Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"The Panacea"

by Zombie Sandwich

American social thought is a toilet that hasn't been flushed in 60 years in a gas station restroom that hasn't been cleaned in 70. Jiggling the handle won't fix it. Americans never recovered from, nor acknowledged the nature of the affluence of the 1950s and 60s. Their technicolor ersatz-Eden was a gift of geography and Air Force bombardment, not the just reward for hard work and sacrifice. Ever since that epoch of illusion, an aberration has been taken for a benchmark.

Sandwichman's sin was to talk about what might have been as if there was still a possibility of its becoming. The eclipse of that possibility was chronicled 20 years ago in a crepuscular flurry of historical retrospectives whose collective title could have been "twilight of reason". Sandwichman lied. Knowingly. Americans have become so used to wallowing in their filth that they recoil in disgust at the thought of living without it. There has evolved an unrepentant political economy of muck. "Give Us More Shit!"

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Americans never recovered from, nor acknowledged the nature of the affluence of the 1950s and 60s. Their technicolor ersatz-Eden was a gift of geography and Air Force bombardment, not the just reward for hard work and sacrifice."

This is not well understood by us: Very little is ever mentioned of the fact that the golden years of the American Century was founded on the estimated $4 trillion dollar catastrophic devaluation of global productive capacity during World War II - a catastrophe which left US industrial and finanacial might unscathed and even enhanced by the result.

That devaluation translates into approximately 1.5 trillion dollars in direct costs, and another 2.4 trillion in the lost of industrial capacity and human life. (These figures are from a Fed working paper here: http://www.frbsf.org/publications/economics/papers/2005/wp05-11bk.pdf)

It was, in my opinion, this loss, and the virtual elimination of economic rivals, which precipitated the golden age that people like Krugman et al. believe can be somehow reconstructed with given amount of new government spending.

History has moved on from there, however. I don't think it is possible to resolve our present difficulties by simply pulling Keynes off the shelf. He has to be reinterpreted in light of our present circumstance.

It has to be understood why Keynes thought reducing hours of work was the long term solution to unemployment.

We have left Kansas...

Diane Warth said...

"Their technicolor ersatz-Eden was a gift of geography and Air Force bombardment, not the just reward for hard work and sacrifice."

The pillage and plunder of weaker economies and civilisations is the American way. Kansas is alive and well so long as Dorothy's home insurance covers tornados.

Walker said...

By the way, I was very pleased to see that this open secret about the "golden age" was not glossed over in Michael Moore's "Capitalism: A Love Story". He made the point quickly and humorously and moved on. That's the way to do it.

Diane Warth said...

Is one humorous second spared for personal reflection on the wealth this critique of capitalism generates for him?

I refuse to squander a tank of gas and cash for tickets to see Moore's latest love letter to himself.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Anonymous,

May I suggest that you adopt a handle if you wish to retain your anonymity? This would at least allow you to keep your self separate from all the other "Anonymous"es. I suggest "Milkshakeman."

Walker said...

Tonto and Robin are still available, as are Chester, Gabby Hayes, Pat Brady and Bullet. ;)

wordy said...

"Give Us More Shit!"
Sounds like you have fallen victim to the so-called "lump of shit"-fallacy there. See, you left out the issue of the numeraire. Shit doesn't come in piles. A shit is a process. I think the econspeakers call it a service your body performs so your mind can feel at home in corpore sano. And as long as you choose to dezombify yourself, there is always another iteration to look forward to. Clearly there are limits to the repeatibility of said activity - we might conceptualize them as barriers to growth. But there is no way we aren't going to continue pushing these frontiers ever further out - even if that means engaging in frequent fasting to increase metabolical efficiency. So please don't give shit a bad name. There is more science to it than you seem to appreciate. E.g. when fasting you don't want to go without sufficient liquids. When suddenly forced to live without the amounts of carbon dioxide emissions that your fossil fuel-based technosphere used to produce, you don't want to err on the downside when financing the transition to a green New Deal. Just remember: thirst is never a form of phantom pain - even if all you really thirst for is knowledge. Manifest destiny is not the only Fata Morgana out there. You don't even have to destroy capital militarily. All you need is rocket science. Just forget about the rocket part. Decarbonization requires investment rather than disinvestment (as you seem to assume). Think of it as taking the bull by the horns without giving a - well, you know what.

Walker said...

Wordy is absolutely correct that I give shit a bad name by associating it with what goes on in American social thought. And I apologize for that mistake.

But the second part of his comment leaves me perplexed. After rightly defending shit's good name, wordy seems to drag it back through the mud by pulling the abstract concept of "finance" out of his ass, so to speak!

Jack said...

Diane,
What would you have Moore do with the funds generated by his well done documentaries? Here we go again, kicking a good progressive when he's up and he's accomplished something that others have not. Moore's efforts take place within an economic environment. He is a part of that environment and his work is of interest to many. Ergo, he gets piles of money. At least he plows much of it back into yet another documentary. Criticize if work if you can, but leave the results where they fall. He's entitled.

Diane Warth said...

Jack said...

At least he plows much of it back into yet another documentary. Criticize if work if you can, but leave the results where they fall. He's entitled.


That's entertainment!?$ What lasting change has his "well done documentaries" fostered?

The jihad of Farenheit 9/11 was to rally the masses behind vilifying Bush for his close family ties to Saudi nationals and embrace the Democrats as saviours.

Sicko bemoaned the irreducible notion that tortured prisoners in Gitmo enjoy universal health coverage whilst U.S. citizens do not.

Since the release of love story he's used the spotlight to paint Hugo Chavez a clown in the crudest of stereotypical fashion and to promote Obama as a good guy who just needs time, a war mongering Wall Street puppet who refuses to deliver what Moore allegedly advocated for in Sicko.

Poltics as usual is not my idea of social change.

Jack said...

Moore's work puts ideas into circulation. He presents an alternative voice to those like the News Corp in all its permutations. He doesn't lead a crowd into battle, but he does try to provide a rallying cry. You do with his information what you will. At least he gets many more than a few good points out into the open. His audience is very broad based and includes a very young demographic. All the more power to him in his efforts.

Diane Warth said...

Jack -

Moore doesn't present an alternative voice; he's the flip side of the same coin. Admire him if you will but spare me the nonsense he's providing a great service. At least give me solid examples. Moore's a typical limousine liberal propagating the same us against them politics that keeps News Corps in its fortunes and defuses social change.

He doesn't move issues forward. He compartmentalises controversial issues already "out into the open" into statist-friendly sound bytes that legitimate the status quo and pad his personal fortune-making future.

Jack said...

Well, you're entitled to your opinion, but don't lose sight of the fact that allies are found in many camps. Moore is a better ally than you'll find any where amongst those with an adequate public voice. Trash him if you like, but that doesn't win any ground in battling a common enemy.

I'm curious to know who it is that you admire for their efforts in getting word out to the masses regarding the issues that you care about.

Diane Warth said...

Jack-

Moore is the panacea not an ally against a common enemy you have yet to define. It can't be the common enemy of personal excess and social entitlement.

Rescuing relevant discourse from the congested common hopper, a stagnant swill of sensationalism and propaganda, does Moore bring clarity or stink to the mix? Who are his influences - is he a great analyst of the social condition - what precludes him promoting those who are but regularly denied the stages he's grown accustomed to playing?

Moore inspires retaliation from 'the other side' such as the trio that "busted" ACORN; he wants the masses to believe Democrats will eventually save 'us' from Republicans. He distorts the real historical injuries inflicted by both parties in current crises.

The McCarthy principle, search and destroy, is not social change but the strategy of authoritarians.

Finally, Moore is a follower, not a leader. He capitalises on issues making headlines. That's entertainment.

Anonymous said...

Well, now that you've asked for it


Juan

Jack said...

Juan,
Is that Diana Dors?

Anonymous said...

Jack,

Jayne Mansfield and Conway Twitty - taken during 'the golden age' of U.S. capitalism.

Juan

Diane Warth said...

Mamie Van Doren.

Jayne Mansfield.

Jack said...

Good work Diane. I was pretty sure that it was not Mansfield, but Vna Doren didn't occur to me. That photo of Loren starring down at Jayne's over exposure did widely circulate some years ago. A great shot. Loren's expression says it all. I had thought Diana Dors because she did do some singing in her hay day. Not good singing, but some. Mansfield only purred and whimpered.