Thursday, June 28, 2012

Fatal Misreadings

Everybody remembers Ronald Reagan's misreading of Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA. Not to be outdone David Brooks misreads Springsteen's entire body of work and proves once again that he lacks self-awareness. He has for some time now acted as a moral scold and reducing complicated socioeconomic phenomena to simple morality tales. He, it seems, is exempt from his desire for a more austere morally serious world. In order to better misunderstand Springsteen he and some of his
friends. . . financial sanity to the winds and went to follow him around Spain and France.
He finds himself baffled that Spaniards would chant "Born in the USA" because they weren't. Springsteen's popularity, he insists, is the result of
a paradox that the artists who have the widest global purchase are also the ones who have created the most local and distinctive story landscapes.
Here is the problem. Born in the USA is about being the victim of Neoliberalism war on humanity. In Spain right now that war is coming to a successful neoliberal conclusion. Springsteen's global popularity results from his writing songs that are thematically coherent and he often speaks to and for people who are being crushed by the  combined force of a cynical state apparatus allied with corporations or who are in a desperate struggle to make sense of a life that just plain didn't work out.

These concerns aren't narrowly local and have nothing to do with Brooks' "paracosm" blather. The Neoliberals have successfully transformed much of the world in a way that hurts most of us. And with rare exceptions few people look back on their lives and see them unblemished by compromise and failure. The fact that he explores these universal themes with upbeat music and fantastic stage show is just more evidence that Homer sang like rock star.

Over to the Daily Beast serial dolt Andrew Sullivan reads an article on Mexico that argues the root cause of the mess and violence in Mexico, which really sounds like a hellscape of a place to live, is
The PAN is often described as center-right, the PRI as center-left, and the country’s third party, the Party of the Democratic Revolution (P.R.D.), as left-wing. But these labels carry little weight in Mexico today. “The parties have no ideology,” a magazine editor in Mexico City told me. “That aspect is meaningless. Power here is about money.” The P.R.D. candidate, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a popular former mayor of Mexico City, who nearly won the Presidency in 2006, has moved toward the center this year, dropping his confrontational rhetoric. Indeed, in 2010 the P.R.D. and the purportedly rightist PAN combined forces successfully, backing the same candidates for governor in three state elections. The PAN and the PRI are both avidly pro-business. But it was the PRI that presided over the privatization of more than a thousand state companies during the nineteen-eighties and nineties. Carlos Salinas, during his sexenio, privatized hundreds of companies, as well as Mexico’s banking system, turning a lucky circle of his friends into billionaires. This creation of a new economic élite, with effective monopolies in fields such as transportation, mining, and telecommunications, resembles the creation, around the same time, of the new crony-capitalist oligarchy in Russia. And in Mexico nearly all its beneficiaries owe their fortunes to the PRI, not the PAN.
 In other words,  Mexico is a hellscape of a place to live because of ideological convergence around notions of privatizations and reverance for "job creators" leading to massive economic inequality and chronic underfunding of necessary state functions, which is another way of saying Neoliberalism.

Sullivan, who really is a silly little may, insists that the article is
[a] must-read from William Finnegan reports on the country's organized crime epidemic, fueled by the Drug War.
Like Brooks' misreading, which serves to protect his readers from the cold hard fact that more people suffer under and find the new economic system a misery making machine, this reading obscures the real cause of the worlds problems by pointing toward one of Sullivan's hobby horses, legalization, while ignoring or more precisely lying about  the actual cause of  the world's misery: neoliberalism, which is his preferred ideology.

Both men should do the decent thing and resign to spend more time gardening.


  1. The interesting thing about the supreme court decision today is that it's all about money, HCA benefits insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and doctors, and perhaps as a by product benefits consumers, but it eems that Roberts basically fell on his sword to make sure a lot of companies made a lot of money. I imagine that the reason the ruling took so long is that Roberts was probably begging justice Kennedy to go along with the evil liberals so he wouldn't have to.

    And Brooks is a moron

  2. It may well be true that working within the insurance market is going to help companies bottom line; however, many poors are going to be better off:

    A few days ago, while awaiting the Supreme Court ruling on the Obama health-care law, I called a few doctor friends around the country. I asked them if they could tell me about current patients whose health had been affected by a lack of insurance.

    “This falls under the ’too numerous to count‘ section,” a New Jersey internist said.

    Read more

    So, who knows maybe half-assed is better than totally naked.