Article – John Spritzler
“Oligarchs, Billionaires, Uber Wealthy are Killing Capitalism–They Are Dangerous,” by Rob Kall, is a wrongheaded and dangerous article. It is typical of others like it that are starting to appear more frequently (by authors such as Robert Reich and …
Beware of Dangerous Articles by Rob Kall of OpEdNews
by John Spritzler
April 27, 2014
“Oligarchs, Billionaires, Uber Wealthy are Killing Capitalism–They Are Dangerous,” by Rob Kall, is a wrongheaded and dangerous article. It is typical of others like it that are starting to appear more frequently (by authors such as Robert Reich and Bill Moyers) as the capitalist class responds to the problem (for it, not for us!) of more and more people realizing that class inequality is the root of our problems.
Rob Kall, in his latest article lamenting that “Oligarchs” etc. are “killing capitalism,” argues that “there are different kinds of capitalism– some that really helped the middle class.” The “good capitalism” that he is referring to is
“Capitalism the way Roosevelt sculpted it, capitalism with 92% top earner tax rates under Dwight Eisenhower– those were capitalist models that worked to raise the middle class and strengthen industry. Capitalism in the 1960s included publicly owned utilities, water companies, public transportation– it was a hybrid of capitalism with socialism– as we now have with medicare and road construction and public schools.”
This is, really, wrongheaded to the point of being just plain stupid. It is wrong on two fundamental counts. #1) It is wrong for not realizing that Roosevelt made all of his New Deal concessions to the working class for one reason only–because he was confronted with an increasingly revolutionary working class rebellion and he felt it was necessary to make such concessions to avoid revolution and to protect the power, wealth and privilege of the capitalist class he represented.
I have written a book about this and a shorter summary article. Here is just one of many similar accounts, in my book and article, of the rebellion that broke out all across the United States–a rebellion that forced FDR to make concessions to save capitalism:
When a longshoremen’s strike in 1934 led to a general strike in San Francisco of 130,000 workers, which spread to Oakland and then up the Pacific Coast, the Los Angeles Times wrote: “The situation in San Francisco is not correctly described by the phrase ‘general strike.’ What is actually in progress there is an insurrection, a Communist-inspired and led revolt against organized government. There is but one thing to be done–put down the revolt with any force necessary.” FDR’s National Recovery Administration chief, General Hugh S. Johnson, went to San Francisco and declared the general strike a “menace to the government” and a “civil war.” [Jeremy Brecher, Strike, South End Press, Boston, Massachusetts, 1997, p. 174., pp. 169-74]
But FDR’s New Deal concessions did not work well enough, which leads to the second reason why Rob Kall’s article is so utterly foolish:
#2) The “good capitalists” are mass murdering warmongers! FDR–Rob Kall’s “good capitalist”–resorted to a full-fledged race war in an effort to quell the rebellion and get American workers to start obeying instead of revolting against the government. The race war was, of course, the “war to kill the japs,” otherwise known as World War II. FDR worked hard to ensure that Japan would attack the United States so he could use their attack as a way of overcoming the huge sentiment in the U.S. against entering another war after the “War to End All Wars” that people now knew was a war to enrich the few at the expense of the naive men who enlisted out of patriotism.
[one of many such WWI era cartoons]
My book and my summary article cited above provide the details. The concluding paragraph in my summary article on this point is:
Ruling elites have known for centuries that when revolution threatens at home desperate measures are required, and the most effective one is to go to war. For example, on the eve of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904 the Russian Czar’s interior minister, Vyacheslav Plehve, declared, “What this country needs is a short victorious war to stem the tide of revolution.” This is the only way to understand the little-known truth about how FDR’s advisors reacted to the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Secretary of War Stimson’s diary entry at 2pm December 7, written after learning from the President about the attack on Pearl Harbor, reads: “Now the Japs have solved the whole thing by attacking us directly in Hawaii…My first feeling was of relief that the indecision was over and that a crisis had come in a way which would unite all our people.” Not shock, but relief. Relief that war would finally force American workers to unite with instead of rebel against America’s rulers.
FDR waged WWII not as a war to defeat fascism but as a war to use “fighting fascism” as a pretext for attacking working class people at home and all over the world who were fighting for greater equality and democracy. This is why, during WWII, FDR attacked the anti-fascist workers in France, Greece, Italy, Yugoslavia, China and the Philippines. This is why FDR refused to support the anti-fascist (and pro-US and anti-Stalin) organization (the “Front of Decent People”) in Germany that repeatedly tried to assassinate Hitler. FDR insisted on “unconditional surrender,” knowing that it made no sense militarily, because it made perfect sense from the point of view of keeping a race war going as long as possible. Thus, as I write in my book:
“The cost in the lost lives of working class soldiers exacted by the Allied leaders’ insistence on unconditional surrender is staggering. In the months before the June 6, 1944 D-day Allied invasion of Europe at Normandy, Admiral Canaris, a high ranking German intelligence officer who secretly opposed Hitler, “leaked vital intelligence to the British and Americans, including the German army’s order of battle, an invaluable insight into the Wehrmacht’s intentions.” Canaris offered “the support of General Rommel for a bloodless conquest of the western front if the Anglo-Americans would give the slightest sign of a disposition for an armistace…The British reply: there was no alternative to unconditional surrender.” [source: Thomas Fleming, The New Dealers' War: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the War Within World War II, Basic Books (Perseus Books Group), New York, 2001, pp. 373-4]
(Keep this in mind the next time you watch Saving Private Ryan.)
For Rob Kall to hold FDR up as an example of “good capitalism” is about as stupid and wrongheaded as can be. (He also holds up Eisenhower as a “good capitalist,” the absurdity of which is discussed briefly here.) Capitalism is the name of class inequality in the modern world. It had different names (and modes of operation) in earlier times: feudalism and slavery for example. In earlier times going back at least to the English Peasant Rebellion of 1381 and the 1525 German Peasants Revolt and the Diggers in England of 1640s, the oppressed have-nots have fought to end class inequality. They fought to abolish class inequality, not to make it “good class inequality.”
The “good capitalism” that people like Rob Kall yearn for is what I call “Mom and Pop” capitalism, about which I have written here. “Mom and Pop” capitalism (or what the libertarians call “a republic” when they call for “A Republic, Not an Empire”), is a social system based on accepting as perfectly legitimate (even if not, perhaps, glorifying) the core values of capitalism–compete to make a profit and become richer than others. This is a social system based on values that are the opposite of the values of egalitarianism, which are equality (in the “no rich and no poor” sense) and mutual aid (not competition, which is relegated to sports and games). “Good capitalism,” by whatever name, is a social system based on the values that legitimize class inequality.
What happens in such a social system? Class inequality grows larger and larger, because those who become (through luck or cleverness) at first just a little bit richer have in consequence a little bit more power (since money is power in this society), and they use that “little bit more” power to become even richer, and more powerful, and it ends up with a dictatorship of the rich and wars based on lies and all the terrible things that the few haves need to do to prevent the many have-nots from making the world more equal and democratic and to prevent the have-nots from taking away the unjust power and privilege enjoyed by the few haves. It becomes what we have today. No surprise! That’s what happens when people fail to solve the problem at its root.
Rob Kall and his ilk of pro-capitalists are dangerous. They try to persuade us to fight for a kind of “good” class inequality instead of fighting to abolish class inequality. They are like those in the slavery years of the United States who, instead of calling for the abolition of slavery, called for making it less abusive and kinder. Thus Kall paints a picture of a less abusive and kinder capitalism with these words, designed precisely to appeal to the egalitarian sentiments of his target audience:
“We will live in a future not that far away, where a hybrid socialist capitalist culture shares justice for all, including the environment, where the most successful people are noted for doing the most good, not grabbing the most.”
It’s as if a liberal (but not an abolitionist) in the slavery years were to call for “a hybrid slave wage” society in which plantation owners are noted for “doing the most good, not grabbing the most” and the slaves are treated with “justice for all” (I guess getting only a “just” number of whip lashings when they run away.)
People like Kall are the enemies of egalitarianism. Egalitarianism (discussed here) is the solution to our pressing problems AT THE ROOT; it is the abolition of class inequality. It is a society with no rich and no poor, with an economy based on sharing (not buying and selling) among those who work reasonably, who enjoy the right to take for free what they reasonably need or desire (and to have an equal status with respect to scarce things that are rationed according to need by an equitable method determined democratically by the egalitarians of the community, who are the vast majority of people.) Egalitarianism is neither capitalist nor socialist. Socialism and Communism are fundamentally anti-democratic, as discussed here.
You can help build the egalitarian revolutionary movement. Visit PDRBoston.org to see how.