Comment 89325

By Greenlee (anonymous) | Posted June 05, 2013 at 14:52:46

Spook shop or not, The Atlantic’s soothing IV drip of frictionless, borderless, culturally agnostic thought-output plays a useful scrambling role in the context of unmitigated national crisis. A featured Atlantic contributor can be counted on—without interference from any known machinery of coercion—to wax incredulous when the current GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt, for example, pleads with the audience at a competing Thought Leader conference to spearhead a manufacturing revival.

The Bradley-subsidized chattering class instinctively knows to tune out altogether more articulate assessments of our plight, such as former Intel CEO Andy Grove’s withering indictment of free-market dogma in a summer 2010 Bloomberg Businessweek cover story. Grove blamed the economic malaise on a sick cultural deification of “the guys in the garage inventing something that changes the world” at the expense of anyone involved in what happened afterward. His lament was the most eloquent tribute to the symbiosis of design and production and imagination and reality I’d read since Mao’s 1937 essay “On Practice,” which declared “man’s knowledge depends mainly on his activity in material production.” The Thought Leaders of our own political leadership class would never know about Grove’s broadside, though—it was greeted by a Washington-wide wall of silence. (Indeed, the one wayward D.C. player who did take it to heart former SEIU chieftain Andy Stern— was reduced to imploring unsympathetic readers of the Wall Street Journal op-ed section to search online for Grove’s essay some sixteen months after it appeared.)

What mystified Grove was the assertion, voiced by the economist Alan Blinder and others, “that as long as ‘knowledge work’ stays in the U.S., it doesn’t matter what happens to factory jobs.” This was not only inhumane, Grove declared; it was idiotic.

But it is why the ideas, so-called, that inspire the omniscient gentlemen of The Atlantic are flat: their world is, literally, flat. Habitual “bipartisanship” has given way to a tendency to level the playing field between reality and fiction. And so in The Atlantic’s account of America’s present crisis, Hanna Rosin wonders whether it was not deregulation or securitization that caused the financial crisis, but . . . Christianity; and James Fallows suspects America’s awareness of its own decline is merely “our era’s version of the ‘missile gap.’” It’s as though, in purging labor from the ranks of accredited Thought Leaders, they have eradicated thought itself.

https://www.thebaffler.com/past/omniscient_gentlemen_of_the_atlantic

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