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View Diary: Clarence Thomas: An (unreported) penny here, a penny there (246 comments)

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  •  Dickens was all about the Plutocrats (48+ / 0-)

    He brought into the newly created "reading classes" of Great Britain a ferocious evisceration of the Ruling Classes. Dickens made vividly real the sufferings of the downcast and the criminalities of the mighty. Dickens is the conscience of Victorian Britain - and he died in 1860, before the free school system began.

    There is nothing new in politics of economics that the Victorians didn't invent and discarded 100 years before most of us were even born. America has convinced its citizens to ignore the histories of other nations and other empires because Americans and their history are "exceptional."

    We might have held onto our empire longer if we truly had exported those features that people around the world loved: freedom of speech, of worship, of assembly, of thought. Instead we exported what empires have always used as the means of subjugation: our arms and armies.

    Democracy *means* Anti-Plutocracy. Democrats, be true to your Self and win!

    by Louise on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 06:37:53 PM PST

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    •  Thank you for this, the more of what I see, (12+ / 0-)

      the more I think of Dickens and the times his works portray.

      "Never, desist till we ... extinguish this bloody traffic, of which our posterity, will scarce believe that it suffered a disgrace and dishonor to this country.

      by Regina in a Sears Kit House on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 07:10:18 PM PST

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      •  Take a look at all the mid-Victorian novelists (17+ / 0-)

        There were serious writers, a lot of them women, who were writing fiction known as "Problem of England" novels. These were realistic fiction depicting the strains, pressures and miseries of the poor and working classes in the modern industrialized nation.

        England had become Top Nation due to its full-throated economic materialism. That philosophy had brought England, and some industrialists, huge profits. But it had also brought millions abject misery, and squalid and dangerous living conditions. This was the "Problem of England."

        Dickens was perhaps the preeminent voice in this movement, which was really fighting for England's soul. Dickens portrayed the virtuous working poor, those made desperate by poverty, and corrupt charlatans and whited sepulchers who possessed fortunes. Anyone who had ever read "Little Dorrit," and known the character of the swindler Mr. Merdle, would have recognized Bernie Madoff as a similar soul straightway.

        Of Dickens, you might also read "Dombey & Son," "Hard Times, "Bleak House," and "Our Mutual Friend."

        In addition to Dickens, other "Industrial Novel" authors include Charlotte Bronte, Benjamin Disraeli, Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot, George Moore and Charles Kingsley.

        Democracy *means* Anti-Plutocracy. Democrats, be true to your Self and win!

        by Louise on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 08:55:45 PM PST

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        •  Thank you so much. I have seen the PBS (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Julie Gulden

          version of Little Dorrit.  If I was more well versed in Dickens (I keep thinking of Scrooge and I think it is Little Dorrit) it would make a fascinating comparison of today's disparities and hardships in the US to Mid Victorian England.

          I often have images of people being tossed into prison barges on the Thames or eventually shipped to Australia for stealing a loaf of bread.  

          Great list you have provided.

          "Never, desist till we ... extinguish this bloody traffic, of which our posterity, will scarce believe that it suffered a disgrace and dishonor to this country.

          by Regina in a Sears Kit House on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 09:55:37 AM PST

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    •  I've often wondered who are the great social (15+ / 0-)

      justice writers of this day. Victorian England had Dickens. On this side of the pond we've had Civil War period writers Thoreau and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Around World War One we had Sinclair Lewis. And during the Great Depression we had John Steinbeck. But do we have any authors of that caliber writing about the social ills today?

      •  Tell me when you find some (4+ / 0-)
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        Ivan, MagisterLudi, DBunn, weinerschnauzer

        Everything my friends press upon me is some variety of "chick-lit," which does not move me at all.

        For my money, the great novelists are all working in criminal fiction, people like Ian Frazier and the late, lamented Michael Dibdin. Crime Fiction promises that the great criminals who commit great crimes will be found out and punished. Wish fulfillment, but it's better that it happened in our dreams than not at all.

        Democracy *means* Anti-Plutocracy. Democrats, be true to your Self and win!

        by Louise on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 08:59:32 PM PST

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      •  We have Stewart and Colbert (6+ / 0-)

        but no real political writers. Two things are required for there to be great writers:  readers and a respect for ideas.  At this time our culture has neither. There will be great writers again, but only when the fear of honesty and (economic) starvation wanes.

        One man gathers what another man spills

        by John Chapman on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 11:16:35 PM PST

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        •  And they are excellent (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Julie Gulden

          but even back in the sixties there was the show <That Was the Week That Was</em> with David Frost that took on the establishment using comedy and satire. It was ground-breaking in many ways and rivaled both Stewart and Colbert for acerbic commentary. But I'm not sure of its lasting impact on society compared to some of the great writings. Hopefully, e-readers will rekindle (pun intended) an interest in reading.

      •  Here are a couple (6+ / 0-)

        Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five (anti-war/military).

        John Irving's Cider House Rules (about as good a pro-abortion-rights statement as any novel could hope to make).

        Granted, neither of these authors generally known for their social justice writing, but they are both prominent, and the two books mentioned should count.

        I'm sure I'll think of more...

        Join us in the Grieving Room on Monday evenings to discuss mourning and loss.

        by Dem in the heart of Texas on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 04:53:01 AM PST

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      •  As a lover of Dickens (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Louise, nytcek, MagisterLudi

        it pains me to acknowledge that his particular manner of art – the serially written, 800-page sweep of a cavalcade of characters in a realistic and well-sourced (if sentimental) setting – is gone not because the writers don't exist, but because the readers don't. The relentless efficiency (and luridness) of television, the Internet, and other diversions has wiped out what was probably never a huge audience to begin with. True for writers in general now; toss on the stigma of "social concerns" into a book of any decent scope, and the number of readers plummets even more. As a method of entertainment, the full-length deeply-characterized novel has sadly become an antiquated oddity, but worse, as a source of information about social ills it is almost completely irrelevant to the culture now, whereas in previous generations it might serve as the centerpiece for whole movements (cf. Harriet Beecher Stowe).

        •  Serialized, social conscience raising writing (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          CJnyc

          would never work in the short attention span, immediate gratification society of today. Although I remember reading somewhere that Stephen King was doing, thinking of doing, or had done a serial book on-line. But his novels, outside The Stand perhaps, have little to do with social conscience. I think he could probably write a serialized book in a week, which would probably be an acceptable waiting period for today's readers.

    •  Off to Top Comment with You! (20+ / 0-)

      I usually send in witty or sarcastic remarks which merit a bit of laughter from a larger audience... and sometimes an anomalous ironic comment that touches a nerve.

      But every once in a while I find a comment truly deserving of the appellation: Top Comment.

      This is one of them.

      That is an utterly brilliant analysis of our modern era via an analogy using the voice of the downtrodden and bristling underclasses of the Victorian Age.

      "in Order to form a more perfect Union"
      Basta de Guerra. No más. Enough War. No more.

      by Angie in WA State on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 07:43:38 PM PST

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    •  Let me add Twain here... (14+ / 0-)

      Your last paragraph reminded me of Twain's "To the Person Sitting in Darkness":

      The Blessings of Civilization are all right, and a good commercial property; there could not be a better, in a dim light. In the right kind of a light, and at a proper distance, with the goods a little out of focus, they furnish this desirable exhibit to the Gentlemen who Sit in Darkness:

                 LOVE, LAW AND ORDER,
                 JUSTICE, LIBERTY,
                 GENTLENESS, EQUALITY,
                 CHRISTIANITY, HONORABLE DEALING,
                 PROTECTION TO THE WEAK, MERCY,
                 TEMPERANCE, EDUCATION,

      --and so on.

      There. Is it good? Sir, it is pie. It will bring into camp any idiot that sits in darkness anywhere. But not if we adulterate it. It is proper to be emphatic upon that point. This brand is strictly for Export--apparently. Apparently. Privately and confidentially, it is nothing of the kind. Privately and confidentially, it is merely an outside cover, gay and pretty and attractive, displaying the special patterns of our Civilization which we reserve for Home Consumption, while inside the bale is the Actual Thing that the Customer Sitting in Darkness buys with his blood and tears and land and liberty. That Actual Thing is, indeed, Civilization, but it is only for Export. Is there a difference between the two brands? In some of the details, yes.

      Because for Zen surrealism, you can't beat living in the Bible Belt...

      by salvador dalai llama on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 08:31:23 PM PST

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    •  Slight Correction: Dickens died June 9, 1870. (4+ / 0-)

      Also, I'm not so sure that Dickens would have looked favorably upon the USA exporting its brand of religious freedom.  Consider this quote from Dickens:

      Missionaries are perfect nuisances and leave every place worse than they found it.
      -- Charles Dickens,

      Tale of Two Cities and Darwin's On the Origin of Species were both published in 1959, and the term "agnostic" was coined 10 years later by Huxley during the religious zealotry of the Victorian Era.

      Plutocracy fails without religion.  That's why it was always called Church & State (kings, plutocrats, corrupt government), and not State & Church.  It wasn't just an alphabetical thing, it was an ordinal thing.

      •  errr..another BIG correction.."published in 1859" (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sydneyluv, FarWestGirl
      •  Thanks, Jose (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jose Bidenio

        Let's put it down to a typo - I always connect Dicken's death with the passage of the Education Act of 1870, which provided free, compulsory education to all children between the ages of 5 and 12. (Thank a Liberal, William Forster - who was accused of trying to destroy British superiority by removing children from the workforce.)

        I'm in total agreement that Plutocracy fails without religion! If God didn't mean them to have all that great wealth, then they got it purely as the result of human systems. And human systems can be changed.

        One great examination of this truth is Thomas Frank's book "One Nation Under God :Extreme Capitalism, Market Populism, and the End of Economic Democracy". He published it 10 years ago. People were realizing the truth about the Plutocracy and the tax structure then ..... and then 9/11 happened (luckily for the Plutocrats.)

        That enable them to hollow out the country even faster.

        The Plutocrats are going for broke in 2012. They believe that they can win and put such tight legal fetters on democracy that they won't have to worry about the people breaking free for a lifetime, if at all.

        Perhaps the Plutocrats don't intend to keep America running as a going concern. They are going to have a fire sale on the remaining assets, and the torch the place for the insurance. I mean "torch the place" literally. A huge war against some evil "enemy" seems inevitable, since the military is the last big thing of value we have. The "homeland" will be the place where this war takes place, though. Europe will be the relatively untouched continent, perhaps, reversing the pattern we saw in WW2. The stripped-out carcasses of abandoned homes that no one ever occupied in Florida and California, the gutted inner cities, overcrowded, overbuilt coastlines - all swept away through bombing campaigns of unimaginable destruction.

        Provided that the land isn't too irradiated to use, it will be a marvelous opportunity for more money-manufacture by the owners of the land. So much free space opened up for redevelopment! Not to mention that it will provide breathing room for workers running out of desirable space in China and India.

        You have project plans that run over decades and centuries when you're in an inherited aristocracy.

        (I always hated the way the world wars were given numbers, as if there was going to be an inevitable numerical procession.I knew what that meant for the members of the non-ruling classes.)

        Democracy *means* Anti-Plutocracy. Democrats, be true to your Self and win!

        by Louise on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 08:51:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Education of children and their removal from the (0+ / 0-)

          workforce will destroy British superiority.  WOW..

          ...that there is some wacky and crazy stuff.

          Conservatives will say and do anything for a buck, or a pound....even a shilling...is that where the word "shill" comes from?

          shill
          –noun
          1.
          a person who poses as a customer in order to decoy others into participating, as at a gambling house, auction, confidence game, etc.
          2.
          a person who publicizes or praises something or someone for reasons of self-interest, personal profit, or friendship or loyalty.

          And I sorta figured it was a typo, but the year piqued my interest because 1959 - 1970 were very interesting times in the USA and England, with Lincoln, Victoria, Slavery, Civil War, Industrialization, Dickens, Darwin, Huxley, Marx and so forth.

          You've inspired me to perhaps re-read some Dickens.

          Thanks.

    •  And Dickens treated his wife like (0+ / 0-)

      dirt.

      "In Youth We Learn...In Age We Understand"

      by Jbeaudill on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 07:53:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  So did JFK (n/t) (0+ / 0-)

        Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

        by milkbone on Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 08:05:46 AM PST

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        •  True...but she had her choices. Mrs. (0+ / 0-)

          Dickens had a slew of kids and no job but homemaker. Chuck on the other hand took his mistress to the USA for a grand tour and gave very little in support or care for Mrs. D.

          "In Youth We Learn...In Age We Understand"

          by Jbeaudill on Tue Jan 25, 2011 at 09:04:01 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

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