Fiction and the Economy

Quotes from The Sun Also Rises, Homeland, and Plutocracy:

Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises (1926):

“How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked.
“Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually and then suddenly.”
“What brought it on?”
“Friends,” said Mike. “I had a lot of friends. False friends. Then I had creditors, too. Probably had more creditors than anybody in England.”

Paul William Roberts, Homeland (2006):

I doubt if there has ever been a convocation of dunces quite as imbecilic as the administration of George W. Bush…. Bush, son of a Bush, began with the collapse of the World Trade Center in New York, and ended with the collapse of the entire country. By the halfway point of his scarcely believable two terms, there was no endeavor he had embarked upon that had not blown up in stupendous chaos or festered into ignominy. It had nothing to do with him, of course. He was a rat told he was king of the hyenas by the warthogs.
      The predators and bottom-feeders had chosen him because they had so enjoyed the experience of working with Ronald Reagan, whose mind had simply walked off one day and not returned. The younger Bush looked promising because he seemed not to have possessed much of a mind from the very beginning.     

Thomas Manson Norwood, Plutocracy (1888):

“This is a free country, and this government don’t oppress any man,” said Mr. Smiling, with an air of patriotism. “If he don’t like his employer or business, he’s free to get another.”

“All oppression is not by governments directly,” said the daughter… “The oppression in this country is financial, and I am satisfied that most of the suffering all over the country has been produced by legislation.”

“What legislation do you mean?”

“I mean legislation in general, and some special legislation. The General Government since 1861 has been in the control of a victorious war party. The war sentiment and feeling have prevailed in every Presidential election. General Grant twice elected; then Mr. Hayes, a war candidate, and then General Garfield. And if Mr. Blaine had been a general in the late war he would have been elected by a large majority. The single feeling of those in control has been, and is, that they saved the country, and therefore it belongs to them, to do with as they please. The men who saved the Union, the men who did the fighting, have been deluded by the belief that they have shaped public affairs since the war. Demagogues have so flattered them, to get offices, but the rank and file of the army have had no more voice in shaping legislation than the negroes in the South. The masters of the situation are the men whom the war suddenly enriched, and those whose colossal fortunes have been acquired since by means of oppressive class-legislation. The rank and file have elected Congressmen and Presidents who passed at once under the control of the rich – the millionaires of the land – and they have shaped all financial legislation to gorge their pockets, already full…. Who have reaped the fruits – the people as a mass? No – the few, very few, have increased their wealth to a degree, and in sums without parallel in history, and these few are the men who were interested in the legislations I have named. And hence, I say, they have been and are masters and rulers of this country, and they are the ones against whom the poor make complaint, or will make it when they come to understand the situation.”

Such pointed politically conscious dialogue makes much of the socio-political fiction written today seem woefully indirect, evasive, and vacuous along such lines, with effects upon an ostensibly democratic nation and public that can be neither healthy generally nor politically or socially invigorating, nor often even, to me, much interesting. With Plutocracy and similar imaginative works pushed out of history, frequently no doubt before they have a chance to appear, how much that is lost cannot be overstated.

John Cusack:

“The whole political world is fought in the artistic world, talking heads, propaganda and music, the images come first, the money and guns follow later. I think films and writing have a huge impact.”

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