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Leading Democrats: “Expropriate the Expropriators”


Tired of defending their business-friendly and state-capitalist policy proposals against Republicans’ insistent description of them as weapons of radical Leftist “class warfare,” the leading Democratic candidates for the United States presidency have taken a surprising new turn.  
 

“Let’s Get Real”

 

“Listen,” Hillary Clinton told a stunned collection of reporters yesterday in Des Moines, Iowa.  “If the Republicans and the right wing noise-machine are going to just constantly call us socialists, let’s show them what the word means. And let’s quit running from who we actually are. I’ve been doing it for too long. It’s time to say what we really think.  No more hiding behind reformist bourgeois labels and agendas. Listen up Fox News, because you’re going to love this. We’re Marxist-Lenninists, and we always have been.  Deal with it.”

 

“You know, it’s like my mother used to say,” Clinton added: “be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.”

 

Wearing a red bandana and a Che Guevera T-Shirt autographed by Hugo Chavez, Clinton introduced her “fellow-travelers on the road to American and world socialism.”  Her new “comrades” and fellow Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama (sporting a new black beret and dashiki), John Edwards (wearing a vintage Soviet Red Army jacket purchased from a Russian clothier), Bill Richardson (dressed as Fidel Castro and sporting a Cuban cigar), Joe Biden, and Chris Dodd joined her on the stage of a high school auditorium to unveil a new 10-point plan “to overthrow private ownership in the means of production and distribution” and to establish “workers’ control.”

 

Eschewing the “limited goal” of “socialism in one country,” Obama proclaimed his determination to link the “new American revolution” with “revolutionary proletarian forces and cadres around the planet” to “overthrow the world capitalist system within the next 20 years.” 

 

“I’m a realist,” Obama said. “Let’s get real about solving poverty, inequality, and environmental collapse and putting meaning back into democracy at home and abroad.  Let’s admit a basic truth: none of these problems are going to be fixed – none of these things are going to happen under capitalism.”

 

“I’m not opposed to all social systems,” Obama added.  “What I do oppose are dumb, destructive, oppressive, and exploitive social systems based on class, race, and gender hierarchy and the rule of the privileged few.” 

 

 

“Expropriate the Expropriators”

 

Edwards dried a tear from his eyes as he read a passage from Leon Trotsky’s 1905 pamphlet “Results and Prospects.” Embracing Trotsky’s theory of “permanent revolution,” the former North Carolina Senator confirmed suspicion that his “two Americas” theme of class inequality is inspired by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels’ famous 1848 pamphlet The Communist Manifesto. 

 

Edwards quoted Marx and Engels with approval: “You are horrified at our intending to do away with private property. But in your existing society, private property is already abolished for nine-tenths of the population; its existence for the few is solely due to its non-existence in the hands of those nine-tenths.”

 

“And that’s exactly what we see in the United States today.  Enough is enough,” Edwards said.  America needs a president who will tell the truth and show a little backbone.  It’s time to expropriate the expropriators!”

 

“Look proletarians,” Richardson said, “it’s like the old boys used to say: you’ve got nothing to lose but your chains and you’ve got a world to win.  Working men and workingwomen of the world unite!”

 

“We can do that!,” Obama added.

 

 

“I Was Ashamed”

 

Richardson confessed that he has been “a secret Marxist” since the age of sixteen, when he first read Frederick Engels’ pamphlet Socialism: Scientific and Utopian. Richardson recalled that his youthful conversion to Marxism “did not go over well with my dad,” a leading Citigroup executive.

 

His father’s scorn pushed the future New Mexico Governor into a long struggle to cloak his real ideological identity.

 

The presidential candidate admitted that he served as “a point man for that reactionary capitalist ‘trade bill’ NAFTA” in the U.S. Congress during the 1990s “to conceal my underlying faith in socialist transformation.” Still, he quietly hoped the bill would help “advance the day when the American working-class understands that it has no country.”

 

“What can I say?” Richardson said, “I was ashamed.”

 

 

“Kissing Bourgeois Ass” to Get Elected

 

Other Democratic presidential candidates spoke on things they’ve done and said to “pretend [we] aren’t Marxists.” Edwards admitted that he built the largest home ever constructed in North Carolina and joined the board of a parasitic Wall Street hedge fund (the Fortress Group) to disguise “my underlying commitment to permanent proletarian revolution.”

 

Obama laughed as he read selected passages from his bestselling 2006 campaign book The Audacity of Hope.  “Here’s a good one,” Obama said, as he recited the following paragraph:

 

“Calvin Coolidge once said that ‘the chief business of the American people is business,’ and indeed, it would be hard to find a country on earth that’s been more consistently hospitable to the logic of the marketplace.  Our Constitution places the ownership of private property at the very heart of our system of liberty.  Our religious traditions celebrate the value of hard work and express the conviction that a virtuous life will result in material rewards.  Rather than vilify the rich, we hold them up as role models…As Ted Turner famously said, in America money is how we keep score.”

 

“The result of this business culture has been a prosperity that’s unmatched in human history.  It takes a trip overseas to fully appreciate just how good Americans have it; even our poor take for granted goods and services – electricity, clean water, indoor plumbing, telephones, televisions, and household appliances – that are still unattainable for most of the world.  America may have been blessed with some of the planet’s best real estate, but clearly it’s not just our natural resources that account for our economic success.  Our greatest asset has been our system of social organization, a system that for generations has encouraged constant innovation, individual initiative and efficient allocation of resources…our free market system.”

 

Shaking his head in mock amazement, Obama asked, “is that kissing the ass of the bourgeoisie or what? I wrote all that reactionary nonsense to keep the capitalist thought police off the trail and impress the people with the money and power.”

 

This comment elicited an understanding pat on the back from Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden, who attended the gathering with a little red book containing hundreds of quotations from the former Chinese Communist dictator Mao Tse Tung.

 

 

“Refreshing Honesty”

 

At Biden’s prodding, Obama agreed to read another passage from Audacity, reciting lines in which he wrote that “there are seeds of anarchy in the idea of individual freedom, an intoxicating danger in the idea of equality. For if everybody is truly free, without the constraints of birth or rank and an inherited social order, how can we ever hope to form a society that coheres?”

 

“Geez Barack, Clinton interrupted. “That was a little over the top even for me. We all know who pays for our campaigns and runs the world — people like Robert Rubin.  But you sounded ready to embrace feudalism there. I mean…what was your opinion of slavery when you wrote that book?”

 

“You’ve got me, Hill,” Obama said. “No doubt about it. But remember,” the junior senator from Illinois shot back, “you’ve been setting the power-serving bar pretty damn low.  I’ve been trying to get some of that Bob Rubin money too.” 

 

“Point taken,” Clinton responded.

 

“It’s refreshing to hear this new honesty on the part of my fellow Democratic presidential candidates and my fellow Marxists,” said Dodd

 

 

 

Working with Capitalist Scumbags”

 

Clinton confessed that a desire to “hide my Marxism” led her to undermine universal health care by advancing an incomprehensible, neoliberal and corporate-friendly health-care friendly health care reform package during the early 1990s.

 

“‘Managed competition,’ we called it – what a terrible and reactionary joke! Our slogan should have been “All Power to the Big Six Insurance Companies!’” 

 

Fear of “being outed as a radical socialist” has induced Clinton to oppose elementary increases in the taxation of privileged households’ exorbitant incomes to bolster the funding of Social Security and to hire Mark Penn as her main political advisor.  Penn runs a corporate public relations firm that specialize in spin for union-busters, Shell Oil, and big tobacco companies.

 

“It makes it tougher for your guys to detect my Marxism,” Hillary told reporters, “when I’m working with capitalist scumbags like Penn. 

 

“I know just what Hillary means,” Obama chimed in.  “I mean look at my main political advisor and media guy David Axlerod. He’s a complete corporate pig. Talk about you’re ‘running dog lackeys of the ruling class.’ For him, it’s all about making me look like I’m a progressive friend of ordinary working people when I’ve really been working for Exelon and Goldman Sachs – nice big money folks like that. A lot of the reporters here probably know that I was the first presidential candidate to officially support the extension of NAFTA to Peru, for crying out loud. Yeah, I’ve been a real friend of the working class! Senator Clinton and I have hardly raised $170 million between us just by calling up Joe and Jane Six Pack and relying on the Internet.”

 

More Than “Just Bribery”

 

Reading Obama’s book reminded Dodd of “something else Marx wrote in 1848”: “the ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas.”  “It’s just like Marx wrote in The German Ideology,” Dodd argued: “‘the class which is the ruling material force in society, it at the same time its ruling intellectual force.  That class which has the means of material production at its disposal has control at the same time over the means of mental production.’” 

 

“Marx wasn’t just talking about politicians like us,” Dodd told an astonished press corps.  “He was also talking about you folks – the capitalist media.”

 

“Right on, Chris,” said Biden.

 

Dodd told reporters not to exaggerate the extent to which the actions and statements of politicians can be reduced simply to bribery – to the power of those with money to purchase the loyalty of candidates and policymakers. He advised journalists to “function as critical thinkers” and “pay attention to the complex, partly autonomous and interesting cultural and ideological processes and dynamics whereby moral and ideological hegemony is attained and maintained by and for dominant classes.”

 

 

“The Power of the People”

 

“Look, theoretical debate is great,” Edwards interjected, “but let’s move on. Here’s the bottom line, people: the big capitalist sell out and the ‘hegemony’ are all over now.  We’re sweeping all that into the dustbin of history. We can finally talk about who we really are.  Let us proceed to build the new socialist order, starting right here in eye of the damn imperialist hurricane. Power to the people!”

 

“Right on, John, you steely-eyed son of the proletarian,” said Hillary Clinton.  She grabbed a bullhorn and led the Democratic presidential field in a number of chants, including the following:

 

“Fight the rich, not their wars.” 

 

“Ain’t no power like the power of the people and the power of the people don’t stop.”

 

“No blood for oil.”

 

“One, two, three, four, we don’t want this racist war”

 

“Hands off Iraq, hands off Iran.”

 

Only one of 30 assembled reporters joined in the chanting.

 

 

“I am Their Kronstadt Rebellion”

 

But it wasn’t all just self-congratulation and team-spirit on the high school stage in Des Moines. The self-declared “Spartacist” Joe Biden and Dodd (a “Frankfurt School” enthusiast) conducted a vituperative debate over how to interpret the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Edwards was overheard dismissing Clinton as “Bukharinist” and referring to Dodd as “a petit-bourgeois intellectual.”

 

Dennis Kucinich arrived late to question “just how much of an ideological change the top Democrats were really making” in announcing their shift “from authoritarian neo-corporate liberalism to authoritarian neo-Marxism-Lenninism.”

 

Kucinich told reporters that he is “a left-Marxist in the Rosa Luxembourg tradition” and that he is also influenced by “left-anarchist” thinkers like Bakunin, Rudolph Rocker, and Noam Chomsky. 

 

“I’m not sure there’s all that much difference between the old Democrats and their new ‘Marxist’ packaging,” Kucinich said. “I am their one man Krondstadt Rebellion,” Kucinich added, telling reporters to “read your Soviet history.” 

 

 

“We’ll Deal with It”

  

The politically influential Wall Street investment house Goldman Sachs, a leading contributor to all of the leading Democratic presidential hopefuls, offered no comment on how the bombshell Marxist disclosure will affect the Democratic Party’s recently attained advantage in raising campaign money from corporate America.  But an anonymous Goldman Sachs insider dismissed Mitt Romney’s recent charge that the firm has fallen under the control of “the international financial and communist conspiracy.”  “I guess he forgot to add in ‘Jewish,’” this source said. 

 

The nameless Wall Street insider added that “global investors seem happy enough to do business with a giant nation that still sometimes likes to call itself ‘Marxist’ – the so-called ‘people’s republic of China.’” 

 

“Maybe it’s time for the United States to come under some nominally ‘Marxist’ leadership.  If that’s what happens, it’s just like Hillary said: we’ll deal with it.”  

 

Paul Street is a writer, speaker, activist, and satirist based in Iowa City, IA and Chicago, IL.  He is the author of Empire and Inequality: America and the World Since 9/11 (Boulder, CO: Paradigm); Racial Oppression in the Global Metropolis (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007); and Segregated Schools: Educational Apartheid in Post-Civil Rights America (New York: Routledge, 2005. Paul can be reached at [email protected]

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