Skip to comments."Scrooge McDuck Capitalism"
Posted on 03/08/2003 7:57:15 AM PST by yankeedame
Ive never quite understood the psychology of capitalist bashers. Ive seen the images of young WTO demonstrators shattering Starbucks windows while wearing Levis and Adidas, drinking Pepsi and coordinating their protests on cell phones. Who do they think will create their favorite goodies if not capitalists? Bureaucrats? Psychic channelers? The Peoples Natural Altruistic Collective Manufacturing Co-op and Poetry Center of Berkeley, California?
And then there are those economic pundits with a tray of Scrabble tiles lined up behind their names who characterize the collapse of Enron as a failure of capitalism. But Enron is not capitalism and capitalism is not Enron.
Maybe all those people learned their economics by burrowing their heads deep into Karl Marx. Or John Maynard Keynes. Some people are just too intellectual for their own good. I learned about capitalism long before Id ever heard of the free market or libertarianism. I learned everything I ever needed to know in my youth, with my head burrowed deep under the bedcovers, reading Scrooge McDuck comic books by flashlight. (That was before I discovered Playboy, of course, which would have made this a bunny tail rather than a Duck Tale.)
As faltering memory permits, it was the 1950s and the particular storyline in mind went something like this:
Donald and his nephews are hoeing weeds in a vegetable garden on Unka Scrooges farm. They look up to see a tornado wrap itself around their rich uncles money bin, towering above the skyline of Duckburg. In seconds, it lifts the building into the air, splits it asunder and rains old McDucks obsquamatillion (thats right, obsquamatillion) dollars onto the citizens below.
(For non-McDuckians, the Richest Duck in the World doesnt trust banks. He keeps all of his money in the form of coins and bills in a windowless three cubic acre money bin/skyscraper where he can dive, swim, and otherwise cavort in it, delighting in its tangible as well as its fungible attributes.)
Im rich, people cry as the twister rains moola down upon them. Ill never have to work again! Donald and his nephews, natch, abandon the vegetable patch to pursue their own share of the manna.
Humbug, mutters Scrooge, who keeps on hoeing. Theyll be back.
People abandon their jobs and rush off to spend their newfound fortunes. One dashes down to a showroom to buy a snazzy new car. I dont have to sell cars anymore, cries the salesman. Im rich!
Others line up at the train station to go on their dream vacations. (Well, its the 50s, remember.) But the trains arent running. And why should they be? The crews are rich. They dont have to work.
Humbug, mutters Scrooge, who keeps on hoeing.
Soon the grocery stores are empty and people are wandering the streets with millions of McDuck bucks in their pockets and dazed looks on their faces. Donald and the boys stumble back to the farm, hungry and disillusioned, and take up their abandoned hoes.
Then a rumor races through the crowd. Theres a farm on the edge of Duckburg thats still growing food!
Get ready, Scrooge warns his nephews.
Hundreds of people line up at the farm, money clenched in their three-fingered cartoon fists, standing in front of signs that proclaim (in 1950s dollars) watermelons $100 ea, Carrots $75 per bunch, Eggs 1 dz. @ $50 ea. (How many remember thats what the @ symbol used to mean?)
Eventually, all returns to normal. The people of Duckburg go back to work and Scrooges money bin is rebuilt, stuffed once again with his obsquamatillion in cash.
And that, after all, is the moral of the Duck Tale. Value resides in productiveness, not in legal tender. Enron was not a failure of capitalism. Enron, as Duckburgians learned, was a failure of greed and corruption, and capitalism did precisely what capitalism is supposed to do it succeeded admirably in punishing greed and corruption with bankruptcy.
Yes, its a shame that all the Enron worker-ducks were punished along with the big ducks in the big puddle, but thats yet another lesson: dont put all your retirement duck eggs in one corporate money bin. Even the irascible McDuck had a productive farm to fall back on.
For simple, readable, easy to understand examples of how the capitalist system actually works (as opposed to how Marx and Keynes claim it works) libertarians laud Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt. For my money, though, you cant beat Capitalism in One Comic Strip by Scrooge McDuck.
- by Garry Reed
Published 15 October 2002
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OK. I did not write that, so it must be one of you two masquerading as the above author?
Righteous indignation is a virtue; but indignation expressed in envy, maliciousness (or both) lies somewhere between vice and vicious.
Source -- Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics.
A lesson that is not lost on hypocrites at the DNC like head rat Terry McAwful (who turned $100k into $18million in personal wealth).
They seek to motivate a political base by pitting people against one another (and tell them that the only one gets rich is by exploiting others).
Such fears are understandable when reading essays that discuss economics and Uncle Scrooge comics. Partly because of this Marxist propaganda book: "How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic" (Ariel Dorfman, Armand Mattelart, David Kunzle)
I even found this course, which while seemingly "exhaustive" (or all encompassing) in it's coverage, still seems to give credence to the Marxist book above just by its inclusion in the course discussion (and title):
Barks, Marx, and Disney
ENG 4953 Senior Seminar
Professor Donald Ault
Course Pack, 3 Volumes, available from Xerographic Copy Center, 927 NW 13th Street
The Comics Journal #227 (Carl Barks Memorial Issue)
This course will focus on an analysis of the entire corpus of writer/artist Carl Barks (1901-2000) and its complex relation to, among other things, the "mythology" and "commodity fetish" aspects of the Disney empire: in Donald Duck animated cartoons (1936-44), comic books (Donald Duck, Uncle Scrooge, Walt Disneys Comics and Stories, 1942-73), oil paintings (1970-97), television shows (Duck Tales, 1987-90), and merchandise (1981-2000). The course will also address the way in which Barkss most famous creationUncle Scrooge McDuckhas been rewritten in the past fifteen years by writer/artist Don Rosa in an attempt to totalize Scrooges "history" into one seamless story. The course will focus primarily on the analysis of Barks visual narrative techniques and their relation to, and subversion of, the theoretical concerns, primarily, of Marxist and Lacanian methodologies. The course will study in depth both the original materials Barks produced (available in the complete Carl Barks Library on reserve and the course pack) and on important and influential studies of his work, including Dorfman and Mattelarts How to read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic (translated by David Kunzle) and Marovelli, Paolini, and Saccamanos Introduction to Donald Duck: Social Phenomenology in the Comics of Carl Barks (translated by John Van Hook), as well as numerous essays by Wagner, Kunzle, Bergquist, Barker, Ault, and others.
One aspect of the course will address the way Dorfman and Mattelart de-materialize labor in at least one important sense by assigning primary (even exclusive) production of Donald Duck comics to an abstract force called "Disney," and the ways, in contrast, that critics of Dorfman and Mattelart=s work have, for the most part, attempted to relocate the authentic source of production of the comics solely at the level of the individual artistry of Carl Barks. Both of these approaches fundamentally miss the essential intersection of (what seems to be) the individual artistic source of the comics and the utter dependence of the comics for success not only on the global distribution and instant recognizability of Disney characters, but also on an audience that is open to consuming the forms of narrative the Disney comics provided. We will analyze these tendencies through the categories of the ideology of homogeneous style, the ideology of homogenous origin, the ideology of inconsequential difference, and the counter-ideology of least difference.
We will also approach Barkss work and its relation to Marxist theory and through (unstable) categories such as the Imaginary, the Symbolic, and the Real as developed by French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan (including rewritings of Lacan in film theory).
We will be viewing video projections of animated cartoons and comic book pages, covers, and related images.
Some examples of possible writing assignments include:
1. Analysis of the differences between the articulation of Disneys Duck characters in the animation shorts and the comic book stories of Carl Barks: for example, what different possibilities of personality or plot structure are exploited in each?
2. Analysis of the differences between Barkss development of the Ducks in the short 10-page stories in Walt Disneys Comics and Stories and in the long Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge adventures.
3. Analyze the differences between Barkss creation of a character and plot structure that allowed for vast discrepancies from story to story and Don Rosas later attempts to integrate Barkss Scrooge plots into a coherent "myth" in The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck.
4. Analysis of the differences between Barkss articulation of his characters (especially Uncle Scrooge) in comic book stories "The Land of Tralla La," "Back to the Klondike," and "Land Beneath the Ground" and the Duck Tales reconstruction of these stories for television animation.
5. Analysis of how the cutting up of the comic book page is related to Lacans categories of the Imaginary, the Symbolic, and the Real, and/or to the way time and space operate in the visual narrative of Barkss comic book stories.
6. Analysis of the visual layout of the page, including the visual roles of the verbal aspects of the page, with special attention to oppositions (vector/directional forces, etc.).
7. Analysis of aspects of the comic page such as:
the relations between the verbal and visual aspects of the page; the relations between these visual/verbal features and what the plot seems to be "about" in terms of conventional narrative and political/economic/psychoanalytic content; how all of these features exist in terms of oppositions, contradictions, or contradictory forces, both within the layout and between the layout and the plot; the extent to which these contradictions (both in form and content) are resolved or not resolved on the page and in the story as a "whole" (the structure of oppositions on the page may not coincide with the structure of oppositions in the plot as a "whole").
Requirements: Short essays, active seminar participation, and a final paper/project.
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