Economist Paul Krugman Endorses ‘Watchmen’ Alien Invasion Plan for Fiscal Recovery
Every Watchmen fan remembers the plot of Adrian Veidt a.k.a. Ozymandias: Save the world from the imminent threat of nuclear war by creating the even bigger threat of an alien invasion, and forcing the people of the world to unite against a greater enemy. Yesterday, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman sounded very similar to a modern-day Ozymandias during his appearance on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS show, where he suggested that a fake alien invasion — and the government spending it would create — would fix the economic slump within 18 months.
Think about World War II — that was actually negative social product spending and yet it brought us out… If we discovered that space aliens were planning to attack and we needed a massive build-up to counter the space alien threat, and inflation and budget deficits took secondary place to that, this slump would be over in 18 months. And then if we discovered, “whoops, we made a mistake,” we’d [still] be better… There was a Twilight Zone episode like this, in which scientists fake an alien threat in order to achieve world peace. Well, this time we need it to get some fiscal stimulus.
The television episode Krugman refers to was not from The Twilight Zone, however, but rather an episode of similar 1960s sci-fi series The Outer Limits, titled “The Architects of Fear.” Watchmen writer Alan Moore says he came across the episode mid-way through scripting the comic book series, after he had already conceived of the idea for the ending. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, he recalls thinking, “Wow. That’s a bit close to our story.”
Although the consequences are ultimately different, “Architects of Fear” also features a plan to stave off an imminent nuclear confrontation by introducing an alien threat. Moore’s editor, Len Wein, actually objected to the plot point because it appeared to lift too directly from The Outer Limits, as explained at CBR:
Wein admitted to being unhappy with the ending of “Watchmen,” which depicts the creation of a phony alien menace to unify the Earth. To Wein, the ending was reminiscent of an “Outer Limits” episode. “It’s been done before,” he told Moore. Moore responded, “But I haven’t done it.” They argued, and Moore ultimately won, but acknowledged the episode by having Sally Jupiter watch it in a scene in the final chapter.
You can watch the full Outer Limits episode “The Architects of Fear” now, via MGM Digital on Youtube: