You may only read this site if you've purchased Our Kampf from Amazon or Powell's or me
• • •
"Mike and Jon, Jon and Mike—I've known them both for years, and, clearly, one of them is very funny. As for the other: truly one of the great hangers-on of our time."—Steve Bodow, head writer, The Daily Show

"Who can really judge what's funny? If humor is a subjective medium, then can there be something that is really and truly hilarious? Me. This book."—Daniel Handler, author, Adverbs, and personal representative of Lemony Snicket

"The good news: I thought Our Kampf was consistently hilarious. The bad news: I’m the guy who wrote Monkeybone."—Sam Hamm, screenwriter, Batman, Batman Returns, and Homecoming

October 28, 2009


I just watched the intriguing 2007 documentary The Unforeseen, directed by Laura Dunn. It's about how a gigantic suburban housing development has degraded the water quality of Austin's famous Barton Springs.

I knew something about the story already because my mother partly grew up in Austin and a branch of my family lives there now. My grandfather used to swim all the time at Barton Springs, as did my mother and her friends.

And learning about how Barton Springs is being ruined was an important element in my education about the world. The housing development is owned by the giant evil mining corporation Freeport McMoran. And what's happened to Barton Springs taught me two things: (1) giant evil corporations will directly affect even upper middle class white people who think they're immune, and (2) the effects are far less damaging than what the giant evil corporations do to people with less power. Both these things were, for me, truly unforeseen.

In any case, he's a snippet from the movie's commentary track, in which Laura Dunn describes William Greider (who appears several times):

And here's the trailer:

P.S. Laura Dunn also made the great short documentary Subtext of a Stutts Education.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at October 28, 2009 10:42 AM

Will giant evil corporations directly effect even upper middle class black people who think they're immune, or is it just the white folk?

Sorry for the sidetrack, but there's this weird meme going around the leftish side of the blogosphere that links upper middle class and white as if only white people are upper middle class. I think it comes from a desire to damn capitalists as being racist, but so far as I can tell, in this case, they're just being capitalists, and that should be damnation enough for anyone.

Posted by: Will Shetterly at October 28, 2009 01:20 PM

Oh, man, I just reread your comment. If you only meant that white upper middle class thang to refer to yourself, my bad.

Posted by: Will Shetterly at October 28, 2009 01:23 PM


Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at October 28, 2009 04:49 PM

Marx was right about this, it just took longer than he expected and didn't happen in precisely the way he thought.

But this crash and terminal debt unwind means the end of the middle class once and for all. We now know it has been just a figment of exponential debt for decades now.

Meanwhile there's nothing left for the corporations to steal from the already-poor. The predators will move right on up the socioeconomic chain even as most of that chain is collapsing to meet them.

What's The Matter With Kansas? is no longer a sufficient question. More and more it'll be what's the matter with the ex-middle class as a whole, then the ex-upper middle class.

Posted by: Russ at October 28, 2009 05:19 PM

Jonathan, may I marry you?

Posted by: Will Shetterly at October 29, 2009 11:55 AM

If the aim of this film is to get upper-middles to see the evils of corporate irresponsibility -- good flippin' luck with that!

The only way upper-middles will question the things that enable their comfy privileges will be for their whole world to collapse. And while I'd agree that the American middle class is disappearing, I think that doesn't refer to the upper-middles. I don't meant to quarrel on semantics. I mean to say that people I consider as comfortable, materially satiated folks aren't the ones whose lives are being ruined. I don't need an Austin film-maker to tell me that the upper middles feel things at a lesser level. I know this from knowing people in that stratum of society.

Just as people are firmly entrenched in triablism for Repub vs Dem theatre, there are people who are tribalist in their social caste. The fleet of upper middles I know will complain presently about the pinch they're feeling from the economy going under, but not a single one has renounced his/her privilege, sold their 2d or 3d house, rejected their luxury "shopping" or their frequency of dining out. Most of them have too large a material and fiscal cushion to be affected as the poorest Americans.

In short, I see upper-middles as having plenty of privileges in present day America, and I don't see that changing fast, I don't expect it to change in my lifetime.

Posted by: the anti-federalist at October 29, 2009 01:58 PM