Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Let's Get Critical! Critical! Together

Tom Frank, best known for What's the Matter with Kansas?, will be speaking at our shop on Monday the 29th. While it is a ticketed event - you buy a book from us, you and a guest get to sit down and listen to Frank and maybe as a question - the shop will also be open to the public, per usual, during the ticketed event. (We like to think that this "ticketing" might actually allow us to pay some employees and rent by bringing the community interesting and pertinent opportunities for discourse with nationally-known authors.)

I haven't read much Frank, but am familiar with the work's ideas. I have read Mike Davis' very excellent refutation of some of Frank's thesis from Kansas. In "What's the Matter with America?" (found in Haymarket's In Praise of Barbarians: Essays Against Empire), Davis smartly questions if the proletariat is voting against its own self-interest by voting for Bush in 2000 and 2004 by pointing out that many of their jobs, for instance, were exported as a result of NAFTA - which just happened to be a Clinton thing.

Unfortunately, this essay isn't available online. Another fine piece by Mike Davis is, though: "The Democrats After November", from the New Left Review. Read it. This essay appears directly after "What's the Matter with America?" in In Praise of Barbarians.

Some more Mike Davis love: a trailer for a documentary based on his book, Planet of Slums.

My raising of Mike Davis' excellent criticism isn't a specific knock on Frank. In fact, it's an attempt at fostering some (post-partisan?) critical thinking. There's a lot of "Rah-Rah" political rhetoric available, but pragmatism is worth more in my book. Davis, as a "socialist", offers a critical approach outside of the Red-Blue spectrum. It's easier for him, perhaps, to see the complicity of Corporatist policies, whether pushed by the GOP or the DLC.

That said, Frank's Wrecking Crew - the book he's touring - deals with a particular problem: that of crony capitalism (h/t Al Giordano, per usual). This is a very real issue, especially with the new implementation (admission?) of socialism for the rich through the public subsidizing of traders', managers' and investors' fleecing them out of their own money. I'm not sure if there's anything about telecom deregulation in the book.

So, c'mon over to the shop next Monday and ask Tom Frank what we can do to fix the problem of crony capitalism.


Post a Comment