A certain familiarity

thoughtful Abe

Paul Krugman points out something familiar about the thin skin of the wealthy to any criticism:

For throughout the piece the Journal equates criticism with persecution. If you say that the one percent is taking an excessive share of the pie, or that the Kochs exert undue influence on American politics, you’re engaged in vile persecution — OK, maybe not as bad as Hitler, but in the same ballpark.

May I say that if being criticized is a form of unjust persecution, every day of my life is a pogrom?

And what about freedom of speech? Hey, that’s only for corporations, I guess.

Slightly more seriously: the attitude of that WSJ editorial brought to mind Lincoln’s description of the attitude of Southern politicians in his Cooper Union speech. Obligatory declaration: I am not saying that a high income share for the top one percent is anything like slavery. The similarity lies not in what is being defended, but in the demands of those feeling insecure — namely, that any form of criticism be banned. Lincoln:

These natural, and apparently adequate means all failing, what will convince them? This, and this only: cease to call slavery wrong, and join them in calling it right. And this must be done thoroughly – done in acts as well as in words. Silence will not be tolerated – we must place ourselves avowedly with them … The whole atmosphere must be disinfected from all taint of opposition to slavery, before they will cease to believe that all their troubles proceed from us.

Yep. Until we all declare that the one percent is the source of all good, until all mention of inequality as a potentially troubling thing is expunged from public discussion, the rich are being persecuted by totalitarian liberals.

7 thoughts on “A certain familiarity

  1. After the bourgeoisie revolutions against the Kings and the Church in the 18th century (Frence, American, etc.) came a new means of production: Capitalism. That lead to the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century. Machine-produced goods brought two new classes: Capitalists, or the 1%, and workers, or those who operated the machinery. The 99%. Sooner or later, as Marx pointed out, Capitalism would give way to Socialism. We find ourselves at that point in history today. The rich, or 1%, or Capitalists are not happy about that and are trying to prevent the inevitable. So the Progressives, in their eyes, become “Nazis and totalitarians.” Not because they ARE, but because the Capitalists, or 1%, are trying to scare the hell out of people who know nothing about history or what labels actually mean. Krugman knows all of this. Yet he continues to practice the politics of illusion.

  2. “…Obligatory declaration: I am not saying that a high income share for the top one percent is anything like slavery…”

    Why make such a declaration? It seems to me that the practices of the 1% result in economic stagnation and the incurring of staggering debt loads within the 99% such that a new form of slavery is the result.

    And I think the bastards know that. Step 1 – Create innumerable debt slaves. Step 2 – Convert them to the real thing when the time is right.

    Heck, that’s the plan. They ought to be a little thin-skinned if people start to see through that.

  3. Krugmann is absolutely on target and not just about the putrid WSJ opinion vomit. Lincoln describes the exact same whiny intransigence of the Reich-wing. The damaged mental capacity of the right cannot tolerate discussion. If one isn’t marching in lockstep with them, the rending of garments and smearing of ashes begins. Same as it’s always been. Evil’s first recourse is a claim of persecution and a call for fairness . . . for them and them alone.

  4. “The 1%” is a snappy phrase that rolls easily off the tongue, but I suspect that it’s far too egalitarian. The real number of people that have enough resources to run everything in the US is surely more like zero-point-one %, or maybe even less than that. What if we called them “the top thousandth”?

    Im — The current US population is about 318 million.

  5. Lincoln was speaking of people who owned slaves. Last night I just happened to find an interesting post about the monetary value of slaves to their owners.


    The information from that post has been percolating through my thinking since I read it last night. The longer I think about it, the more I feel like it gives me real clarity about who our 1%-ers really are, and what we are to them.

  6. “Convert them to the real thing when the time is right.”

    In Red Star Over China, Edgar Snow described some of the things he saw in the 30s when he was in an area of that country where millions were enduring utter famine. He noted that there were no women except for the very elderly. All of the young ones had been sold so the men in their families could buy food to sustain them a bit longer. And Snow said that for all that, the most shocking thing he saw was that in the middle of all that unspeakable suffering everywhere, there were a sprinkling of wealthy people hoarding food and living luxuriously.

    I’m guessing it wouldn’t take much starvation before we would accept overt slavery if it included a meal plan.

  7. “Sooner or later, as Marx pointed out, Capitalism would give way to Socialism. We find ourselves at that point in history today.”

    Rosa Luxemburg was critiqued/ostracized by orthodox Marxists for saying that before the predations of capitalism would lead to socialism within national boundaries, capitalism would globe-trot to forestall it.

    I’m going to assume the prescience of that observation is obvious enough not to need belaboring.

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