A Hunting We Will Go

Ezra Klein says that the creators of The Wire "are, as best [he] can tell, revolutionary socialists." Radley Balko disagrees and says that what the show actually depicts is hardly a triumph of socialism. Klein replies that Balko misunderstood him, that his only point was that the creators are socialists, not the show.

I don't think writers always try to create something with a particular point in mind. Active intention is rare. Rather, themes emerge within their work based on their worldviews. And the overriding theme of The Wire is one of a deep cynicism towards institutional bureacracies, the most apparent of which in inner city Baltimore are government-run. Well-meaning laws hurt most those they're intended to help. The corrupt and incompetent rise to the top while anyone with a shred of integrity gets caught in the web. Institutions take on a life of their own with enough inertia to resist any attempt at reform. Working nobly within the system becomes a daily struggle.

Some interesting quotes from the HnR comment thread from creator David Simon:

The second season of The Wire, centered around Baltimore's dying port unions, is a meditation on the death of work and the betrayal of the American working class, it is a deliberate argument that unencumbered capitalism is not a substitute for social policy, that on its own, without a social compact, raw capitalism is destined to serve the few at the expense of the many.

As Jesse Walker comments, the only way this quote makes any sense in relation to the show is that Simon has a very different notion of "capitalism" from what libertarians believe. If corrupt cops, labor unions for sale, and ineffectual public schools mean "raw capitalism", then I'll gladly turn in my decoder ring.

Lastly, if you're not watching The Wire, you're missing out on the best show on television.

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