Diary

Oh Dear! Robert Reich Thinks Trump Isn't a Real Marxist

A coterie of academics have taken to setting their credibility on fire to roast The Donald for easier chewing. None has been more diligent than U.C. Berkeley’s Robert Reich (AKA the rapper “Lil’ Marx”).

Hardly a week goes by without Lil’ Marx hating on reality via some left-wing organ of pseudo-journalism. Lil’ Marx opinionated in Newsweek the other day that President Trump has “turned his back on the working class.” He raps:

Most incumbent Republicans and GOP candidates are mimicking Trump’s economic nationalism. As Stephen Bannon boasted recently, “We’ve turned the Republican Party into a working-class party.” Keeping the GOP the Party of Big Money while making it over into the Party of the Working Class is a tricky maneuver, especially at a time when capital and labor are engaged in the most intense economic contest in more than a century because so much wealth and power are going to the top.

Lil’ Marx is stuffing a straw man here. There’s a WORLD of difference between “a working-class party” and “the Party of the Working Class.” The first is a party comprising people who work for a living. But Lil’ Marx tries to shuffle words around to make it sound like Republicans are rebranding themselves as a Marxist labour-type outfit; then takes the president to task for betraying the proletariat.

Because, you know, Trump’s been trying to fool us all with his fake Marxist credentials, and Lil’ Marx won’t let him away with THAT.

The Democrats have eagerly taken up the language of class warfare of late. Everything gets framed in terms of “The Rich” versus “Non-Evil People.” Like a good soldier of the Revolution, Lil’ Marx throws everything in the same two gigantic, meaning-free baskets to carry the discussion where he wants to go.

Lil’ Marx’s incisive point about power and money going to “the top” fascinates me. See, I had always defined “the top” as those who possess wealth and power. To my crude and narrow conservative mind, his statement is a tautology: e.g., “… capital and labor are engaged in the most intense economic contest in more than a century because so much wealth and power are going to those with so much wealth and power.”

Really?? Shocking. When your enlist in the ranks of class warfare, I guess tautologies become revelatory.

It’s quaint to hear Lil’ Marx talk about the economic contest between “capital and labor.” I thought the train wreck of communism/totalitarianism during the last century made this false dichotomy obsolete among people who can read. But Lil’ Marx keeps on banging that old drum. Perhaps no one told him we live in a service economy now. Anyway, I am grateful. Most of the stuff on TV isn’t very entertaining, and he keeps me laughing.

Like the proverbial broken clock, Lil’ Marx gets it right on two points. In a previous professional incarnation, I worked in investment. The unalloyed greed and criminal malfeasance I saw among investment banks and institutional investors –both Democrat and Republican–made me leave in disgust. As far as I could tell, Federal law enforcement were doing next to nothing to punish white-collar crime in high finance. So-called prosecutors just meted out a wrist slap here and there, then went on MSNBC to congratulate themselves.

But I take a different approach than Lil’ Marx. Before forcibly retooling our economy to socialism and allowing the state to implement trillion-dollar redistribution schemes, how about we enforce the laws we already HAVE and see what happens? I suspect that, if we get all redistribute-y, the crooks sprinkled through Wall Street will switch careers and get themselves put in charge of redistribution, then carry on much as they do now. That’s what happened in the Soviet Union.

Lil’ Marx is rolling out the Marxist party line one more time, with a twist. He’s insinuating “criminals” and “the rich” are pretty much the same thing; and he’s tacking on that “the rich” are pretty much “Republicans.” These massive generalizations aren’t even in the ZIP code of honest or intellectually useful.

His cockeyed Marxist math is getting on my nerves. It’s slovenly thinking handed down to us by a slovenly, abusive freeloader who wrote about ” the worker” his whole misbegotten life yet never laid a single brick himself.

This sort of cheap scapegoating got countless wealthy people tortured and murdered by Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and the gang. It’s low-rent bigotry directed against people who provoke envy because of their luck and lot in life.

I love the idea of narrowing income inequality in the United States. Societies with more evenly distributed wealth seem to function better for everyone. But cascading categorical errors of thought by Lil’ Marx aren’t going to get us there.