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Naked Capitalism: A Bastion of Straight Talk

This is Naked Capitalism fundraising week. 828 donors have already invested in our efforts to shed light on the dark and seamy corners of finance. Please join us and participate via our Tip Jar, which shows how to give via credit card, debit card, PayPal, or check. Read about why we’re doing this fundraiser, what we’ve accomplished in the last year, and our current target.

Yves here. I’m particularly gratified to have this fundraising post from diptherio, an active and well-respected member of the Naked Capitalism commentariat. Diptherio has only occasionally, and sketchily mentioned his background: that he was formerly in politics and gave it up to build a small school in Nepal, where he lives now.

That sort of impulse, to make a positive difference in the world around you, is what I believe has drawn many of you to this site. But unlike diptherio, many feel stymied by the seeming powerlessness of citizens, of the way the elites are taking income, wealth, opportunity, and perhaps the most precious commodity, hope, from the rest of us. So this site has become one of the places where people come to understand how our economy and society are being restructured. That understanding is a necessary precondition of determining what countermeasures are viable.

I have no doubt that many of you are doing what you can in your own environment, with how you bring up your children, care for aging parents, carry yourself at work and with friends, to have a positive impact. Yet if you have become aware of the larger forces grinding down on ordinary people, these efforts may seem inadequate.

While it is tempting to fall prey to despair and paralysis, and tell yourself that it is foolish to think that individual action can make a difference in the face of powerful oppressors, it’s important to remember that human existence is an exercise in cognitive dissonance, that we stare down inevitable defeat every day of our existence.

In the Mahabharata, Yudhisthira and his brothers have been tasked to find a deer with mystical powers. They camp but are thirsty. Yudhisthira sends one of his siblings to find some water. When he does not return, another brother is dispatched, and again does not return. This process repeats until Yudhisthira himself goes looking for his missing brothers.

He finds them all dead next to a pond.

In despair, but still parched, he is about to drink, but a crane tells him he must answer
some questions first. They are all metaphysical in nature. The last and most difficult: “What is the greatest wonder of the world?”

Yudhisthira answers, “Day after day, hour after hour, countless people die, yet the
living believe they will live forever.”

The crane reveals himself to be the Lord of Death. After some further discussion, he revives the brothers.

Even though we all recognize the finality of death, one of the ways we keep that knowledge at bay is through engagement in our day-to-day activities. And one of the most powerful things we can do is to have an impact on others, whether by teaching, or serving as a role model, or improving the environment around us. And in times like these, where the intellectual and political commons looks so diseased, it seems more urgent than it would at other periods in history to have an impact on the larger structures of society.

We provide a small but hopefully useful vehicle for taking that type of action. The last forty years illustrates how influencing ideas and social values in turn shifts political and economic structures. What is deemed to be possible, reasonable, and desirable is too often the result of ideology and unexamined prejudice, as the fealty towards vague, unattainable abstractions like “free markets” and “free trade” attests.

That is why acting solely in the political realm seems like an exercise in futility. If someone who was truly dedicated to doing the right thing and by virtue of their character and economic position was not corruptible wound up in a powerful political position, they’d almost certainly be rendered ineffective. Their best hope would be to use their office as a bully pulpit, rather than to aspire to implement lasting policy changes.

We are part of an effort to take the intellectual commons back. We seek to arm readers with information and arguments that you can take forth into your various communities to educate friends, family, and colleagues. Our comments section allows you to share ideas and sharpen your persuasion skills. And despite our general doubts about the political system, we still believe there is value in making your views known to elected officials and regulators, as well as other powerful voices in your community, via letters to the editor of your local paper or calls to local radio and television stations. These measures not only counter the impression they get from the national media, that popular opinion skews center-right (when polls consistently show that progressive ideas like preserving Social Security enjoy majority support) but also serves to help flex political muscles (and even more important in this regard is direct involvement in local and state politics).

So I hope that you’ll consider, if you haven’t already, putting some dollars towards the Naked Capitalism fundraiser. If you can’t afford much, give only a few bucks. If you can afford more, give more. If you can afford to give a lot, give a lot. This isn’t just giving, it’s a statement that you are want a different debate, a different society, and a different culture.

By diptherio, a regular Naked Capitalism commentor

There is little that bureaucrats hate more than innovation, especially innovation that produces better results than the old routines. Improvements always make those at the top of the heap look inept. Who enjoys appearing inept?

―Frank Herbert, Heretics of Dune

The problem with our mainstream media outlets, from NPR to Fox News, is that they have become bureaucratized. While I admit that I have never been employed at a mainstream media outlet, and have no personal knowledge of their inner workings, I nonetheless feel confident in making this assertion on the basis of their output. As a wandering preacher once said, “You shall know them by their fruits.”

Organizations that have fallen prey to what Tjeerd Andringa calls “bureaucratic syndrome” can be recognized by a number of common characteristics. Some of the key properties of bureaucratized organizations include:

• The societal goals of the organization are adhered to in name only, but neither understood nor clearly implemented;
• Stimulating sameness and oneness through standardization and obedience;
• A favoring of form and a complete disregard for content.

So you see my point…

Our legacy media sources have placed the journalistic principles of truthfulness, objectivity, accuracy, and accountability on a pedestal – a very high pedestal — where they can be worshiped from afar without interfering in the profit-making and influence-peddling which is the actual, as opposed to stated, purpose of these institutions. It’s a sad state of affairs, to be sure, and one that might lead a person to great wailing and gnashing of teeth if it weren’t for the occasional light in the darkness, the infrequent beacons of sanity rising high above the fog of bullshit and obfuscation.

One of those beacons, dear friends, is this here website.

Now, I could just leave it at that and say what we all already know: Naked Capitalism tells it like it is and that alone is reason enough to throw some dough Yves’ way. There are plenty of people out there willing to subsidize lies, as our mainstream media so ably demonstrates, the question is, who is going to subsidize the truth?

Sure, I could leave it at that, but Naked Capitalism is so much more than just a bastion of straight talk. Yves has created a news organization, small though it may be, that is in every way the antithesis of the old guard. Where the MSM is bureaucratic, NC (to use Andringa’s terminology) is libertarian; where the big boys concern themselves with appearances, Yves’ focus is on content; where the corporate media rewards uniformity, Yves encourages diversity. Not only is Yves a truth-teller, but she is also a model of non-authoritarian leadership—and Naked Capitalism is the proof of what such leadership can catalyze.

Andringa notes that when organizations succumb to bureaucratization and mediocracy, 


…inevitably the rigidity and self-serving properties of the formal hierarchy lead to informal parallel structures [that] realize above-average quality…

That’s what NC is: a parallel structure realizing above-average quality. You appreciate that, right? It enriches your day while it feeds your mind, doesn’t it? Then reach for that checkbook, and don’t be shy with the zeroes either. To quote Andringa again:

Where authoritarian organizations realize stasis and mediocracy, [non-bureaucratic] organizations realize personal growth, institutional excellence, and with that effective contributions to the wider society. [emphasis added]

When Naked Capitalism uncovers stories like the Independent Foreclosure Review scandal or the shenanigans at CalPERS, society as a whole benefits. So don’t just write that check for yourself, write it for all of us.

But it’s not just the investigative journalism and the lucid explanations of complex financial scams…er, products…that makes NC so unique: it’s also the willingness to brook dissent, to encourage dialogue and participation, and to model respectful disagreement. More than just a news source, Naked Capitalism is a culture and a community —one divided by oceans and scattered across time-zones, but a community nonetheless — united by a love of knowledge, the thrist for truth, and a common desire to create a more just and equitable world.

There are multiple ways to give. The first is here on the blog, the Tip Jar, which takes you to PayPal. There you can use a debit card, a credit card or a PayPal account (the charge will be in the name of Aurora Advisors).

You can also send a check (or multiple post dated checks, if you want to spread out payments) in the name of Aurora Advisors Incorporated to

Aurora Advisors Incorporated
903 Park Avenue, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10075

Please also send an e-mail to yves@nakedcapitalism.com with the headline “Check is in the mail” (and just the $ en route in the message) so we can count your contribution in the total number of donations.

In Naked Capitalism, Yves has created a non-authoritarian, non-bureaucratic, virtual space for the exchange of ideas and information. We’ve all had a chance to grow and learn because of it. If that’s as important a thing to you as it is to me, find that donate button and do your part to keep this beacon alight.

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10 comments

  1. trish

    Naked Cap, Thanks again for helping keep me from the clutches of despair and paralysis. And thanks for this post.

    But Yves, re “If someone who was truly dedicated to doing the right thing and by virtue of their character and economic position was not corruptible wound up in a powerful political position, they’d almost certainly be rendered ineffective.”

    Perhaps some last vestige of childlike naivete in me amid the cynicism, but I’d accept this fully IF we’d had that person, that had happened.

    and re Diptherio “The problem with our mainstream media outlets…is that they have become bureaucratized.”

    One of the problems, yes. But can’t neglect corporate co-option and the fact that many of the ”big guys” of the media are just a wee bit too close to those over whom they’re supposed to be acting as watchdogs. They’re part of the same beltway club.

    And the revolving door problem includes the media, if to a lesser extent. Members of the media have become part of administrations or gotten lucrative jobs in corporate/finance. Or their spouses work in the latter. Again, too close to what and whom they’re supposed to be covering. And the same interests, not necessarily the interests of the public outside the club.

    In the past I’ve heard some blame the problems with our government on bureaucracy, when the main problem is capture by corporations, particularly the finance industry.

    That said, “More than just a news source, Naked Capitalism is a culture and a community.” Indeed! And Bravo, Diptherio, one of the particularly astute commenters who makes the site so attractive to those less so, like me.

    1. Calgacus

      Trish: On “If someone who was truly dedicated to doing the right thing and by virtue of their character and economic position was not corruptible wound up in a powerful political position, they’d almost certainly be rendered ineffective. Their best hope would be to use their office as a bully pulpit, rather than to aspire to implement lasting policy changes.”

      You’re right. Skepticism of dubious defeatism is not childlike naivete. Such a person as preznit could do a lot. Nothing implements lasting policy changes better than a bully pulpit.

    1. diptherio

      Again and again…it was good the first time right?

      And Mikey, my man, you gonna be in the NYC area between Oct 19th and Nov. 13th? I’m coming to visit again!

      1. MikeNY

        Ach, my Abelard, my Pyramus! I am on the left coast until December 2 (*tears and rent garments*).

        Surely the Fates will one day relent, and we’ll meet…

  2. Peter Pan

    Naked Capitalism is my primary go to new source. All other news sources pale in comparison. Keep up the good work.

  3. susan the other

    Private capital is almost by its very definition the evidence that capitalism is dead. It might just as well be the equivalent of “private socialism” which is instantly recognized as a blatant oxymoron. And here we all sit wondering what the next stage of our “economy” is going to be. Hint: it is right in front of our noses. We are the energy of the nation.

    1. craazyman

      can I borrow some money?

      Jesus Yves preamble is depressing as hell. whoa, where the Xanax already? I mean really. what is this crazy shit about “The Lord of Death”. it sounds like Big Bird to me. Big Bird from Sesame Street. Who makes this shit up? I’m glad I donated already or I’d be like “I would donate but I’m too depressed, thinking about death and dying and the end of life and time. Why is anything worth doing? Even answering the question is a waste of time.” hahahahahahahahah

      Holy Smokes, that’s why there’s Youtube! What’s an “ordinary person” anyway. That’s something a Manhattan snob would say. An ordinary person. It was strange I encountered that phrase here right after thinking about Billy the Kid in that one photo with that Irish face and boots and ammo belt, and then the 1870s and then President Lincoln and then Walt Whitman and then Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, one after the other strung like beads in a flash of time, and then that part in Stanzza 10 about “Curious what Gods can exceed these that clasp me by the hand, and with voices I love call me promptly and loudly by my nighest name as I approach; Curious what is more subtle than this which ties me to the woman or man that looks in my face,” He was a little florid, but that was how they wrote back then.

      It’s worth it anyway. It’s pretty good. Crossing Brooklyn Ferry and what he says about time and immortality and the extraordinary wonder of something as plain as the sun on the East River. Ordinary people? That’s the lie the media tells people about themselves. That politics tells people, that business tells people, that advertising says, that obsequious roaring lie. People get hypnotized and they forget how extraordinary everything is, just to look at it and wonder. That’s extraordinary every time, just doing that. Give your money too. If even one person recovers the ability to think for themselves and wonders, it’ll be worth it.

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