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April 23, 2013

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rogerh

Perhaps the politicos are shy and don't want to admit to impotence. Maybe Mr Mickawber will help out, or lots of bluster and 'initiatives' will help. Perhaps a visit to the Economist's Pharmacy for some Economic Viagra will do the trick but I doubt the economists could agree on a prescription. Plenty of Economic Porn available in the bookshops but leaves me cold. Perhaps an affair or a new partner or a walk on the economic Wild Side. TBH I don't know.

David

I'm not sure it's true to say that writers aren't addressing socio-political problems. There was Lucy Prebble's play, Enron, Laura Wade's Posh, Bruce Norris' current play, The Low Road, and American Psycho the musical is soon to be staged at the Almeida. With novels one might think of John Lanchester's Capital. If economic problems are always a consequence of socio-political problems, I don't see why they should be hard to depict.

Tim Almond

They're still using bogeymen because it's about targetting the low-hanging fruit of voters who don't look too carefully at politics, but instead get their queues from the comedy that is the political media.

Politicians complaining about Amazon or Google not paying their taxes don't really give a toss. If they did, they'd be tabling motions in the house with the intention of changing the tax law. These are our lawmakers, not a pressure group, after all.

And making some new tax laws of course, has consequences. Amazon might decide to quit the country.

The purpose is simply to get hardcore voters to see them favourably, that they're going to beat up on corporations, so no need to go voting for a socialist workers party.

chris

@ David - that's so. Maybe I was a little careless in representing Cowley's view; he was talking about the lack of a giant such as Orwell or Wells.

David

Just read the Cowley. It's interesting that the nation's mourning of a (mythologised) political giant aroused his longing for another literary one. Everyone's got giant nostalgia.

Metatone

@Tim Almond - as an aside how does it hurt in the medium-long term if Amazon quits the country? Their business model is pretty simple and easy to replicate. If there is actually profit there, they will be easily replaced.

(As it happens, I'm aware that at the moment Amazon's drive for market share is subsidised by investors, so consumers - including UK ones - are actually benefiting beyond the value of a competitor that had to actually make profits, but I think that has to be treated as an anomaly, rather than a basis for making policy.)

FromArseToElbow

Cowley's piece is just a lament for the lost influence of the New Statesman and high-minded magazines more generally. This in turn is nostalgia for a world of limited media where writing was pre-eminent. Tories similarly lament that there is no modern Chesterton or Belloc (Jeffrey Archer, A N Wilson?)

Where is the modern Orwell? Possibly at the Sundance Festival, or loading his latest video-essay to YouTube. He's unlikely to be badgering the editor of the NS.

BTW, Cowley ignores the fact that Orwell was marginal until very late in his career, not the giant he supposes, while his characterisation of the writer as a "Tory anarchist" is a continuation of the campaign that started post-Animal Farm to deny the author's own insistence that he was a democratic socialist.

Keith

Modern politics and culture is rather like that in the Soviet Union under Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev. The stifling orthodoxy of neoliberalism is every where presented by the Propagandists of the Anti democratic ruling class as being the key to unprecedented freedom and prosperity while poverty and oppression stalk the land; reality and public discourse are split asunder but most people will not admit it in case they cannot stay on the gravy train of corporate corruption. Orwell would not get a hearing from our sell out ruling class today assuming he could get published. But he would certainly not be a tory. It is characteristic of modern hagiography to try and remove the Ideology and edge from historical figures to make them bland and safe for a "post" ideological age. To expand the sales and cover up the actual arguments of history. Jason cowley and people like him are the reason we have no good writers about politics. They are the contemporary equivalent of the five hour speech by Comrade Brezhnev from the podium about Marxism Leninism. Now all nod your head and repeat there is no alternative...

Tim Almond

Metatone,

I wasn't exactly thinking about them quitting in terms of the site being unavailable, more that their European operations are currently split across the UK and the ROI, and they could always move a load of those jobs to the ROI.

Incidentally, Amazon's business is getting more complex. A friend of mine sells things via Amazon - they're providing the store infrastructure for him. If he wanted, he could put his stock into their warehouses. And personally, I occasionally run things on Amazon's AWS server architecture (cloud computing stuff).

Stephen Boisvert

Is there really an investment dearth or is there too much money to invest rather than circulating via consumption?

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