Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Men Who Built America

In some trailers for Atlas Shrugged Part 2 is the text "will it influence the election?"

And I watched the first entry in the series The Men Who Built America. It's all about the great capitalists who had so much freedom from government intervention and such great work ethic they built America into a world power!

The first episode is about the railroad guy, Vanderbilt. Very quickly the show makes the point that because of Vanderbilt--a single man with ambition to succeed--over 100,000 new jobs were created. The period right after the civil war was a period of unprecedented growth all because of unrestricted capitalism.

Talk about timing. It comes across very strongly not as history, but public relations.

It's like someone is afraid of the attitude around the country after the economy crashed. Someone is afraid people will demand communism because gosh darn it capitalism is just not fair! TV shows and movies were made to remind people of the dangers of communism and the virtues of capitalism; that regulation hurts business; that unrestricted competition is what built America into the great nation it is.

Evidence? The section on Rockefeller, narrator: "Rockefeller is raised in a poor, Cleveland household. But even as a young man he yearns for something more. Something bigger. And he knows it isn't going to be handed to him."

What an odd thing to emphasize for a documentary. It sounds like the series is talking directly to all those OWS people, telling them to stop whining about how unequal things are and go out and get a job and make yourselves into great men!

This feels like damage control. Propaganda. Does somebody feel the need to defend capitalism and big business after the recession shook America's faith in it?

It seems like someone--perhaps many sometimes feel they need to change the atmosphere in America, restore the people's faith in the system that hurt them. They produce movies and TV shows that glorify the hardworking man and imply: if you work hard enough, you could be just like Vanderbilt! Sure, these businessmen were greedy psychopaths who had to win at everything and would stop at nothing to crush one other out of business so they can RULE THE WORLD!!!--but that greed and that drive to succeed at everything is what made America great!

Let us gather together and celebrate the glory of the entrepreneur! Let us revel in the cinematic glory that is competition, business and WORK! Let's celebrate WORK! Work is glorious! Work is wonderful! So go to work, all you lazy people protesting the system! Remember your place and keep working like good little citizens! That's what the series screams at me! It comes across very strong, especially in the interviews with various titans of business, because it doesn't take a historical point of view. Rather, an inspirational one.

Maybe they think we're as easily swayed as the crowd in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. I swear it feels like this series is not about history, but about calming the attitude in America--reminding the people how wonderful capitalism is. Do you realize what this means? OWS made a difference. Someone is afraid.

Between Atlas Shrugged being made into a movie, and The Men Who Built America, it's obvious someone has an agenda. I wonder if anybody tried to placate the people during the Great Depression, telling them it was their own fault they were unemployed and capitalism is still great.

I have no doubt America is great because of the freedom to do business and innovate and compete. America is great because there was no monarchy or dictatorship that kept the people suppressed. America let its citizens be everything they could be. I am not in favor of ending that--hell no. But does that extend to the freedom to manipulate the market, gamble with people's money and jeopardize the entire country so you can make a buck? Does that mean business should have more say in the government than the people do?

So, will it influence the election? We'll see.

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