A young, seemingly libertarian writer (Maura Pennington) takes to the pages of Forbes (hello 1%) to foolishly call activists of her generation a bunch of commies. Rather than explore the real issues at hand, Pennington finds it easier to counter actual arguments by pairing them with quotes from everyone’s favorite college quick read The Communist Manifesto (what about Capital vol. 1 or The German Ideology?) Where to begin?
“Communism kills in practice, but maintains an allure in theory because fools still fall for it. Americans, of all people, shouldn’t be those fools. We should innately know the difference between the democracy of which our Founders spoke and the democracy of a perverted social order that actively destroys those at the top in favor of, as Marx calculated, “the nine-tenths.” But the gateway to communist rhetoric was opened when the first Occupy camp set up on Wall Street, a financial center, and not Washington, the seat of government.”
The democracy of which our Founding Fathers spoke? The one that excluded everyone but wealthy land-owning men? That seems much more a democracy of a perverted social order that actively destroys those in the majority in favor of those at the top. The notion of what democracy is and who it includes has expanded dramatically and evolved as the nation became more diverse and the economy more global and complex. So a call for actually living the principles of equality our nation has supposedly embraced is bad because, in her estimation, it is closely akin to scary communist rhetoric?
“So when the 99% movement reveals their aim to be “a democracy that is truly of the people, by the people, and for the people” yet only lists grievances that are based on the current situation of our economy, it is not the same idea of democracy as opposition to political tyranny. It is instead the idea that 19th Century intellectuals advanced of democracy as a resolution of economic inequity. For Americans today, the 1% is an oppressive economic class, not political class.”
So, economic clout and political power are not intertwined in any way? Let’s do a little thought experiment. Earlier in the article, Pennington writes “Were someone to substitute the word “corporations” or the catch-all “1%” for the word “bourgeoisie,” The Communist Manifesto would chillingly read like any official statement from Occupiers and the 99% movement at large.”
Let’s play that game with the following paragraph:
In this way, our 99% does not emulate American revolutionaries but is instead after the same bourgeoisie that troubled Marx. He wrote in The Communist Manifesto that, “the CORPORATION has at last, since the establishment of Modern Industry and of the world-market, conquered for itself, in the modern representative State, exclusive political sway.”
An idea never more concretized than in the landmark Supreme Court case Citizens United V. Federal Election Commission (2010). Corporations are people my friend! In fact, since corporations are legally people, let’s just swap bourgeoisie back into the paragraph, the two terms have become legally interchangeable. Maybe that is why our generation is up in arms?
“The American proletariat believes that corporations likewise have their own legal agenda and “have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people…[and] donated large sums of money to politicians supposed to be regulating them.” Once in power, they are entrenched.”
Substitute “people” with the patronizing “proletariat” and there is daniels waterfront toronto.
“According to Occupy Wall Street, those in the 1% are captors and masters who “have held students hostage.” The bourgeoisie made men slaves; the 1% holds us hostage. How do they do this? With what do they forge these vile chains? “With tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.” All people who have actually been oppressed and subjected to violations of their humanity have license to mock us mercilessly for a statement like that.”
Sure—we can all agree that people are not literally being chained up and whipped. But, crippling student loan debt does make an entire generation of young people subservient to banks and the federal government. So much so, that they will be financially crippled for up to 30 years after they graduate from college/ grad school. Entering an economy of slow growth and underpaid jobs does not help matters. You will spend the majority of your working life sending a huge portion of your paycheck to either banks or the government (student loan payments plus taxes). How does one get ahead? Buy a house? Save money? That sounds like wage/ economic servitude to me.
“Oblivious to the absurdity, our 99% employs the hyperbole of communism to make the point that naïve twenty-somethings voluntarily took out loans for optional higher learning and can’t figure out, despite the education they received, how to pay them back. “
Yes, they were voluntary. But, does Pennington realize how quickly interest rates on both private and government loans can soar? How quickly your reasonable $25,000 loan can become $50,000? Let’s say I took out $40,000 to finance my undergraduate education at Dartmouth. After a broad job search , I land the best job I can find, working for $35,000/yr in Boston. I get nominal raises from age 22-30, at which point I am making $55,000/yr. In this time my interest rates have soared and after diligently re-paying my loans for 8 years, I still owe a principal of $30,000. How does one thrive and get ahead in that situation? Go back to school for more debt? Work 5 jobs?
In sum, the Pennington’s conclusion is that the actual economic problems facing young people are not the problem, it’s that pesky communist rhetoric that will be the ruin of our “free” country.
Tags: 99%, Forbes, Karl Marx, Maura Pennington, data recovery prices