Marxism Incorporated

HOW MARXISM TODAY IS A WHOLLY-OWNED SUBSIDIARY OF BIG MONEY

marxstatue

First of Two Parts

MUCH CELEBRATION has taken place in recent days of the May 5th, 2018 200th birthday of Communism advocate and theorist Karl Marx. Typical of the press this occasion has received is this article by Olivia Goldhill at Quartz magazine.

WHO owns Quartz?

Laurene Powell Jobs, one of the richest capitalists on the planet. In July 2017 her curiously-named Emerson Collective bought The Atlantic and its digital properties, one of which is Quartz. Ms. Jobs apparently doesn’t see Marxism as any kind of threat to her well-sheltered wealth, or to herself. (Quartz in fact recently published another Goldhill-penned tome joking about Marx’s co-optation by capitalists.)

In 2018 the espousal of Marxism comes chiefly from plutocrats– and from hugely-rich centers of power and influence like Harvard. I previously examined here Marxist intellectual journals The Baffler and Current Affairs, the former owned by a billionaire; the latter founded by Harvard student Nathan J. Robinson, son of an international corporate trainer. Olivia Goldhill, coincidentally, is herself a Harvard grad.

So what’s actually happening?

WHAT MIGHT BE HAPPENING is that Monopoly Capitalism seeks to set the current hierarchy rigidly in place. This would explain much, as I’ll discuss in a future post.

WHAT MIGHT BE HAPPENING is a Shigalovian strategy, as outlined in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel The Possessed. A Ten Percent class of enlightened socialist overlords (Harvard grads?) managing the rest of the human herd for the good of all.

WHAT MIGHT BE HAPPENING is that Laurene Powell Jobs and Company see Marxism as a way to channel dissent, directing it toward ideas and programs amenable to the maintenance of Global Capitalism.

Or: Marxism today is a scam.
*******

NEXT: The Goldhill Essay Itself.

-Karl Wenclas

Advertisements

Revolutionary Wannabe #2

lehmann
(Chris Lehmann getting serious.)

Chris “I’m Not an Aristocrat” Lehmann is by all accounts a very serious person. He wants the world to know he’s serious, serious. SERIOUS.

Lehmann blew up at me on twitter earlier this week when I referred to him as an aristocrat. It was a throwaway line– after all, he IS a New York media Insider. I didn’t realize I was messing with his self-image. Lehmann quickly jumped into the discussion to set me straight:

(This is called Too Much Information.)

Chris Lehmann wants to be radical. NO more swanky parties with Ana Marie Cox!

chrislehmannnyobserverpowercouples

One half of him might be attracted to Manhattan glitz and flash– where The Baffler office sits– the other half is as aghast as a New England Puritan minister at the devilish debauched allure of the capitalist world. No! Temptation! Save me! Save yourself! Save everybody! We must march in the Revolution because that upper-crust world I have one foot out of and one foot in is EVIL!!

“I wanna, wanna wanna, wanna wanna wanna, wannabe, wannabe, wannabe, wannabe a Revolutionary! Yes, indeed.”

Lehmann wants to go marching down the street holding signs like Sunsara Taylor, but instead he’s in his office typing away– keys clicking, clicking– conflicted as always.

funcrunch-20170924-8586

(Madcap Sunsara Taylor.)
*******

Chris Lehmann is a collection of contradictions. In a recent Baffler essay Lehmann, who has worked at or written for New York Observer, Newsday, New York, Congressional QuarterlyWashington Post, Bookforum, NPR, Washington Monthly, Yahoo News, In These Times, Mother Jones, Tikkun, Reason, The Nation— criticizes the new class of “knowledge professionals”; as if he’s not among such class himself. (Remember, not an aristocrat.) He criticizes the existence of a “permanent political class.” But given the media’s power, isn’t it as bad to have a permanent media class? A clubby world where everyone knows everyone else and once you’re through the door, you’re in— as long as your ideas remain properly p.c. and predictable, that is.

That Chris Lehmann, of all people, is editor of The Baffler shows how far the publication has fallen from its days of Do-It-Yourself zinehood, when the upstart journal was part of a scene which believed that, in a democratic society, everyone should be a writer and publisher– the field not restricted to resume’d professional media elites (“aristocrats”) working for magazines whose reason for existence is to serve as glorified tax shelters for billionaires, or for scions of billionaires as a matter of “class inheritance.”

-K.W.

To Be Continued. . . .

Mr_and_Mrs_William_Hallett

(Painting by Thomas Gainsborough.)

 

The Lit Scene Now

typewriter

All sides represent contradictions, as American literature is in a state of flux and objective(?) observers such as ourselves wait for things to sort themselves out. For the moment, intellectual thought about all matters literary is polarized.

THE RIGHT
We pass over long-time conservative journals like Commentary and National Review, which are adjuncts of an internationally focused intellectual establishment based in Washington D.C. and New York. We’re talking about the new Right.

What is it? Can it be defined? We wait for someone to define it. There is new thought, new energy coming from that end of the spectrum. To us it seems a badly put-together Frankenstein monster; a contradictory amalgam of Nietzschean paganism and tradition-leaning Catholicism. Its origins are found in intellectual journals like Taki Mag, with writers ranging from libertarian to libertine to anarchist to all things. Hardly conservative– many have opened Pandora’s Box. The aesthetic attitude is often snobbish and effete, and as such, out of synch with the mass of populists who voted for Trump. The impact to date on the literary world of these writers is small.

THE LEFT
The energy on the Left comes from a spate of journals like Jacobin Mag, The Baffler, and n+1— along with at least one interesting new one which we’ll discuss at a later time. All espouse some variety of Marxism. All editors, writers, and interns of these journals are from real privilege. Are they the Left? A curious form of it. Their common origin point is the Ivy League. What the publications present in their essays, editorials, poetry and prose is the skewed “View from Harvard Yard.” The tops-down acceptable narrative from cogs and creators of the established machine. Each individual has paid dues within the current literary system. They’re artistic conformists in every aspect.

Today’s nobility, representing a tiny sliver of America, peering at the Unknown from their Brooklyn/Manhattan fortress. Living a 2017 variation of Margaret Mitchell’s Plantation Madness.

overseer
(Former overseer Jonas Wilkerson and “white trash” Emmy Slattery getting thrown off the Tara estate.)
Well-bred aristocrats united with loyal retainers of color against the Enemy: white populists of sketchy background who carry the potential to upset their flimsy Potemkin facade. That high and narrow construction of paste and plywood labelled “LITERATURE,” which they present as the legitimate article– when it’s clearly NOT.

To understand these journals and editors and the role they play in literary culture, one first has to understand their predecessors. We’ll examine those in our next post.