Web Letters | The Nation

Kalkstein: shocked!

Mr. Kalkstein's insight amounts to a discovery that there is gambling at Rick's. As even a cursory familiarity with Clover's (or David Harvey's) writings reveals, he is hardly unaware of the demise of the gold standard. Indeed, he clearly intends it as part of the account of what happened in the 1970s—it is obviously linked to the collapse of the price signal. What Mr. Kalkstein will not uncover, with or without Hayek's help, is what led policy makers to resort to the Nixon shock in the first place. To learn that, he might reread Clover's piece.

Michael Robbins

Chicago, IL

Sep 20 2010 - 3:26pm

Something happened, all right

Mr. Clover: How very odd. You start off with Friedrich Hayek who, were he still alive, might have explained to you precisely what was that "world-changing" "something" that "happened in the 1970s." Which was not what you say it was. What happened involves a word you do use in a couple places in your piece, the second time obliviously quoting a friend: "Marxism is like gold" (emphasis added). What happened, happened in 1971. Nixon severed the last link between currency and gold, thereby removing the optimal market "regulator," blowing price signals to kingdom come.

Steve Kalkstein

El Cerrito, CA

Sep 3 2010 - 9:13pm

Don't downplay greed

Joshua Clover's essay on the financial crisis is brilliant. Not only can the man write, he can see. I shall forward this essay to many of my friends. However, Mr. Clover's apparent dismissal of greed as the motivating force beyond the recent capitalist cataclysm is arguable. I say this because greed itself--surely a major constituent of our human texture--is the issue of ego. Descartes' Ego cogito, ergo sum is the battle cry of the European "Enlightenment," and in this, Descartes preaches an echo of Christian theology: Jesus Christ died for our sins, and so we are ultimately redeemed or, as our anthem says, "Conquer we must, for our cause it is just." And as Levi-Strauss, I think it was, pointed out, to know a people, we must know its gods. And 6 o'clock TV informs us, time and time again, that "You deserve this $1,000 Wide-Screen TV!" I'm here suggesting that we really believe this. In short, our ineluctably bizarre sense of our manifest destiny to obtain whatever is offered to us that tickles our fancy seems to me to be the ultimate support for our refusal to face the gangsta-rap music of ego-driven greed.

Richard Burnett Carter

Havre de Grace, MD

Sep 3 2010 - 8:38am