Friday, September 26, 2008

Shock Doctrine exchange on Bill Maher

Naomi Klein discusses recent bailouts of Wall Street titans on Real Time with Bill Maher. Sept. 19, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Now is the Time to Resist Wall Street's Shock Doctrine

Not alone, but clearly the most articulate critic of globalization, with her book No Logo, and last year's breakthrough critique Shock Doctrine, she now urges the public to stand forcefully and resist the blank check proposals being rushed through the Capital, with the fallout of the Wall Street implosion still unfolding. Along with Barbara Ehrenreich, she addresses the root causes of economic injustice and disparity as we are now unavoidably seeing the harvest of the greed and avarice in the monied, investor class that has been running unfettered and unregulated. The chickens have come home to roost, or is it their eggs have hatched and they are not a pretty sight. - MS

Disaster Capitalism in Action
Naomi Klein, Huffington Post, September 22, 2008
I wrote The Shock Doctrine in the hopes that it would make us all better prepared for the next big shock. Well, that shock has certainly arrived, along with gloves-off attempts to use it to push through radical pro-corporate policies (which of course will further enrich the very players who created the market crisis in the first place...).The best summary of how the right plans to use the economic crisis to push through their policy wish list comes from Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich. On Sunday, Gingrich laid out 18 policy prescriptions for Congress to take in order to "return to a Reagan-Thatcher policy of economic growth through fundamental reforms." In the midst of this economic crisis, he is actually demanding the repeal of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which would lead to further deregulation of the financial industry. Gingrich is also calling for reforming the education system to allow "competition" (a.k.a. vouchers), strengthening border enforcement, cutting corporate taxes and his signature move: allowing offshore drilling.It would be a grave mistake to underestimate the right's ability to use this crisis -- created by deregulation and privatization -- to demand more of the same. Don't forget that Newt Gingrich's 527 organization, American Solutions for Winning the Future, is still riding the wave of success from its offshore drilling campaign, "Drill Here, Drill Now!" Just four months ago, offshore drilling was not even on the political radar and now the U.S. House of Representatives has passed supportive legislation. Gingrich is holding an event this Saturday, September 27 that will be broadcast on satellite television to shore up public support for these controversial policies.What Gingrich's wish list tells us is that the dumping of private debt into the public coffers is only stage one of the current shock. The second comes when the debt crisis currently being created by this bailout becomes the excuse to privatize social security, lower corporate taxes and cut spending on the poor. A President McCain would embrace these policies willingly. A President Obama would come under huge pressure from the think tanks and the corporate media to abandon his campaign promises and embrace austerity and "free-market stimulus."We have seen this many times before, in this country and around the world. But here's the thing: these opportunistic tactics can only work if we let them. They work when we respond to crisis by regressing, wanting to believe in "strong leaders" - even if they are the same strong leaders who used the September 11 attacks to push through the Patriot Act and launch the illegal war in Iraq.So let's be absolutely clear: there are no saviors who are going to look out for us in this crisis. Certainly not Henry Paulson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs, one of the companies that will benefit most from his proposed bailout (which is actually a stick up). The only hope of preventing another dose of shock politics is loud, organized grassroots pressure on all political parties: they have to know right now that after seven years of Bush, Americans are becoming shock resistant.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Infinitely Sad

Of all the writers from the past 10-15 years, Wallace not only stands out, he jumps beyond the bounds of common understanding. His death leaves me sad, bewildered, and a voice has been snuffed, at a time the culture needs it more than ever. - MS
Infinitely Sad
David Foster Wallace, self-absorbed genius.
By Troy Patterson
David Foster Wallace began his review of John Updike's Toward the End of Time by classing Updike, along with Philip Roth and Norman Mailer, as "the Great Male Narcissists who've dominated postwar American fiction." The word narcissist isn't strictly disapproving there. One reason that the piece, 10 years after its publication, remains more memorable than its ostensible object is that Wallace offhandedly engaged the "radical self-absorption" of this Greatest Generation of Quality Lit—"probably the single most self-absorbed generation since Louis XIV"—in a complicated way. He saw that narcissism as the force both animating moving prose and repelling younger readers in its involute explorations. He imagined—in a gorgeous little gesture of telescoped perspective—how things might appear to the GMNs, "in their senescence": "It must seem to them no coincidence that the prospect of their own deaths appears backlit by the approaching millennium and online predictions of the death of the novel as we know it. When a solipsist dies, after all, everything goes with him."
Of the three older writers, Wallace most closely resembled Mailer. Both earned their celebrity and electric esteem—becoming not just famous writers but author-heroes—on the strength of maximalist novels of ambition-announcing bulk and scope (Mailer's The Naked and the Dead, Wallace's Infinite Jest). And both produced nonfiction so bold and inventive as to surpass their achievements as novelists. As a journalist, Wallace, who died in a suicide last Friday at the age of 46, left American literature with a body of work as fine as any produced in America in the last two decades.
His own self-absorption played no small part in the achievement. In his fiction, Wallace drew on the examples of Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, and their less famous peers in an attempt to invest Postmodernist high jinks with pathos—to give soul to novels about novels. The journalism shows him as practitioner of metafiction not merely by trade but by fundamental inclination. The implicit premise of his reporting is that reporting the stories behind and around and beneath the story is an essential part of reporting the story. You could say that he always intruded on these pieces—loudly announcing his methods, coughing just a touch coyly at the process of writing a piece for "a swanky East-Coast magazine," stage-whispering to his editors, and appending his own doubts, anxieties, and second thoughts (of which there were usually plenty) as both a writer and a human.
Mailer, striding through Armies of the Night in the third person, was, even at his most unsparingly buffoonish, a royal presence. Wallace's autobiographical I, whether writing about tennis, porn, television, or John McCain, was humble, curious, always on high alert for glinting irony, and consistently ingratiating in practicing a strain of confessionalism that was somehow ego-abasing. The I was frequently to be seen sweating heavily in its nervousness, a condition exacerbated by its frequent worrying about serving the reader by working to get at that most un-Postmodern abstraction: the truth. Naturally, then, the nerves would be part of the article, each "self-indulgent twinge of neurotic projection" emerging as a figure in a sweeping interior landscape. It requires a fair deal of writerly nuance and human understanding to pull off such shenanigans without achieving instant audience alienation. Do not try this at home.
That "twinge" line above is from the title piece of Wallace's first essay collection, A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, an account of a week of strenuous relaxation on a luxury cruise line first published in Harper's in 1996. In its Balzac-like detail and fervent curiosity—Midwestern skepticism gone to Northeastern grad school—the article was an instant classic. It stands as the second work in a trilogy of what you might undersell as travel pieces or exalt as insightful tours into all-American pleasure domes. Two year before, Harper's ran "Getting Away From Pretty Much Being Away From It All," in which the writer, who grew up on the outskirts of Urbana, Ill., went back to Illinois for its state fair and, without condescension, threw new light on what we're doing when we amuse ourselves with such a "self-consciously Special occasion of connection."
David Foster Wallace in a 1997 excerpt from The Charlie Rose Show:

In 2004, the editors of Gourmet, doubtlessly expecting another further late-model Tocqueville-izing, sent Wallace to the Maine Lobster Festival. He sent back an essay on "the whole animal-cruelty-and-eating issue" so acute and supple in its consideration of uneasy questions about aesthetics and morality that it ranks as a must-read for anyone even thinking of having dinner. In memorializing a writer who has killed himself, there is an impulse—wholly human and totally ghoulish—to rifle through the work in search of clues and cries and suicide footnotes, and in the case of Wallace, the rifling requires no strain. (Like any smart writer aspiring to greatness, despair was a regular theme, and "A Supposedly Fun Thing …" got some of its considerable energy from the author's association of "the ocean with dread and death." Despair, he wrote, is "wanting to jump overboard.") But if you must dwell on pain and suffering, why not pay the man tribute by reading the Gourmet essay, the title piece in Consider the Lobster. It's about boiling lobsters. It's about the neurological capacities of crustaceans and the spiraling motions of the human mind. It's not a tract, just an argument guided by a sure sense of "moral duty," and Wallace's achievement was to make thinking about the facts of Postmodern life, and thinking about thinking about them, one of the keenest pleasures of being alive.Troy Patterson is Slate's television critic.
Article URL: