I recently came across three videos on YouTube wherein David Simon (of “The Wire” fame) is speaking at Loyola University about “unencumbered Capitalism” which has resulted in an “existential crisis” of epic proportions, namely the reality that “people matter less.” As he notes within the opening minute of part 1 of the video:
I am wholly pessimistic about American society, I believe that The Wire is a show about the end of the American empire. I believe that we all—or our kids—are going to live that event. And how we end up at the end of it and where we end up and whether or not we can survive it on what terms is going to be the question….The great conceit of The Wire…[is that] every single moment on this planet from here on out human beings are worth less…human beings have lost some of their value.
“End of the American Empire, Part 1”:
That is some serious shit, and the whole question of devaluing individuals is directly related to post-industrial malaise of the US wherein semi-skilled labor in the Western world is no longer a viable means of survival has created two drastically different Americas, and the America no on e sees or talks about is what he terms “the other America,” and is framing o our particular moment and the complete amnesia when it comes to the dignity of the individual and the core value of a society being how it treats it’s most abject and disenfranchised members gets to the heart of the sinking feeling I often struggle with when watching this country go deeper and deeper into the corporate sponsored abyss.
Simon’s point is so beautifully backed-up and reported by Greg Palast yesterday in his piece “Grand Theft Auto: How Stevie the Rat bankrupted GM”which lays out quite specifically how the vultures have not only helped to expedite the fall of the American working class, but now plan on picking all the meat of their bones by stripping the workers of their rightful funds (think pension benefits, etc.) in order to pay back “privileged GM lenders – led by Morgan and Citibank.” It’s just remarkable to me how one can simply look to any current event to bear witness to everything Simon talks about in the three videos below (and on The Wire, for that matter). And according to Palast our President and media darling Barak Obama is in on the big kill taker. So, do we value human beings less and less everyday in this country? Well, I’ll leave that to you, but it is certainly a stroke of horrifying genius that Simon’s next series Treme will focus on New Orleans and Katrina—he’s the Melville of our moment, and his The Confidence-Man took us down the Mississippi
River to new Orleans by way of Baltimore.
“End of the American Empire, Part 2”
“End of the American Empire, Part 3”