S U C K

"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 21 March 1997. Updated every WEEKDAY.
 
 
 
 
 

One World Dance Party

 

[]

In the March issue of Details,

tucked away between a profile of

thoughtful-hunk-of-the-month

Jared Leto and advice on whether

it's cool to wear two earrings

with a business suit (it's not.)

is a brief feature on the

techno artist Moby, who

reveals that his favorite

newsmagazine is Britain's The

Economist.

 

"The magazine covers the world in

a surprisingly nonpartisan way.

When you're done with it you

don't have to read the

newspaper," he gushes. Peculiar

stuff, coming from Moby. The

liner notes for his 1995 album

Everything Is Wrong spout enough

anticapitalist, antimeat, and

antireligion rhetoric and

factoids to fill seven Green

Party platforms.

 

You can see why Moby calls The

Economist "nonpartisan." The

magazine seems to explode the

whole left/right duality,

calling to task for their

follies politicians and

ideologues of both stripes. But

that isn't the feat it used to

be. In the United States, even

4-year-olds know that there is

very little difference between

the two major parties, and we

can assume that toddlers in

England feel the same about

their principal political

contestants, what with the

Labour Party scuttling their

socialist-symp policies and

leaders in favor of smiling,

pound-chasing Tony Blair and his

new breed of Tory Lites. "If you

wanna be Prime Minister, first

you gotta love free trade," as

the Spice Girls might sing.

 

[]

The Economist has staked out one

position in an even bigger

battle than politics: The

contest for the Future of Global

Economy. And The Economist

champions free trade in the same

way that the E! Network

champions entertainment. Free

trade, with its brothers growth

and progress, are the Nerf

political issues of the 1990s:

You can't be a thinking person

and not support them. That is,

unless you're crazy like Pat

Buchanan, or labor unionists, or

William Greider, or the French.

The latter nearly scuttled the

long-awaited General Agreement

on Tariffs and Trade last year,

just so that their weird movies

and lousy home-brewed television

programs could maintain a

healthy audience in the face of

the American cultural onslaught.

If the French had succeeded in

starting a global entertainment

war, Moby would have had trouble

entering the France for the purposes

of DJ-ing ("Be careful, Mr.

Moby, we will be watching your

every move. You will stay away

from the raves, please."). The

Economist smartly packages its

globalism-worship with ironic

photo captions, no bylines, and

the treatment of news like

gossip, thus opting out of Time and

Newsweek's race to the lowest

common denominator.

 

Not that they don't have an

interest in it. (Don't we all?)

The Economist is run by Pearson

plc, a British media

multinational which owns Penguin

and its list of Cliff-notable

books, as well as a host of

other imprints. Pearson CEO

Marjorie Scardino has made

headlines in the business pages,

not because she is a woman but

because she wants to run Pearson

like a risk-taking, aggressive,

American company. To wit,

Pearson has just completed its

purchase of Putnam Berkeley,

publisher of Tom Clancy. Should

Pearson pick up on the

not-so-subtleties of synergy and

propaganda as practiced by

Americans (and would-be

Americans like Rupert Murdoch),

we might expect Clancy's next

thriller to feature

American-trained penguins

storming the shores of some

pissant third-world country to

free Western hostages, all of

whom are reading copies of

Stephen King's The Green Mile,

published in paperback by

Penguin's Signet imprint. So

much the better for Moby, who

tells Details he's in "an

anti-highbrow mood" now and

prefers "bad airport fiction" to

heavy reading.

 

[]

So Moby will probably not pick up

the hefty One World Ready or

Not, by William Greider. Just as

well - it might not sit well

with the rest of his media diet.

Greider claims that global

oversupply is ruining the world

economy and destroying living

standards, and he's been blasted

by a host of economists.

Especially peeved was Paul

Krugman, an economist at MIT,

who chided Greider for the fatal

flaw of researching his book by

talking to ordinary people and

not to the econerati. If Greider

had consulted a professional,

rather than dummies who think

that M2 is just a new channel,

he would have realized that what

really makes the world go round

are word problems: Let's pretend

that everybody in the world

produces either hot dogs or

buns. Then you substitute

manufacturing for hot dogs and

services for buns, and

voilà, the world economy!

 

[]

Krugman continued on in a New

York Times column that a cabal

of jeremiad journalists,

know-nothing politicians, and

George Soros are conspiring

to trash the globalization of the

world economy. Poor Krugman, who can

do nothing but write his sizable

columns in important

publications from his office in

Cambridge, Massachusetts, while weak

and ill-informed partisan leaders

turn the public into crazed

protectionists.

 

And in the middle of all this is

Moby: His albums claim that the

rush to mindless economic growth

is destroying the world, while

his reading material, at least

according to Details,

demonstrates a willingness to

browse at the One World

Superstore. The end of the

millennium becomes another

Krugman word problem, albeit one

more firmly grounded in our

everyday reality: Moby needs

something to read on his flight

from London to San Francisco;

The Fountainhead (Signet, 1996)

doesn't fit in his bag, but The

Economist might only last until

the in-flight movie. Not that it

matters, actually - as long as

he catches his plane. And hey,

why read at all? Just keep

dancing.

 
 
 
courtesy of R. Satyricon
 
 
 

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