There’s Nothing Behind It

            On Monday of this week, in an interview with the BBC, Mr. Alessio Rastani (an independent trader) reportedly was quoted as stating that “Governments don’t rule the world, Goldman Sachs rules the world.” Speculation immediately tried to link him with the Yes Men. That group denied any role in the interview but in turn complimented Rastani on his honesty.

            In Iconoclash, Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel’s show and compilation of essays from 2002, there’s a subheading entitled “The Image Makers Are Image Breakers” in Joseph Koerner’s essay The Icon As Iconoclash. Although the Yes Men are readily cast as “image breakers”, it would be considered unusual to think of people in the rarified strata of high finance as “image makers”. Monday the curtain slipped and the image maker became an image breaker.

            A curious offshoot of this connection is a consideration of the current situation of the American political economy with its deepening financial crisis. Like the Yes Men, the better organized and more efficient element is cast as “image breakers” of what American government is about and how the Constitution has been interpreted. Rarely does the media portray the likes of Perry, Palin, Romney, Bachmann, Boehner, Paul, McConnell, and so many others as “image makers”. Indeed, they themselves would be uncomfortable cast within that role although William Buckley would not have been. Ronald Reagan, emulated as the perfect Conservative politician, was likewise the consummate image maker/image breaker. The iconography of America manufactured by Hollywood was embodied in his person as the Marlboro man/JohnWayne. Image making and image breaking were inseparable (and indistinguishable). Today’s Conservatives cannot slough their coziness with, and dependence on secrecy that the Bush/Cheney years afforded. This is not the Warholian imagery provided by Ronald Reagan. “If you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface of my paintings and films and me, and there I am. There’s nothing behind it.” could just as easily have been said of Ronald Reagan. As the incident with Rastani and the Yes Men confirms, secrecy, disassociation, and the secure undisclosed are of paramount necessity to insure that image breakers are not equated with image makers. Just what is the image being created by the Conservatives in the US?

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