The X-Men Question: Increasing Power of the Individual Forces Anarchy?

This is a “somewhat” odd post. I am deliberately taking the case to its maximum extreme. The reason I have is, simply, because it may the only legitimate way to illustrate the problem.

Our modern world is obviously a world of contradictions. Humanity inately tends to conflict and divide, politically and otherwise. Republican against Democrat, Men against Women. people love the times when politics works for them, but despise the government stymies their efforts, even for the greater good of the nation and people.

I do not believe people would argue against it.

Our modern society has seen an ironic twist to history. The power of the focused, determined, immoral, ruthless individual has increased over time. Explosives, guns, and computers all open very big passages for the evil to exploit or harm others. AT the sam time, the United States government has become - and has been forced to become - more powerful. Technology, the demands of modern social programs and economies, the needs of a modern society, and the pressure of being the owrld’s only superpower have caused the government, Federal and State, to become very powerful. Even a small section of one department can wield enormous influence against a private citizen.

I am going to introduce a sci-fi element into this story.

All across the world, strange mutant genes have evolved and coalesced to allow people to do super-human feats. Not merely content with flowing with or bending the laws of physics, these Mutants shatter them consistantly. In fact, conventional science can be replaced by superscience of some eccentric geniuses, who can not only break scientific law, but can even accomplish feats out of the boundaies of logic and sense.

I call this “The X-Men Scenario”.

The result of this is an major increase in the destructive potential of a ruthless individual (see the parallel?). Supervillians can waltz right into a bank, tear off the vault door, and waltz out with 20$ million. And the police cannot even hinder them, much less stop them. (Imagine US v. Juggernaut :D)

Given this case scenario, would the government be justified in instituting a Mutant/SuperPowers Registration Act, a la the late or nto Senator Kelly? I am not asking for any answers with modern-day profiling built into it, except as examples to illustrate a point, so as to avoid the emotional justifications and the old Nazi versus Commie name calling.

For those not in the know, the Mutant Registration Act is a plot element of the X-Men Comic Series and movie. It involves the government recording the identities, known aliases, and powers of all known Mutants and superheroes. Technically, superheroes were not included, but I imagine the government would not make much distiction between a man who picks up a ten-ton truck because of freaky genes and one who does it via Secret Formula X.

In the comic, it was due to the fears (often justified via Magneto, Stryfe, Apokalypse, etc.) of Mutants destroying society. There was a strong racial/etnic anger on both sides, which is doubly ironic due to the fact that most of the Mutants born were in fact from Human parents! Sentaor Kelly recieved a more balanced treatment in the comic than in the movie, but both portrayed a man who loved America and was terrified by the thought of Mutants destroying it (which they nearly did many times).

Legally, I think the Constitution has enough leeway to possibly allow it, based on the Emergency Powers idea.

Morally, however, is a big gray area. How much threat must be present? Does the government have a right to do this at all? How many Mutant-Cased tragedies and near-armageddon scenarios must occur before people would change their mind? Could society survive with the threat of a single lone Mutant able to destroy the planet, or even a city? (See Magneto, Apokalypse, and several others)

I think that the concept of a team X-men is flawed. In this scenario, I think

  1. People would become mutants.
  2. Other people would freak out, some violently.
  3. Violence/counterviolence would escalate.
  4. Any people who tried to use their powers for good would be drowned out by fear and prejudice.
  1. War would erupt. We (the normals) would win, due to our numbers. Plus, being invunerable doesn’t mean we can’t toss you in a vat of cement and toss the vat into a deep ocean trench.

Since I am utterly unconcerned with the “nightmare scenario”, will people please speak to me about morality and law here?

An MRA is flawed because it’s useless. A reasonably bright 12-year-old can tell you who most of the X-men are without John Ashcroft’s help.

If an individual was capable of destroying a city by himself, trust assured that the media would find and hound him all by themselves - and probably get him mad enough to destroy the city in the process. Hulk smash paparazzi!

I think I’ve just made a case for a Media Registration Act.

I never bought the idea that Prof X could safely hide them at the academy anyway.

What is Prof X professor of, anyway?

Jazz history.

He got tenure at a lightweight college.

Heh. With his mind control trick, that couldn’t be hard.

Ok, the hell with this.

Hell, the U.S. got away with rounding up American citizens of Japanese descent and throwing them into concentration camps for the duration of World War II.

If the Federal government can get around the Bill of Rights so easily with Japanese people, they’ll have no problem with mutant super-powered people.
(Note that the Marvel Comics’ Mutant Registration Act is not the only popular-fiction instance of rounding up super-powered people. Remember S.C.A.R.E. from the Wild Card books?)

Remember Shrek’s ‘arrest’? Does anyone else imagine that playing out on a larger scale?

Don’t confine the rights of the mutants, find a way to keep the ‘normals’ in a state of equality, whether that is equality of ability to destroy cities, or equality of thought is kinda(MrsBrooks hates that word!!!) irrevalent, no?

I thought that Prof X was a professor of football.:slight_smile:

Wait a scond: LuthAeron, your answer would be to handout BFG9000s to every Joe on the street?

Wouldn’t take long before it’s REAL peaceful all over, now, would it?

Or take the scenerio presented in Babylon Five: A small minority of people have abilities (psi) that potentially make them very dangerous both to other people and to the state. The authorities clamp down, hard. Either you agree to join Psi Corp and abide by it’s rules and restrictions, Or you agree to take a drug (with nasty long-term side effects) that blocks your power, Or you get sent to an internment camp.

An interesting question is, how many superpowered people could there be before government as we know it would be impossible? Government is ultimately based on the fact that groups of people working together with tools and weapons can defeat lone renegades or small bands of dissidents.

If a significant number of people had vast personal power based on their innate abilities, I imagine you would eventually end up with a sort of feudal society. No state as such, only the dictates of the most powerful lords. Those with lesser gifts would be vassels, while those with no powers would work and do what they were told.

In both DC and Marvel comics, this scenerio is forestalled by the fact that “supervillians” are opposed by various champions who voluntarily support the existing system of law and justice. And in recent years the fictional governments depicted in those worlds have been less than happy about it: publicly praising the “heroes”, while privately fretting about the necessity of allowing them to continue operating for lack of any better alternative, and secretly looking for means to control or eliminate “mutants” or “metahumans”.

Charles Xavier has a PhD in genetics. IIRC his book The Structure And Function Of X was a bestseller.

I’m reasonably sure that he’s got other doctorates but, I can’t recall what fields.

Assume a scenario where, instead of individuals having increased “offensive” ability, (strength, psi, etc.) they have absolute “defensive” ability. For instance, a portable, personal force field. I think that this would lead to anarchy at first. Most people would continue to obey the law and uphold the status quo for a while, but an increasing number of people would come to realize that without the threat of force, they do not have to obey any law but their own. More and more people would come to believe that the law is irrelevant to them as they see their fellows breaking it at will with no consequence. At a certain point, anarchy would follow. Of course, this would lead to a breakdown of society and the economic structures which would be pretty unpleasant for everyone. Assuming that enough people survive the ensuing chaos, I think that eventually society would reform along the lines of the “social contract” model instead of the “authoritarian” model.

So to answer the OP - yes, I think that by sufficiently increasing the power of the individual, you do get anarchy. Of course, this only applies if everyone is equally empowered. Otherwise, as Lumpy said, you end up with fuedalism.

Of course, in this scenario, the people together do have one useful tool. SImply put, no one is invulnerable. They all have some weakness. The mentalists can be beaten up, the strong cn be tricked or controlled, and so forth.

Perhaps that would be society’s saving grace?

Touching on this, one may perhaps see the reasonableness of the government position. These people, heros or not, destroy billions worth in property, endanger thousands of lives, and essentially have taken on vigilante status. They answer to no law on this earth but power.

When does anyone answer to a law but power?

I suspect that the vast majority of human beings obey laws, not because they feel the law is correct or that they have a moral duty to do so, but merely because they fear the consequences.

Additionally, those mutants/superheroes who support society and the rule of law would probably jump at the chance to be allowed within law enforcement organizations. I don’t think they’d be allowed in.

(Besides, the stories would be a lot less interesting.)

I can speak for no one else, but I obey law, not because I have to, but because I choose to.