September 18, 2008
Nervous traders on the trading floor in the midst of one of Wall Street’s most historic weeks
Things are looking grim down on Wall Street. Rather than trying to explain the chaos myself, I’ve chosen two articles that will do it better than I can. Suffice it to say that what is easily noticed is that the credo in American capitalism seems to be “privatize the profits, socialize the losses” as several companies have been rescued by the United States government and more rescues are bound to come.
From The World as we Know it is Going Under:
Things got worse after the markets closed. Washington Mutual, America’s fourth-largest bank, announced that it had started the process of putting itself up for sale. The Wall Street Journal reported that both Wells Fargo and the banking giant Citigroup were interested in taking over the battered American savings bank.
And then came the announcement that would dominate all of Thursday’s market activities: Morgan Stanley — the venerable Wall Street institution and one of the last two US investment banks left standing — had lost massive amounts and was fighting for survival. Media reports were saying that it was even in talks about a possible bail-out or merger. Rumor had it that possible suitors might include Wachovia or China’s Bank Citic.
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September 16, 2008
GZA rocks the crowd at the Fillmore in New York City, September 12, 2008
The juggernaut known as capitalism becomes a steamroller when combined with the corporate entertainment history. All forms of artistic expression that break the barrier between the unknown and the popular are quickly co-opted by the industry, packaged, marketed, and force-fed to the willing masses.
Hip Hop hasn’t escaped this truism. Born in the South Bronx, the DJ and rapper formed two of the four parts of the hip hop culture rising at the time (the other two being breakdancing and graffiti). Similar to punk and to rock’n’roll in the 1950s, hip hop was rebellion in musical form. From the deconstruction of the popular music of the day in which singing was overdubbed and manipulated, and instruments were numerous and played with by sound producers, hip hop stripped it bare by having a DJ with a turntable and an MC with a mic. Read the rest of this entry »
July 19, 2008
After the success of “No Logo” Naomi Klein has set her sights on “Disaster Capitalism”
Her grandfather was a Marxist who was fired from Disney for trying to organize the workers. Her father fled to Canada to avoid the Vietnam War. Naomi Klein made her name in the materialistic 1990s by railing against Nike for using dirt cheap labour abroad and against Starbucks for squeezing out the little guys. She became an intellectual celebrity with the publication of “No Logo” in 1999 where she decried the rise of corporations and how they monetized every aspect of our lives and culture. In our post 9/11 world, Klein has upped the ante in her war with the corporations in her latest book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Klein turns her fury towards American policy since the Second World War and how “disasters” have provided pretexts in which to spread globalization and corporate power at the expense of the poor. Her central thesis is that free-market economics as defined by the Chicago School and in particular Milton Friedman were implemented against the will of the people around the world through disorientation whether caused by war, coup d’etats, or disasters such as Hurricane Katrina.
Is Klein right? Is there a conspiracy by corporations and their government partners to cause chaos like war or to take advantage of disasters like tsunamis in order to spread the reach of corporations for the sake of profit? Jonathan Chait of The New Republic doesn’t necessarily agree with her theory in: Dead Left.