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In fact, Simon insists that he is a liberal, that the rise of sociopath Marlow Stanfield reflects the logical progression of capitalism and that the Greek, the ruthless crimes boss who imports Baltimore’s drugs and kills without remorse, embodies pure capitalism. Here one begins to suspect that Simon doesn’t quite understand what that word — capitalism — means. By definition it refers to voluntary exchanges in a free market of competing non-monopolies, largely unencumbered by government regulations that limit supply or trigger black markets.
The Greek deals in coercive exchanges in a black market on which he has a near-monopoly that is enforced through violence. One could easily create a caricatured capitalist to stand in for the free market’s worst tendencies; but the Greek isn’t that character.
TO BE FAIR, Simon might argue that textbook capitalism, where everyone is free from coercion, is fantasy in the real world, where players are always jockeying for position and power, wielding it over adversaries when they can. The Wire exists within a capitalistic America, he might say, and just look at all the problems that plague our cities!
That problems exist in our country hardly proves, absent other arguments, that capitalism is their root cause. Elsewhere in interviews Simon is known to say, not unreasonably, that his show resembles a Greek tragedy in many ways, which makes it all the more perplexing that he imagines power-seeking, selfishness, corruption and exploitation as capitalistic vices. These human flaws have been with us since the Greeks, indeed before them, and long before the rise of global capitalism. No country is without ruthless players, corrupt officials and unfair outcomes, even today.
We should be grateful to Simon for his creation, whatever our disagreements. He has tried his hardest to render reality, and has succeeded in convincing us his Baltimore is real, even though we may disagree deeply about how to make sense of it. As this conversation continues, spurred over time by Americans who discover The Wire on DVD, conservatives and libertarians ought to continue insisting that capitalism isn’t the root of Baltimore’s problems, in fact or in David Simon’s fiction.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?