January 16, 2012

Doug Henwood (LBO): against NPR/NYT Wall Street propaganda by Adam Davidson For a while, I’ve been thinking about writing a piece on how NPR is more toxic than Fox News. Fox preaches to the choir. NPR, though, confuses and misinforms people who might otherwise know better. Its “liberal” reputation makes palatable a deeply orthodox message for a demographic that could be open to a more critical message. The full critique will take some time. But a nice warm-up opportunity has just presented itself: a truly wretched piece of apologetic hackery by Adam Davidson, co-founder of NPR’s Planet Money economics reporting team, that appears in today’s New York Times magazine. In the print edition, the thing is called “A World Without Wall Street.” For some reason, the paper’s web editors decided to call it “What Does Wall Street Do For You?” Maybe they thought that the question would draw in readers, who might find the declarative title of the print edition an appealing little fantasy and just turn the page. Davidson concedes, with a mocking tone (that’s part of his straining at cool), that Americans have long hated Wall Street. But he rejects the usual complaints—that financiers are a bunch of bloodsucking parasites who periodically drive the real economy into a ditch—with the disclosure that finance is “a fundamentally beneficial business.” It brings together borrowers and lenders, a task that it does “extremely well”—“most of the time.” Now I will be the first to argue that critiques of finance that let the “real” sector off the hook are incomplete, and even dangerous....
Occupy Wall Street and the Left Here is a draft of the talk I gave at the James Connolly Forum in Albany last Friday night. I say draft because I penciled in some revisions that I don't have time to put it right now. Download The Meaning of Occupy Wall Street for the Left Excerpt: Occupy Wall Street, for all its talk of horizontality, autonomy, and decentralized process, is recentering the economy, engaging in class warfare without naming the working class as one of two great hostile forces but instead by presenting capitalism as a wrong against the people. It’s putting capitalism back at center of left politics—no wonder, then, that it has opened up a new sense of possibility for so many of us: it has reignited political will. In a way, it’s returning to the left its missing core or soul, what has been displaced or denied since we turned our back on the communist horizon. It’s reactivating the Marxist insight that class struggle is a political struggle. As I mentioned before, a new Pew poll finds a nineteen percentage point increase since 2009 of the number of Americans who believe there are strong or very strong conflicts between the rich and poor. Two thirds perceive this conflict—and perceive it as more intense than divisions of race and immigration status (African Americans see class conflict as more significant than white people do). My claim, then, is that when occupy wall street speaks the language of capitalism and the “no left,” when it disavows representation,...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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