Andre M. Chang/Zuma Press
In our hyper-partisan, post-truth world, everything is a Rorschach test.
Trump supporters see election results they don’t like and see nothing but fraud, collusion and theft. Democrats can see two sets of riots and see treason and rebellion in one and peaceful protest and urgent calls for justice in the other. Teachers’ unions can draw on data showing that the risk of being infected with the virus is steadily decreasing and that it poses a deadly threat to the health of their members. Almost the entire media class can watch a New York governor account for the highest Covid-19 death toll in the country, exacerbated by the arrogant dictates of his own government, and see a hero of ruthless foresight and skill.
That’s the way it goes with the big
Because censorship is the last terrifying threat in the age of the mob. The spectacle of individual investors freely congregating on a public social media platform to reverse the risky bets of hedge fund managers was too much for the most sensible Wall Street titans and their followers.
Detail of free speech
Some commentators have compared Reddit’s rebels to flash mobs raiding a grocery store. A former Securities and Exchange Commission commissioner said the incident was reminiscent of the attack on Capitol Hill on the 6th. January. Forcing an obscure hedge fund into the hands of an obscure lender is, I guess, not as exciting as posing for vendors.
Lecter, but it may be more financially beneficial and less likely to result in a prison sentence.
For those with the right to vote, it was rebroadcast in the chamber of commerce in 1789, 1917 or 2016, depending on your political tastes : An enraged bourgeoisie attacking the corrupt and unscrupulous financial aristocracy; the proletariat throwing off its shackles to overthrow its capitalist oppressors; or enraged Americans and workers using their stimulus checks to vote against the corrupt establishment of the big technology companies on Wall Street.
I challenge you to find another event in modern politics that would make the Republic of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and
Senator Ted Cruz.
Your brief moment
The courtesy (which quickly ended with the former’s insane claim that the latter nearly killed me) could be the perfect summary of our current situation: A New York socialist and a Texas conservative see the full confirmation of their ideology in the same messy inkwell.
The tendency to be outraged by what one imagines to be revealed is closely related to the tendency to see what one wants in complex models of objective reality. Whether it’s the regulatory capital requirements for equity derivative trading platforms, the estimated reproduction rate of a respiratory virus, or the rate at which carbon molecules are absorbed into the atmosphere, you can summarize the default position of talk show hosts and Twitterati with up to 50,000 followers: I don’t understand what’s going on, but I know it justifies everything I said, and I don’t like it at all.
Just because people see completely opposite but equally outrageous things about the same event doesn’t mean they’re all wrong. Logically, half of them could be quite right. But the fury with which commentators and politicians pounce on a new story should make everyone think.
So it should be with the fond memories of GameStop and Robinhood.
Last week’s fascinating moral fable, accompanied by an outrageous story, is the idea of the people against the rulers: When things weren’t going so well for people on Wall Street, the establishment closed ranks.
If that’s true, they were late for their friend’s appointment. By the time Robinhood and others decided to limit trading, GameStop shares had grown 20-fold since the beginning of the year, and many individual traders had made a lot of money. We will undoubtedly learn more about the decision to restrict trading, but it is not surprising that changes in the volume and price of some of these shares pose serious capital and liquidity problems for the platforms. We have also discovered that the little guys going after hedge funds include some of the best known names in finance. As prices begin to recover, traders may find the excitement of the revolution less appealing than it seemed last week. In addition, last week’s sharp drop in stock prices may be due to an increase in institutional selling in response to the tightening.
No one is shedding tears for the financial elite at the head of a corrosive system that has produced unsustainable inequalities for too long. If the Reddit revolution adds a new element of risk on the road to greater prosperity, all is well.
But beware of persuasive tales of morality. The revolution will not be a flash in the pan.
Newspaper article: What do we learn about the politics of this presidency? Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
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