Thursday, September 28, 2006


In Greg Palast's book Armed Madhouse, he also starts one of his chapters off with that great speech from the movie Network (mp3 is here):

You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale, and I won't have it!! Is that clear?! You think you've merely stopped a business deal. That is not the case. The Arabs have taken billions of dollars out of this country, and now they must put it back! It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity! It is ecological balance!

You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multi-national dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, Reichmarks, rins, rubles, pounds, and shekels.

It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic and subatomic and galactic structure of things today! And YOU have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and YOU WILL ATONE!

Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale?

You get up on your little twenty-one inch screen and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM and ITT and AT&T and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today.

What do you think the Russians talk about in their councils of state -- Karl Marx? They get out their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories, minimax solutions, and compute the price-cost probabilities of their transactions and investments, just like we do.

We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable bylaws of business. The world is a business, Mr. Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime. And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that perfect world in which there's no war or famine, oppression or brutality -- one vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock, all necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused.

And I have chosen you, Mr. Beale, to preach this evangel.

Words to think about. I may have to get this movie from the library again...

Thanks for reminding us of Network. That movie, released at the apex of the "Sixties" (in 1976) was a comedy back then. Of course, all comedy is funny precisely because there's a grain of truth in it. The humor arises from the juxtaposition of that small grain truth against the exagerrated or burlesque version of it.

Today, the movie is less funny because it has changed genres. It's no longer a comedy. Today, it's a documentary.

Another way to say this is that Network is the perfect illustration of an argument on my site. It's the one about the book Fourth Turning predicting People vs. Corporations as a conclusion to a battle that was raised loudly in the Sixties, but failed miserably back then. The failure of this struggle back then is seen in the fact that Network was classified as a comedy back then.

Contrast the comedy of Network with the seriousness of Look Who's Coming to Dinner. Civil rights broke through in the Sixties. In contrast, the coming battle against Corporations was just hinted at.

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