US Frontier Mythology Is Alive and Dangerous

By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 31, 2009 8:33 AM CDT
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin jokes with a picnic goers as she serves burgers at the governor's picnic in Anchorage, Alaska Saturday, July 25, 2009.   (AP Photo/Al Grillo)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – Sarah Palin took to the national stage in August 2008, and two weeks later Lehman Brothers collapsed. That's a helpful metaphor, writes Naomi Klein in the Guardian, who sees the former Alaska governor as "the last clear expression of capitalism-as-usual before everything went south." The financial crisis should have voided Palin's belief that Americans can exploit the world as they please—and yet the bailout, "the greatest heist in monetary history," is pushing us back into Palin's world.

Palin's appeal to conservatives was "the lie that perpetual, unending growth is possible on our finite planet," an illusion with roots in both the Bible and the American frontier spirit. Now the economic system that underlies the message of "Drill, baby, drill" is wobbling, but the government is propping it up—with disastrous consequences. "Capitalism can survive this crisis," Klein writes. "But the world can't survive another capitalist comeback."