It’s Friday, and that means it’s time to party/discard all ideological systems and embrace nihilism. That may sound a little extreme to you, especially if you have loved ones or something, but as near as I can tell this week saw all existing belief systems refuted. Capitalism, Judeo-Christian theology, enlightenment rationalism, Steven Baldwin—just about every meaningful narrative you can think of failed to shepherd the world toward anything but arbitrary suffering this week. First of all, this is why I am no longer asked to make toasts at weddings. Second of all, only bold living can afford us any solace now, as we snatch at tatters of pleasure along our ever-accelerating tumble into a mass grave. Who wants a burger?
Before we get started, I’m just going to check in on my rising stock portfolio as America continues to recover from the economic col—zoh my god! What the shit is—ass! So the Dow dropped 1,000 points yesterday for no discernible reason, only to regain 700 points for no discernible reason/because of America’s can-do spirit. Early prognosticators blamed the likely disintegration of the economy and non-cannibalistic society in Greece, but that doesn’t quite explain how, for example, Proctor & Gamble lost 35% of its value in two minutes. Wild speculation now holds that some sort of trading glitch was responsible for the plunge, as high-frequency traders—whose use computers to make thousands of trades per second, accounting for two thirds of the market’s total volume—drove a massive, automated sell-off. As long as it was just a glitch, I guess, we can go on letting automated computer programs govern two thirds of our investment economy.
Fortunately, we realized long ago that complete laissez-faire capitalism as administered by money-seeking robots is an imperfect system. That’s right, bitches: we’re a Keynesian limited capitalist democracy now, and we regulate the economy through the power of the state. Or we just use the honor system. The Times reports today that BP led a group of oil producers in opposing tougher safety and environmental standards on offshore rigs last year, and that the Department of the Interior has consistently taken industry leaders’ word for it when they say that they’re doing everything super safe. The Minerals Management Service warned rig operators as early as ten years ago that they needed to install backup systems for undersea blowout preventers, one of whose failure just happened to cause the worst oil spill in history last week. As the Times tactfully points out, the skill and integrity of the Minerals Management Service has been called into question before, “including disclosures in 2008 that agency officials took bribes and engaged in drug use and sex with oil industry officials.” I can add nothing to that quote, except that the Department of the Interior seems like a fucking rad place to work.
As any stranger who initiates conversation in the coffee shop will tell you, corporations and the government are basically the same, and they control everything. The only hope for real change, for a just and equitable society, lies in free trade tea and unbranded sneakers. That was the (warning: editorial content) completely retarded premise of Naomi Klein’s anti-branding manifesto No Logo, which went on to light the world of lesbian composition TAs on fire. It also gave contemporary marketing one of its most valuable strategies, as Andrew Potter points out. You might remember Potter from back when Combat! blog had an organizing thesis; he’s the one who argued in Nation of Rebels that mainstream culture has officially positioned itself against mainstream culture. I’ve spent the last twenty minutes rapturously rereading the article on the pretense of looking for a quote; you should just read the whole thing. Air Crosstrainer Props to Mose for the link.
Klein may not be such a hot thinker, and Potter may not sell too many books, but we luckily have the rigorous freedom of academia to ensure that a modicum of intellectual honesty abides in this world. When, for example, a bunch of dudes who had never seen a girl’s twanger threatened to kill everyone because of somebody drew Arab Jesus in a Danish newspaper, Yale University Press published a book about it. And in the interest of scholarship, they didn’t publish the cartoons. Christopher Hitchens sees it as another capitulation of all that is best in Western rationalism to the superstitions of et cetera etc., and it’s pretty awesome to hear him rant. Hitchens is the Walter in The Big Lebowski of atheism. He’s not wrong; he’s just an asshole.
You know who makes the same point in a way that is both more gentle and somehow more compelling? That was rhetorical—it’s these guys, avowed atheists who offer to care for your pets after you ascend to heaven in the rapture. For just $110, Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, Inc. will agree to dispatch a responsible, animal-loving atheist to your house to adopt your pet within eight to twenty-four hours of the events described in Revelation 1:7. “Each Eternal Earth-Bound Pet representative is a confirmed atheist, and as such will still be here on Earth after you’ve received your reward.” In its assurance that these atheists will still be moral, loving caretakers of dogs and cats, the FAQ section constitutes perhaps the most bizarrely touching articulation of the argument for human morality I have ever read. God, I hope they’re rich now. And thank the twin histories of the Julian calendar and the labor movement it’s Friday. TTHJCLMIF, mother fuckers.