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Current Affairs: You Should Be Terrified That People Who Like “Hamilton” Run Our Country
"The American elite can’t get enough of a musical that flatters their political sensibilities and avoids discomforting truths."



"Given that Hamilton is essentially Captain Dan with an American Studies minor, one might wonder how it became so inordinately adored by the blathering class. How did a ten-million-dollar 8th Grade U.S. History skit become “the great work of art of the 21st century” (as the New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik says those in his circle have been calling it)?"



"Just as Hamilton ducks the question of slavery, much of the actual substance of Alexander Hamilton’s politics is ignored, in favor of a story that stresses his origins as a Horatio Alger immigrant and his rivalry with Aaron Burr. But while Hamilton may have favored opening America’s doors to immigration, he also proposed a degree of economic protectionism that would terrify today’s free market establishment.

Hamilton believed that free trade was never equal, and worried about the ability of European manufacturers (who got a head start on the Industrial Revolution) to sell goods at lower prices than their American counterparts. In Hamilton’s 1791 Report on Manufactures, he spoke of the harms to American industry that came with our reliance on products from overseas. The Report sheds light on many of the concerns Americans in the 21st century have about outsourcing, sweatshops, and the increasing trade deficit, albeit in a different context. Hamilton said that for the U.S., “constant and increasing necessity, on their part, for the commodities of Europe, and only a partial and occasional demand for their own, in return, could not but expose them to a state of impoverishment, compared with the opulence to which their political and natural advantages authorise them to aspire.” For Hamilton, the solution was high tariffs on imports of manufactured goods, and intensive government intervention in the economy. The prohibitive importation costs imposed by tariffs would allow newer American manufacturers to undersell Europe’s established industrial framework, leading to an increase in non-agricultural employment. As he wrote: “all the duties imposed on imported articles… wear a beneficent aspect towards the manufacturers of the country.”

Does any of this sound familiar? It certainly went unmentioned at the White House, where a custom performance of Hamilton was held for the Obamas. The livestreamed presidential Hamilton spectacular at one point featured Obama and Miranda performing historically-themed freestyle rap in the Rose Garden."



"Strangely enough, President Obama failed to mention anything Alexander Hamilton actually did during his long career in American politics, perhaps because the Obama Administration’s unwavering support of free trade and the tariff-easing Trans-Pacific Partnership goes against everything Hamilton believed. Instead, Obama’s Hamilton speech stresses just two takeaways from the musical: that America is a place where the poor (through “sheer force of will” and little else) can rise to prominence, and that Hamilton has diversity in it. (Plus it contains hip-hop, an edgy, up-and-coming genre with only 37 years of mainstream exposure.)

The Obamas were not the only members of the political establishment to come down with a ghastly case of Hamiltonmania. Nearly every figure in D.C. has apparently been to see the show, in many cases being invited for a warm backstage schmooze with Miranda. Biden saw it. Mitt Romney saw it. The Bush daughters saw it. Rahm Emanuel saw it the day after the Chicago teachers’ strike over budget cuts and school closures. Hillary Clinton went to see the musical in the evening after having been interviewed by the FBI in the morning. The Clinton campaign has also been fundraising by hawking Hamilton tickets; for $100,000 you can watch a performance alongside Clinton herself.

Unsurprisingly, the New York Times reports that “conservatives were particularly smitten” with Hamilton. “Fabulous show,” tweeted Rupert Murdoch, calling it “historically accurate.” Obama concluded that “I’m pretty sure this is the only thing that Dick Cheney and I have agreed on—during my entire political career.” (That is, of course, false. Other points of agreement include drone strikes, Guantanamo, the NSA, and mass deportation.)

The conservative-liberal D.C. consensus on Hamilton makes perfect sense. The musical flatters both right and left sensibilities. Conservatives get to see their beloved Founding Fathers exonerated for their horrendous crimes, and liberals get to have nationalism packaged in a feel-good multicultural form. The more troubling questions about the country’s origins are instantly vanished, as an era built on racist forced labor is transformed into a colorful, culturally progressive, and politically unobjectionable extravaganza.

As the director of the Hamilton theater said, “It has liberated a lot of people who might feel ambivalent about the American experiment to feel patriotic.” “Ambivalence,” here, means being bothered by the country’s collective idol-worship of men who participated in the slave trade, one of the greatest crimes in human history. To be “liberated” from this means never having to think about it.

In that respect, Hamilton probably is the “musical of the Obama era,” as The New Yorker called it. Contemporary progressivism has come to mean papering over material inequality with representational diversity. The president will continue to expand the national security state at the same rate as his predecessor, but at least he will be black. Predatory lending will drain the wealth from African American communities, but the board of Goldman Sachs will have several black members. Inequality will be rampant and worsening, but the 1% will at least “look like America.” The actual racial injustices of our time will continue unabated, but the power structure will be diversified so that nobody feels quite so bad about it. Hamilton is simply this tendency’s cultural-historical equivalent; instead of worrying ourselves about the brutal origins of the American state, and the lasting economic effects of those early inequities, we can simply turn the Founding Fathers black and enjoy the show.

Kings George I and II of England could barely speak intelligible English and spent more time dealing with their own failed sons than ruling the Empire —but they gave patronage to Handel. Ludwig II of Bavaria was believed to be insane and went into debt compulsively building castles — but he gave patronage to Wagner. Barack Obama deported more immigrants than any other president and expanded the drone program in order to kill almost 3,500 people — but he gave patronage to a neoliberal nerdcore musical. God bless this great land."
hamilton  alexnichols  browadway  politics  musicals  2016  neoliberalism  patriotism  barackobama  alexanderhamilton  idol-worship  rupertmurdoch  dickcheney  tpp  mittromney  hillaryclinton  diversity  horatioalger  lyramonteiro  freetrade  thomasjefferson  lin-manuelmiranda  hiphop  georgewashington  adamgopnik  captaindan  nerdcore 
july 2016 by robertogreco
In Defense of Hacks - By Toby Harnden | Foreign Policy ["Britain's press is sensationalistic, sloppy, and scandal-prone -- and America would be lucky to have one like it."]
"American newspaper articles are in the main more accurate & better-researched than British ones…But stories in US press also tend to be tedious, overly long, & academic, written for the benefit of po-faced editors & Pulitzer panels rather than readers. There's a reason a country w/ a population one-fifth the size of that of the US buys millions more newspapers each week. For all their faults, British "rags" are more vibrant, entertaining, opinionated, & competitive than American newspapers. We break more stories, upset more people, & have greater political impact. (BBC, with its decidedly American outlook on news, has become increasingly irrelevant…)…The danger of the fevered atmosphere in Britain…is that what Prime Minister Tony Blair once termed the "feral beast" of the media might be tamed & muzzled. Perhaps the worst outcome of all would be for it to be turned into an American-style lapdog."
uk  news  us  journalism  reporting  tobyharnden  bbc  comparison  readers  2011  rupertmurdoch  via:preoccupations 
july 2011 by robertogreco
BBC News - Murdoch: the network defeats the hierarchy
"Now there is a school of social theory that has a name for a system in which press barons, police officers & elected politicians operate a mutual back-scratching club…"the manufacturing of consent".<br />
Pioneered by Edward Herman & Noam Chomsky, the theory states that essentially the mass media is a propaganda machine; the advertising model makes large corporate advertisers into "unofficial regulators"; the media live in fear of politicians; truly objective journalism is impossible because it is unprofitable (& plagued by "flak" generated w/in the legal system by resistant corporate power).<br />
At one level, this week's events might be seen as a vindication of the theory: News International has admitted paying police officers; & politicians are admitting they have all played the game of influence ("We've all been in this together" said Cameron, disarmingly). The journalists are baring their breasts & examining their consciences. The whole web of influence has been uncovered.""
politics  media  networks  journalism  uk  2011  davidcameron  rupertmurdoch  hierarchy  control  noamchomsky  manufacturingconsent  consent  advertising  propaganda  power  systems  massmedia  influence  regulation  corporations  corporatism  via:preoccupations 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Phone hacking: British politics has been corrupted by a cosy camaraderie - Telegraph
"Like so many spheres of life in this country…art world…academia & higher reaches of legal profession…it is almost impossible to survive in political journalism as outsider…not to say…that you actually have to have been to school or university w/ people you are trying to engage–can help–but that you must adopt manners which prevail in any club: coded vocabulary, discreet understandings, accepted attitudes…It is this familiarity, intimacy, set of shared assumptions…which is real corruptor of political life. The self-limiting spectrum of what can(not) be said, often patronising preconceptions about what ordinary public will (not) understand & self-reinforcing cowardice which takes for granted that certain vested interests are too powerful to be worth confronting. All of these…constant dangers in political life of democracy…What should worry us are not new, restrictive laws (can be fought out in open) but the old consensual complacency…so familiar that it is almost invisible."
uk  politics  2011  via:preoccupations  consensus  behavior  corruption  statusquo  power  control  democracy  davidcameron  journalism  complacency  janetdaley  press  media  rupertmurdoch  deschooling  unschooling  decolonization  society  cowardice  confrontation  law 
july 2011 by robertogreco

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