Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The May 2005 issue of Harper's has two articles that should be required reading of all people opposed to evangelical free-market government.

The first, "Let There Be Markets" by Gordon Bigelow, looks into the history of free-market economics and provides a devastating blow to its philosophical underpinnings. He first points out that neither Smith nor Ricardo, who more or less invented laissez-faire economics, ever thought that the free market would provide a fair playing field for rational actors (which is the main argument that free-marketers posit to defend the whole laissez-faire theory). Both, in fact, thought the opposite: class conflict is the inevitable outcome of pure markets. The evangelicals who picked up on their ideas downplayed that aspect on the grounds that the lower sort deserved their lot in life because it would bring them closer to God. In fact, Bigelow points out that the potato famine in Ireland could have been prevented if not for the Whig Evangelicals, who cut off the supply of corn to Ireland started by the Tories on free-market grounds. Man. One million dead to prove a point. Sound familiar? According to Bigelow, the new science of "economics" was created from the old theories of "political economy" more or less as a P.R. move from the fallout of the famine. Bigelow goes on to discuss the current neo-classicist economics loved by neo-cons (which is mainly associated with Milton Friedman), and mentions Thorstein Veblen as a notable dissenter from the free-market view which currently holds sway in economics departments around the Western world. I wish he'd gone into the more current arguments of John Kenneth Galbraith, but I understand that he had to wrap things up.

The second article worth reading is "Inside America's most powerful mega-church" by Jeff Sharlet in a section called "Soldiers of Christ". Sharlet visits the tremendous and influential New Life church in Colorado Springs. Make no mistake: these are the people fomenting the hate and ignorance that currently makes "Christian" seem like a dirty word. Those of us who are on the rational and sane side of the axis owe it to ourselves to see what they are up to.

While I'm on the subject of rationality and sanity, I should mention this interview with Richard Dawkins on Salon. Dawkins may confuse religion with fundamentalism, but the elegance of his position is eminently appealing.

More things on my mind: I'm reading Thomas De Zengotita's Mediated, about which I'll post a review when I'm done. Its focus on pop culture identity leads me to...

Veronica Mars. I've raved about this show before, but last night's episode, the penultimate of the season, brought the stakes even higher. The show's writers have the best sense of continuity on network tv, and the twists and turns of the season arc have left me (hiccup) breathless-ah. Consider (or skip ahead now, if you missed the episode): last night Veronica (who is 17, mind you) solved the mystery of her apparent rape from the first episode: she was, in fact, drugged, as we knew, but not quite raped. In fact, her ex-boyfriend (who is also the brother of her deceased best friend, Lilly) slept with her consensually while both were on the effects of alcohol and GHB. He woke first and left her sleeping in the bed because (drum roll) he broke up with Veronica in the first place when his mother told him that she is his half-sister. He knew that and slept with her anyway. Holy shit! I mean, they forshadowed this, but I didn't think they'd actually go through with it. But this show likes to mess with the viewer's heads, and there's a good chance that his mother is lying. Or maybe not. Veronica's own mother had mentioned that as a possibility, but (and this struck me as strange at the time, too) hadn't been too concerned about them dating. OK, mystery numero uno solved. Now to my unspoiled speculation about Lilly's killer:

1) Aaron Echolls. He slept with Lilly and taped it (assuming that the apparatus Veronica discovered last night was his, not Duncan's). She discovered the tape and confronted him. He killed her. The Kanes assumed it was Duncan and covered it up (OR he paid the Kanes handsomely to cover it up).

2) Celeste Kane. She's having an affair with Aaron and when she discovered evidence that Lilly was sleeping with him, killed her daughter in a jealous rage.

3) Logan. Airtight alibi, my ass. He was jealous because Lilly was sleeping with his Dad and/or Weevil. The Kanes covered it up because... ok, I'm stumped here, but going with "They thought it was Duncan."

4) Weevil. They've been playing him too close to the chest. Veronica doesn't suspect him and the show has more or less been positioning him in the Knight in Shining Armor role too often. 'Course, that might be because he's innocent.

5) Duncan. Nah, he didn't do it.

6) Lianne Mars. Veronica is completely blind to her mother's failings. Also, Clarence Wiedeman is playing a strange game of cat-and-mouse with Veronica and her mother that, thus far, is unexplained. For instance, what the hell was he doing in the bar in Barstow at the exact moment that Veronica found her mom? And why has there been no fallout from that? Strange, strange, strange, and I know that the writers are not going to leave any loose ends about, unless I've missed it already. Anyway: Lianne killed Lilly because... I don't know. But I also have no doubt that the writers have aces galore up their sleeves.

Anyway, if you haven't watched it thus far, DON'T. Wait for the dvd. The way that the season unfolds is so organic that you'll spoil it for yourself.

Final topic: The Go-Betweens released a new album, Oceans Apart, yesterday. On my second listen, and I'm not yet ready to say definitively that its great, brilliant, wonderful, the best yet, any of that stuff. But it's pretty incredible so far and worming its way into my subconscious. They also announced their first US tour since 1989, with stops in NYC, Chapel Hill, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, and LA. Why not Austin? Really? Please? Although I have freakin' incredible friends who've offered to pick me up from the airport, let me crash at their houses, etc., I just can't justify the cost of going. Maybe it's fitting: the essence of being a Go-Betweens fan is knowing about the beauty, poignancy, and mystery of loss. I'd rather hear them sing about it, though.


Alyssa 9:55 PM, May 08, 2005  

Hmm.... these are very, very good theories on the murder. I've been leaning towards the "mistaken identity" angle. Primarily because in one of the more anvil-heavy flashback scenes of last week Veronica, one of the bitchy girls and Lily Kane all look kind of alike. Coincidence?

Also, Harry Hamlin skeeves me out every week, so I would not be surprised if it was him.

Also - Duncan really VM's brother? I loved that they pulled the incest trigger. So wrong...

Hayden Childs 2:51 PM, May 09, 2005  

I dunno. They're probably not going to go with mistaken identity for both the rape and the murder storylines. But I have abiding faith in these writers. If they went that way, it's going to be both shocking and absolutely right.

Ross B. Emmett 8:17 PM, May 15, 2005  

Regarding the Bigelow article in Harper's: Bigelow is careful not to make the mistake you make of saying that Smith thought class conflict the inevitable outcome of pure markets. Smith's concern was to promote a system that would provide for the poorest among us; hence his strictures against those who would use political power to promote their own interests. But Bigelow's article is full of mistakes, anyway, including about the Irish famine. See my own blog for extensive commentary:

My photo
Cary, NC, United States
reachable at firstname lastname (all run together) at gmail dot com

About This Blog

From Here To Obscurity, founded ca. 2003, population 1. The management wishes to emphasize that no promises vis-a-vis your entertainment have been guaranteed and for all intents and purposes, intimations of enlightenment fall under the legal definition of entertainment. No refunds shall be given nor will requests be honored. Although some may ask, we have no intention of beginning again.

  © Blogger templates Brooklyn by 2008

Back to TOP