Socialism

Let us never forget the unbelievable hypocrisy of Wall Street, the high priests of unfettered capitalism.

In 2008, after their greed, recklessness and illegal behavior created the worst financial disaster since the Great Depression — with millions of Americans losing their jobs, their homes and their life savings — Wall Street’s religious adherence to unfettered capitalism suddenly came to an end.

Overnight, Wall Street became big government socialists and begged for the largest federal bailout in American history — some $700 billion from the Treasury and trillions in support from the Federal Reserve.

But it’s not just Wall Street that loves socialism — when it works for them. It is the norm across the entire corporate world. The truth is corporate America receives hundreds of billions of dollars in federal support every single year, while these same people are trying to cut programs that benefit ordinary Americans.

If you are a fossil fuel company, whose carbon emissions are destroying the planet, you get billions in government subsidies including special tax breaks, royalty relief, funding for research and development and numerous tax loopholes.

If you are a pharmaceutical company, you make huge profits on patent rights for medicines that were developed with taxpayer funded research.

If you are a monopoly like Amazon, owned by the wealthiest person in America, you get hundreds of millions of dollars in economic incentives from taxpayers to build warehouses and you end up paying not one penny in federal income taxes.

If you are the Walton family, the wealthiest family in America, you get massive government subsidies because your low wage workers are forced to rely on food stamps, Medicaid and public housing in order to survive — all paid for by taxpayers.

If you are the Trump family, you got $885 million worth of tax breaks and subsidies for your family’s housing empire that is built on racial discrimination.

When Trump screams socialism, all of his hypocrisy will not be lost on the American people. Americans will know that he is attacking all that we take for granted: from Social Security to Medicare to veterans health care to roads and bridges to public schools to national parks to clean water and clean air.

When Trump attacks socialism, I am reminded of what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “This country has socialism for the rich, rugged individualism for the poor.”

And that is the difference between Donald Trump and me. He believes in corporate socialism for the rich and powerful.

I believe in a democratic socialism that works for the working families of this country.

see https://www.vox.com/2019/6/12/18663217/bernie-sanders-democratic-socialism-speech-transcript

Recommended

Here are some of the books and films I completed during the semester when I could have been doing other things.

Will Self, My Idea of Fun

I consulted a thesaurus multiple times in order to read this black comic, postmodern satire of finance capitalism.

JG Ballard, Cocaine Nights

There’s not enough cocaine in this novel, though it represents another chapter in Ballard’s study of a vacuous end-of-century bourgeoisie searching for meaning through cheap kicks and violence.

Honoré de Balzac, The Wild Ass’s Skin

Balzac’s most gothic novel. A young man on the verge of suicide stumbles into a curiosity shop and claims an artifact reputed to possess the devastating power of granting wishes.

Tony Wood, Russia Without Putin: Money, Power and the Myths of the New Cold War

One of the major defects of the present US mediascape is that many journalists appear to be staggeringly ignorant of history and have thus become the often unwitting purveyors of a narrow, reactionary version of global politics. This book could be the beginning of a remedy to that.

George Sanders, Memoirs of a Professional Cad

George Sanders was the most charmingly unctuous of all screen villains, at least from the so-called Golden Age of Hollywood. Surely this book could be much more explicit, but it features both juicy gossip and hard-fought contrarianism in equal parts.

Piercing

Mia Wasikowska plays a self-abusive prostitute who has the misfortune to be hired by a man who is deluded into thinking that he must murder someone so that he does not kill his own infant son. Contains actual piercing.

The Happy Prince

Rupert Everett took what could have been a relentlessly depressing story– the inexorable decline of Oscar Wilde after his release from prison– and dramatized that author’s enduring perspicacity and charm.

Suspiria

I was prepared to hate this exceptional remake of Argento’s 1977 story of a coven of witches. Tilda Swinton’s exotic malevolence, even Dakota Johnson’s fully-committed dance performances, the evocation of the Baader-Meinhof gang and the Red Brigades: these are all reasons to spend 2 and 1/2 hours watching.

The Sisters Brothers

Jacques Audiard made a western! John C. Reilly digs deep as the elder Sisters sibling while Joaquin Phoenix gets to play the damaged, violent younger brother. Jake Gyllenhall’s character speaks in complete sentences like the protagonist of a 19th century novel.

Bone Tomahawk

A distinctive if not entirely coherent addition to the Western-Horror subgenre. I actually closed my eyes during one of the more sanguinary scenes in this film.

Zama

Can’t wait to read the novel Lucrecia Martel based her film on. As with any good dramatization of colonialism, absurdity and brutality are conjoined.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer/ The Lobster

Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos. The latter is a comedy while the former is definitely not. The principle of Brecht’s “alienation effect” seems to be operative here, which allowed me to gain a new appreciation of Colin Farrell.

Mandy/ Beyond the Black Rainbow

Panos Cosmatos isn’t concerned so much with plot as he is with conjuring the queasy, bad acid vibe of the Reagan 80s with a panoply of cultural references drawn from comics, heavy metal, and modern folklore. The mise-en-scène in both of these films, particularly the use of color, cannot be ignored.

The Blackout

Abel Ferrara’s jumbled nightmare of addiction and lost memory stars Matthew Modine.

Hereditary

Super freaky. The most gothic of all institutions is the family. Images from this film still burrow in my head.