The shipyard painter, political activist and razor-sharp cartoonist Bob Starrett has just written a new book The Way I See It on his eventful life and times. Below we reprint one of his stories and review an essential read
In cinema as in politics, it's business as usual. Mike Judge sets Extract, his comedy of social values, against the backdrop of a factory in trouble.
Like our own politico bosses in this election run-up, Judge focuses on the stupidity and inherent culpability of the workers who hinder the smooth running of business as the most potent force of Western democracy.
Despite his name, Judge rarely judges, representing ordinary, plain vanilla life taken to comedic extremes.
His title not only describes the factory's product, vanilla essence, but boss Joel's quintessential process chosen to fix problems at work and home.
Judge repeatedly denies any implicit anti-capitalist message in his work. But is it really mere coincidence that Joel faces a lawsuit from an employee accidentally injured in the testicular region, the sac of the future?
Or that, on the advice of his stoner best friend, he tests his wife's frigidity by setting her up for an affair, then succumbing to one himself with a con-artist?
Are these not unintended consequences of a pitbull-eat-pitbull world driven by ruthless competition where all's fair in love and business?
In a recent Radio 4 interview the CBI's London chairman Philip Dilley declared there should be more business priority in political and social decisions.
CBI members, by the way, represent over a third of the private-sector workforce with largely unaccountable influence over international policies.
Speaking of lobbying, Nicky Campbell's Radio 5 phone-in, prompted by recent "Get Hoon" headlines, heard one caller demanding more business involvement in decision-making, because they could do a much better job than politicians.
More?! The hefty boot-prints of business already decorate the realms of education, the environment, the military, the arts and human rights. We won't even mention toxic debts.
Consider the government and corporate investment responsible for Cairo's air being the most polluted in the world.
Consider General Motors' salient carbon-offset trading scheme having displaced thousands of indigenous peoples who've been there for centuries.
Consider how inward investment mega-companies receive grants and tax breaks under toothless deals that cannot prevent the decimation of the workforce by moving to greener pastures abroad, setting worker against worker.
Consider the concept of education, once a sector dedicated to respect for knowledge and creative thought, becoming a tool for job preparation.
Corporations dictate this fundamental trap with working-class fodder for the unstoppable greed of the elite.
When I laugh at a fine comedian I do not think of myself as a comedy consumer. Nor do I want to be a consumer in the doctor's surgery.
Showbusiness moguls may regard the world as a series of sales territories, but films such as The Price Of Sugar underline the connection between capitalism and culture.
Dominican Republic tourists bask on beaches, unaware behind the palm backdrops, displaced Haitians slave for 14 hours a day on the sugar harvest under armed guard.
Like Judge's film, the nice face on view is a con. Capitalism? Business as usual.
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