While watching the credits roll for "There will be Blood" in the comfortable Curzon Soho, I noticed that the film was based on a book by Upton Sinclair.
Then I remembered why this Upton Sinclair bloke sounded familiar. He featured in a strange novel called "U.S.!" by Chris Bachelder ( the author of the brilliant "Bear vs Shark"). In the book, Upton Sinclair is an old school "muck raking" socialist who believes that with just a bit more persuading, America will become socialist. He is continually assassinated, and resurrected. The technicalities of resurrection are not discussed - this is just something that happens. After reading it, I confirmed that Sinclair was indeed a real (but properly dead) politician of the American left.
What is particularly odd is how reasonable the whole thing seems. Despite the massive conceit, the book engineers itself in such a way as to make socialism in the USA the only truly unlikely idea. I can believe in Zombies, but not state control of the economy.
And indeed this is probably intended. There is still a trace left of an anti-capitalist message in "There will be Blood", yet one does not really notice it. Its as if the oil economy, which is the driver for every character in the film, somehow is just a backdrop. It is now very hard for our western minds to conceive of any system other than free market capitalism. Even an imminent banking collapse seems not to disturb this.
It probably requires a logical impossibility, or at the very least a large shock, to test our belief in capitalism sufficiently to question it effectively. An atomic bomb was needed to check Japanese belief in the infallibility of the Emperor. A lengthy depression combined with a minor environmental disaster may cause not just a change of heart, but a violent swing away from what we have now.
Markets are as old as crossroads, but normally the price of anything is related to its value. The logic that ties the value of your house to a pyramid scheme of faulty loans, promises, consumer spending, credit debt and fractional-reserve banking is one that most people are willing to ignore while things are good. When confronted with the truth we are forced to take either the blue pill or the red pill. But the economy may only be working now because we have chosen to swallow the blue pill for such a long time.
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