Sunday, July 23, 2017


Updated Edition
-by chris lehmann
If you'd like to understand on an intellectual basis just how broken this country is, how cripplingly unbalanced we are in terms of "fair play", and how embroiled we are in undeclared class war, this is the place to start. Lehmann makes no emotional appeals, no revolutionary clarion calls. He simply deconstructs the current brand of american capitalism, and exposes a class war coming not from the underprivileged, but from the rich who have taken an already criminally-stacked deck and pocketed three of the five cards the non-rich thought they had.
Lehmann has an 800-verbal SAT mind, and if you're not on at least a 600-level yourself, the richness of his prose will boggle and batter you into submission. In deference to that, i think it only fair to offer you some of his unfiltered words, rather than the reflections of a relative plodder like myself. Here's a lift from his chapter on reality TV:
"By staging competitions for scarce resources, as in the breakout network franchise SURVIVOR, we're testing the core postulates about human behavior in the state of nature. By pitting aspiring singers against each other in AMERICAN IDOL - and putting them to a public vote - we're plumbing the wellsprings of the longing for success and recognition, while also (for good measure) shoring up the hoary talent-will-out shibboleths of the national gospel of success. By marching contestants through the Trump boardroom in THE APPRENTICE, we're sizing up the proper quotients of ruthlessness, ego inflation, and sycophancy that form the forever-unstable compound of corporate achievement.
But it's never the case that reality TV is "real" in any meaningful sense. This isn't just because the producers insist that at least one camera crew is on the scene to record the raw drama of interpersonal confrontation, replete with off-camera lighting and audio set-ups. No, more fundamentally, the sagas of the upward-striving reality format are unreal because they envision perhaps our culture's purest form of class contempt. Lavishly appointed depictions of overclass leisure, such as those in Bravo TV's REAL HOUSEWIVES franchise...provide a study in disaccumulative wealth and entitlement every bit as stark and provoking as the taxpayer-funded executive bonuses at AIG and Goldman Sachs. The surpassingly odd thing about these shows, though, is that they do profess to be natural reflections of our unquestioned social hierarchies; their pecuniary displays are evaluated on the spectrum of taste, not on any moral calculus."
He also exposes the failings and hypocrisies in the U.S. constitution, the New York Times, meritocracy, populism, the Democratic party, the prosperity gospel, ayn rand, lobbyists, libertarians, and the social media. Not all of the twenty-nine essays are equally salient, but they're all pretty stunningly clear-thinking.
I'll end by making the only realistic conclusion that a reading of this book can offer. The only two cards the non-rich have left? Suffer and die, or fight back.

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