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Diego Rivera and the 2008 Economic Crisis

The recent specter of the Great Depression and the media centrality of the American auto industry make Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry Murals useful for the current debate on market (de)regulation, auto unions, and the economic recession. As in the early 1930s, Detroit and the American auto industry are once again at the forefront of national news. The future of the Big Three teeters unsteadily between a public frustration with government bailouts and the persistent threat of a full-fledged economic collapse. Many have noted the double standard of a congress that passes a no-strings-attached handout to corporate bankers but cannot pass a loan to save an estimated 7 million blue-collar jobs[1]. Congress republicans have taken the opportunity to wage a class war on unions, demanding concessions of the UAW that would effectively reduce benefits and wages to that of non-unionized autoworkers. While congress republicans push for a ‘shock doctrine’ approach the problem, Democrats hope to get one last boost from the public disgust of bank ‘gambling’ that first spurred the economic downturn. In the midst of this debate, we ask: “What would Diego Rivera say about the auto industry crisis and the broader recession?"