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Pity the Billionaire
October 5, 2012 8:17 PM   Subscribe

Pity the Billionaire (YT): Thomas Frank discusses how the American right pulled off a massive coup and successfully branded itself the party of rebellion and protest in the wake of the financial crisis.
posted by shivohum (32 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thank for posting this.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:30 PM on October 5, 2012


Thomas Frank was pretty good when he was just doing the Baffler and talking about how marketers co-opted the counterculture. About ten years ago, he started doing a one-note whine of "Why don't white people vote Democrat?"

As far as protest goes, the Tea Party was four years ago. Then there was the Ron Paul movement, which the smoke-filled room boys in the GOP detested. That's about it? As far as actual protesting goes, there was plenty of it on among Left ideologues: Occupy, Anonymous, Wikileaks, etc.

IMHO, protesting the graft, manipulation and fraud that surrounds the financial crisis isn't really the sole property of one group.
posted by Yakuman at 8:31 PM on October 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I haven't listened to all 70 minutes so far, and I've missed most of the recent debates, but I have looked at clips by George Carlin and Gore Vidal on YouTube in the past week.
posted by ovvl at 8:32 PM on October 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, yes.

The American "right" are soooooo much more complicit than the American "left" in distracting people from the fact that their vote now only determines which branch of the monolithic corporate- / special interest-funded machine gets to fulfill their obligations to said machine over the next several years.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:45 PM on October 5, 2012 [9 favorites]


How is the left complicit? As far as I can tell, only the American Left has been criticizing the congruence of the two mainstream parties.
posted by univac at 9:46 PM on October 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


Occupy activists commandeer anti-Occupy Wall Street rally: Protest backed by billionaire Koch brothers fizzles out as Occupiers match numbers and attend with host of satirical signs
posted by homunculus at 9:50 PM on October 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


Well, one of those corporate special-interest funded machines wants equal rights for gay people, health care for everyone, less war, more education, and more social spending with a return to a sensible tax structure.

I'll take the machine with the donkey on it, despite my hatred of their foreign policy. But I'm just a cog in the machine, man. Just a cog.
posted by deanklear at 9:54 PM on October 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


I have to admit, watching the debate the other night, when Romney spoke about how much less the middle class was making, I thought I was in some bizarro world. "but it's you're side that made it happen!?"
posted by [insert clever name here] at 9:55 PM on October 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


Not just his 'side', but his companies, and his policies, and his companies' policies.
posted by bashos_frog at 10:16 PM on October 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


And which candidate is the one that personally appointed Timothy Geithner as his Treasury Secretary?
posted by gyc at 11:40 PM on October 5, 2012


gyc: don't confuse the Democratic party with the Left. Because it's not.
posted by wuwei at 12:34 AM on October 6, 2012 [14 favorites]


I recently became a billionaire by rebranding my wealth in nanodollars, so I expect respectful and deferential visits from the candidates soon.
posted by twoleftfeet at 12:36 AM on October 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Well, one of those corporate special-interest funded machines wants equal rights for gay people, health care for everyone, less war, more education, and more social spending with a return to a sensible tax structure.

And the other of those corporate special-interest funded machines has a vested interest in perpetuating the myth that there's really no difference between the two, so you might as well vote for the one that'll keep on fucking you in the ass -- because at least it isn't headed by a black man.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:57 AM on October 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


Thomas Frank was pretty good when he was just doing the Baffler and talking about how marketers co-opted the counterculture. About ten years ago, he started doing a one-note whine of "Why don't white people vote Democrat?"

As far as protest goes, the Tea Party was four years ago. Then there was the Ron Paul movement, which the smoke-filled room boys in the GOP detested. That's about it? As far as actual protesting goes, there was plenty of it on among Left ideologues: Occupy, Anonymous, Wikileaks, etc.


Anonymous and Wikileaks are left ideologues? Assange is predominantly libertarian in worldview, and transparency is hardly ideological. I'm not sure what to make of Anonymous but it doesn't revolve around marxism.

Oh, yes.

The American "right" are soooooo much more complicit than the American "left" in distracting people from the fact that their vote now only determines which branch of the monolithic corporate- / special interest-funded machine gets to fulfill their obligations to said machine over the next several years.


The conflation of markets with democracy is what makes this possible, in Frank's view as far as I can tell. The special interests deserve their influence because the American system of free enterprise has deemed them worthy of expressing free speech to any degree, which is broader in American definition than elsewhere. The billionaires are underappreciated heroes, fighting the 'liberal media' to restore balance.

This is of course absurd, but it's hard to imagine any real lefty response to the market dogma. Democrats have to be pro-business and market-oriented to get anywhere.
posted by dimejubes at 1:12 AM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Exactly. And that is why I have given up on the Democrats.
posted by wuwei at 2:05 AM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you have given up on the Democrats and choose to vote for Phylis Stein that's cool and understandable. But if you have given up on the Dems and choose to vote Repub..... well that makes me suspicious of your reasoning. And YOU.
posted by notreally at 3:51 AM on October 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was in a meeting recently with the CEO of a multi-billion dollar defense contractor. He was upset because the competitions' lobbyists were doing a better job of forcing their products on the dupes in congress than his company was. Then the Republicans start to float possible SecDefs and other roles, all to be filled with current/former defense contractors.

While the Democrats are basically hapless, the republicans are very clear in what they want - big business running the country. I blame the left because for too long we've thought that reason and logic and the truth would win the day, but it hasn't and never will. And now it's too late for us to put a flashy spin on things because we're so far down the hole that "Hey, Keynesian economics works!" is too hard a sell.

I like Thomas Frank, and got 1/3 of the way thru the book before becoming just too saddened for the future.
posted by Farce_First at 4:53 AM on October 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


notreally, who is Phylis Stein? There is another Stein running for president, but I'm not sure how to interpret your comment, since a cursory web search does not reveal any Phylis Steins who fit your implicit description.

I'm not even sure how the obvious "philistine" pun fits, here.
posted by kengraham at 6:29 AM on October 6, 2012


dimejubes: The conflation of markets with democracy is what makes this possible, in Frank's view as far as I can tell.

This is what I think as well. There was a show on the radio (Canada) the other day where they replayed a debate from the 50's or early 60's about "Pros and Cons of Advertising". The ad company owner who was arguing for the pro side said "Democracy is founded on the principle of the free market". I know people think that way, but I've never heard it stated so categorically before. Said like that, it just sounds inane.
posted by sneebler at 7:00 AM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


> I blame the left because for too long we've thought that reason and logic and the truth would win the day, but it hasn't and never will.

So let me get this straight - because the batshit crazies are winning the day, we should just abandon reason and logic and the truth and be as crazy as they are?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:19 AM on October 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


So let me get this straight - because the batshit crazies are winning the day, we should just abandon reason and logic and the truth and be as crazy as they are?

Not in actual policy and governance. But in electoral politics and other mass communications, the tactics of the corporate right - in both political and commercial spheres - are very often more effective, because they have been chosen not for their righteousness or accuracy or logical consistency but for their effectiveness.

And if I'm wrong, then I guess you don't hear a little five-note scat the moment you finish reading this sentence because it ends in ... I'm lovin' it.
posted by gompa at 9:06 AM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


we should just abandon reason and logic and the truth and be as crazy as they are?

Nah.... should be almost as crazy, but make up the difference with guillotines.
posted by pompomtom at 9:39 AM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've read all of Frank's books. While he certainly has a bit of a schtick, he is waaaaaay more right than wrong.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:01 AM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is what I think as well. There was a show on the radio (Canada) the other day where they replayed a debate from the 50's or early 60's about "Pros and Cons of Advertising". The ad company owner who was arguing for the pro side said "Democracy is founded on the principle of the free market"

Presumably, during the Cold War, the western people who propagandized wanted to promote the feature of their way of doing things that (supposedly) differed most from the Soviet way -- namely "free markets" -- and did so by deliberately conflating "free markets", in the public mind, with an almost inarguably good thing like "democracy" (whatever that even means, in a large-scale society). The "democracy is founded on the principle of the free market" (note that none of the nouns is carefully defined) thing is perhaps the residue of, essentially, an official ad campaign. If the Soviets and the Americans had both espoused the virtues of "free markets", I bet one would hear "democracy is founded on [something else]", with "[something else]" a placeholder for some other ill-defined entity about which the superpowers disagreed in theory.
posted by kengraham at 11:55 AM on October 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Romney's effective tax cut for Sheldon Adelson alone could fund PBS for 497 years.

But he'll never know the joy of being scissored by Sarah Silverman.
posted by homunculus at 1:12 PM on October 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm not voting for Romney. At the federal level, I don't think we're going to solve our problems with electoral politics.
posted by wuwei at 2:08 PM on October 6, 2012


... the American system of free enterprise ...

There's no such thing, unless your talking about the market where tax breaks, subsidies and legislation are bought and sold.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 3:07 PM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


So let me get this straight...

All I'd like to see is the Democrats think about who they're marketing to and deliver a message that has some chance of getting through to them. The right just keeps hammering their message over and over for decades at this point, and the democrats still haven't got a unified message. Someone said quite a while ago - in the '80s capitalism defeated communism. In the '90s it defeated democracy. Frankly I'd be happy if we simply put "Civics" back into the class room so people had some functional knowledge of how the government is supposed to work.

Where's Edward Bernays when you really need him?
posted by Farce_First at 5:18 AM on October 7, 2012


News Flash: Many U.S. Reps Got Much Richer During Recession
posted by homunculus at 12:51 PM on October 8, 2012


Who Won the Great Recession?
posted by homunculus at 12:59 PM on October 8, 2012


What’s the Matter With Goldman Sachs?
posted by homunculus at 9:50 PM on October 9, 2012


Where's Edward Bernays when you really need him?

Working for the incumbent powers, duh.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:29 PM on October 10, 2012


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