Rich Man, Poor Man
"Mankind is divided into rich and poor, into property owners and exploited," Joseph Stalin asserted in a 1937 interview with H.G. Wells. "To abstract oneself from this fundamental division ... means abstracting oneself from fundamental facts."
Stalin's mind operated with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer, but of one thing he was certain: there are "the rich" and there are "the poor," and the rich are the enemy. Sound familiar?
That same crude idea of perpetual class warfare seems to be the primary foundation of Barack Obama's re-election campaign, if not his entire presidency. The president is not just asking the rich to pay their fair share -- he is demeaning them and dismissing their accomplishments as well. And he is inciting his audience to join in a mean-spirited attack on the rich as "exploiters." "You didn't get there on your own" -- you got there on the backs of the poor, and now it's time for revolution.
It has been a while since Americans have heard a speech like the President's Roanoke address, but that speech did not come out of nowhere. It was, in fact, a perfect reflection of the radical tradition in which Obama was educated from childhood on. In that tradition, those who aspire to material success are regarded as "enemies of the people" -- a phrase that crops up very frequently in radical and anarchist writing and that is suggested in Obama's current populist attacks on the rich.
For centuries, leftists have campaigned against those whom they considered class enemies. At the height of the French Revolution, Robespierre ranted about how the revolution would treat "the enemies of the people." Without trial or appeal, it would simply kill them. The tendency to divide society into two distinct and opposed classes is a fundamental tenet of leftist thought, and it is a view that underlies Obama's entire conception of government.
For leftists like Obama, the rich deserve to be attacked not because of what they have done wrong, but because of what they have done right. All that Mitt Romney has achieved has been ethical and above board, but this is beside the point. The rich are enemies of the people for the very reason why they have succeeded while others have failed. Romney's "crime" is that he has aspired to excellence: educating himself, working hard, applying his intelligence, and succeeding. For that alone, he is the enemy of the left.
Like all Marxists, Obama seeks power on the promise of redistributing wealth from those who have succeeded and redistributing it to those who have failed. This, at least, is the theory. In practice, communists never redistribute wealth to the poor because wealth is destroyed when capital is taken from high achievers. What little that's left finds its way into the hands of the ruling elite. As Friedrich Engels had it, "[t]he working class seizes state power, and then transforms the means of production into state property." State property, not the property of the working class.
Obama is not running for office as a communist per se. Yet he has employed all of the classic methods of Marxist politicians. He has harped continuously on class inequality while promising to seize and redistribute the wealth of the rich if he is re-elected. He has divided voters along class, ethnic, gender, and ideological lines. He has politicized every crisis from the market collapse of 2008-2009 to the embassy attacks of today. These tactics are familiar within the communist tradition.
No one can now be blind as to what Obama is or whence he came. He came out of the communist tradition stretching back to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, and beyond that to radical thinkers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Charles Fourier, and Henri de Saint-Simon. While Obama may not have studied these original sources closely, he was tutored in Marxist ideology by his parents, grandparents, and mentors, including Frank Marshall Davis and Bill Ayers.
That tradition has never been democratic in nature. Communist leaders have always imposed their will on the masses by some combination of violence, fraud, and manipulation. In recent decades, the American left has largely abstained from violence, though not from intimidation, as the anti-reform and anti-Walker demonstrations in Wisconsin show. But the left has relied even more so on manipulation and fraud. Obama's attempt to position this election as a contest between the rich and everyone else, with Obama as the champion of "everyone else," is a classic example of Marxist manipulation.
Obama shares the left's contempt for democratic process. The president is campaigning on the basis of class warfare not just to distract attention from his record of failure, but also to avoid discussion of what he would do in his second term. What he plans, as he has repeatedly told donor groups, is "to finish the job." By that he means the institutionalization of widespread dependency: permanent dependence on government for medical care, education, housing, transportation, energy, and even food.
Most Americans do not support the transformation of America into a communist state, but unknowingly many will be voting for just that in November. By appealing to the basest motives of envy and resentment, Obama may succeed in cementing the left's hold on power and permanently transforming the relationship of Americans to their government.
Obama's re-election would establish a permanent majority dependent on government for their every need. Those who become dependent on government may believe they are secure, but they will live out their lives in poverty. And for this, they will not have rich Americans to blame. Will it ever occur to them to blame the left?
Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and articles on American culture, including Heartland of the Imagination (2011).