On Robin Hood:

Or Content Co-Op Episode 4: Robin Hood and Little John Walking Through the Forest

Hey there friend. This is your weekly Co-op. We’re glad you came back.

This week’s co-op is named after the cartoon fox in Disney’s 1973 animated classic, Robin Hood—the only Robin Hood we are prepared to acknowledge at OnOne. 

Notes from the Editor:

So here is a brief recap of the GameStop short squeeze saga. Or as it is affectionately known, GameStonk.  

Basically a bunch of Wall Street nerd redditors hatched a plan to execute what is known as a short squeeze against a bunch of Wall Street firms who had placed huge bets against brick and mortar video game retailer GameStop. Their plan worked spectacularly, and almost immediately Wall Street leapt into action to stem the bleeding by simply changing the rules of trading. The retail investment app Robinhood suspended trading on GameStop and several other stocks targeted by the vengeful reddit army. There have even been reports from a few users of the app selling off fully owned shares of GameStop without their permission. 

Progressives in congress like AOC are finding themselves in an unlikely alliance with the libertarian anti-finance right as they demand to know just why big banks and hedge funds should have the ability to reshape the supposedly impartial market when things don’t go their way.  What is more likely to happen is that the Treasury and the Fed will find some combination of regulations that will make it impossible for small guy day traders to do something like this again. 

Some people are heralding GameStonk as the beginning of a new revolution: a spectacle that will awaken the populace to the fact that our seemingly concrete institutions are built on the arbitrary whims of the ruling elite. I’m not sure that will be the case. Take a look at how White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki responds to a question about it:

A few things to note. Seems odd, given our recent history with market instability causing catastrophic economic damage, that a new Democratic president would be so uninterested in a matter of blatant market manipulation. Also, will they be getting everybody back to work before or after we’ve had a majority of Americans vaccinated? Because that’s pretty important. And finally, someone should kill #Psakibombs with fire. But no one will, because good things are prohibited from happening in the worst timeline. 

Of course the Biden administration may not want to weigh in on GameStonk given the close relationship some of its members have with Wall Street (more on that in the links). But it’s clear from the reaction of the media that there’s a desire to label this a selfish and dangerous act of financial anarchists who don’t get it—and to quickly move on. And it’s likely that those who believe that line will get their way. 

I do think this is kind of a big deal though. Not because the day traders at r/WallStreetBets are heroes defending the little guy. Not because this was any sort of victory for the proletariat over capitalism. Everyone involved here is a capitalist, and some of them got very rich. I do not think this will directly lead to the crisis of capitalism that will usher us to our glorious socialist utopia. But what GameStonk does is make two things very clear in the minds of Americans. 

  1. The market is not, in fact, impartial. It is rigged by an elite club of which you’ll never be a member. 

  2. If you get enough people together you can fuck up this club’s operations. 

And this is kind of important because it’s how politics works in our modern times. People aren’t convinced by arguments and facts. They are informed and affected by spectacle. We are in a moment when people know that our social order is bullshit. They feel it in their bones. About half of the country blames our collapsing empire on liberal pedophilic demon-worshiping sex cults and (ahem) cultural Marxism. The other half blames capitalism on a sclerotic gestalt composed of geriatric millionaires running on the fumes of white supremacy and spite.

But what both sides agree on is this: Wall Street is fucking evil. 

History can be viewed as a series of revolutions. When a prevailing social order becomes untenable for a critical mass of people, it tends to be upended from below and replaced with something else. The project of liberalism was to create a society that was immune to revolution. It was possible to maintain a rigid socio-economic hierarchy by convincing people that the hierarchical barriers that existed with capitalism were permeable. Capitalism was treated as both an existential feature of a functioning society and a completely impartial arbiter of value. A company like GameStop is worth what the market says it’s worth. Juicero was worth what the market said it was worth. GameStop employees made to dance for their wages are worth what the market says they’re worth. You are worth what the market says you are worth. 

And while people have known pretty much forever (but especially since the '08 crash) that Wall Street was more or less a rigged casino, GameStonk has given them the idea that they could potentially do something about it. Collectively. In solidarity with each other and against a giant and seemingly untouchable machine. 

This could get interesting.

Links ahoy!

News of the World

So it’s like if you were betting against things happening, and like, they just continued to happen. And then you read about them. 

In which Eoin Higgins and Ryan Grim give us an infuriating update on the Massachusetts Democratic party and the fallout after State Democratic leadership helped to create a homophobic smear campaign against house primary challenger Alex Morse:

Pushing Party for Alex Morse Accountability, Mass. Democrat Is Called “Faggot” (theintercept.com)

In which Alex Shepard explains how the reaction of the financial news media to GameStonk 2021 reveals the core truth of our financial institutions:

What the GameStop Rally Has Revealed About Financial Media | The New Republic

In which Edward Ongweso Jr explains the connection between the Robinhood investment app and financial firm Citadel LLC and why that relationship prompted Robinhood to shut down trading on Gamestop and other companies:

Robinhood’s Customers Are Hedge Funds Like Citadel, Its Users Are the Product (vice.com)

In which Alex Thompson and Theodoric Meyer report on the money that newly minted Treasury secretary Janet Yellen made by giving speeches to Wall Street. In two years she made a total of 7.2 million in speaking fees from a number of large firms, including…..let me just read this right here….ah….well isn’t that interesting…….Citadel LLC:

Janet Yellen made millions in Wall Street, corporate speeches - POLITICO

A Few Peas in a Pod

You hearing what I’m hearing?

In which our favorite media scolds at Citations Needed enlist reporter Jacob Silverman to help them scold the media on the coverage of the GameStonk affair:

News Brief: Finance Media's GameStop Meltdown and the Thin Moral Pretexts of Wall St's Game Rigging by Citations Needed Podcast (soundcloud.com)

In which the very good people at the Bad Faith podcast talk to economics professor and original bae Richard Wolff about a whole mess of things, from third parties to the need for a transition out of capitalism. 

‎Bad Faith: The Red Green (w/ Professor Richard Wolff) on Apple Podcasts

The Internet is a Series of Tubes

Welcome to YouTube; we cannot guarantee that anyone here is wearing pants.

In which Contrapoints uses the occasion of author J.K. Rowling’s prolific transphobia to tease out the relationship between trauma and bigotry:

J.K. Rowling | ContraPoints - YouTube

In which absolute snack Richard Wolff pulls double duty this week and investigates if capitalism actually helps to ameliorate poverty:

Does Capitalism Actually Reduce Poverty? (with Richard Wolff) - YouTube

Notes from the Editor (a reprise):

Nothing really to say here but have a great weekend and as always…

Solidarity Forever.