An Unlikely Allie of Marxism? Or Just ‘Alexandrianian Capitalism’?

Posted: February 1, 2019 in Uncategorized

“A [capitalist] society, as it becomes less and less able, in the course of its development, to justify the inevitability of its particular forms [unregulated free trade, unlimited personal wealth], breaks up the accepted notions [anyone can live the American dream] upon which artists and writers [financiers, CEOs, and politicians] must depend in large part for communication with their audiences [the other 99%]. It becomes difficult to assume anything [united we stand?]. All the verities involved by religion, authority, tradition, style, are thrown into question, and the writer or artist [financier, CEO, and politician] is no longer able to estimate the response of his audience to the symbols and references [commercial advertisements, promises of a prosperous future and comfortable retirement] with which he works. In the past such a state of affairs has usually resolved itself into a motionless Alexandrianism, an academicism in which the really important issues [is the system really fair? does Capitalism even work as they say it does?] are left untouched because they involve controversy [unAmerican!], and in which creative activity dwindles to virtuosity in the small details of form [quibbling at the Federal Reserve and Davos], all larger questions being decided by the precedent of the old masters [Adam Smith]. The same themes are mechanically varied in a hundred different works [including Rutger Bregman’s?], and yet nothing new is produced.”

–Clement Greenberg, “The Avant-Garde and Kitsch” (1939), additions by BK

  1. Palmer Lee-Mesa says:

    I think that Mr. Bregman brings up some good points, especially regarding economic history. He brings up that economists who are usually interviewed on TV were the ones who didn’t see the crash of 2008 coming and don’t see the historical side of economics. I think historians like Bregman should play a bigger role in our economy by examining what periods of capitalism worked and how it worked and try to implement those ideals today. It seems, to me, that the economists who reporters usually interview turn a blind eye to the past because they are making oodles of cash and don’t want to be taxed more.

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