Tuesday, November 08, 2005

New Titans, Similar Game

I'm reading now Commodify Your Dissent, an anthology of articles taken from the very liberal Chicago journal The Baffler, edited by Thomas Frank. I got the book after thumbing through it in the office of a former NU prof. Now, I'm not really a "liberal" by affiliation. I tend to go issue-by-issue. There are, though, some biting offerings in this volume that do what really good essays are often supposed to do: articulate what we already sense but are unable, unwilling, or too busy to map words to. Here's one salvo to consider:

With the consolidation of the Information Age has come a new class of executives who deal in images rather than triplicate forms. Management theorist Peter Drucker calls them "knowledge workers," former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich dubbed them "symbolic analysts," but the term applied to them by the nation's premier ass-kisser, Vanity Fair, . . . seems more appropriate: "The New Establishment." Learn to revere them, the magazine wetly counseled its readers, for they are the new captains of industry, the titans of the future, "a buccaneering breed of entrepreneurs and visionaries, men and women from the entertainment, communications, and computer industries, whose ambitions and influence have made America the one true superpower of the Information Age." As Americans were once taught to regard the colossal plunderings of Rockerfellers and Carnegies with patriotic pride, now we are told to be thankful for this "New Establishment": it is, after all, due to figures like Murdoch, Geffen, Eisner, and Turner that the nation has been rescued from the dead end of "military-industrial supremacy" and restored to the path of righteousness. . . . These men have struggled their way to the top, not just to corner the wheat market, buy up all the railroads between here and New York, or bribe the odd state legislature, but to fabricate the materials with which the world thinks.


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