Join 3,365 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The Age of Disaster Capitalism
September 12, 2007 10:29 AM   Subscribe

The Age of Disaster Capitalism
...Through all its various name changes - the war on terror, the war on radical Islam, the war against Islamofascism, the third world war, the long war, the generational war - the basic shape of the conflict has remained unchanged. It is limited by neither time nor space nor target. From a military perspective, these sprawling and amorphous traits make the war on terror an unwinnable proposition. But from an economic perspective, they make it an unbeatable one: not a flash-in-the-pan war that could potentially be won but a new and permanent fixture in the global economic architecture. That was the business prospectus that the Bush administration put before corporate America after September 11. The revenue stream was a seemingly bottomless supply of tax dollars to be funnelled from the Pentagon ($270bn in 2005 to private contractors, a $137bn increase since Bush took office), US intelligence agencies and the newest arrival, the department of homeland security. Between September 11 2001 and 2006, the Department of Homeland Security handed out $130bn to contractors - money that was not in the private sector before and that is more than the GDP of Chile or the Czech Republic.
posted by y2karl (124 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
BushCo was always & primarily about the big money. The war has been a Godsent way of making LOTS of money for them folks
posted by growabrain at 10:36 AM on September 12, 2007


Sweet. I didn't get my fill of Naomi op-ed radicalism the last time around.
posted by phaedon at 10:39 AM on September 12, 2007


Don't worry, I have no doubt whatsoever that when a Democrat is in office this will all change radically. Just look at all the Democratic Congress has done!
posted by DU at 10:48 AM on September 12, 2007 [5 favorites]


I suppose this is a nice summation of events, but is there really any new information here? I mean, it's not really news that this administration used the idea of terror to dump a ton of money into the private sector for the purposes of making their friends a ton of money.
posted by quin at 10:49 AM on September 12, 2007


I mean, it's not really news...

It's also not really news that Iraq had no WMDs, gays are not monsters and species alter over time in a process biologists call "evolution". Yet if you express these non-news items in public, you may experience blowback from certain sectors.

It's good to reiterate the truth once in a while to make sure everyone is on the same page.
posted by DU at 10:54 AM on September 12, 2007 [10 favorites]


Whenever I read something by Naomi Klein, I always feel I should be listening to an Alanis Morissette album.
posted by rhymer at 10:57 AM on September 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


I just read the article (sadly need to make that point).

Regarding this sentence:

In just a few years, the homeland security industry, which barely existed before 9/11, has exploded to a size that is now significantly larger than either Hollywood or the music business.

The article is essentially about the emergence of a new industry that, for the most part, is hidden and rarely talked about. This is interesting. On the other hand I would say neither Hollywood or the music business is that big in the scheme of things (I think the computer gaming industry is bigger than both).

The article is an excerpt from a book that goes into more detail (mentioned at the bottom).
posted by stbalbach at 10:59 AM on September 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is the issue with which our Democratic Politicians should be smashing their opposites. It pays dividends into a number of accounts -- spending/budgeting priorities, corruption, the WAR/foreign policy, the economy, the growing gap between the rich and the rest of us.

I wonder why they aren't.
posted by notyou at 11:03 AM on September 12, 2007


I think there is something new here, quin. Previously the feedback arrows around wars and disasters have been mainly negative; they have tended to limit the scope of the disaster and to make a recurrence less likely. Now that wars and disasters are seen to be so hugely profitable, and considerations of profit overwhelm all others, all those feedback arrows are flipping, and we are probably going to see 'war without end, Amen' around the world until we can figure out a way of dousing the conflagration.

Oh, by the way, the end stage of this will be universal hyperinflation because wars and disasters always destroy far more wealth than they generate, but the new disaster capitalism means that will no longer be true for currency (in the short run), so we end up with masses of cash in a radically impoverished world.
posted by jamjam at 11:11 AM on September 12, 2007


DU: It's good to reiterate the truth once in a while to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Fair enough.

...a merger of the shopping mall and the secret prison...


I did like this line.
posted by quin at 11:12 AM on September 12, 2007


Previously.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 11:17 AM on September 12, 2007


It is now fashionable to belittle the Dems in Çongress but please remember--if you do not know--that they have not sufficient votes to override a veto.

Bush was never really about the desires of "the base"--the religious right but rather as noted for the very wealthy, and yes he is simply doing fast and furious what the GOP has always wanted and stood for. But there is an exception: the corporations and esp. the military suppliers get handouts (socialism!) from the govt while the poor have "capitalism" (that is, no help from taxpayers money, really) shoved down their throats.

But you get what you vote for and a lot of people vote against their own interests and put conservatives in power.
posted by Postroad at 11:18 AM on September 12, 2007


I wonder why they aren't.

because their base is on metafilter complaining that the end of the world as we thought we knew it is old news.
posted by klanawa at 11:18 AM on September 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


Now that wars and disasters are seen to be so hugely profitable, and considerations of profit overwhelm all others...

And since "businesses exist to make money" is not only a truism, but practically a statement of virtue.

To those who espouse such a view, is it OK for a business to lobby for unnecessary war so they can make a profit? After all, that's the purpose of a business--to increase shareholder value.
posted by DU at 11:19 AM on September 12, 2007


...that they have not sufficient votes to override a veto.

And therefore they must vote in alignment with the President?
posted by DU at 11:20 AM on September 12, 2007


Whenever I read something by Naomi Klein, I always feel I should be listening to an Alanis Morissette album.

Maybe you should be?
posted by washburn at 11:22 AM on September 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Fair AND balanced.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 11:23 AM on September 12, 2007


I for one agree that Congress's problem isn't that they're not getting enough things done, but that they're not even bothering to try.
posted by clevershark at 11:23 AM on September 12, 2007 [4 favorites]


The article is essentially about the emergence of a new industry that, for the most part, is hidden and rarely talked about.
I think there are plenty of people who talk about it, just not the people you want to hear talk about it.
posted by Sailormom at 11:30 AM on September 12, 2007


It is now fashionable to belittle the Dems in Çongress but please remember--if you do not know--that they have not sufficient votes to override a veto.

They don't need them...they can prevent funding bills from coming to the floor, and they can also simply not create them to begin with. It's a myth that they need a certain amount of votes--either to end Iraq or to prevent this incredibly massive corruption described by Klein. When it comes to money, it's not about how many votes you have or need--it's about being on the committees that put together the bills that will be voted on, and Dems head all the committees. The GOP did it a lot when they were in charge.
posted by amberglow at 11:43 AM on September 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


I think there is something new here, quin. Previously the feedback arrows around wars and disasters have been mainly negative; they have tended to limit the scope of the disaster and to make a recurrence less likely. Now that wars and disasters are seen to be so hugely profitable, and considerations of profit overwhelm all others, all those feedback arrows are flipping, and we are probably going to see 'war without end, Amen' around the world until we can figure out a way of dousing the conflagration.

No, that's not true: war for profit has been inherent in capitalism since the 19th century. Many of the robber barons of the late 1800s, for instance, made their fortunes provisioning the Union army during the Civil War.
posted by nasreddin at 11:45 AM on September 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


see this for an example, Post: Senate Panel Reduces Missile Funding
posted by amberglow at 11:47 AM on September 12, 2007


Yeah, I had the same reaction as quin—that this is kinda old news, just streamlined for easy skimming.

I mean, I remember first reading Hannah Arendt and Mussolini (well, his ghostwriters) not too long after 9/11 and going "Hey, this is exactly what's happening now!" But six years out, man, it's hard to do anything but keep my head down and try to work on what I can fix locally. I've been beating the drum, but everyone I know, everyone I work with, everyone I'm friends with, all of my family, they already agree. And the few fringe relatives who don't, well, they're not gonna be converted by anything I say—they've managed to go so far down the religion hole that anything short of a glowing bearded dude appearing and saying "I don't exist. You should vote for Democrats," just won't phase them.

Further, and I had this discussion with my girlfriend recently, the Iraq War and the War on Terror really haven't affected either of us personally in any noticible ways, save flying being a pain in the ass now. Everything else, it's like, yeah, it sucks that a couple thousand Americans (and many more Iraqis and Afghanis etc.) have died, and I realize that the massive spending is going to have negative longterm effects, but that's not stopping me from enjoying my life. War without sacrifice means that there's no real compelling connection, at least for me. I have a moral duty to oppose what I think is wrong, and I do, but past that? Fuck, the war on terror's just another brand, man.
posted by klangklangston at 11:49 AM on September 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


nasreddin, that was after the fact tho--it wasn't like there were already factories making uniforms or tents--they switched their production when the need was already there, not beforehand. (for WW2, too--it was all after Pearl Harbor, i believe, that factories switched to making planes and bombs and stuff)
posted by amberglow at 11:50 AM on September 12, 2007


What quin said. Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Morgan and his ilk make a lot of money during the Civil War, and didn't the USA's entrance into WWII mark the true end of the Depression? From what I've heard and read about this book, it sounds like a combination of disingenuous naivete and "Well, duh!" academic wank moments.
Chomsky & Zinn Lite perfect for conspicuous placement in the messenger bag pockets of the bourgeoisie's shaggy-haired, skinny-jeaned sons and daughters.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:51 AM on September 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


klang, you're already hurt in many ways, rights and privacywise, and in some if not all cases, we're not even allowed to know exactly how intrusive things have gotten. your internet and phone usage is already in the govt's hands. your credit and bank info too. ....
posted by amberglow at 11:53 AM on September 12, 2007


Other ways klang is hurt: Lost opportunities. Don't think about all the stuff that you have and have been able to keep. Think about all the stuff you never had and are even less likely to now that we've wasted so much money. Free health care. Free education. Public infrastructure. Free ponies and flying cars. You name it, tax cuts and war have prevented it.
posted by DU at 11:56 AM on September 12, 2007 [4 favorites]


(and that's ignoring all the cuts in spending on public services that affect us all)
posted by amberglow at 11:56 AM on September 12, 2007


oops--DU beat me to it.
posted by amberglow at 11:57 AM on September 12, 2007


Eh. I didn't get free health care under the Clintons. And privacy-wise? My job does more damage to me on that score than the government does. In fact, I'm much more afraid of companies having my info than the government—I hate that I have to put my SSN on everything now. But is that because of the war on terror? No, not really.
posted by klangklangston at 12:00 PM on September 12, 2007


Easy, Alvy. I haven't read the book, but if Klein includes details on the activities of this generation's Daddy Warbuckses, she will have done us a service, even if she is unable to support the larger thesis (that this war's absence of an endstate is part of its design as a profit-generating mechanism).
posted by notyou at 12:01 PM on September 12, 2007


This is one of those one-link posts that might have been 100% better as a two or three link post. People are missing the originality of Klein's thesis for lack of an illuminating contrast.

She's not making a claim about the Bush admin and their cronines, but rather offering a new way to think about capitalism--as disaster capitalism. She's asserting the utility of a new metaphor for grasping the nature of contemporary capitalism.

An interesting contrast might have been between Klein's post and Tom Frank's notion of religious capitalism in One Market Under God, or Bejamin Barber's notion of McWorld from Jihad vs. McWorld. Or heck, something by Thomas Friedman, if we're sticking with popular discussions of the changing metaphors for capitalism.

With a bit more contrast we might have gotten more effectively to the originality of Klein's argument, and be engaged in a discussion about the implications of her metaphor and the broad character of contemporary capitalism, rather than seeing so much pointless snark re Klein, who I'm quite sure is one of the very sharpest cultural critics on the scene today.

At the very least the FPP could have mentioned Klein by name; I almost didn't click on her article.
posted by washburn at 12:02 PM on September 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sweet. I didn't get my fill of Naomi op-ed radicalism the last time around.

It's pretty sad that ideas like people should be getting a living wage or vacation time are considered radical.
posted by c13 at 12:09 PM on September 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


"She's not making a claim about the Bush admin and their cronines, but rather offering a new way to think about capitalism--as disaster capitalism. She's asserting the utility of a new metaphor for grasping the nature of contemporary capitalism. "

Except that it's not really all that new—it was the model of capitalism explicitly favored by Mussolini's conception of corpratism (or Fascism, as we call it). WWII wasn't ever supposed to end, as it was the constant flow of combat that would keep Italy's industry humming. The explicit economic link of primary Fascism is often overlooked due to Hitler's relative socialism (boy, Fascism, just another thing that Hitler ruined)…
posted by klangklangston at 12:09 PM on September 12, 2007


Can I quote Strauss complaining about how the Nazis cheapened Fascism again?
posted by [expletive deleted] at 12:16 PM on September 12, 2007


War is a racket by Major General Smedley D. Butler, USMC is almost an obligatory link in this thread.
posted by elpapacito at 12:17 PM on September 12, 2007


Sweet. I didn't get my fill of Naomi op-ed radicalism the last time around.

It's a sad world we live in, in which awareness of reality is radical.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:18 PM on September 12, 2007


Just look at all the Democratic Congress has done!

No offense, but the whole 'the two parties are the same' bullshit is how we got into this mess in the first place. Thanks swing voters!
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:24 PM on September 12, 2007


Forbes: The Security-Industrial Complex (they're all for it, of course)
posted by amberglow at 12:26 PM on September 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


another pro-view: WSJ: The Security-Industrial Complex (by the Manhattan Institute's Heather MacDonald--Judy Miller just came on board there too)

it's us who care about privacy and rights who are preventing great advances that benefit all mankind, apparently--shame on us ; >
posted by amberglow at 12:32 PM on September 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


The revenue stream was a seemingly bottomless supply of tax dollars to be funnelled from the Pentagon ($270bn in 2005 to private contractors, a $137bn increase since Bush took office)

Hola Americanos!

Don't you know you could cut your defense budget in half if you made your weapons in Mexico or China?

And do you really need all those military analysts in the Pentagon when there's plenty of eager workers in Mumbai willing to do the same job for one-third the salary?

Just a thought.
posted by disgruntled at 12:33 PM on September 12, 2007


klangklangston writes: Except that it's not really all that new—it was the model of capitalism explicitly favored by Mussolini's conception of corporatism (or Fascism, as we call it).

It can be useful to trace continuities like the one you mention; however before making the deflationary assertion that Klein offers nothing new, one would I think want to make very sure to have read carefully for whatever she does offer that is new or at least originally presented.

In this case, I think there are pretty substantial differences between Mussolini's corporate fascism and the disaster (notice, btw that "disaster" isn't quite the same as "war') capitalism mentioned by Klein.

Despite the truth that Italian fascism served the interest of the Italian elites, it is still a distortion to entirely run together Mussolini's sense of the word "corporate" and the one used nowadays to refer to Enron and etc. M,'s use of the word referred to traditional "corporate" guilds, and (I think) to the Catholic Church, and carries the connotation of corporeal or the corpus Christi, and reflects the fascist promise to everyone of a place within the larger body of society.

I don't mean to try and draw a bright line distinction between Italian fascism and Bushist Republicanism; I just mean to encourage people to be carefully about blending ideas together in a way that makes analysis more difficult.
posted by washburn at 12:39 PM on September 12, 2007


Democratic Congress: You have to comply with these subpoenas.
Bush admin: No. We belong to a new, as yet unnamed, branch of government and/or planetary system.
Democratic Congress: Well, we tried.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:57 PM on September 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


"In this case, I think there are pretty substantial differences between Mussolini's corporate fascism and the disaster (notice, btw that "disaster" isn't quite the same as "war') capitalism mentioned by Klein."

Yes, there are. However, there are also substantial similarities, especially in your claim of originality for Klein.

"Despite the truth that Italian fascism served the interest of the Italian elites, it is still a distortion to entirely run together Mussolini's sense of the word "corporate" and the one used nowadays to refer to Enron and etc. M,'s use of the word referred to traditional "corporate" guilds, and (I think) to the Catholic Church, and carries the connotation of corporeal or the corpus Christi, and reflects the fascist promise to everyone of a place within the larger body of society. "

While it's obvious that you agree with the Public Eye blurb you linked to, the "corporate" of Mussolini should not be understood as corporeal, but rather in a similar sense to "incorporation." Fascism, even down to the faggot, was about a bundling, and the succession from anarcho-syndicalism to this "corporatism" was based on the state bringing into or bundling the interests of industry into the government. Yes, the fascism was based upon guild spheres, but guilds were superceded by fascism, by the bundling of all interests into a "corporate" (both senses) whole. (As an aside, I feel vaguely that Fascism was more successful in Germany because Germans, especially Heideggerian Germans, have a vocabulary that is better suited to the use of multiple senses in precise forms, in a way that makes Fascist rhetoric much more compelling). Obviously, the Bush administration has done something different (a more diffuse form of economic collaboration between public and private), but when you look at the societal goals of fascism, and especially the ancillary supports of fascism from the Futurists (the exhaltation of modern production as a necessary engine of continuing war), the modern sense of "corporatism" is there too.

Frankly, I'm not seeing much in Klein that hasn't been said elsewhere, or that would escape any moderately astute observer of current events. It's delightful that you have a crush on her, but I'm not sure why that makes her original. Surely something more than changing "war" to "disaster"?
posted by klangklangston at 1:10 PM on September 12, 2007


The Bush administration has taken several important and little-examined measures to institutionalise the privatised warfare model forged in Iraq, making it a permanent fixture of foreign policy. In July 2006, Bowen, the inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, issued a report on "lessons learned" from the various contractor debacles. It concluded that the problems stemmed from insufficient planning and called for the creation of "a deployable reserve corps of contracting personnel who are trained to execute rapid relief and reconstruction contracting during contingency operations" and to "pre-qualify a diverse pool of contractors with expertise in specialised reconstruction areas" - in other words, a standing contractor army. In his 2007 State of the Union address, Bush championed the idea, announcing the creation of a brand-new civilian reserve corps. "Such a corps would function much like our military reserve. It would ease the burden on the armed forces by allowing us to hire civilians with critical skills to serve on missions abroad when America needs them," he said. "It would give people across America who do not wear the uniform a chance to serve in the defining struggle of our time."

A year and half into the Iraq occupation, the US State Department launched a new branch: the Office of Reconstruction and Stabilization. On any given day, it is paying private contractors to draw up detailed plans to reconstruct 25 different countries that may, for one reason or another, find themselves the target of US-sponsored destruction, from Venezuela to Iran. Corporations and consultants are lined up on "pre-signed contracts" so that they are ready to leap into action as soon as disaster strikes. For the Bush administration, it was a natural evolution: after claiming it had a right to cause unlimited pre-emptive destruction, it then pioneered pre-emptive reconstruction - rebuilding places that have not yet been destroyed.

So in the end, the war in Iraq did create a model economy - it was just not the "tiger on the Tigris" that the neo-cons had advertised. Instead, it was a model for privatised war and reconstruction - a model that quickly became export-ready. Until Iraq, the frontiers of the Chicago crusade had been bound by geography: Russia, Argentina, South Korea. Now a new frontier can open up wherever the next disaster strikes.
Why Failure is the New Face of Success

See also The Erasing of Iraq

See also The Homeland Security Bubble: further reading
posted by y2karl at 1:12 PM on September 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


Interesting post, thanks y2karl. You've made up my mind about going to see her talk in a couple of months. Should be really interesting. I like her style of writing. Sure, lots of it is rehashing old news but she writes in a way that's not terribly intimidating and is easy to digest.
posted by twistedonion at 1:32 PM on September 12, 2007


War is about the redistribution of loot -- it always has been. The high-brow gobbly-gook contained herein is not remotely enlightening - it's the attack of the thesaurus.

There are no truths to be found in this conversation that are not learned by pre-school children playing in sand-boxes. We're not going to find our way out of the cave by looking really really really hard at the shadows.
posted by ogre at 1:37 PM on September 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


The worrying sense I got from this article is that Klein seems more concerned with the fact that people are making money implementing Bush's "security program" than the fact of the program itself. There doesn't seem to be much effort to demonstrate that a "public sector" solution would be better in terms of practical implementation or impact on civil liberties.

I am still interested in reading her book, because her thesis is attractive even if it does feel like she's stretching it very thin (as a 40+ Thatcher-hating Brit, the Falklands stuff rings very false, for example.)

But if nothing else, the book is being very well marketed...
posted by pascal at 1:44 PM on September 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


To those who espouse such a view, is it OK for a business to lobby for unnecessary war so they can make a profit? After all, that's the purpose of a business--to increase shareholder value.

OK? It's not just okay, it's a moral necessity. Which is one of the reasons why small government is a good idea. Surely it's dawned on you by this point that there's some common ground to be found between the worldviews of Chomsky and Goldwater.
posted by Kwantsar at 1:53 PM on September 12, 2007


Good post, thanks.
Disaster capitalism has been around at least since 1933, witness this bit from Duck Soup:

Rufus T. Firefly: Dig trenches, with our men being killed off like flies? There isn't time to dig trenches. We'll have to buy them ready made. Here, run out and get some trenches. Wait a minute, get them this high [gestures to his chin]
and our soldiers won't need any pants. Wait a minute, get them this high [gestures over his head] and we won't need any soldiers.
posted by ahimsakid at 2:03 PM on September 12, 2007


money that was not in the private sector before and that is more than the GDP of Chile or the Czech Republic.

Money, it should be pointed out, that was borrowed and that we can't afford. Combined with the many other incredibly stupid economic mistakes of the last 15 years, we will be a Second World nation within another generation.
posted by Malor at 2:05 PM on September 12, 2007


If I believed in that sort of thing, I'd speculate that Eisenhower is twisting madly in his decidedly unquiet grave...
posted by lodurr at 2:28 PM on September 12, 2007


Combined with the many other incredibly stupid economic mistakes of the last 15 years, we will be a Second World nation within another generation.

Hm, I smell a meme a-brewin'... (Of course that's been stock in trade in American [and some British] SF since the cyberpunks.)
posted by lodurr at 2:31 PM on September 12, 2007


Introduction to End of America

Part Two of the Introduction to End of America
posted by homunculus at 2:34 PM on September 12, 2007


DU: And since "businesses exist to make money" is not only a truism, but practically a statement of virtue.

To those who espouse such a view, is it OK for a business to lobby for unnecessary war so they can make a profit? After all, that's the purpose of a business--to increase shareholder value.


I know we had an exchange about this in another thread (IIRC), but "businesses exist to make money" is a true statement--though not a truism--in the culture we actually live in, so I guess that I do espouse such a view. To answer your questions: No, it is not OK for a business to lobby for unnecessary war so they can make a profit. Just like it's not OK for a business to kill people and put them in hamburgers for a profit. To observe that a business's reason for being is livelihood is not to say that such ends can be pursued without limit, reason, or basic morality. That's why we (ideally) have government, to provide those limits. That government is no longer providing such limits, hasn't in a long time, and is even encouraging immoral, harmful business practices, goes right to the heart of Klein's thesis, I think.

And the purpose of a business is not to increase shareholder value; that's the purpose of a corporation, and corporations really need to be reeled back in through government limits (I'm sure you've seen this excellent documentary on the subject). Business can exist in a variety of ways other than our current manifestation of the corporation.

But commerce is at the root of our culture, and is not inherently evil. It can become dangerous and destructive to a culture, which is when we hopefully have controls to kick in and pull things back--but our controls aren't working, which is the issue, I think.
posted by LooseFilter at 2:36 PM on September 12, 2007


We're not going to find our way out of the cave by looking really really really hard at the shadows.

No, probably not. But we might figure out why it is that the rest of the folks in the cave with us want to stay in so very badly.
posted by lodurr at 2:37 PM on September 12, 2007


I liked this article when it was written three years ago with graphs. The economy would be in a recession without defense spending, the industry jobs, and the trickle down effect in weapons factory towns and military base towns.

And of course this won't change during a democratic administration. No democrat wants to cut defense spending in half and trigger a depression in half of the country.

This article should come as a surprise to no one. Despite the rise of China as a manufacturing powerhouse, flooding the market with an previously unthinkable variety and quantity of low cost products, between 20 and 30 million manufacturing jobs were lost from 1995-2002.

The purpose of technological innovation is to reduce the reliance on human capital, not create more jobs. But unemployed people vote like anyone else, so the government makes up jobs for them. You guys go build some bombs, and you guys drop them, and you guys over their find someone to drop them on. And don't bother us with the details.
posted by Pastabagel at 2:42 PM on September 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


The purpose of technological innovation is to reduce the reliance on human capital, not create more jobs. But unemployed people vote like anyone else, so the government makes up jobs for them. You guys go build some bombs, and you guys drop them, and you guys over their find someone to drop them on. And don't bother us with the details.

Everyone makes up jobs. Let's say I invented a device that allows a factory to produce five times as much useless plastic crap per hour than before.

So, without any direct/immediate effect on the company, the workers could all have a 1 day work week and be just as productive and get paid just as much as their five day work week. Instead, the company will decide to still make the workers work five days and make five times as much plastic crap, of course for the same wage as before. Then they will hire a marketing company to convince the rest of the world that they actually need five times as much useless plastic crap that they were getting along just fine without.

To summarize, I want robots doing most of the work on the crap jobs so everyone can sit around drinking and napping six days out of the week.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 3:11 PM on September 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


Thanks for the further links, y2karl.

klangklangston: You write: "Obviously, the Bush administration has done something different [from what Mussolini did] (a more diffuse form of economic collaboration between public and private)"

Well, that's what I said, and why I objected to your claim that "it [Klein's metaphor of "disaster capitalism"] was the model of capitalism explicitly favored by Mussolini's conception of corporatism.

I'm not sure I get the distinction you suggest between "incorporation" and "corporeal"--incorporation means to give a group of pieces the unity of a human body: a corpus. It's the same metaphor. And the older urban guild/body of Christ model of the corporate state that Mussolini liked to invoke (using the word at other times in a more modern sense) is pretty different from the "diffuse" or alienated feel of contemporary capitalism. The tension between these conceptions of capitalism is of course still being played out in interesting ways (ways that could missed by blurring Italian "corporate" fascism and the disaster capitalism that Klein here describes).

It's also worth noting that this traditional sense of "corporate" exists in tension with the precept of contemporary capitalism that businesses exist to make money that is being discussed in this thread.

I don't mean to single your out your comments re Klein; you'll note that I think the FPP is a bit lacking in context. However as comments about Klein seemed to alternate between dismissals of Klein as a leftist bitch, or as someone tediously re-stating the obvious, I was struck by how little reference many commentators made to the specifics of Klein's argument. I can understand why Klein's political opponents might so casually dismiss her, but it strikes me as especially sad when those who share many of her political views are also willing to casually dismiss the arguments of one of the Left's leading public intellectuals, without at least showing how her argument fail to augment those of her predecessors, and indicating what sort of more original thinking on the subject is required.

On preview, re pastabagels comment: sure, this article and the all of 'em like it were written three years ago, if you summarize them broadly enough. I find myself curious about the reasons that people who feel there's nothing new here feel it's worth posting that sentiment. What's the purpose of doing that, I wonder, especially when one has no advice to provide as to how the author might have managed greater originality or importance?

Also: Well, that was altogether too long! Here's to me getting back to some actual work after posting this final freakishly long comment.
posted by washburn at 3:23 PM on September 12, 2007


TheOnlyCoolTim : To summarize, I want robots doing most of the work on the crap jobs so everyone can sit around drinking and napping six days out of the week.

Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.
posted by quin at 3:43 PM on September 12, 2007


"Well, that's what I said, and why I objected to your claim that "it [Klein's metaphor of "disaster capitalism"] was the model of capitalism explicitly favored by Mussolini's conception of corporatism."

Except that it was the model favored by Mussolini—the government in concert with industry mutually profiting from an endless war, and a dissolution of distinction between the two. Bush is different in the way he presents it, but there is more like than unlike there, and Mussolini's program of continuing conquest is an obvious presage of Klein's thesis.

"I'm not sure I get the distinction you suggest between "incorporation" and "corporeal"--incorporation means to give a group of pieces the unity of a human body: a corpus. It's the same metaphor."

Incorporation, at least in modern English, is better understood as bringing things together and creating something new with them, which is (at least subtly) different from the idea of forming a body out of parts. The corpus can't help but exist from the limbs; limbs have no other teleos beyond belonging to a body. Incorporation implies the addition of things that may have existed elsewhere independently into a greater whole. And that's leaving aside all of the business semantics of corporation and incorporation, but there has been a semantic shift in the way those words are used.

"but it strikes me as especially sad when those who share many of her political views are also willing to casually dismiss the arguments of one of the Left's leading public intellectuals, without at least showing how her argument fail to augment those of her predecessors, and indicating what sort of more original thinking on the subject is required."

Why should we do her job for her? I'm sorry, but that she's one of the "Left's leading public intellectuals" doesn't carry much water with me (at best, it seems an unseemly appeal to authority), and it's her job to prove that she deserves such thin plaudits—by coming up with arguments that augment her predecessors and by doing original thinking. I've enough on my plate without looking to lift and support someone who often seems to me to be coasting on the thin grease of being the best-looking leftist past Jane Fonda. Her editors should have worked with the deficits of her article, not me.

And again, what do you find of particular note about her writing here, besides her stature as a leftist? What was new? What was novel? What was insightful?
posted by klangklangston at 3:53 PM on September 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


"To summarize, I want robots doing most of the work on the crap jobs so everyone can sit around drinking and napping six days out of the week.

Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter."

It's all about Aristotle, man. Except he said we had to use slaves.
posted by klangklangston at 3:54 PM on September 12, 2007


For all the Naomi Klein haters, I defy you to find a cuter prominent radical leftist.
posted by gurple at 4:22 PM on September 12, 2007


klangklangston writes: Why should we do her job for her? I'm sorry, but that she's one of the "Left's leading public intellectuals" doesn't carry much water with me (at best, it seems an unseemly appeal to authority), and it's her job to prove that she deserves such thin plaudits—by coming up with arguments that augment her predecessors and by doing original thinking. I've enough on my plate without looking to lift and support someone who often seems to me to be coasting on the thin grease of being the best-looking leftist

Where to start? Since when was it "her job" to say something interesting or useful about capital? Since when wasn't it yours?

And now she's "coasting on the thin grease of being the best looking leftist since Jane Fonda?" Just like she reminded rhymer of Alainis Morissette? What a nasty and belittling remark, towards someone who's only failure seems to have been to meet your standard of originality.

again, what do you find of particular note about her writing here, besides her stature as a leftist? What was new? What was novel? What was insightful?

Given your strangely hostile attitude towards Klein, I'm not highly inclined to spend the defending Klein's claim to originality against every analog you come up with, especially if your claims are as loose as the one you made conflating Mussolini's idea of corporatism with c21 conceptions of the term (you're welcome, btw, for my doing the job of pointing that out).

They're still arguing about Einstein's originality; I have no doubt that since you seem to think Klein's claim amounts to nothing more than that capitalists profit from war that you'll be able maintain her lack of originality against all comers.

I've already pointed out that Klein's intent here is to elaborate a theory of "disaster capitalism," an intent for which you've already expressed your contempt, apparently refusing either to see or discuss the aspects of Klein's essay that suggest how she's likely to explain what that means or how it might differ from war capitalism.

Moreover, I haven't made any great claim for Klein's originality here, because it would obviously be premature to do so. This is a few pages from the intro of her next book; if she here sets out a theory of "disaster capitalism" that is sketched out in a way that is suggestive rather than decisively worked through, that's hardly surprising. The jury on Klein's originality here remains out. But I think her suggestion is tantalizing and judging from her former work (have you seen _The Take_?) should be pretty worthwhile. Is the substitution of disaster for war significant? Will Klein end up repeating or modifying Marx's theory of crisis capitalism? Who knows? But there's reason here for interest, rather than snide arm-chair condemnations, offered up with frankly sexist dismissals of Klein (or of others' regard for her, which amounts to the same thing) on the grounds that she's just a pretty face.

I'm not sure about your politics, but this is how the left so often eats its own, and it frankly makes me sad.
posted by washburn at 5:48 PM on September 12, 2007


Todd Gitlin had an interesting review of the book in the Toronto Globe and Mail last weekend. It begins:

A reviewer who strives to be fair to a book that strips the world down, with an all-purpose formula, to a Theory of Everything, would seem to have an easy time. Mark the places where the author takes shortcuts; unearth counterexamples; note her penchant for the sensational thrust; observe that she concentrates on facts and sources that purport to cinch her case and dodges others; indicate the spots where she contradicts herself, shifts definitions and modifies her argument in order to freshen up its plausibility; and dismiss her for the overbearing habit of smugly knowing how the world works, never mind inconvenient truths.

posted by Cuke at 6:02 PM on September 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the link, Cuke. Apparently, Klein isn't Gitlin's biggest fan either.
posted by washburn at 6:58 PM on September 12, 2007


"Where to start? Since when was it "her job" to say something interesting or useful about capital? Since when wasn't it yours?"

How much did I get paid for my book excerpt in the Guardian? That's my "something interesting about capital."

"And now she's "coasting on the thin grease of being the best looking leftist since Jane Fonda?" Just like she reminded rhymer of Alainis Morissette? What a nasty and belittling remark, towards someone who's only failure seems to have been to meet your standard of originality."

Well, what else has she got? A second-rate compilation of the military-industrial complex, done better and cheaper by any number of y2karl posts?

"Given your strangely hostile attitude towards Klein, I'm not highly inclined to spend the defending Klein's claim to originality against every analog you come up with, especially if your claims are as loose as the one you made conflating Mussolini's idea of corporatism with c21 conceptions of the term (you're welcome, btw, for my doing the job of pointing that out)."

And given your strangely worshipful and credulous interpretation of Klein's thin article, I don't put much stock in your ability to understand what I was talking about re: Mussolini. If you consider one piss-poor Public Eye blurb "your job," it's lucky I don't pay you.

"They're still arguing about Einstein's originality; I have no doubt that since you seem to think Klein's claim amounts to nothing more than that capitalists profit from war that you'll be able maintain her lack of originality against all comers."

And what more does it amount to? I'm willing to grant more than that, but not much more. But instead of putting forth any sort of cogent defense, you just boo-hoo about how we should venerate her. You'll need more to convince me than your crush, and you're not offering it (and neither is Klein).

"I've already pointed out that Klein's intent here is to elaborate a theory of "disaster capitalism," an intent for which you've already expressed your contempt, apparently refusing either to see or discuss the aspects of Klein's essay that suggest how she's likely to explain what that means or how it might differ from war capitalism."

From the linked article, the only difference she seems to have found is that it's a) broader, referring also to privatization of public welfare bodies (FEMA, etc.), and b) that it's perpetual. That's her lightbulb? Fuck, you never had that thought before? It's like I'm talking to someone who's just gotten high for the first time, and really thought about their hands, man.

"But there's reason here for interest, rather than snide arm-chair condemnations, offered up with frankly sexist dismissals of Klein (or of others' regard for her, which amounts to the same thing) on the grounds that she's just a pretty face."

Why? What new is of interest here? As to the knee-jerk sensitive fatwah against sexism: Klein has been insubstantial for years. Take a look at her last "Men don't find me as hot as they used to: pornography to blame" bullshit. No Logo was interesting, if ultimately flawed, due mostly to ideological posturing over economic reality. At her best, she's a canny writer, and does solid magazine pieces. But her theoretical cred is vastly exaggerated, and she frequently over-reaches. The reason that people give her shit for being a pretty face is because has a pretty face, and not necessarily a whole lot else. The same would be true for Michael Moore, if he had a pretty face (or, as a more abject example, Tucker Carlson).

"I'm not sure about your politics, but this is how the left so often eats its own, and it frankly makes me sad."

And fuck your guilt-trips on this—with us/against us aversions to criticism are for the Right and Maoists.
posted by klangklangston at 7:40 PM on September 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Um, washburn? If an idea isn't original, then by definition there isn't much value to elaborating it again, in tedious moralizing tones. I want to write a novel about a dude from La Mancha who reads too many knightly romance stories and wanders around with his squire making giants out of windmills. Does that mean that I should get the benefit of the doubt, and maybe people shouldn't attack my work as derivative? Of course they should.

Just because she's a leftist doesn't mean we have to sit around like Catherine McKinnon at a consciousness-raising and listen to everyone's unique suggestions because everyone's opinion has value and we should respect diversity and blah blah blah.

Bottom line, whatever Naomi Klein might think, the contemporary Left's problem is not that it's expressing too many original and compelling ideas.
posted by nasreddin at 7:43 PM on September 12, 2007


Man, between Todd Gitlin and Naomi Klein, it's hard to see who's worse. It's like a slap-fight between Stryper and N'Sync. In the red corner, you have faux-judicious insipid Gotha-mongering; in the blue corner, you have buzzwords and politically correct platitudes about Rachel Corrie. Ugh.
posted by nasreddin at 8:01 PM on September 12, 2007


It's doubtful that there's much to be recovered from this thread at this point. Still, without disclaiming all responsibility for this downward spiral, and resisting some [but not all: see final paragraph] darker polemical impulses, let me make a final point, at least:

I think there's a certain amount of talking at cross-purposes going on here, about what might constitute originality for purposes of this discussion. Clearly, Klein is writing for a different audience than say, Habermas or even Hardt and Negri, to say nothing about traditionally analytical approaches to questions of ethics and value.

I don't mean to make a claim for Klein's status as a major systematic theorist of capital; clearly that's not tenable, and I'm not at all sure that she'd make such a claim herself. Yet this doesn't mean that her writing is fundamentally unoriginal, either. Klein's failure to add a new wrinkle to distribution theory, for example, doesn't suggest that her effort to reconceive capitalism in terms of disaster is fundamentally insignificant. The books I mentioned as possible points of comparison early in this thread should suggest the kind of work to which Klein's argument is probably usefully comparable. The fact that Thomas Friedman's _The World is Flat_ or _The Lexus and the Olive Tree_ don't present an "original" contribution to the field of economics doesn't mean that they fail to introduce compelling and novel metaphors that have shaped the public discourse. Moreover, it's that sort of originality, not Saul Kripke's, that I'd expect most people would hope for in the sort of books that Klein produces.

Fuck my guilt trips, if you must (and there's another!); however what I was trying to do was to move the discussion towards the content of Klein's argument and away from questions about her personality or her originality that don't strike me as especially interesting or productive. What you, klangklangston, take to have been Maoist or Bushish with us/against us-ism, I think was more a call for an assumption of good faith on Klein's part and the courtesy to read an eye towards what is interesting and worthwhile (or specifically objectionable), and to write without assuming that Klein's Guardian paycheck means that she's the one who's job it is to try to say something worthwhile to the consuming public.

I'm off to have a drink or two, and other conversation.
posted by washburn at 10:11 PM on September 12, 2007


That's gracious, washburn.

For my part, I don't think Friedman is any more worthwhile. I think a big part of the problem with our public sphere is that genuinely interesting academic discourse is dumbed down for mass consumption and repackaged as flabby, pointless 250-page books with brightly colored covers.

I can abide an argument which is either insightful or original, even if it's not both. But Klein's argument isn't insightful, and, I think, wrong. If you notice, the most successful state-corporate quid pro quo collaborations, like, for instance, Halliburton's Iraq contract, are also those that are most against free-market principles. So at the very least, this phenomenon cannot be looked upon as simply a product of the Chicago School; it also has its roots in things like '60s Establishment liberalism, Keynesianism, and so on. In other words, the thesis is a massive simplification designed to arouse maximum righteous indignation and minimum genuine understanding.
posted by nasreddin at 10:40 PM on September 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh yes:

Metafilter: It's like a slap-fight between Stryper and N'Sync.
posted by LooseFilter at 10:45 PM on September 12, 2007


the thesis is a massive simplification designed to arouse maximum righteous indignation and minimum genuine understanding.

Got it in one.

Well played though, washburn, I hope you enjoyed your drinkies.
posted by Wolof at 4:38 AM on September 13, 2007


It is really kind of odd and sad that Klein is required to be someone's strange idea of "original" while any number of other one-note johnnies aren't required to be anything but clever.
posted by lodurr at 5:04 AM on September 13, 2007


If an idea isn't original, then by definition there isn't much value to elaborating it again, in tedious moralizing tones.

That's one of the silliest things I've read in a long time. Except for the moralising part, which is really a matter of perception AFAICS. There is almost always value in elaborating old ideas in new contexts: Misinterpretations of Santayana's maxim ("those who forget history...") notwithstanding, that is in fact the only way we ever really understand the old ideas. So, by definition? No. Not hardly.

In any case, there is very, very little literature that is "original" in the way that klangstonklangston seems to be requiring. Research fares little better.
posted by lodurr at 5:12 AM on September 13, 2007



It is really kind of odd and sad that Klein is required to be someone's strange idea of "original" while any number of other one-note johnnies aren't required to be anything but clever.


The existence of other unoriginal writers is entirely irrelevant. I feel the same way about them.

There is almost always value in elaborating old ideas in new contexts


You're right; as a general rule what I said wasn't accurate. But I still don't think this is the situation with Klein.
posted by nasreddin at 7:51 AM on September 13, 2007


I feel the same way about them.

Sure, but what is relevant is whether you (or, more to the point, some other people on this thread) actually bother to carry on long discussions about their 'originality'.
posted by lodurr at 7:57 AM on September 13, 2007


"The fact that Thomas Friedman's _The World is Flat_ or _The Lexus and the Olive Tree_ don't present an "original" contribution to the field of economics doesn't mean that they fail to introduce compelling and novel metaphors that have shaped the public discourse."

Doesn't mean that, no, but surely his failure to introduce compelling and novel metaphors (novel, yes, compelling, no) is likely correlated. After receiving The World Is Flat for Christmas, I feel that I would have gotten more out of a circle of boot boys kicking my skull while chanting "Make it flat! Make it flat!" than I got out of Friedman's morass of hyperbole and clumsy metaphors.
He has shaped the public discourse, but mostly by telling people things they wanted to hear about global capitalism in a way that so tortured their critical thinking faculties that they were willing to accept whatever conclusions he could muster.
Klein's not as bad as Friedman, but that's a totally left-handed defense.
posted by klangklangston at 8:00 AM on September 13, 2007



Sure, but what is relevant is whether you (or, more to the point, some other people on this thread) actually bother to carry on long discussions about their 'originality'.


Because in Klein's case, you scratch that layer of "NEW! SHOCKING! DISASTER CAPITALISM!" and there isn't much underneath. So willy-nilly the debate has to shift from the substance of her argument to whether she's actually as radically innovative as she pretends to be.
posted by nasreddin at 8:02 AM on September 13, 2007


... that layer of "NEW! SHOCKING! DISASTER CAPITALISM!"...

You know, I'm just not seeing that. I've read it, and I'm just not seeing that. It reads as being pretty dispassionate to me. But then, I don't have money on the corporatist dog and I'm not threatened by analytical women.

My assessment of this thread is that some folks are very threatened by the ideas that are outlined in the article. Or possibly by the person who wrote it. I'm not sure which. It reminds me a lot of reactions to Susan Faludi's work, especially Stiffed.
posted by lodurr at 8:12 AM on September 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


But then, I don't have money on the corporatist dog and I'm not threatened by analytical women.

It's pretty disingenuous of you to accuse me of being a sexist, since you have no evidence for that false assertion.
posted by nasreddin at 9:07 AM on September 13, 2007


"My assessment of this thread is that some folks are very threatened by the ideas that are outlined in the article."

Then you're an idiot.
posted by klangklangston at 9:33 AM on September 13, 2007


It's also incredibly ironic that she conflates "public sector" with "public sphere," since, as Habermas argued, it was precisely the rise of the welfare state (among other things) that destroyed the liberal public sphere to begin with.
posted by nasreddin at 9:38 AM on September 13, 2007


Then you're an idiot.

Oh, wow. You really told me. I'm so hurt.

I'd better go read some of that Habermas chick, so I can keep up with you on these super-intellectual discussions you guys have. (Clearly, if one does not know one's Habermas, one cannot judge the originality or worth of anything.)
posted by lodurr at 10:47 AM on September 13, 2007


nasreddin: I was just assessing the thread. That's how I see it. If you feel caught up in the assessment...tough shit.
posted by lodurr at 10:48 AM on September 13, 2007


nasreddin: I was just assessing the thread. That's how I see it. If you feel caught up in the assessment...tough shit.

What? You gratuitously insult me, and then say "tough shit"? You drooling, sniveling failed abortion, shut the fuck up when the grownups are talking.
posted by nasreddin at 10:53 AM on September 13, 2007


I did not insult you. You need to learn to read more carefully.

And you have a remarkably thin skin, for a "grownup." Seriously.

And please stop trying to impress people by name-dropping Habermas. It's just silly. Say what you think, support it, and don't appeal to the authority of somebody everyone is convinced they're supposed to have read, but hardly anybody has.
posted by lodurr at 11:03 AM on September 13, 2007



And please stop trying to impress people by name-dropping Habermas. It's just silly. Say what you think, support it, and don't appeal to the authority of somebody everyone is convinced they're supposed to have read, but hardly anybody has.


Habermas essentially invented the concept of the "public sphere." His analysis of the public sphere is the basis for all subsequent debate around it. If you use the term "public sphere," you are implicitly invoking Habermas. If you conflate the term "public sphere" with "public sector," then you are not only wrong, but you are also wrong ironically, since, for Habermas, the two are opposed.

It's like if I say, "The cathedral model of software development is based on decentralized, open source programming," and you say, "That's funny; Eric Raymond said it was the other way around."

Someone in this thread is feeling threatened, but it sure isn't me or klang.
posted by nasreddin at 11:09 AM on September 13, 2007


Uh... yeah.

You've expended a lot of effort (8 comments by my count, some of them quite long) (8 for klang, too, by jove, you guys are in sync here) arguing teh worthlessness of the linked article. You must be really, really passionate about defending the 'idea of the public sphere.'

Or maybe you're threatened by analytical women. Or, you know, by the arguments being made in the linked article -- the other half of the "insult" that you conspicuously chose to ignore.

So, nasredding, why did you pick the "analytical women" part of my assessment to reply to?

All I did was point out that there was a lot of heat and a lot of effort being expended, in large part to characterize an article as being inflamed with high dudgeon. I still don't see it. It's not an academic paper. But it's not "OMG THOSE EEEEEEEEEEVIL CAPITALISTSSSSS!!!!!!"

I read the article; from my perspective, it's as though you read a different article. Or were very threatened by something in the wame article that I read.
posted by lodurr at 11:25 AM on September 13, 2007


Exeunt omnes.

Curtain.

posted by nasreddin at 11:30 AM on September 13, 2007


Yes, latinisms always impress.
posted by lodurr at 11:36 AM on September 13, 2007


"You've expended a lot of effort (8 comments by my count, some of them quite long) (8 for klang, too, by jove, you guys are in sync here) arguing teh worthlessness of the linked article. You must be really, really passionate about defending the 'idea of the public sphere.'"

That's because he's my sockpuppet and I have OCD. I also make him count every stop sign on his way home from work.

But, to flip this script, sure—I've made eight comments about the general disappointment that is this article. And within those eight comments, didn't I REPEATEDLY ask what was so illuminating or interesting? And what kind of reply do I get? "Well, you must be scared of smart chicks if you can't see her brilliance. That or a capitalist running-dog."

"Or maybe you're threatened by analytical women. Or, you know, by the arguments being made in the linked article -- the other half of the "insult" that you conspicuously chose to ignore."

And, see, this is why I called you an idiot. Because if the only analysis you can offer is an ad hominem (capitalist/sexist) dismissal of complaints, while giving no buttress of your own, well, then you must only like this article because you masturbate to Klein's .jpg or are a Guardian stockholder.

How is it being threatened to say that the article was facile and shallow? That it might, at best, presage a better, larger work, but was essentially twinkies for dinner here?

The one thing that I learned out of this thread? I need to read more Habermas, since I only dealt with him tagentially in my PoliSci degree, and he seems to dovetail well with things that I'm interested in (honestly, part of my avoiding him is that my father's getting his doctorate right now and has to read a lot of Habermas, since he's working on community cyber-rhetoric, and my father has complained more than once about Habermas's prose).
posted by klangklangston at 12:40 PM on September 13, 2007


Please. you called me an idiot because you have anger issues. Isn't it obvious?
posted by lodurr at 12:43 PM on September 13, 2007


I can't even tell if you're being sarcastic.
posted by klangklangston at 12:50 PM on September 13, 2007


Well, it wouldn't be very sarcastic if it were easy to tell, eh?
posted by lodurr at 1:17 PM on September 13, 2007


Does this shit count as disaster capitalism? (i'd say yes)

... As the New York Times has recently reported, the oil sharing deal is, once again, on the verge of collapse. At the root of it is the Kurd's insistence that they can proceed with extraction of their region's resources prior to the establishment of a national oil sharing agreement. ...
What kind of people would actively work in direct opposition to whatever meager progress has been made at the expense of nearly 4000 American lives? It may (or may not) be surprising to learn that the company signing the lucrative deal to extract oil from the Kurdish north is none other than Bush Pioneer Ray L. Hunt of Hunt Oil. ...

posted by amberglow at 1:43 PM on September 13, 2007


klang, I just finished The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere myself. The prose sucks, but this book is pretty short and it makes a really clear and persuasive case.
posted by nasreddin at 1:45 PM on September 13, 2007


thanks for posting that link, amberglow.

my blood pressure's been up ever since i read about that--particularly because i have an odd personal connection to the story. when i was younger my grandfather very badly wanted to establish a business relationship with the hunt family (my grandfather for a time operated a small, relatively successful timber company based in north florida).

so after working and working at it, he finally managed to get an in with some member of the hunt family who had business dealings in north florida (i think he may have owned property that my grandfather helped clear or something--i was just a kid at the time so the details are all sketchy).

anyway, long story short, my grandfather was invited to go hunting at a wilderness camp on some property the hunt's owned in the area. but when he got there, he later told us, the place hunt invited him to turned out to be a neo-nazi paramilitary compound! he said there were nazi flags flying all over the place and young men dressed in military gear. after this incident, my grandfather cut off all his contact with the hunts and didn't pursue any further business dealings with them.

now to see the hunts being the first ones in line to benefit from the iraq war all these years later--wow. it's mind-blowing to me, on a personal level.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:58 PM on September 13, 2007 [5 favorites]


the place hunt invited him to turned out to be a neo-nazi paramilitary compound! he said there were nazi flags flying all over the place and young men dressed in military gear. after this incident, my grandfather cut off all his contact with the hunts and didn't pursue any further business dealings with them.

omfg--sick assholes

(but i'm not really surprised--i betcha Bush senior and junior have been there, along with all the Texas GOP)
posted by amberglow at 3:14 PM on September 13, 2007


when was that?
posted by amberglow at 3:15 PM on September 13, 2007


Sourcewatch on Hunt: ... Hunt now serves as Chairman of the Board, President, and CEO of Hunt Consolidated, Inc.; Chairman of the Board and CEO of Hunt Oil Company; and Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer and President, RRH Corporation. He has been Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Hunt Private Equity Group since its inception in 1990. [2]

Hunt was appointed in October 2001 by President George Walker Bush to the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.[3]

Hunt joined the Halliburton Company Board in 1998. He is Chairman of the Compensation Committee and member of the Audit and the Management Oversight Committees. He also serves as a member of the boards of directors of PepsiCo, Inc., King Ranch, Inc., Electronic Data Systems Corporation, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, and Security Capital Group Incorporated.[4][5] [6]

Hunt currently serves as a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.; the Board of Trustess for the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation; ...

posted by amberglow at 3:18 PM on September 13, 2007


this was well before i graduated high school--so i think mid-to-late eighties. my sense of time is pretty crappy (especially looking in the rear-view), but i think that was the approximate time-frame.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:13 PM on September 13, 2007


I bet Hunt and his buddies were laughing and joking about teaching the jew a lesson or something too. Sick, nasty fucks--and our government is led by these people.
posted by amberglow at 6:26 PM on September 13, 2007


(v'shana tovah, meanwhile, saul) : >
posted by amberglow at 6:26 PM on September 13, 2007


Crying conspiracy is no reply-- ... Klein's book is the most creative attempt yet to draw out the links between the global corporate takeover and the US-led imperial wars that have been the focus of international protest over the past decade. And it is precisely because she is so effective at both reporting and dramatising those links to a new generation of activists that she is attacked and patronised by those who would prefer they were never made. ...
posted by amberglow at 8:13 PM on September 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


Jobs for all with disaster capitalism--for a private contractor called Serco Careers: NEW! 67 Temp Positions: Personal Effects Specialist--... working on-site in a fast-paced operational/warehouse environment for the US Army Casualty and Mortuary Affairs Operations Center at the Joint Personal Effects Depot (JPED). Receives, inventories, sorts, cleans, photographs, packages, and ships to family members (next of kin) all personal effects belonging to military service members and others, including defense contractors, who are killed or severely injured worldwide, especially incident to military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan....
posted by amberglow at 9:54 PM on September 13, 2007


Jane Smiley: The Shock Doctrine-- ... thanks to the resistance of the Iraqis and their deep resentment at being used and exploited by the Americans, this effort has failed. However, a parallel effort, to shock the US economy into absolute deregulation, privatization, and an end to social spending, has been and is succeeding. What this amounts to is the fleecing of the American taxpayer in order to enrich the war making industries. The byproduct, as in Chile, is the gutting of the rule of law and the American political system as we have known it. ...
posted by amberglow at 11:50 PM on September 13, 2007


... Personal Effects Specialist...

You have to love the dry, cool language of the job posting: Precise lists of duties, a description of a role, neatly and cleanly framing the fact that the job would not exist if soldiers were not out there getting killed.

Next on the list: 23 Temp Positions - Survivor Notification Specialist. Working in a state of the art telecommunications facility for the US Army Bereavement Command [USABC], the team-member will notify the officially-designated emergency contact or next of kin (as appropriate) to inform them of the disposition of a deceased member of the military services or their affiliated civilian work teams. The team member will direct contactees to privately-contracted bereavement counseling services, while displaying courtesy and professionalism. Casual work environment; 2 shifts.
posted by lodurr at 6:37 AM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]



joking about teaching the jew a lesson or something too

don't know about that, but then, until recently, i was pretty naive about the scope of anti-semitism in america. in north florida, all the bigots i knew tended to be more worried about teh blacks and teh gays. my grandfather was nominally racist himself (despite being half-cherokee), but he drew the line at collusion with nazis.


At any rate, the Hunt's links to voting machine manufacturing also bear further scrutiny in light of this (not too sure about the reliability of this source, though):

In 1997, American Information Systems purchased Business Records Corp. (BRC), formerly Texas-based election company Cronus Industries, to become ES&S. One of the BRC owners was Carolyn Hunt of the right-wing Hunt oil family, which supplied much of the original money for the Council on National Policy.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:03 AM on September 14, 2007


Hunt is a nasty piece of work all around--they all are when you peek beneath the facades.

(saul, my grandpa was prejudiced against blacks too, but he had been shut out of law firm and wall st. jobs when he graduated law school way back then so he knew about the rich and their entrenched anti-semitism--pre-Gentleman's Agreement)
posted by amberglow at 10:29 AM on September 14, 2007


I am going to have to find time to watch that movie, amberglow.

It has been difficult for me to grasp how pervasive and deeply dyed antisemitism was at all social and intellectual levels in America; I remember being particularly shocked, in reading about Robert Oppenheimer, to come across a letter from P. W. Bridgeman, a famous physicist and Oppenheimer's professor and mentor, recommending Oppenheimer for a fellowship to study at Cambridge, England (Oppenheimer got the fellowship) describing Oppenheimer as 'a Jew, but with none of the usual marks of his race.' (I wish I could have found the exact quotation, but I think this comes close enough not to distort too greatly.)
posted by jamjam at 11:27 AM on September 14, 2007


it really is a great movie--very well-done (but still didn't go as far as reality). I kinda think Auntie Mame did it better, because it was far more overt about it, and indicted it explicitly--and it was really explicit anti-semitism in those days and not codeworded or danced around at all.
posted by amberglow at 11:44 AM on September 14, 2007


I've been dismayed to see it in my own father (an Okie), and in his family. (And some frank racism, too, especially w.r.t. to latinos, though he doesn't see it that way, of course.) There's a weird double-standard at play with it sometimes: He'll criticize jews for 'helping out their own', and then praise the virtues of community (among gentiles, of course).

(My mother's pretty circumspect about judaism, no doubt in deference to my father's less and less constrained anti-semitism. I remember her opining once when we were kids that she was sure there'd be jews in heaven, because they were God's chosen people. I always assumed that it had something to do with the fact that her great-grandfather was a jew. She took a secret, strange for a Texan pride in that heritage, that I sensed even as a child.)
posted by lodurr at 11:53 AM on September 14, 2007


well, we rock, no? ; >
posted by amberglow at 12:07 PM on September 14, 2007


Oh, no, not the 'jewish rockers' thread...
posted by lodurr at 12:21 PM on September 14, 2007


Krugman: "To understand what's really happening in Iraq, follow the oil money, which already knows that the surge has failed."
posted by homunculus at 2:05 PM on September 14, 2007


Michael Klare on the Internal War For Control of Iraq's Oil
posted by homunculus at 2:39 PM on September 14, 2007


How convenient is this?
Ten years after Congress ordered federal agencies to have outside auditors review their books, neither the Defense Department nor the newer Department of Homeland Security has met even basic accounting requirements, leaving them vulnerable to waste, fraud and abuse. An Associated Press review shows that the two departments' financial records are so disorganized and inconsistent that they have repeatedly earned "disclaimer" opinions, meaning that they simply cannot be fully audited.

"It means we really can't put any faith in the numbers they use,"
...

posted by amberglow at 3:09 PM on September 14, 2007


Krugman on Hunt and the Kurdish Oil Deal
posted by amberglow at 6:49 PM on September 14, 2007


The catastrophe bubble-- ... The people on Wall Street who specialize in cat bonds now view Katrina as the single most important thing that ever happened to their business: overnight it went from a tiny backwater to a $14 billion market, and it is now stretching and straining to grow....
posted by amberglow at 9:28 PM on September 15, 2007


Vulture Funds, and the Giuliani's favorite vulture, Singer
posted by amberglow at 9:54 PM on September 15, 2007


Hillary's having a big fundraiser with Homeland Sec companies today: For the price of a ticket -- from a $1,000 personal donation to a $25,000 bundle –- attendees will get a special treat after the luncheon: an opportunity to participate in small, hour-long "breakout sessions" hosted by key Democratic lawmakers, many of whom chair important subcommittees on the Homeland Security committee.
posted by amberglow at 10:17 AM on September 18, 2007


Youtube video for Klein's latest book, The Shock Doctrine.
posted by washburn at 6:50 PM on September 19, 2007


Whoops. I see that Klein's video was actually posted on Mefi a couple days before this thread was created. The discussion of Klein's video and book in that thread is pretty interesting, in case I'm not the only one who missed it.
posted by washburn at 9:58 AM on September 22, 2007


« Older Movie stars. What have they got that you haven't g...  |  The Color of Top Grossing Movi... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments