The Clare Spark Blog

October 10, 2011

Populist catharsis on Wall Street

Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia U. professor

The Occupy Wall Street movement has the support of Old Leftists (Stalinists, Trotskyists), populists, tenured professors steeped in Keynesian economics, Big Labor, and an assortment of young people worried about their student loans and the lack of job opportunities. Some pundits on Fox News have been interpreting this protest movement as a product of disillusion with Obama, and a movement to his Left. My view is that it is a calculated event and part of his campaign for re-election, and perhaps even managed and instigated out of the White House, expressing Obama’s own Leninism as reinterpreted by Keynesian economics and a long-lived “soak the rich” philosophy that is directed against imputed Jewish control of everything: As “the money power” [the obscenely bloated Jew] controls banks, hedge funds, the media, advertising, and plants computer chips in our brain so that the ‘Jewish’ mask is not penetrated by ‘Jewry’s’ victims and sets them against their parents.  I.e, Through the control of “public opinion” the money power perpetuates its oligarchical, illegitimate control, and celebrates “corporate greed.”

No one should see OWS as anything resembling a leftist revolt, and those [New Leftists] who are crowing over it should hang their heads in shame, for they have sold out, possibly in the expectation that they would be rewarded with advancement in the new Obama dispensation.

This is how 19th century Marxists (not Leninists) operated in the past; unlike OWS, they were generally analytical, focused, disciplined, and had a goal in sight:

1. They identified a revolutionary agency—the new working class that, in their analysis, would be increasingly immiserated and would stop production in a general strike and take over the reins of power, this time abolishing classes altogether and, with a more just distribution of resources, would institute communism: “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” It was vague, but Marx at least saw the bourgeoisie as a progressive class that had created and developed  the productive forces that would enable capitalism’s transcendence into a society of abundance and the defeat of needless toil.

2. Along with this optimistic prophecy, at any particular stage of struggle, the Marxists asked themselves, “given the correlation of forces, what is the task of our generation?”  This required constant study of every institution; also focus on the likely allies to revolutionary struggle. Marx himself predicted that parts of the bourgeoisie would break off and join the working class. Crucially, one didn’t expect “the streets” to be the site of structural transformation. There had to be a ripened situation, such as a crisis of capitalism. So it seemed in the Great Depression, and hence hordes of intellectuals, workers, and small businessmen joined the Left or the Popular Front with its antifascist agenda. (Some even stayed there after the Nazi-Soviet Pact in 1939, and their children often remained tied to some form of Leftism, no matter how attenuated .)

3. The romantic part of Marxism is this: there could be no preconceived plan for the just society—a plan that we could all look at. There were no Federalist Papers or copies of a proposed Constitution for the working-class revolution.  Rather, it would evolve organically out of revolutionary struggle and the leadership of the “conscious” working class. It could not take place in a technologically backward society (here is the point of divergence from Leninism and Maoism or Third Worldism).

Surely, only a half-educated demagogue such as Keith Olbermann or a “progressive” neo-Keynesian college professor such as Jeffrey Sachs would see the present situation as ripe for revolution, in a series of demonstrations populated by frightened, undereducated youth and opportunistic labor unions or diehard Stalinists. Is there socialism ahead? I doubt it. Maybe fascist dictatorship given the populist rage and Jew-hatred that is cropping out even as I write this, and not only in the U.S.

I am not a Marxist myself, but one who appreciates the wealth-creating potential of free markets and limited government. The Republican Party should do a better job in explaining supply-side economics and defending those aspects of conservation and environmentalism that are grounded in sound science and medicine. And responsible historians and journalists should remind the public that Hitler’s base consisted of right-wing populists*: the petit-bourgeoisie, including small producers (peasants and artisans), unemployed and unorganized workers, civil servants, and everyone who profited from the expropriation of “Jewish” property and “Jewish” jobs. It is a canard of the Marxist-Leninist Left** that fascism is the triumph of finance capital and big business, though, to be sure, elements of those groups (in addition to monarchists or the army, including the Freikorps) served in coalition with Hitler until he kicked out such officials as von Neurath and Schacht, 1936-38.

*I am not forgetting the left-wing populism of the Strasser brothers. But that militant anti-bourgeois wing of the Party was decimated in the Night of the Long Knives.

** Lenin was influenced by the populist antisemite J. A. Hobson, see  How many students today can describe the debate between Rosa Luxemburg and Lenin or Stalin about imperialism and backward societies?


  1. Though the last comment on this blog was back in 2013 I have to add my concern for the seemingly dormant Obama creation “Organizing for America.” I think this could be the OWS connection or just a parallel group but when 2016 passes I fear this will rise and distract from severely needed course correction. Undoing years of unlearning or indoctrination through ignorance from our curriculum poor education system holds a lot of blame. Obstruction of this type successfully stops honest discussion of issues and keeps the average citizen from hearing the whole issue vetted and leads some to wild conspiracy theory beliefs.

    Comment by hrwolfe — July 21, 2015 @ 1:36 pm | Reply

  2. […] “Wall Street”-dominated U.S. brought this frightful assault upon itself? For a related blog see, that focuses on the faux leftism of Occupy Wall […]

    Pingback by Is Wall Street slaughtering “the Middle Class”? | YDS: The Clare Spark Blog — October 16, 2013 @ 11:36 pm | Reply

  3. I sense it’s not just money these OWS people really desire. It’s something more elusive such as respect or possibly an artificial idea that doesn’t really exist. They seem to be reaching for something that really isn’t there. If only they acquire enough voices to cry out against the tragic injustices of humanity, they will overcome. And then tomorrow comes. Could they be trying to avoid tomorrow? I don’t have any idea, but the entitlements certainly help.

    Comment by Chiefparker — October 12, 2011 @ 7:49 pm | Reply

  4. The fact that people are being paid to participate in this spectacle certainly suggests it is not what the mainstream media would like us to believe–a popular uprising protesting the excesses of the business community–but rather a coordinated effort to distract us from the fact that we have a failed administration in Washington. It is another manifestation of Obama’s hatred of the business class and though we may never be able to prove he himself has helped create this ‘movement’ he has made it clear he condones it. Those on the left who are trying to liken it to the Tea Party are delusional. The Tea Party was a true grassroots movement at its inception, this seems contrived.

    My fear is that as the election gets closer and this administration becomes increasingly desperate there will be a ratcheting up of the inflammatory rhetoric Obama loves to condemn unless it’s coming from his mouth or that of one of his toadies. Then, the possibility of violence will be significant. The hypocrisy of this president and those who support him is truly astounding. –

    Comment by James Pagano — October 11, 2011 @ 12:33 am | Reply

    • I entirely concur with Dr. Pagano’s comment. My suspicion that the White House is behind the protests is a hunch and a speculation only. But it is indisputable that the OWS message, particularly its class warfare rhetoric and disdain of “corporate greed” is identical with POTUS’s own accusations as the House of Representatives continues to resist his statist, anticapitalist initiatives.

      Comment by clarespark — October 11, 2011 @ 11:57 pm | Reply

      • It is amazing how the dialogue on the streets is echoing the voice of the Democratic leadership. Over the years, I’ve often wondered how so many people spontaneously get angered and take to the streets over a relatively obscure issue.

        Comment by Chiefparker — October 12, 2011 @ 8:22 pm

      • Here’s a riddle: what do the…

        Socialist Movement for Integration (Albania), BP (British Petroleum), Sierra Club, Combined Environmental Defense Campaign (CEDC), ACLU, Gehard Schroeder, Coca Cola, UFCW, Tony Blair, International Criminal Court, CNBC, Bill Clinton,

        Americans for Peace Now, USAID (Haiti), Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer (Austria), The Media Fund, PRI (Mexican political party), Univision, Kellog, Commerce Bank, Los Angeles Times, Israeli Labor Party, Mills Corporation, AFL-CIO, Comedy Central, Freedom Union/Democratic Party (Poland), Verizon, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE),

        Our Ukraine Party (Ukraine), Ameritech, Young Voter Strategies, PAX World Investments, General Motors, UAW, Microsoft, The World Bank, Mother Jones Magazine, Fitch Ratings, President Mikheil Saakashvili (Republic of Georgia), Boeing, Union of Concerned Scientists – Working Group on Scientific Integrity, Monsanto, and MOVEON.ORG (organizers of Occupy Wall St.) have in common?


        Comment by gaining traction — October 14, 2011 @ 10:37 pm

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