I’m not sure where the fascination with capitalism and American’s woeful understanding of economics originates. While it would be (and is) fun to lay the blame at the feet of our educational institutions, I’ll refrain from doing so, at least for now.
Free markets act irrespective of people, environments and sentiment. They are cold and calculated agents that more-and-more, steamroll anything and anybody in their path.
A recent book I picked up at the library, Mike Davis’ Dead Cities, has stirred in me a once more, a fascination with urban environments and their influence in our country, as well as other parts of the world. In the same way Mumford’s The Culture of Cities opened up areas of understanding I had never entertained before, so does the writing of Davis. Using cities past and present as his stage to engage in tales of infinite greed, urban neglect and political scandal, Davis lays waste to the 1950’s Howdy Doody caricature that many Americans are still wedded to.
His takes on the southwest and in particular, the environmental deterioration of that former beautiful and unspoiled region of the United States are eye-opening to say the least. With this mirage city’s water gluttony fueling the extravagances of the casinos and other tourist meccas, it stretches my incredulity regarding others greed and capitalist excess.
In the preface of the book, he begins with, “Lower Manhatten was soon a furnace of crimson flames, from which there was no escape. Cars, railways, ferries, all had ceased, and never a light lit the way of the distracted fugitives in that dusky confusion but the light of burning. Dust and black smoke came pouring into the street, and were presently shot with red flame.”
What? Someone’s eyewitness description of the events of September 11, 2001? No, actually, H.G. Wells, from The War in the Air, written in 1908!
As I said earlier, capitalism and its markets care not at all about people, places and personal predilections. As Naomi Klein’s article in The Nation reaches the conclusion, disaster and human suffering is good for business—misery loves capitalism!
With all the talk about God, morality and the anathema of one’s personal sexual conventions, the basic root of all evil is conveniently left out of the discussions.