[lbo-talk] hucksterism, the quick score, etc.

JOANNA A. 123hop at comcast.net
Wed Jul 16 09:40:43 PDT 2014

There's no other vision than that of the individual against the system.


----- Original Message ----- Nice post. Aren't the luck trope and the loophole trope related on some level? The post-Reformation/capitalist individual has both the "pluck and luck" (to quote an Alger title), i.e., the luck to find an "opportunity" (such as a loophole) and the pluck exploit it.

This is mythic thinking, in which the system exists only to be overcome or evaded by the hero. And that it is mythic thinking I think goes a long way to explaining its grip.

But the traditional hero was an atypical person, so if now everyone is to be his/her own hero, the heroic feats have to undergo some devolution: Odysseus' trickster-style evasion of the cyclops becomes finding a loophole.

On Wed, Jul 16, 2014 at 8:09 AM, Andy <andy274 at gmail.com> wrote:

> http://blogs.swarthmore.edu/burke/blog/2014/07/15/king-of-pain/
> As Jackson Lears and many other scholars and observers have noted, many
> Americans throughout the cultural history of the United States have
> accepted that the circumstances of life are inevitably determined by luck,
> that economic life is a matter of good or ill fortune. Which some have
> suggested explains the current popular aversion to increased taxation on
> the rich: even the poor think they have a chance of being rich someday, and
> want to keep all the imaginary money they might get.
> I think there’s a less-told but equally important trope in the American
> imaginary: the loophole. The finding of the trick, the turning of the fine
> print back on the lawyer who wrote the contract. The victimless crime of
> cheating the government or the big company out of something it mindlessly
> and wastefully demanded of the little man. The free money, the thing that
> your friend fixed up for you. Topsy-turvy, the quick score that makes the
> smart and the sly rich without distress to anything. The
> beads-for-Manhattan.
> It’s that last I’m thinking about when I think about King Jeremiah Heaton
> <
> http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/va-man-plants-flag-claims-african-country-calling-it-kingdom-of-north-sudan/2014/07/12/abfbcef2-09fc-11e4-8a6a-19355c7e870a_story.html
> >,
> who became Internet-famous for a few days when he travelled to southern
> Egypt to plant a homemade flag on a small area of land that he believed was
> unclaimed by any existing sovereign state and therefore his for the taking.
> All for the sake of his 7-year old daughter, who wanted to be a princess.
> There’s a lot to say about the story, most of it properly accompanied by
> much rolling of the eyes. But I do think Heaton is a canary in the coal
> mine of sorts, a window into a psychic cauldron seething inside the
> consciousness of a fading empire. Heaton himself invoked history in the
> coverage: what he did, others had done, he acknowledged, but they did it
> out of greed or hatred. He did it for love, he says, love of his daughter.
> But if ever first time tragedy, second time farce applied, this is it.
> [...]
> --
> Andy
> "It's a testament to ketchup that there can be no confusion."
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