Monday, June 15, 2015

Occupy Wall Street Mainstreams Communism

My article in today's FrontPage magazine:

Occupy Wall Street Mainstreams Communism

By Matthew Vadum

Though many have declared the Occupy Wall Street movement a failure, it won a major propaganda victory when it forced the phony political issue of “income inequality” into the national political debate, according to one of its leaders in a new article.

The article, titled The Triumph of Occupy Wall Street, appears at the Atlantic, the home of radical leftists, market participants in the racial grievance industry, and mushy moderates.

It was written by radical left-winger Michael Levitin, a co-founder of The Occupied Wall Street Journal, an OWS “affinity group.” (Its website had not been updated in 1,000 days at time of writing.) The article is a mixture of truth and bald-faced lies that slavishly defends a philosophy of failure and a movement that is based on Marxist lies, as David Horowitz and John Perazzo demonstrated in their pamphlet Occupy Wall Street: The Communist Movement Reborn. Despite the various problems with Levitin’s article, he points to an unfortunate side-effect of the short-lived movement: the left has become more bold in its open promotion of communist themes and ideology and is pushing them into mainstream politics like never before.

The fairly recent sharpening of rhetoric in which the mythical “one percent” are depicted as the class enemies of everyone else is new in the American experience. Not everyone accepts the frame, but few challenge it, even among conservatives.

This national brainwashing through the power of repetition has boosted left-wing causes such as organized labor’s destructive push for a $15 an hour minimum wage. It has helped greens advance their antisocial causes such as opposition to fracking, opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, and a divestment movement on college campuses that claims to have forced universities and institutional investment funds to unload $50 billion in fossil fuel investments. It has also emboldened left-wingers to push for student loan forgiveness and step up their attacks on the First Amendment by pushing a constitutional amendment that would reverse the Citizens United ruling and overturn the ancient legal principle that corporations are “persons” capable of raising funds and suing and being sued. In other words, the Left is waging a full-scale war on both the Bill of Rights and the legal concept of limited liability, the beating heart of free enterprise.

The protests and rampant criminality on display with Occupy Wall Street distracted from the endless scandals and policy failures of the Obama administration. This helped to get President Obama reelected in 2012 in an election that he should have lost big time. By nominating Mitt Romney whose net worth was said to be at least $250 million, Republican primary voters unwittingly helped to advance the false leftist narrative that the GOP was the party of out-of-touch rich people.

This allowed the media to run all sorts of hit pieces disguised as human interest stories. For example, the media focused on the fact that Romney’s wife, Ann, owns several champion dressage horses and competes in tournaments in what most people would consider to be a rich person’s sport. Always deemphasized was the fact that she suffers from multiple sclerosis, a terribly debilitating disease that among other things robs its victims of muscle control, and that riding has been so therapeutic for her that it, in her words, “saved my life.”

Occupy Wall Street has had a discernible impact, Levitin writes.
Nearly four years after the precipitous rise of Occupy Wall Street, the movement so many thought had disappeared has instead splintered and regrown into a variety of focused causes. Income inequality is the crisis du jour—a problem that all 2016 presidential candidates must grapple with because they can no longer afford not to. And, in fact, it’s just one of a long list of legislative and political successes for which the Occupy movement can take credit.
He is correct when he writes about the words Americans now use when discussing politics. “Until recently, Occupy’s chief accomplishment was changing the national conversation by giving Americans a new language—the 99 percent and the 1 percent—to frame the dual crises of income inequality and the corrupting influence of money in politics.”

As this writer observed three years ago, the Occupy movement that began in lower Manhattan, complete with “rape tents” and rampant crime, has reframed the political debate — for the worse.

It is now impossible to turn on the radio or television without hearing public affairs and political issues framed in Marxist terms, as matters of so-called economic equality pitting the “1 percent” against the “99 percent.”
In an act of self-congratulation, Levitin took credit on behalf of Occupy for Hillary Clinton telling Iowans in April that “the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top.” Clinton’s rhetoric has gotten even sharper in recent weeks as she sharpens the blade on her class-warfare guillotine.

“[T]he debate over inequality sparked by Occupy has radically remade the Democratic Party,” he contends in one of his more dubious assertions. Levitin ignores the fact that the far Left captured that party in 1972 in Miami when it nominated George McGovern to take on President Nixon. “There won’t be any riots in Miami because the people who rioted in Chicago [at the 1968 Democratic convention] are on the Platform Committee,” then-Democratic delegate Ben Wattenberg wrote of the 1972 convention.

Occupy has merely cleared the way for Democratic lawmakers in Congress to become more in-your-face about their beliefs without causing much of a backlash.

Occupy Wall Street has shifted perceptions. That admitted socialist Bernie Sanders, whose career is devoted to regurgitating tedious Marxist cliches, is even being taken seriously as a Clinton challenger is more proof of how Occupy has changed the nation’s political culture. Levitin implies that Occupy somehow moved Sanders to the left, as if such a thing were possible.

Sanders is Occupy Wall Street. Not surprisingly, Sanders was the first U.S. senator in 2011 to declare his support for Occupy Wall Street, praising its activists for focusing a “spotlight” on the need for “real Wall Street reform.”

Bernie has long believed in the doctrinaire drivel he has been spouting since he was mayor of Burlington, Vermont. He displayed a Soviet flag in his mayoral office and in 1985 visited Nicaragua to celebrate the sixth anniversary of Daniel Ortega and his Marxist-Leninist Sandinista government’s rise to power. According to AIM’s Cliff Kincaid, in the 1980s Sanders “collaborated with Soviet and East German ‘peace committees'” whose aim was “to stop President Reagan’s deployment of nuclear missiles in Europe.” He also “openly joined the Soviets’ ‘nuclear freeze’ campaign to undercut Reagan’s military build-up.”

But now, courtesy of the Occupy movement which has de-stigmatized certain aspects of the Marxist faith, people no longer laugh at Sanders when he waxes ignorant on his worldview.

Republican candidates for the White House, too, have swallowed the Bolshevik bait, Levitin writes gleefully:
Even leading Republican contenders have jumped on the inequality bandwagon: Jeb Bush, through his Right to Rise PAC, asserted that “the income gap is real,” while Ted Cruz admitted that “the top 1 percent earn a higher share of our income nationally than any year since 1928,” and Marco Rubio proposed reversing inequality by turning the earned-income tax credit into a subsidy for low-wage earners.
Levitin’s article is yet more proof that left-wingers struggle with economics and basic math and that facts are never an obstacle when trying to advance the narrative.

Rubio doesn’t want to convert the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) into a subsidy for low-wage earners because it already is one. EITC is a welfare program that provides a taxpayer subsidy for low-wage earners. The IRS acknowledges that last year it paid out more than $66 billion in EITC benefits to nearly 28 million eligible individuals and families. Because it is a “refundable tax credit,” many recipients got benefits even if they had no tax withheld.

Rubio has offered an as yet vague proposal under which EITC would continue to function as a subsidy for low-wage earners. The Florida senator proposes changing some of the details of the program such as sending benefits monthly instead of once a year at tax-filing time.

Although Ted Cruz, a Republican senator from Texas, did say what Levitin attributes to him (on Fox News Channel on Jan. 20 of this year), Cruz wasn’t necessarily buying into the idea that income inequality is a problem. He was pointing out that Obama’s policies have worsened this so-called problem about which the Left incessantly whines. Unfortunately, he refrained from attacking the premises on which the leftist complaint about “income equality” rests.

Still, the fact that Cruz felt the need to discuss the income inequality boogeyman at all is a testament to the effectiveness of Occupy Wall Street.

How America has changed in the Obama era.

Few could have imagined just a few years ago that Marxist class-consciousness would nowadays be taken seriously even by Republican presidential candidates. The GOPers don’t seem to realize that they should not grant this communistic claptrap even a smidgen of legitimacy by helping it enter standard political discourse. It won’t appeal to good, patriotic Americans, or to that much sought-after creature, the Independent voter.

This so-called issue should not be addressed by Republicans at all, unless they seek to discredit it as a concept. Economic inequality, as the Left calls this non-problem, is not a glitch; it is an essential feature of capitalism.

It is a virtue, not an evil. The fact of economic inequality is proof that freedom exists; in fact the two ideas are inextricably bound together. A recognition that people are different and that forcing them to behave a certain way is generally a bad idea, are what made this country great and prosperous. Americans should never, ever apologize for these foundational ideas.

At risk of sounding pedantic, it needs to be said that sometimes people have to be reminded of the obvious fact that human beings have different abilities and characteristics. This is as it should be. Some are tall; some are short. Some are physically attractive; some are plain or unattractive. Some are smart; some are simple-minded. Some have marketable skills; others less so.

This is simply the way it is. This is reality and in a sane America this would be where all political discussions begin. The Framers of the Constitution knew this and they designed the Constitution with human nature in mind. Many Americans seem to have forgotten this basic point. They don’t understand that only those at war with reality want to perfect humanity or redistribute wealth. From V.I. Lenin to Kim Jong-un, the utopian schemes of those who refuse to accept human beings as they are have generated oceans of blood.

There is no upside for Republicans to pander to the media or the mobs in the streets on economic inequality because those who consider it to be a legitimate issue are so far gone that they won’t vote for Republicans anyway.

On the positive side, apart from Obama’s reelection, not too many Democrats, the natural beneficiaries of populist, class-warfare politics, have benefitted from what OWS did. Democrats were crushed by Republicans in the congressional elections last year. Voters flipped control of the U.S. Senate to the GOP and strengthened the Republican majority in the House of Representatives. Republicans’ majority control of state legislatures and governors’ mansions only increased as a result of an election that was, depending on the psephological metrics used, the Democratic Party’s worst showing of all time.

George Soros, the Chinese Communism-loving anti-American hedge fund manager, certainly got his money’s worth. The international pariah dubbed the uncrowned king of Eastern Europe by one critic, helped to overthrow the governments of Serbia and Georgia. He has cut checks to generate unrest in Turkey and Egypt, and strongly supported Barack Obama’s candidacy. Supporting Obama makes sense because Soros believes that “the main obstacle to a stable and just world order is the United States.” It is no coincidence that Obama holds the same belief.

Naturally, Soros is an ardent supporter of Occupy Wall Street which he has praised as “an inchoate, leaderless manifestation of protest.” According to Soros, the movement has “put on the agenda issues that the institutional left has failed to put on the agenda for a quarter of a century.”

Levitin agrees, acknowledging that short-term electoral conquest was never the goal of the community organizers, dirty hippies, and rapists of Occupy Wall Street.

The objective was to infect the national political conversation with Marxist tropes and ideology, which is unfortunately a new reality in America.

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