- Falling down the Antonio Gramsci rabbit hole
- Obama’s intellectual inheritance?
- Addison Wiggin on rotting out democracy…
- … from bottom to top
- Woke workplace purges are here
- Taking “Liberties” out of the ACLU
- Matt Taibbi: Social media executioners
- *Sneer* A career politician’s expedient about-face
Oh, no — my friend and mentor has fallen down the Gramscian rabbit hole!
Or so your editor thought a few days ago upon reading this: “After almost a hundred years, ’the long road,’ we are suffering through Antonio Gramsci’s version of the Marxist revolution: the Gramscian Revolution.”
So wrote our executive publisher Addison Wiggin to readers of the Financial Reserve — our VIP suite of research services.
Gramsci is described by Wikipedia as “an Italian Marxist philosopher and communist politician.” He died in 1937 at age 46 — days after the end of an 11-year prison term imposed by Mussolini’s fascist regime.
Gramsci in 1916: He’s sorta got that intense look of a leftist radical, no?
So what’s he to you and me today? Why should we care?
Well, you might think of today’s 5 as the third in a series — in which we’re trying to unpack the phenomena of “wokeness” and “social justice warriors” and “cancel culture” that’s burst on the scene in recent weeks.
How big a threat do they pose to the social order we’ve been accustomed to? To say nothing of your financial well-being?
For years, Gramsci has been an object of obsession for a certain type of conservative — one who believes in a decades-long communist plot to seize control of society.
While most of us celebrated communism’s demise with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, these hardy souls kept the warning torches lighted brightly.
Typical of this line of thought is an entry from a blog called Maggie’s Farm in 2008: “I hope I do not sound paranoid when I soberly say that much of the wacky, upside-down, right-is-wrong, black-is-white stuff we see in the news these days is directly or indirectly inspired by Gramsci: the attacks on Christianity, the family, individual freedom, morality and moral judgements; multiculturalism; the cult of victimhood, ‘tolerance,’ political correctness, the replacement of the roles of family, religion, individual responsibility and choice with government rules, laws and regs…”
The list goes on. You get the idea.
One of our longtime readers would warn us in emails now and then about Gramsci — especially the influence he had on the American “community organizer” Saul Alinsky, the guy who supposedly was an inspiration to Barack Obama.
Intellectual inheritance? [Photo of Alinsky by Wikimedia Commons user Pierre869856]
The whole time, I wrote it off. The Obama years were no great shakes, but it’s a very odd sort of communist revolution when not one banker is sent to prison for the epic fraud that led up to the Panic of 2008 and the Great Recession.
But if Addison, the fellow who founded this e-letter in 2007, is taking note of Gramsci at this moment in history… the least I can do is give Gramsci a second look.
“Writing from prison in the 1930s, Gramsci believed that the ruling elites used cultural institutions to maintain their power,” Addison explains.
“The central institutions in his crosshairs being education, religion and family. To break this ruling hierarchical structure and achieve a utopian Marxist socialist society, Gramsci urged his followers to take over the institutions and slowly rot them from within.
“Gramsci argued the Bolshevik Russian revolution was successful because the time was right. In Russia in 1917, ‘the state was everything, civil society was primordial and gelatinous.’ So all they had to do was behead the monarchy. There was no civil society to deal with. Gramsci called the frontal attack a ‘revolution of movement.’
“But in the modern democracies of the West, Gramsci preferred what he called a ‘revolution of position.’ The revolution of position ‘must include a mass democratic movement, an ideological struggle.’
“He recognized the state is ‘only an outer ditch’ behind which lies a robust and sturdy civil society. To prepare civil society for a socialist revolution they’d have to take ‘a long march’ through the institutions — education, religion, the family and ultimately democracy itself.”
In other words, if there’s an incipient communist takeover… Obama is a bit player.
Addison recently sat down for a long and wide-ranging conversation with our macroceconomic maven Jim Rickards. Jim elaborated on this very point.
“What they do is say, ‘You know what? You actually don’t need the White House. If you give me enough district attorney positions, give me enough attorney general positions, give me enough mayors and the city council people, give me some board of ed seats, I’ll turn this country into a communist country before you can blink,’ and that’s what’s going on.
“Gramsci said instead of doing it from the top down, we’ll do it from the bottom up and the leaders will never know what hit them. We’ll take over before they know it.”
And so, as we’ve chronicled in recent weeks, the takeover of the universities has spread to the newsrooms… and now to the workplace at large.
The purges aren’t just coming — they’re here. Some recent examples of people who’ve been “cancelled,” from all walks of life…
- A curator at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art resigned last week after 20 years because he said, “We will definitely still continue to collect white artists”
- A Boeing executive recently resigned after only six months on the job because when he was a Navy pilot, he wrote an article opposing women in combat. He wrote the offending article… in 1987
- A worker for the electric utility in San Diego was fired because he was seen making the “OK” sign in his company truck — unbeknownst to him, a white-power gesture. (He says he was cracking his knuckles.)
Firing offense [Photo posted on Twitter, since deleted]
Of course, private employers have the right to hire and fire as they wish. But ponder the irony here: “It is strange that ‘cancel culture’ has become a project of the left, which spent the 20th century fighting against capricious firings of ‘troublesome’ employees,” writes Helen Lewis in The Atlantic.
Then again, as we noted in our most recent musings on this topic, it’s been easy for corporate America to embrace wokeness in the weeks since the death of George Floyd brought throngs of protesters onto the streets of cities large and small.
In fact, we can’t help re-running the pic of JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon “taking a knee”…
As Lewis elaborates: “Diversity training offers the minimum possible disruption to your power structures: Don’t change the board; just get your existing employees to sit through a seminar.”
Yup. Make your employees read Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility and cashier a few people who don’t look as if they’re fully with the program.
➢ There’s a petition to get a college instructor in New York fired because it looked as if she might have nodded off during a Zoom meeting to discuss the adoption of an “anti-racist framework.”
“The Cult of Robin DiAngelo is highly corporatized and lucrative,” tweeted Glenn Greenwald yesterday.
“It has little to no effect on powerful elites with platforms. But by design, it scares the s*** out of ordinary workers in a contracting economy, petrified to speak freely & have organic friendship with colleagues.”
Greenwald is among a vanishing few honest brokers on the political left who cling to the left’s old values that cherish freedom of expression and civil liberties.
“Many progressives today are not aware that the struggle for free speech was a central project of the left and something that was historically resisted by the right,” writes Leigh Phillips at Jacobin magazine.
Gone are the days when the left rallied around the socialist leader Eugene Debs — thrown in prison under the Espionage Act of 1917 merely for giving a speech in which he said bankers and arms merchants stood to gain the most from American entry into World War I. (That law remains on the books today.)
Gone too are the days of the late 1970s, when the ACLU stood up for the right of neo-Nazis to march through Skokie, Illinois — a largely Jewish suburb of Chicago. Nowadays, the ACLU considers “the potential effect on marginalized communities” when deciding which free speech cases it will litigate.
“Too many modern progressives, particularly younger ones, have become indifferent to free speech,” Phillips continues, “or, worse, come to view the defense of free speech as something foreign to the left and a weapon of oppression.”
Where does it end? In “historic disaster,” Phillips writes.
“Throughout the 20th century, from Stalin’s purges to the Chinese Cultural Revolution and the Killing Fields of Cambodia, it was precisely when the left abandoned civil liberties and embraced groupthink supposedly in the service of some ‘greater good’ that those who claimed the mantle of emancipation perpetrated their greatest evils.”
Over the top, you say? Maybe not…
“It feels liberating to say after years of tiptoeing around the fact, but the American left has lost its mind,” writes Matt Taibbi — the left-leaning Rolling Stone veteran who gifted us with the term “vampire squid” to describe Goldman Sachs.
“It’s become a cowardly mob of upper-class social media addicts, Twitter Robespierres who move from discipline to discipline torching reputations and jobs with breathtaking casualness.”
“Robespierres” is not too extreme a description, given some of the people showing up in his Twitter mentions.
After he observed in early June that he still believes in change through nonviolence, he got this response…
It went downhill from there. Someone else mentioned how the Soviet Union transformed “from a fractured basket case in 1917 to a superpower by the end of WWII.” When Taibbi brought up Stalin’s purges and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s book The Gulag Archipelago, still another hard-core lefty dismissed Solzhenitsyn because of the anti-Semitic things he said later in life.
It continued: “There’s every reason to doubt the Standard Western take on Stalin,” said another commie. Taibbi replied that his understanding of the Soviet Union came from living there in the ’80s and ’90s and talking to people who survived the Stalin era — or knew firsthand of those who didn’t.
Finally, someone asked Taibbi, “Why do you waste your energy on these ***wipes?”
But can the social justice warriors really take over in the manner Antonio Gramsci described in the 1930s?
Back to the conversation Addison had recently with Jim Rickards — and Jim’s take on a potential Joe Biden presidency.
“His policies [have] moved so far to the left, it actually would be the fulfillment of what is — I don’t even think of it as a socialist revolution. I think there’s kind of a Marxist-Leninist revolution going on, a cultural revolution going on right now.
“Biden would be powerless to stop that from getting worse.”
That might seem strange — Biden being the senator from Delaware who’s been the best friend of the many corporations headquartered there, the guy behind the 2005 law that made it harder for everyday Americans to file for bankruptcy. He’s no Bernie Sanders, much less Che Guevara.
Then again, we come back to the analogy with the French Revolution we’ve cited before.
The moderate Girondists who cheered the fall of the monarchy — and who even held the reins of power for a couple of years — had no idea they would soon be supplanted by the Montagnards. Much less that the Montagnards would soon proceed with purges, show trials and the guillotine — with many Girondists among the first to get the blade.
Joe Biden and Jamie Dimon ought to watch their backs. And the rest of us? Stay under the radar — like the proles in Orwell’s 1984.
Well, we’ve done it again — another single-topic episode of The 5, and we didn’t plan it that way.
The interview Addison conducted with Jim was originally an exclusive to members of the Financial Reserve. But we felt the ground covered by that interview is so extensive, and the content so provocative, that it’s worth releasing to a wider audience.
You can read the whole transcript here — 30 pages worth, and it won’t cost you a thing. Pour yourself a tall one — coffee, a cocktail, whatever you think you’ll need to get through all the hair-raising topics, including…
- The “global reset” being planned by the power elite who gather every January in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum
- Where Trump went wrong and how he can still turn around his election prospects
- Another Italian philosopher of the 1930s whose ideas are animating the present-day culture war.
You probably won’t agree with everything in there; I know I don’t. But that’s the beauty of the team Addison and our publishers have assembled. They don’t enforce a “company line.”
That way our editors don’t have to censor or second-guess themselves. You’re getting their full, unvarnished, no-holds-barred opinions. We believe you deserve nothing less.
Try to have a good weekend,
The 5 Min. Forecast
P.S. Since the pandemic hit full force in March, Addison has conducted 14 interviews just like the one with Jim — many with our own editors, yes, but also with important outside voices.
Most of these interviews have been Financial Reserve exclusives. They’re among the many benefits that come with Reserve membership.
The benefits are too numerous to list here. Just know for now that we’ll be reopening the Reserve to new members as the second half of 2020 moves along. Watch this space for updates.