Friday, September 16, 2011

BLOOD MERIDIAN : Cormac McCarthy's Critique of Capitalism

One of the themes of Blood Meridian is the fundamental nihilism inherent in all ideologies of power: Manifest Destiny (most obviously in Captain White's ill-fated filibustering expedition); imperialism; capitalism; Christian morality. When the Glanton gang commandeers a Colorado River ferry late in Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy gives us a little allegory of the nihilistic contradictions of capitalism. Here's the relevant passage:

...Glanton took charge of the operation of the ferry. People who had been waiting three days to cross at a dollar a head were now told that the fare was four dollars. And even this tariff was in effect for no more than a few days. Soon they were operating a sort of procrustean ferry where the fares were tailored to accommodate the purses of the travelers. Ultimately all pretense was dropped and the immigrants were robbed outright. Travelers were beaten and their arms and goods appropriated and they were sent destitute and beggared into the desert. The doctor came down to remonstrate with them and was paid his share of the revenues and sent back. Horses were taken and women violated and bodies began to drift past the Yuma camp downriver... (262)

If Glanton and the boys were alive today, they would be oil company executives. Come to think of it, ex-Exxon CEO Lee Raymond does look a bit like a slightly more hirsute Judge Holden:
Lee Raymond: former Exxon CEO, Jabba the Hut impersonator
Well, the Judge told us he would never die, didn't he?

1 comment:

Joe Miller said...

This might be relevant: