Naked Capitalism: Your Stable Ship in the Stormiest of Stormy Seas


By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

The historical fiction writer Patrick O’Brian, in The Far Side of the World (tenth in the Aubrey-Maturin series, set during the Napoleonic Wars) describes how a British 28-gun frigate, the HMS Surprise, survives a typhoon (and if you’ve simply been procrastinating, you can skip directly to the Donations page):

The horizon all round was a blackish purple and over the whole sky there rolled great masses of cloud in a deep copper color, moving in every direction with a strange unnatural speed; lightning flashed almost continually in every part and the air was filled with the tremble of enormous thunder, far astern but traveling nearer.

The topgallants had already been struck down on deck and all hands were now busy securing the boards on the booms with double gripes, sending up preventer stays, shrouds, braces and backstays, clapping double-breechings onto the guns, covering the forehatch and scuttles with tarpaulins and battening them down.

If your gripes are doubled — mine certainly are — the Tip Jar is to your right.

On deck all hell broke loose as they were striking in the maintopmast half an hour later; the preventer top-rope reeved through the fid-hole parted at the very moment a deluge of warm rain beat down on the ship, so thick they could scarcely breathe, much less see. From that time on until full darkness and beyond it was an incessant battle with mad blasts of wind from every direction, thunder and lightning right overhead, unbelievably steep seas that made no sense at all, bursting with such force that they threatened to engulf the ship….It was not until sunset that the weather began to have a direction and some sort of meaning. The whirling turning formless blasts passed…

It was a hard blow, a very, very hard blow, with a dangerous following sea; but it was what they were used to in their calling, and compared with the maniac day it was a positive relief.

That typhoon, dear readers, is what the media environment has felt like to me — and I am sure to many of you — over the past year, at least. “All hell broke loose.” “Mad blasts of wind.” “Strange unnatural speed.” “Made no sense at all.” (If you were waiting to donate until I actually brought the metaphor home, the Tip Jar is over there.)

Alarms and excursions, moral panics, memes and virality, stories from once-respected venues that have turned out to be false, down to the details. Engineered narratives. Complex fabrications. Outright lying. Well-funded shouting heads who have lost their minds. Intelligence officials posing as pundits, and making out very well indeed for it. (And, far away from the storm, echoing silence in so many newsrooms whose publishers got eaten up by Google, Facebook, or the locust plague of private equity.) Then, just as we think the storm has calmed, the horizon darkens again, and a new episode of shrieking, whirling wind begins.

Naked Capitalism has retained its balance through all these storms, like a well-architected and weatherly naval ship should do. It has been difficult, but we have done it. There is no need for me to list the media typhoons where critical thinking skills, subject matter expertise, rapid response, penchant for detail, and propensity for being “right and early” have kept us stable and enabled us to keep on course. Covid. RussiaGate. The Democrat or Republican scandal du jour. The onrushing Jackpot. (And then there are the stories that the typhoons overwhelm, but we salvage: Strikes. CalPERS. The Bezzle. And the continued warmongering machinations of The Blob.)

Naked Capitalism is a very small ship in a very large and very stormy ocean, and, like any ship, needs constant maintenance and care. (The Tip Jar beckons.)

However, Naked Capitalism is not made from wood, canvas, hemp, tar, copper, or oakum. Nor is Naked Capitalism made from digits coursing over cables, or stored on disk. Naked Capitalism is a community made from writers and readers, whether posting, commenting, doing Links, sharing links, or passing reading on to other readers. Some read and write a lot; others read and write a little. All are important, and the small (like the “preventer top-rope reeved through the fid-hole”) and the large (“the mainmast”) are both important; the ship will founder unless all its parts are whole and sound. So, if you must, please give a little. If you can, please give a lot. Won’t you help keep Naked Capitalism stable and on course?

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