Há muito para onde ir quando o assunto é David Simon. Também acontece ser das vozes que me mais vale a pena ouvir quando se fala nos tempos presentes. Não estivéssemos todos metidos num mesmo barco que se afunda. Eis um apanhado, editado quanto baste, de um discurso longo já por si editado do visionário, jornalista, escritor e criador da série "The Wire" (comEd Burns), o que na medida de importância, será sempre um sumário.
think Marx was a much better diagnostician than he was a clinician.
He was good at figuring out what was wrong or what could be wrong
with capitalism if it wasn't attended to and much less credible when
it comes to how you might solve that.
know if you've read Capital or
if you've got the Cliff
you know that his imaginings of how classical Marxism – of how his
logic would work when applied – kind of devolve into such nonsense
as the withering away of the state and platitudes like that. But he
was really sharp about what goes wrong when capital wins
unequivocally, when it gets everything it asks for.
may be the ultimate tragedy of capitalism in our time, that it has
achieved its dominance without regard to a social compact, without
being connected to any other metric for human progress.
understand profit. In my country we measure things by profit. We
listen to the Wall Street analysts. They tell us what we're supposed
to do every quarter. The quarterly report is God.Turn to face God.
Turn to face Mecca, you know. Did you make your number? Did you not
make your number? Do you want your bonus? Do you not want your bonus?
that notion that capital is the metric, that profit is the metric by
which we're going to measure the health of our society is one of the
fundamental mistakes of the last 30 years. I would date it in my
country to about 1980 exactly, and it has triumphed.
stomped the hell out of Marxism by the end of the 20th century and
was predominant in all respects, but the great irony of it is that
the only thing that actually works is not ideological, it is impure,
has elements of both arguments and never actually achieves any kind
of partisan or philosophical perfection.
pragmatic, it includes the best aspects of socialistic thought and of
free-market capitalism and it works because we don't let it work
entirely. And that's a hard idea to think – that there isn't one
single silver bullet that gets us out of the mess we've dug for
ourselves. But man, we've dug a mess.
doesn't get to win all its arguments, capital doesn't get to. But
it's in the tension, it's in the actual fight between the two, that
capitalism actually becomes functional, that it becomes something
that every stratum in society has a stake in, that they all share.
unions actually mattered. The unions were part of the equation. It
didn't matter that they won all the time, it didn't matter that they
lost all the time, it just mattered that they had to win some of the
time and they had to put up a fight and they had to argue for the
demand and the equation and for the idea that workers were not worth
less, they were worth more.
we abandoned that and believed in the idea of trickle-down and the
idea of the market economy and the market knows best, to the point
where now libertarianism in my country is actually being taken
seriously as an intelligent mode of political thought. It's
astonishing to me. But it is. People are saying I don't need anything
but my own ability to earn a profit. I'm not connected to society. I
don't care how the road got built, I don't care where the firefighter
comes from, I don't care who educates the kids other than my kids. I
am me. It's the triumph of the self. I am me, hear me roar.
we've gotten to this point is astonishing to me because basically in
winning its victory, in seeing that Wall come down and seeing the
former Stalinist state's journey towards our way of thinking in terms
of markets or being vulnerable, you would have thought that we would
have learned what works. Instead we've
descended into what can only be described as greed. This is just
greed. This is an inability to see that we're all connected, that the
idea of two Americas is implausible, or two Australias, or two Spains
or two Frances.
are exactly what they sound like. If everybody is invested and if
everyone just believes that they have "some", it doesn't
mean that everybody's going to get the same amount. It doesn't mean
there aren't going to be people who are the venture capitalists who
stand to make the most. It's not each according to their needs or
anything that is purely Marxist, but it is that everybody feels as
the society succeeds, I succeed, I don't get left behind. And there
isn't a society in the west now, right now, that is able to sustain
that for all of its population.
so in my country you're seeing a horror show. You're seeing a
retrenchment in terms of family income, you're seeing the abandonment
of basic services, such as public education, functional public
have become something other than what we claim for the American dream
and all because of our inability to basically share, to even
contemplate a socialist impulse.
utterly committed to the idea that capitalism has to be the way we
generate mass wealth in the coming century. That argument's over.But
the idea that it's not going to be married to a social compact, that
how you distribute the benefits of capitalism isn't going to include
everyone in the society to a reasonable extent, that's astonishing to
so capitalism is about to seize defeat from the jaws of victory all
by its own hand. That's the astonishing end of this story, unless we
reverse course. Unless we take into consideration, if not the
remedies of Marx then the diagnosis, because he saw what would happen
if capital triumphed unequivocally, if it got everything it wanted.
one of the things that capital would want unequivocally and for
certain is the diminishment of labour. They would want labour to be
diminished because labour's a cost. And if labour is diminished,
let's translate that: in human terms, it means human beings are worth
capitalism for a blueprint as to how to build a society strikes me as
a really dangerous idea in a bad way. Capitalism is a remarkable
engine again for producing wealth. It's a great tool to have in your
toolbox if you're trying to build a society and have that society
advance. You wouldn't want to go forward at this point without it.
But it's not a blueprint for how to build the just society. There are
other metrics besides that quarterly profit report.
idea that the market will solve such things as environmental
concerns, as our racial divides, as our class distinctions, our
problems with educating and incorporating one generation of workers
into the economy after the other when that economy is changing; the
idea that the market is going to heed all of the human concerns and
still maximise profit is juvenile. It's a juvenile notion and it's
still being argued in my country passionately and
we're going down the tubes. And it
terrifies me because I'm astonished at how comfortable we are in
absolving ourselves of what is basically a moral choice. Are we all
in this together or are we all not?
that's what The
about basically, it was about people who were worth less and who were
no longer necessary, as maybe 10 or 15% of my country is no longer
necessary to the operation of the economy. It was about them trying
to solve, for lack of a better term, an existential crisis. In their
irrelevance, their economic irrelevance, they were nonetheless still
on the ground occupying this place called Baltimore and they were
going to have to endure somehow.
the great horror show. What are we going to do with all these people
that we've managed to marginalise?It was kind of interesting when it
was only race, when you could do this on the basis of people's racial
fears and it was just the black and brown people in American cities
who had the higher rates of unemployment and the higher rates of
addiction and were marginalised and had the shitty school systems and
the lack of opportunity.
kind of interesting in this last recession to see the economy shrug
and start to throw white middle-class people into the same boat, so
that they became vulnerable to the drug war, say from
methamphetamine, or they became unable to qualify for college loans.
And all of a sudden a certain faith in the economic engine and the
economic authority of Wall Street and market logic started to fall
away from people. And they realised it's not just about race, it's
about something even more terrifying. It's about class. Are you at
the top of the wave or are you at the bottom?