imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
latest news
best of news




A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List


IMC Network:

Original Cities africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

The Utopias of Capitalism

by Susanne Gaschke Tuesday, May. 16, 2006 at 2:51 AM

:Government and freedom exclude one another" Max Barry in "Jennifer Government." In the negative utopia, the dystopia, the fear is over capital interests. Workers are no longer paid because their work is divine service.


What happens when all the desires of economic bosses are fulfilled? Anglo-Saxon authors look to the future

By Susanne Gaschke

“Government and freedom exclude one another.”

Max Barry, Jennifer Government

[This article published in: DIE ZEIT 20, 2005 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,]

In the past ten or fifteen years, speaking of “left” and “right”, of a contradiction between capital and labor or even only of the interests of dependent workers different from employers was almost regarded as Stone Age in Germany. Globalization provides a tsunami-like argument that what benefits “the economy” – perhaps deregulation, flexibility and privatization – is good, ethical and valuable. Whatever hinders entrepreneurs in their beneficial works (protection against unlawful termination, environmental regulations, non-wage labor costs or wages and taxes) is called bad (euphemistically, needing reform).

In the meantime, in wide parts of the population, there is a deep uneasiness not about “capitalism” in itself but about some of its possible effects – and about the triumphalism of some of its prophets. The question is debated how democracy and culture, everyday life and family will develop if capitalists do not have to pay heed to anyone any more. This uneasiness is not a special German claimant mentality. It has its most witty, most imaginative and wildest expression in a series of novels from the Anglo-Saxon area published in the last years.

Since the 19th century, a strong tradition of the negative utopia, the “dystopia,” persisted in Great Britain, the mother country of industrialization. However unlike George Orwell, there is hardly still a fear about the totalitarian state (as in 1984). In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932), the fear is over capital interests. Children of the lower classes are conditioned with electro-shock against flowers and books so nothing diverts them from diligent labor and consumption.

That human rights and democracy are harmed or threatened when elected representatives capitulate before the economy worries more than novelists. The great liberal Ralf Dahrendorf recently warned of “theft of participatory rights by the globalized class.” Some of his colleagues already speak euphemistically of a “post-parliamentary epoch,” the Gottingen political scientist Franz Walter decried anxiously.

In his satirical novel “Jennifer Government” (2003), the Australian Max Barry shows how our epoch could appear. In a nebulous future, the world is divided in the American economic block (Canada, the United States, South America, the ex-Soviet Union, India, Australia and South Africa) and a few pitiable remaining states including Europe oppressed by taxes.

In the American block, the longed-for freedom of the economy prevails at last. No one pays taxes; every form of social or health insurance is a private matter (flashing one’s credit card in ordering an ambulance). No unions and worker rights exist any more. However businesses can sue workers for damages who change jobs if their successors prove less competent in the same posts. Employees have the names of their firms (“Thomas Ford”). Children are named after their corporate-sponsored schools (“Kati Mattel,” “Sally McDonald”). The police have completely given up. The government is partly privatized. This means the police take paid murder contracts while government officials can only pursue murder and manslaughter if relatives of the victims finance the investigations.

Marketing campaigns in this society naturally turn out more spectacular than with us. To introduce the new “Mercury” tennis shoes, John Nike, one of the company bosses (“Guerilla Marketing Operative New Products”), shoots a couple of teenagers to prove the desirability of “mercurys.” John Nike justifies his action – others kill for Adidas and Reebok. When the government agent Jennifer Government investigated him on account of this contract murder, John Nike sees a long-awaited opportunity to stage a coup against the president of the United States. “Through the measures against us, the government has shown us that no one can be really free in this land as long as the government exists,” he rants and raves at a summit meeting between the head of state and different corporate executives. “Government and freedom exclude one another. We are persecuted for the `crime’ of earning money. The time for a real new beginning has come. I declare the government dismissed. And you, Mr. President, are out of work.”


Max Barry chose the representative of a popular tennis shoe brand name because “consumer terror”, beside the worry about the future of democracy, is another central critical point in the capitalist way of life. “Selling competition, goods and services has been long transformed into a competition and sale of attractive outlooks on life,” the American philosopher Charles Taylor wrote in DIE ZEIT (Nr 19/05). “The development of the consumer society shows the tendency to trivialize the terms authenticity and personal existence. Style is presented in the media for imitation while development of substantial life goals recedes and pales into insignificance.”

In “Look at Me” (2001), the American author Jennifer Egan tells the fictional story of a woman who as a person with her own life goals becomes a product. After a serious car accident, the model Charlotte Swenson thanks to plastic surgery receives a new face. Her bones are held together by eighty Titan-screws. Her face is beautiful but robbed of its characteristic features in a strange way. Everyone thinks they know Charlotte and encountered her somewhere. In this way, she becomes an ideal projection surface for every lifestyle, every trend and every longing that marketing strategies can awaken.

Charlotte sells her life to a totalitarian Internet-project of the giants Time Warner and Microsoft. She becomes the icon of the modern consuming woman, available 24 hours a day by web cam and net journal to every subscriber of this special information service. A ghostwriter writes Charlotte’s autobiography: “Faceless.” Charlotte advertises for perfume (“incognito”) and develops her own fashion label “Metamorphosis”). “The more famous I was as a result of my transformation,” Charlotte says at the peak of her success, “the more this transformation felt artificial. I was split somehow and the two Is that were left hated each other. I was a ghost enclosed in the body of a success-obsessed ex-model who had to hide all my moods and feelings because otherwise they would have been immediately made into money.” At the end Charlotte is helped by a contractual “identity transfer.” She has to give up the last parts of her personality to fly away from her life in public.


In his unusual novels about the “literature detective” Thursday Next, Waliser Jaspar-Fforde recalls an alternative to the dead or lifeless consumer- and media society is still conceivable (The Eyre Affair, 2001; Something Rotten, 2004). Thursday lives in a fictional England of the 1980s when all people were literature-obsessed in a peculiar way. Thefts of first editions, forgery of the works of famous authors and kidnapping in theaters where disappointed authors seek to force the performance of their plays are the most common crimes. The boundary between fiction and reality is unstable. People can disappear in books. Literary figures appear in real life. Thursday Next does not only grapple with illegal border crossers. In his world oriented more in the intellectual than in the material, corporations are sinister works. The Goliath Corporation – 38 million employees, 14,000 subsidiary corporations, 12 million products and sales equal to the gross national product of three-quarters of all nations wants to snatch economic and political world domination. The corporation follows an original strategy: transformation into a religion. “This is an enormous advance for us,” Goliath’s CEO proclaims at the headquarters: “We will become a complete religion with our own gods, demigods, priests, temples and prayers. Goliath shares are exchanged for member status in our new faith-based Corporate Management System. They (believers) will worship us (the gods) – and receive protection from all evil and a fine reward in the world to come.” In 1983 the French journalist Andre Gorz in “Ways to Paradise” conjectures that the state in “half-dead capitalism” will pay the superfluous unemployed to consume to maintain control over them. Fforde now gives the amusing – and unfortunately plausible – counter-scenario: workers are no longer paid because employers understand their work as divine service.

Socialist utopias, hopeful stories about a future free from exploitation like Thomas More’s stories that could be told in all innocence in the 16th century, have nearly disappeared since the atrocities and destruction of the command socialist regime – for good reasons. However those who see themselves forced in the current debate to side with capital should ask why people who are free and happy so rarely occur in future projections of “capitalism.”

Report this post as:

Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 1 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
George Saunders jtio Wednesday, May. 17, 2006 at 9:05 AM

Local News


lausd whistle blower A10 11:58PM

Website Upgrade A10 3:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 1:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 11:58AM

Change Links April 2018 A01 11:27AM

Nuclear Shutdown News March 2018 M31 6:57PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 7:00PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 6:38PM

Spring 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! M19 2:02PM

Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Shows Shocking Eviction Trends in L.A. M16 5:40PM

Steve Mnuchin video at UCLA released M15 12:34AM

Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Clean Ups M06 12:10PM

After Being Told He's 'Full of Sh*t' at School Event, Mnuchin Demands UCLA Suppress Video M02 11:44AM

Resolution of the Rent Strike in Boyle Heights M01 6:28PM

What Big Brother Knows About You and What You Can Do About It M01 3:30PM

Step Up As LAPD Chief Charlie Beck Steps Down F14 2:44PM

Our House Grief Support Center Hosts 9th Annual Run For Hope, April 29 F13 12:51PM

Don’t let this LA County Probation Department overhaul proposal sit on the shelf F13 11:04AM

Echo Park Residents Sue LA Over Controversial Development F12 8:51AM

Former Signal Hill police officer pleads guilty in road-rage incident in Irvine F09 10:25PM

Calif. Police Accused of 'Collusion' With Neo-Nazis After Release of Court Documents F09 7:14PM

Center for the Study of Political Graphics exhibit on Police Abuse posters F07 9:50AM

City Agrees to Settle Lawsuit Claiming Pasadena Police Officer Had His Sister Falsely Arre F04 3:17PM

Professor's Study Highlights Health Risks of Urban Oil Drilling F04 12:42PM

Claims paid involving Pasadena Police Department 2014 to present F04 10:52AM

Pasadenans - get your license plate reader records from police F03 11:11PM

LA Times Homicide Report F03 1:57PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Book Available about Hispanics and US Civil War by National Park Service A19 5:52PM

The Shortwave Report 04/20/18 Listen Globally! A19 4:01PM

The Republican 'Prolife' Party Is the Party of War, Execution, and Bear Cub Murder A19 11:48AM

Neurogenèse involutive A18 9:21AM

Paraphysique de la dictature étatique A16 10:13AM

Book Review: "The New Bonapartists" A16 3:45AM

The West Must Take the First Steps to Russia A14 12:25PM

Théorie générale de la révolution ou hommage à feu Mikhaïl Bakounine A14 3:30AM

The Shortwave Report 04/13/18 Listen Globally! A12 3:50PM

“Lost in a Dream” Singing Competition Winner to Be Chosen on April 15 for ,000 Prize! A12 3:48PM

The World Dependent on Central Banks A12 4:43AM

Ohio Governor Race: Dennis Kucinich & Richard Cordray Run Against Mike DeWine A11 9:40PM

March 2018 Honduras Coup Again Update A10 10:52PM

Apologie du zadisme insurrectionnel A10 3:33PM

ICE contract with license plate reader company A10 1:14PM

Palimpseste sisyphéen A09 11:23PM

Black Portraiture(S) IV: The Color of Silence...Cuba No...Cambridge Yes A09 5:32AM

Prohibiting Micro-Second Betting on the Exchanges A09 4:18AM

Prosecutors treat Muslims harsher than non-Muslims for the same crimes A08 10:33PM

Amy Goodman interview on cell phone safety A08 10:29PM

Mesa, Arizona police officer kills unarmed white man A08 9:50PM

Israeli leaders should be prosecuted for war crimes A08 9:48PM

Paraphysique de l'autorité A08 12:11AM

Two Podcasts on fbi corruption A06 10:13PM

Fbi assassins assault & try to kill DAVID ATKINS A06 7:29PM

EPA Head Scott Pruitt: Of Cages And Sirens A06 2:15PM

The Shortwave Report 04/06/18 Listen Globally! A05 4:25PM

Nicaraguas Conflic with native Peoples on the Caribbean Coast Near Bluefields in Decade80 A05 12:14PM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy