Just when I’d managed to get control of my laughter over the “Obama is a Marxist” trope — he held Red Study Circles where he read Quotations From Chairman Mao with Geithner, Rubin and Summers, presumably — David Harsanyi accuses Hillary Clinton of “class warfare” (“For Hillary Clinton, No War But the Class War,” Reason, April 24). I may have to buy a truss. Apparently in a meeting with economists she “intensely studied” a chart of the plutocracy’s exploding income, and commented that it was necessary to “topple” the top 1% for the good of the economy.
To his credit, Harsanyi doesn’t actually believe Clinton is a class warrior. He suggests she doesn’t mean a word of it — a reasonable inference, considering that one or two of her speaking fees would put someone in the top 1% she talks about toppling. On the downside though, in denouncing her rhetoric he regurgitates all the standard right-wing talking points about “class warfare.”
So really we have two utterly inane sides to root against here. First Clinton. As Harsanyi points out, she’s well into the top 1%. In fact she’s typical of the managerial-professional types that have come to dominate the 1%, and kicked the traditional rentier classes who derive their income from concentrated wealth up into the top 0.1%. Most of the top 1% today are senior corporate management, high-paid attorneys and other professionals, reflecting the growing managerialization of American society and the incorporation of a white collar New Class into the old plutocratic elite. And the effect of this class on the society it oversees is almost uniformly pernicious — as evidenced by the career of Clinton herself, whether as a tool of Walmart and Monsanto in her Rose Law Firm days or as an advocate for police state surveillance and drone killings in the State Department.
And to accept as a “class warrior” someone who pals around with a Morgan Stanley Vice President and assures Wall Street bankers in private speeches that they’re just misunderstood, is a bit beyond anyone’s capacity for suspension of disbelief outside the #UniteBlue Kool-Aid cult. Like a lot of Democrats, Clinton is great at churning out soccer mom rhetoric about “working families around the kitchen table” on demand. But the best way of judging what she’d actually do as President is not by what she says with her mouth, but what she’s doing with her hands meanwhile.
For example, although she’s carefully avoided making any definite statements about her position on the issue, close Clinton associates in the economic policy world express confidence that she supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And that’s another thing — she’s pretty good at avoiding straight answers to tough questions on most anything. Witness the way she puts on her best “I’m glad you asked me that question” smile whenever she’s asked about her emails or Clinton Foundation donations, or her latest story on those issues or the “landing under fire in Bosnia” thing is revealed to be a, um, prevarication within days.
But if anyone can manage to come across as even more disingenuous than Clinton, it’s Harsanyi. First of all, it takes a lot of gall to whine about “class warfare” when we’re in one — and it’s the top 1% waging it against us.
And to dismiss negative comments about the top 1% as “zero sum” is begging the question. It assumes that people in the top 1% didn’t get rich at our expense — something Harsanyi asserts without backing up. But the top tenth of a percent make their money almost entirely off rents on assorted state-enforced monopolies or direct subsidies, and the managers and professionals down in the rest of the 1% are mostly either members of professional licensing cartels or hired overseers for the rentier classes.
So take your pick: The next President will be either a Democrat who talks populist talk about the 1%, or a Republican who uses all kinds of fake “free market” rhetoric — and either one will become the newest presiding officer over the executive committee of the corporate ruling class. Politicians are all class warriors — for the other side.