“Any given accumulation of commercial wealth may be indicative, on the one hand, of faithful industries, progressive energies, and productive ingenuities: or, on the other, it may be indicative of mortal luxury, merciless tyranny, ruinous chicanery.” John Ruskin (8 February 1819 – 20 January 1900)
Trying to find any kernel of wisdom following the news media is a little like trying to get to the nectar of Jesus Christ by reading Sinclair Lewis’s “Elmer Gantry” or studying the Vatican’s account books. Difficult, rare, but sometimes it happens: suddenly, lo and behold, someone as unlikely as Lance Armstrong comes along to teach us how to distinguish price from value.
With Lance, we might even be looking at a good teaching illustration of Marx’s “use value” versus “exchange value” or especially “commodity fetishism“.
There are certainly plenty of people around who have stolen — are stealing — more than Lance, have lied — are lying — more than Lance, bullied the vulnerable more than Lance, but few provide such a clear and simple story of lying, bullying, cheating, defrauding and stealing as Lance does. It is a simple story and unlike Wall Street, it’s easy to understand and follow and Americans just love stories.
Lance has made a lot of money… and not only for himself… ask Nike and Anheuser-Busch or ask any kid that bought an overpriced jersey, shoes or a helmet just because Lance wore them.
His victories have been declared officially valueless, but he can still make a lot of money for himself and you can still make money by chasing his wheels up the shit-hill where he now reigns… just ask Oprah.
There is a book here and probably a film to be made from it… Who will play Lance?
Really, nothing could be simpler than Lance himself, the world is filled with mean, hard faced, sociopathic assholes like him, they only differ from him in that they can’t go up a hill as fast, even doped… it is the rest of us and our reactions to Lance Armstrong’s story that are complicated.