce Wayne doesn’t die so he’s not where his tombstone suggests he is, and while I didn’t intend for that to sound like the tomb of Jesus where He is not either, we can make that comparison (because we can be confident that that Mr. and Mrs. Wayne are buried in their graves). When Alfred is at the Wayne family graveyard and he cries at the graves of Mr. And Mrs. Wayne, “I failed you,” because he believes Bruce Wayne to be dead?  That is us, or will be us, if we fail our motherland and founding fathers in November by failing to vote for the government that will safeguard and protect the great legacy and wealth of this country. We own Wayne Manor, we own Wayne Enterprises, we own the resources and property that symbolizes America itself which previous generations have safeguarded for us with their lives and that we must safeguard with our votes and lives for future generations. 
When we think of masks, we think of what covers up our identity, however, Nolan makes a dramatic point about the different types of masks we willingly (and out of necessity) wear and of those forced upon us. For example, when Officer Blake meets with Bruce Wayne, he talks about the mask he had to learn how to wear after the death of his parents, and he learned to recognize that Wayne was wearing a mask when he went out in public (being an orphan, too) and that’s how Blake realized Bruce Wayne was also wearing the mask of Batman.  The masks Bruce Wayne wears, however, are still a testimony to his genuine identity instead of the nameless and anonymous thugs surrounding Bane and working in the “underground army” as Commissioner Gordon calls them. This is one of the cases Nolan makes against socialism: the loss of our genuine identity. There is a great deal of individuation which comes from that which we do on our own, instead of being commanded by the government to do; making decisions on our own, instead of being told and regulated by the government to do or not to do.
Does the end give us a socialist agenda, anyway? With the possessions of Wayne Manor being divided and passed out, and Bruce Wayne appearing to be broke, it’s very similar to what we saw earlier in the film with Bane inciting people to “take what is rightfully yours” in robbing the rich. However, the end scene is that counter-balance to robbing the rich we see earlier in the film, and it’s Wayne leaving the legacy of the Manor to the orphans and hence, to the city which establishes the re-discovery of the purpose and distinction between "Robber Barons" and "Captains Of Industry" which fueled the early economy of America. 
There have been a lot of bridges lately, and the question is, are we going to allow the bridges with our past (capitalism) be burned in making bridges to the future of socialism? The bridges being exploded in TDKR are all around New York City, the financial capital of the world; what if New York suddenly disappeared, which is what socialists would do?
Why an Italian café?
Wayne and Selina being seen by Alfred in the café is meant to communicate that Europe isn’t bad or unsafe, (because that's where socialism has thrived in the past) it’s not meant to create a xenophobia or suggest that Americans don’t belong in Europe, but the dark sunglasses hanging from Wayne’s shirt in the café suggests one, that he has taken off the mask and is living the life we all want to live, a life free of our masks that we do wear but it also suggests that he is keeping his mask close in case he needs to wear it again.
It's important to note that it's the socialists who know Bruce Wayne is Batman and the orphan (Blake knows). How do they know? The socialists know the billionaire is Batman because they know how much "good" the upper-classes do for society and the world and they have to target them and demonize them in order to get them out of the way and rob that power for themselves. Blake knows Bruce Wayne is Batman because he himself has received that kindness and generosity that only a "super-hero" can give (like Spider Man saving the kid from the crashing car). It's Selina who doesn't know because she doesn't think she's received anything from either Batman or Bruce Wayne, but she's there to help once she understands what they are up against and why.
It’s comparable to three other films. First, Safe House and Mission Impossible 4 both end with the men looking at their loved ones from afar. Alfred, looking at Wayne and Selene could be said to be in that position, or we could look at it is Wayne has overcome the distance and sits with Selene. The third film invoked is The Avengers in the post-credits scene when they sit in a diner eating.  The Avengers aren’t out on a private cruise ship partying, or in an elite club enjoying a big, fancy spread, they have gone where most of us would probably go, and that break-down between what the billionaire would want (junk food that would make Michelle Obama picket in protest) is what many of us would choose, too. Likewise, to just sit in a café with the one we love and enjoy life, hoping for a real relationship to develop and a family is part of the American Dream that even the richest among us desire and no amount of money can buy. Hence, the distribution of Wayne’s estate…
Perhaps one of the most important elements of the film for understanding how angry Nolan is with the Obama administration is the means Bane uses to block the exit from the war-torn Gotham: a pile of old cars. The cars blocking the escape from the city is a direct reference to Obama's bail out of the auto industry, specifically the "cash for clunkers" program run. Why is Nolan upset? Because a failing business is a failing business. Why Selina makes the comment that "Even the rich don't go broke like the rest of us," to Wayne when he tells her he gets to keep Wayne Manor, it's also an allusion to the government bailing out the car makers: they didn't have to declare bankruptcy like the rest of us would have, they got special protection, so they could go on losing money and drag taxpayers' dollars down with them.
The film is so decidedly pro-capitalist it would be exceedingly difficult to squeeze a pro-socialist reading from it, so the breaking up of Wayne’s vast enterprises can only be taken the way it should: we are not our possessions. Bruce Wayne is not his family’s fortune, his company, his cars, Wayne Manor, his assets, or any other material object.  While most of us hope to attain to a comfortable life and realize our destiny, a very realistic and common vice of capitalism is the pursuit of wealth for the sake of possessions so that will fill the needs within us instead of looking to God and our fellow humans (meaningful relationships) to fill our inner needs; Bruce Wayne transcends that in turning his back on his possessions and he creates a standard of leadership for the “dark knights” of the upper-classes in what he does with Wayne Manor.
This chase scene when Batman reappears for the first time in 8 years demonstrates a poignant point about what Obama is doing: just as the cops are chasing the good guy and letting the bad guy get away, so Obama is making the people chase after the upper-classes and letting the bad people really keeping the economy from recovering to get away.
Bruce Wayne leaves Wayne Manor to the city of Gotham for the sake of a refuge for the orphaned. It’s not just that Wayne is taking care of those who have a struggle similar to his own, but it operates on a more idealistic level as well: those orphaned from the “motherland” and “founding fathers,” because the orphans attracted to the socialism of Bane, politically have no love of country or love of inalienable rights. Wayne’s providing that for them establishes that bond the future generations need in order to love America and our unique identity as a democracy with our singular history. That’s why, towards the end, the children are all loaded on the school buses, so they will have the “education” of not only seeing the traditional dichotomy of capitalism and socialism and what it means to this country, but the education of what Americans do to protect their country and loved ones: lay down their own lives.
Why does Batman take the bomb into the Bay? In The Avengers, Tony Stark took the bomb into outer space, perhaps for two reasons. One, because the invading army was still there  and he was going to use the bomb—a symbol of American genius and innovation (and that holds because of those who fled Nazi Germany and came to America and donated their talents to the Allied victory)—is what would destroy the aliens (the socialists) and, secondly, because it was in the Space Race that America again proved itself a super power (the first time was in World War II) and, like Men In Black III, The Avengers wanted to make the point that it was capitalist superiority overcoming communist/socialist inferiority propelling America—and the world—into the technological and data success we have become.
Bruce Wayne does something differently, however. A logistic argument can be made that Batman can’t get into outer space like Iron Man, so Batman couldn’t place the bomb in orbit, yet all these things are well planned out and very conscious decisions in the minds of film makers: in other words, if they had wanted Batman to take the bomb into space, they would have found a way to do it. Taking it out into the Bay creates three statements: first, it’s taking the bomb of socialism “back to Europe” (over the Atlantic) where it belongs, not here on American shores and, secondly, it reminds us of why those early settlers came to these shores: freedom from oppression, religious freedom and class mobility to accomplish what could be accomplished. Thirdly, the “mushroom cloud” so obviously reminding us of World War II and the international leadership position which was won by the real and genuine sacrifice of men and women, not only for love of their country, but for the sake of world peace everywhere, and socialists, in wanting to end “America” spit in the face of those who died for the Freedom Of Speech they use now to bring America to ruin.
Just as she knows how to start the Batmobile and drive the car, so the industrious have an intuition for "the vehicles of the economy" and know how to maximize profit which our current administration doesn't seem to share. This is important because it demonstrates that there isn't really a significant gulf between the upper- and lower-classes when it comes to possibilities in America.
In conclusion, Christopher Nolan uses The Dark Knight Rises to call upon all the “dark knights” in America—the millionaires and billionaires, the geniuses and inventors, the capitalists and patriots—to wage war on a revolution being led by terrorists, to wage war on those wanting to stage a French Revolution upon all of us, and Nolan warns that even those who think they are part of the “revolution” aren’t likely to escape, but for us who love our country, a second Civil War has begun, and we have no choice but to wage war against this foreign revolution meant for the few, not the many.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
Whose side are we on?