“This is the most serious financial crisis at least since the 1930s,
if not ever.”

No, this is not a quote dating from 2008, but the words of the governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, on 6 October 2011. In other words, the financial crisis that began in 2008 is far from over, and is going to get worse. This is not news to those who look at economics with a clear head.

SomethingDark, however, is not particularly interested in “news”: the news is mostly a product of the media–entertainment industry, which also has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo of our economic and financial systems. That’s why we explore the complex picture that is the world around us, and deal more comprehensively with issues the media–entertainment and culture industries spoon-feed to us in incoherent fragments – or ignore altogether. These industries urge us instead to abdicate all responsibility, all concern, and to invest our time and energies in the trivia offered to us on a platter, and to invest our very identities in a rampant cult of the celebrity.

In this second issue of SomethingDark webmagazine we address all of the above in some detail. We look at the ongoing financial crisis in a way that examines not only what happened back in 2008, but also the economic, financial and political mechanisms that ensure nothing changes, and that will ensure the American, British, and other major economies will soon be in recession again.

Why? How? The mainstream media will present you with mainstream economics, so we have a critical article that looks at the work of an award-winning non-mainstream economist, Steve Keen, who has no love for the patently bogus economic theory that is ruining our economies and lives. This critique piece complements our review of Charles Ferguson’s vitally important film, Inside Job. So Inside Job débuted last year? It doesn’t matter to us because we are unaffected by the mass-content-driven mentality of the mainstream media: the film is even more important now than it was in 2010, and we do it justice with our own value-added research.

'Tabloid culture' is a well-established term, but our second,
principal feature takes the argument further by advocating
a much broader model: the tabloid ecosystem.

Those uninterested in knowing how our governments and central banking authorities are beholden to a corrupt financial services industry and a moribund economic system will be advised to return to their favourite television talent quest, or to pick up their favourite popular newspaper.

Which brings us to our nonfiction features. We have two in-depth articles that were well advanced in their preparation when the News of the World phone-hacking scandal entered public consciousness in July. We can refer to Scottish poet Robbie Burns’ “best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men” – as John Steinbeck did for Of Mice and Men, his 1937 novel set in the Great Depression (how appropriate!) – but the result is, we believe, at the forefront of analysis of what goes well beyond a crisis of ethics in the British press. And we are not just referring to the more-than-likely spread of the scandal to News Corp’s US operations.

Our first feature provides background for the companion piece that follows by presenting a detailed case study of one of the most outrageous violations of personal privacy ever committed by a media organisation: the News of the World’s 2008 exposé of Max Mosley. This case has lost none of its poignancy and alarm-bell value, and indeed has found new relevance in light of the current scandals. “Tabloid culture” is a well-established term, but our second, principal feature takes the argument further by advocating a much broader model that includes not only the general media, but also the celebrity culture industry and “key elements of the political system and institutions of state, including the police”. This model, the tabloid ecosystem, is more sweeping and insidious in its implications. Then our regular columnist, Eugène Satyrisci, takes up the baton in his critique piece. He does so in his usual provocative but entertaining style with reference to the French cultural theorist Guy Debord, providing context for the shocking, scandal-ridden scenarios outlined in the main feature.

Why is SDk concerned with such issues? For the same reasons we like our contributors – especially artists and photographers, who might not normally have such an opportunity – to write on broader issues of life and culture, including the social, the political, and the economic.