Wall Street channels Marx

Last night I was watching the Super Tuesday election results on MSNBC.  By 11:00 PM Eastern time they still weren’t calling the race in Ohio, so the pundits were just sitting around mulling over the possibilities.  Lawrence O’Donnell, the only self declared socialist that I know of in mainstream TV, made some interesting comments.  He said he was hoping for a Santorum victory in the primaries so that in the general election we could have a real contrast between a centrist Democrat and a right wing theocratic Republican.  He predicted that the ensuing landslide for Obama would provide the Republican Party with the ammunition necessary to dump these fringe candidates and opt for candidates who advocate compromise and good governance.

Sen. Rick Santorum

O’Donnell’s comments prompted me to reflect on the divide that is now evident amongst Republicans.  Everyone sees at the moment that a very vocal far-right minority in the Republican Party is driving the bus.  This minority is led by the clownish Rush Limbaugh who stated last week that women who use birth control are whores.  It is not remarkable that Rush made these comments; he makes $30M a year talking like that.  What is remarkable is that the Republican candidates didn’t denounce his comments.  The best that Romney could say was that he “wouldn’t have used those words”, implying that he agreed with substance of Limbaugh’s comments.  Santorum dismissed the comments by saying that Rush is in the entertainment business, but like Mitt, he wouldn’t say that he disagreed with Rush’s premise.  Unfortunately for the GOP, this extremism will keep them out of the White House until the GOP leaders can change the dynamic within their party.  Their radical fringe  positions on just about every issue place them far to the right of even Ronald Reagan who, despite his rhetoric, was willing to negotiate with his opponents to get things done.  Clearly describing the current chasm in the Republican Party, Barbara Bush was quoted yesterday as saying, “I think it’s been the worst campaign I’ve ever seen in my life.  I hate that people think compromise is a dirty word. It’s not a dirty word.”

But the dogma of the far Right isn’t limited to social issues; it has an economic component as well.  As true capitalists, they believe the market can fix everything.  They are adamantly opposed to stimulus packages or deficit spending during recession.  Of course, anyone who’s been awake during the past 3 years has seen that the market did not self-repair.  Banks and companies have been sitting on mountains of cash, but have not injected that capital back into our economy.  It has only been government intervention through deficit spending that has kept our country from total collapse.  In Marxist terms, the current crisis was caused by moving resources from labor to capital.  What is very interesting now is that folks on Wall Street are actually saying this.  Who would believe that capitalists would even utter the name Marx!  A number of recent articles in financial rags have been pointing to the problem caused in a consumer society when people are poor.  Did I just hear a capitalist say, “too much disparity of wealth”!  They have finally recognized that poor people don’t actually go shopping as much the middle class does.  Well la-dee-dah.

Jeremy Grantham, Harvard MBA

Henry Ford pondered the question, “who is going to buy all these cars that my assembly lines can produce?”  His answer was to pay his workers more than the prevailing wage so that they could buy cars.  Not exactly rocket science, but it worked.  Most of today’s capitalists aren’t schooled in pragmatism, but but some have amazingly concluded that underconsumption isn’t good for business.  Again, not rocket science.  Now they are calling for government intervention in complete contradiction to their pure market mantra.  Capitalists are in affect saying, “take this gun out of my hand before I kill myself and everyone around me.”  I won’t claim that this attitude is sweeping Wall Street, but the fact that it is being talked about in the WSJ and Financial Times might imply an awakening of sorts.  Marx taught us that capitalism is self-destructive.  Capitalists, when left to their own devices, will create an underclass that will eventually rise up and destroy them. Some capitalists now see it— not in a revolutionary sense, but in a simple pragmatic sense that it’s hard be in business when there are no customers.

These Wall Street pundits are clearly at odds with the current crop of Republican candidates.  And it reflects the gulf within the Republican Party.  Will this affect the outcome of the election?  I think Obama already has the Wall Street vote, so this is just one more nail in the GOP coffin.  It is, however, some small vindication for us who believe in good government, a government that allows what is good in the marketplace but restricts capitalism’s inherent destructive nature, a government that works for the good of all Americans, a government that combines the ideologies of both Teddy Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt, a government that is patriotic in the true sense.

Here’s a short video from the Financial Times.

The Grantham article from the Wall Street Journal.

For additional comments from the financial world, see this piece by Louis Proyect.

5 thoughts on “Wall Street channels Marx

  1. I was actually surprised at the situation in Ohio, but not at all unhappy for the reasons you mention–perhaps a Santorum win will begin the pendulum swing back toward the center and we can begin compromise again, although the thought of it actually happening makes my stomach turn. And what an amazing revelation that labor builds the economy and not necessarily capital. La-dee-dah, indeed.

  2. I think what you and many people fail to realize about the gop is that the libertarian movement within the party has tried and is trying to take over the GOP. Just as the progressive movement of the left has now almost completely taken over the Democratic party.

    What I find interesting is that a president in Obama who is very, very far left is trying to portray himself as CENTRIST in an effort to make the right look even more fringe.

    This is comical and yet dangerous. You are advocating that the left and their radical ideas are CENTRIST…while anything the right advocates is extreme fringe.

    YOU need to wake up. Or not. The entire political spectrum is made up of fringe and those in the middle are abandoning the democrats and the republicans in droves. It is why the democrats or the republicans are NEVER in total control because of this moderate MIDDLEGROUND…aka independent voters.

    It is also why YOU and Obama and the rest of the Democrats pretend to be centrist……trying so desperately to lure unsuspecting centrist/independents and moderates into a new way of thinking that is advantageous to the left/democrats.

    There were many, many things I agreed with when JFK and LBJ ran the country that the left/liberals tried to get accomplished. However today this is NOT YOUR DADDIES democratic party and it certainly is NOT your daddies Republican party.

    Libertarians are trying to take over the right and the progressive movement has taken over the left.

    The only real debate is where the NEW CENTER moves……and I find it comical how Obama and his progressive minions tried to portray him as CENTRIST………moderate.

    Laughable….but it is effective. Just realize that most people on both sides know whats going on and even those CENTRIST/independents who vote in every election and determine who the winners are realize that redefining the center still does not put food on their plates and a paycheck in their bank……only real results do that.

    Not dogma….not ideology and not bait and switch.

  3. Lee, thanks for your post. I have to work on my taxes today and take care of other business. I will be responding to your post in a few days. I suspect that Rick D’loss will when he can as well.


  4. Lee,
    I’m not sure by what basis you can call Obama “very, very far left”. He has supported many Bush policies, including the Patriot Act. He has not closed Gitmo as he promised. And his recent policy statement regarding killing of American citizens overseas would seem to be written by Dick Cheney. Economically, he was stuffing his cabinet with Wall Streeters even before he was sworn in. He fully supported bailing out the major banks and financial institutions, and has done nothing to prevent a recurrence of “too big to fail”. Obamacare, while meeting some of the Left’s goal of providing health care for all, is based entirely on for-profit health insurance companies. Not what progressives wanted.

    I would disagree that Progressives are in control of the DP, but maybe other SDUSA would disagree with me. During the last presidential election progressives (and many in Labor) generally favored John Edwards because his proposals, especially health care, were more aligned with progressive social and labor values. But of course, Edwards imploded. Progressives then moved toward Obama, hoping that his background in community organizing would lead him to support the progressive agenda. Based on his first three years in office, Obama is clearly not getting an A rating from progressives. There has been debate amongst progressives as to whether we should support an alternative to Obama in this election. The fact that there is even such a debate would indicate that progressives are not in charge of the DP. If progressives were in charge of the DP you would a mess similar to the Tea Party insurgency in the RP.

    SDUSA is not a centrist organization. We are leftists. But we support a well regulated market economy and an interventionist foreign policy. Because of that, we are generally considered to be center-left. I would agree with you that labels can be misleading. If we are left on one issue but right on another issue, where are we on the political spectrum? Unfortunately, people like to simplify groups by putting labels on them, so we have to deal it. Within SDUSA support for Obama was mixed during his first campaign and has not changed. We have some members who are supportive and some who are luke warm. This is reflective of the fact that SDUSA is mix of progressive and Scoop Jackson Democrats. But SDUSA is taking the position that supporting an insurgent Democrat against Obama might lead to a Republican White House, something not in our interests.

    Obama has adopted the Clinton strategy for getting and keeping the White House— be supportive of minorities and women and get the backing of Wall Street. The rest is icing on the cake. He is a centrist politician who is very skilled at identifying voter demographics and offering various policies and programs to satisfy those groups.

    As for the Republican Party, they HAVE moved to the right. They are representing less than a quarter of Americans and this will keep them out of the White House. And the small percentage of Americans who identify as Republicans are divided among the libertarians, Tea Partiers, and moderate Republicans. They have a real mess. The recent flap over birth control is representative of their problem. Birth control was decided decades ago and most all women today use or have used it. But neither of the two leading candidates would criticize Limbaugh for his very fringe comments. This puts them out of the race. BTW, the Libertarian candidate Ron Paul said that he fully endorses birth control. His candidacy has no traction in the RP race. A sign that while Libertarians may want to control the RP, they are not close to doing it.

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