What would you know about class warfare?

It requires reading some history

Daedalus Books is a small catalog of books, music, and DVDs that typically runs the gamut of extremely old books to sometimes more modern fare. I discovered a Charles Dickens work, “Bleak House,” that I read through over more than a week before taking it to the club house’ library centered in the mobile home park. For about $6.00, it was worth the price. There were also three other books that I purchased besides: The one that I am now in the process of reading, “The Day Wall Street Exploded,” by Beverly Gage. Who details an age of terrorism at a time of financial turmoil. Right after the first World War, right before the “Roaring twenties” began. As the Bolsheviks claimed the post Tsarist Russia for themselves and wanted to foment a world-wide “Communist” revolution. I am still in the process of reading through this book, and so am not currently providing a book review of this particular piece of history. Instead, I am considering the politics that continue to exist today and the pejorative use of “class warfare,” in a context that seems remarkably ignorant of the violence that often afflicted this nation. Even why.

Industrial capitalism began late in the 19th century. It was also financed by banks and other lenders of note such as J.P. Morgan. Ms. Gage provides quite the history in a nutshell about the activities of one J.P. Morgan who founded the bank that bore his name. Inclusive of his making his megabucks during the course of World War l, and literally creating a corporation such as U.S. Steel overnight, and out of whole cloth. However, Ms. Gage also informs her readers that Mr. Morgan and his family sustained some very real enemies. Everything from anti-war demonstrators, to socialists, communists, and anarchists. People who opposed capitalism, commerce, and by the way; the presence of an oppressive government. Because such people agitated nation-wide strikes, because they were prepared to promote death to selected individuals and destruction of property, then the government under Woodrow Wilson would by necessity become oppressive. Literally, cause and effect. Also, Ms. Gage reported what made class warfare a little too possible, and easily exploitable by the end of World War l; the socialists and etc., saw the wide financial disparity between the haves and have nots. Such a wide financial disparity was very easily exploited.

Today, class warfare is an “argument” of choice when say a Robert Herold starts discussing investing in human capital in his about once a month “Inlander” editorial. I suspect it is far easier to throw out such an argument, than to consider the fact that, since World War ll, there has been no real desire to invest in people. There has been no real political interest in including the American workforce in the principles of the free market. If such a view stemmed from the time that unions such as the I.W.W. were truly anathema to business interests; that was also many decades ago. Today’s workforce wants a job, wants to be able to pay their bills, raise a family, not be homeless. And it takes a Robert Herold to address that. He isn’t advocating “overthrowing” anything. Nor is he making the argument that the people who got rich (perhaps attributing some of this to luck) are somehow “not deserving.” He instead says the same thing that was proven to be just as true by the time that World War 1 had come to an end. It involves the matter of people who aren’t financially comfortable, and the problems they encounter for that reason. The problems the nation also encounters for exactly the same reason.

But unlike the 1918— through the 1930s, there haven’t been the “outside agitators,” to stir up nation-wide dissatisfaction with today’s business practices and business interests. Today, we don’t see violence actually inspired by “commies” or “socialists,” since the collapse of the Bolshevik Revolution, by way of the formal ending of the Soviet Union. What we do see is a truly remarkable political muddle. Wilson used his government to suppress threats to commercial interests. Compare that to Ayn Rand who’s books like “Atlas Shrugged,” complain all about that all-intrusive government. In the real world, a John Galt as identified by the person of J.P. Morgan, would have been all for an intrusive government. Especially after active terrorism blew up his bank, injured his son and business partners, injured or killed the banks’ employees. By the time Ayn Rand arrives in this country, government is the enemy, and it is “right wing” to make that claim. Government is now the “communist” threat in a nation that had in fact faced real communist threats to the government and financial institutions. There are also shades of anarchy that lay behind this “demand” for states’ rights. States sets what ever laws they want and the federal government should have no say in the matter. “Right wing” to now want to overthrow a system and institution that the commies of the early 20th century failed to do. “Right wing” to argue “class warfare” against people, who have a legitimate complaint about corporations, that are more interested in profit than their moral obligations. “Right wing” to offer that pejorative because those business interests are busy stoking the campaign war chests with millions of dollars in legal bribery. Then, in the early decades of the 20th century, the Communist left saw an opportunity to exploit a capitalist system and to try to destroy it. They used the dissatisfaction of the work force to that end. They were prepared to employ violent means to an end if it would erode the faith in financial institutions. Today, there might be a “Communist left.” But the major threat to the institution of capitalism doesn’t come from what ever may remain of such people. Nor does it come from the workforce. Instead, circa 2007—2008; the main threat to capitalism came from the people who cornered the market on it: Speculators in the housing market, financial lenders who engaged in credit default swaps, mortgage companies who would sell them to people “not ready” financially to ever pay them off. Then the collapse came. Not because of any “lefty” insurgency, but because of the greed of the people who ran these financial institutions.

Ayn Rand should have been regarded as nothing more than a writer of fiction. An individual who understood nothing about this country, nor had any knowledge (apparently) of its turbulent history. As it was, she also came with a message of overthrowing the “oppressive system,” that showed the way toward a truly Fantasy Island view of what a free market ought to look like. Never mind the history behind, the government engaging in oppressive conduct, in the defense of that very free market. Her books were also intended to “overthrow” this “oppressive” system. But unlike the commies of yesteryear who agitated the workforce, the current employers of today’s workforce, were prepared to embrace this particular outside agitator with open arms. …It was discussed in the introduction of this book how quickly people could forget certain periods of violence. Perhaps to be shocked anew when for what ever reason, truly terrible violence erupts again. Timothy McVeigh, David Koresh, 9/11/2001; violence because of extremism in political ideology or even, fervent religious belief. We should see more such history books. Nor should we white wash out of political expediency, that this grand experiment in democracy has always worked as it should. Not always. After all, that’s what makes us people, in all of our imperfections.


One Response to “What would you know about class warfare?”

  1. Janell Says:

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