Puppets, Puppet Masters, and Closet Liberations

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Títeres y titiriteros (Spanish)

Puppets, Puppet Masters, and Closet Liberations

Jorge Majfud

On April 5, 2010, a survey by the globally influential Time magazine revealed that for its readers Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, also known as Lady Gaga, was the most influential person in the world.  According to journalist Robert Paul Reyes, the singer without a doubt “perfectly captures the times.”

On April 21, 2010, the investment bank Goldman Sachs reported in a triumphal tone a net profit of more than three billion dollars in the previous quarter.

On April 22, in a speech at Cooper Union, near Wall Street and with the purpose of convincing the public about his regulatory proposals for the financial system, president Barack Obama attempted to defend himself from the emerging groups on the extreme right who accuse him of being a Marxist, asserted that he still believes in the positive power of the market.  Nevertheless, “a free market was never meant to be a free license to take whatever you can get, however you can get it.”  Appealing to his populist discourse, according to the followers of Sarah Palin, Obama charged that “some on Wall Street forgot that behind every dollar traded or leveraged there’s a family looking to buy a house, or pay for an education, open a business, save for retirement.”

On Friday April 23, a Securities and Exchange Commission inspector general’s memo drafted for the United States Senate and reported by ABC News, charged that during the great financial crisis of the United States which left more than eight million people jobless in 2008, several SEC inspectors who should have been controlling Wall Street were investing their labor time instead in downloading and looking at pornography.  One of them achieved the record by spending eight hours a day in this activity.  While only a minority of employees dedicated their work hours to pornography, more than a dozen of them were senior staffers with important responsibilities.

Meanwhile, in Gotham City, according to a United States Senate commission, the managers of the investment megabank Goldman Sachs were betting on the collapse of the real estate sector that left thousands of families homeless.

According to the Reuters news agency, the New York Times and every one of the major daily newspapers in the United States, some managers of the Goldman Sachs Group saw a chance to make some good money in the midst of the credit crisis and shortly before the mortgage collapse.

“Sounds like we will make some serious money,” Donald Mullen, one of Goldman’s executives, wrote in an email.  Another executive, Lloyd Blankfein, faced with accusations of fraud brought by the government in a hostile reform-minded context, claimed that the company had lost money during the crisis.  In September of 2008 the company received $25 billion dollars of taxpayers’ money in the form of a financial bailout.

According to Democratic Senator Carl Levin, the uncovered emails show that, “in reality, Goldman made a lot of money by betting against the mortgage market.” In November of 2007, according to Goldman Sachs’ Chief Financial Officer David A. Viniar, the company made more than $50 million dollars in just one day by betting that mortgage securities would sink.  According to the Washington Post, Goldman’s game consisted in convincing people to invest in the real estate market at the same time that the company itself was betting in the opposite direction.

In any case the main instrument consists of promoting desire and punishing pleasure.  Toward this end the social order and the hegemonic culture make use of their bankers and their religions, of their artists and their prostitutes, of their discourse about heroic and exemplary liberations from closets and dressing rooms.

Hence the importance of the populist culture and the innocence of the market for sex, of pornography conveniently called art, and of “authentic personal expressions” that claim to have nothing to do with politics.

Except in the perverse minds of radical critics.

Perhaps the readers of Time magazine are right.  In a gaga society, in a planetary order dominated by superficiality and meaningless narcissism perhaps an irrelevant personality like Lady Gaga really is one of the most influential people in the world.

Translated by Bruce Campbell

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