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Program—1971
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Sediments — 1971 | January 2014

1971
By Adam Kleinman

It’s 14 August 1971, a Saturday, and Richard Milhous Nixon is scared. The President has good reason for fright, tomorrow he goes on TV—his sweaty and sickly appearance during the Kennedy debate broadcast most probably cost him the election, and this must claw at the back of his mind. His next competitor, though, is the ratings game itself; he must preempt Bonanza, TV’s top show. Not ready for primetime, Nixon would rather give his speech during the day; however, the markets open early Monday morning and will not wait for him. Forced to risk alienating at-home viewers, he interrupts the fictional Cartwright Family to talk about gold, real gold. Nixon it turns out is more scared than we think. Before his address, Fort Knox’s store of the shinny stuff backed the dollar, yet Nixon will claim that international money speculation might drain these reserves and cause a run on the bank. To defend the home ranch from outsiders, the commander in chief not only does away with the gold standard, but also puts an end to the Bretton Woods System, a post-war international regulatory mechanism that tied the currencies of several industrialized nations to the US dollar, and by extension, to its gold. From now on, America will simply print its own money on fiat; its legal tender will have no intrinsic value, and thus its gold will be safe. Long before becoming president, Nixon was a young attorney in the tire-rationing division of the World War II-era Office of Price Administration; according to his own words, the experience taught him to dislike price controls. Fortunately for him, his own hand would ultimately deregulate the global economy for years to come. By strange coincidence, “bonanza,” a term derived from the Latin bonus, is an expression used by miners to signal the find of a huge deposit of ore. And although Nixon ended gold convertibility, this and other reforms generally called “Nixon Shock” by historians, began to divine a new form of financial abundance: Neo-liberal markets. In the spirit of such a foundation, join our inaugural Sediments Section and dig into various 1971 events whose legacies continue to surface today.

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Sediments — 1971
All Tomorrow’s Party
Mohammad Salemy
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Sediments — 1971
Property of a Lady
Amy Zion
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Sediments — 1971
The Conquering Worm: Part 1
John Menick
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Sediments — 1971
The re-Jetée: 1971, recurring
Benedict Seymour
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Sediments — 1917
1917
Adam Kleinman
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Sediments — 1995
1995
Adam Kleinman, Orit Gat