Posted on | February 8, 2014 | 89 Comments
Jesse Myerson (@JAMyerson) in a March 2012 cable TV appearance.
“Dictatorship is rule based directly upon force and unrestricted by any laws.
“The revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat is rule won and maintained by the use of violence by the proletariat against the bourgeoisie, rule that is unrestricted by any laws. . . .
“One cannot hide the fact that dictatorship presupposes and implies . . . revolutionary violence of one class against another.”
— Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky (1918)
When Lenin was wounded in an August 1918 assassination attempt, Josef Stalin knew what to do. The future Soviet dictator sent a telegram to Moscow, announcing that he was “instituting open and systematic mass terror against the bourgeoisie and its agents.”
Stalin ignorantly blamed “the hirelings of the bourgeoisie” for the shooting of Lenin, but in fact the would-be assassin was a 28-year-old Socialist Revolutionary, Fanya Kaplan, who had spent 11 years at hard labor in tsarist prisons after being arrested for her part in a terrorist bombing plot when she was 16. What inspired Kaplan’s resolve to assassinate Lenin was the forcible suppression of the Constituent Assembly in January 1918, less than three months after the overthrow of the Kerensky government in October 1917 .
Lenin never erred on the side of leniency. Kaplan was executed with a bullet to the back of the head four days after her assassination attempt, as the Bolsheviks unleashed the Red Terror which, among thousands of deliberate atrocities, resulted in the summary execution of some 800 members of the Socialist Revolutionary Party.
“[T]here is only one way in which the murderous death agonies of the old society and the bloody birth throes of the new society can be shortened, simplified and concentrated, and that way is revolutionary terror.”
— Karl Marx, 1848
Communism’s explicit and enthusiastic embrace of violent “revolutionary terror” is among the many facts that self-described communist Jesse Myerson seeks to ignore or evade in pretending to correct our “huge misconceptions about communism.”
Supposing the enemies of communism to be as ignorant as himself, Myerson boasts of making “points” that his opponents are incapable of answering, thus to display his imaginary intellectual superiority. Myerson’s posing is intended, as I explained yesterday, for entirely selfish purposes: By presenting himself as an insuperable advocate of far-left “progressive” ideas, he expects to be praised and admired, and thus to be elevated to a position of leadership, obtaining for himself not only fame as a sort of radical celebrity, but also an easy income as a Professional Progressive Thinker.
Glorious Idol of the Obscure Masses
Myerson’s sociopathic dishonesty suits him well for this project of pseudo-revolutionary self-advancement, and his resemblance to Anonymous “famewhore” Barrett Brown is not coincidental, the main differences being that (a) Barrett is a much better writer, and (b) Barrett had the courage of his convictions, with the result that (c) Barrett is now in federal custody awaiting trial on enough felony charges to put him in prison for life, while (d) Myerson is still running free, getting paid to publish in Salon.com and Rolling Stone, and enjoying as much sex, drugs and rock-and-roll as he can afford.
Nice work, if you can get it, but not every leftist enjoys the privileges of the radical celebrity elite. For every rock star type like Myerson, there are many hundreds of their ideological comrades who toil in obscurity on behalf of the progressive cause. The leftist masses, by their silent acceptance of Myerson’s leadership, thereby acknowledge their inferiority to him: If they were as capable as Myerson of articulating their shared beliefs, they would be his equal. Instead, because Myerson is better than them, he gets the Rolling Stone commissions and the invitations to appear on cable TV talk shows. The role assigned to the progressive masses is merely to admire and applaud Jesse Myerson, contenting themselves to bask in his reflected glory.
Sic semper hoc.
The extreme egoism of communist leaders is a trait displayed throughout the history of the movement since Marx’s ridiculous insistence that only his socialism was “scientific.” Yet such is Jesse Myerson’s egoism that he imagines himself superior even to Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin. At least they had the integrity to admit that the abolition of private property — the expropriation of the bourgeosie — could only be accomplished by violent revolution, and that the victors of such a revolution would have to employ the methods of violent terror to establish their dictatorship.
When Myerson’s Jan. 3 Rolling Stone article drew criticism, he responded that he did not “want the 1% dead just dispossessed.”
This was ridiculous, as any true communist could have seen. Does this young Bard College alumnus expect that billionaires will voluntarily surrender their wealth? Eh, never mind: Myerson deleted the Tweet, evidently in embarrassment.
A revolution is certainly the most authoritarian thing there is … And the victorious party must maintain its rule by means of the terror which its arms inspire in the reactionaries.”
— Friedrich Engels, 1872
Nearly two decades ago, after undertaking a careful study of Marxist philosophy, I concluded that 19th-century Germans were envious of the French Revolution and craved a sans-culotte epoch to call their own. Marxism’s “dialectical materialism,” with its allegedly scientific devotion to historical development, assigned to the French Revolution a sort of runner-up trophy in history, declaring that the quest for political equality that had inspired the uprising of 1789 was mere “bourgeois democracy,” destined soon to be eclipsed by the coming socialist revolution of the proletariat. Though Marxism advocated internationalism and appealed to the “workers of the world,” its authors were distinctly German — deriving their concept of the dialectic from Hegel — and it was generally expected that Germany, with its advanced industrial economy, would be the scene of the outbreak of the proleterian revolution.
When the Bolsheviks seized power in backward Russia, critical sniping from the German social-democrat Karl Kautsky inspired contemptuous sarcasm from Lenin and Trotsky. But who could not pity the hapless German socialists? Here their own idea had been unexpectedly successful in an inferior nation — one the German army had beaten in the World War — and there was an unmistakable humiliation in the fact that the German people had once more lost out in the world-historic revolutionary sweepstakes. The 19th-century German socialists Marx and Engels borrowed the idea of revolutionary terror from 18th-century France, and yet it was 20th-century Russians who experienced the bloody fulfillment of that hand-me-down nightmare vision.
“Marx and Engels hammered out the idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat . . . the idea that the political autocracy of the proletariat is the ‘sole form in which it can realize its control of the state.’ . . . The man who repudiates terrorism in principle . . . must reject all idea of the political supremacy of the working class and its revolutionary dictatorship. The man who repudiates the dictatorship of the proletariat repudiates the Socialist revolution, and digs the grave of Socialism.”
— Leon Trotsky, 1920
Terroristic violence is the sine qua non of communism, first in overthrowing the capitalist order and then in maintaining the authority of its revolutionary dictatorship “unrestricted by any laws.”
This explicit rejection of civil rights and the Rule of Law, this maniacal devotion to violence as a core principle, guaranteed that the Soviet government would be a murderous totalitarianism. Nevertheless, self-described communist Jesse Myerson airily dismisses the bloody record of Marxist-Leninist regimes with a bit of rhetorical arm-waving as he lectures us on our “huge misconceptions about communism.” Revolutionary violence disappears in a fog of moral equivalence:
In capitalism, competing ownership claims are settled by the state’s willingness to use violence to exclude all but one claimant. If I lay claim to one of David Koch’s mansions, libertarian that he is, he’s going to rely on big government and its guns to set me right. He owns that mansion because the state says he does and threatens to imprison anyone who disagrees. Where there isn’t a state, whoever has the most violent power determines who gets the stuff, be that a warlord, a knight, the mafia or a gang of cowboys in the Wild West. Either by vigilantes or the state, property rights rely on violence.
This is true both of personal possessions and private property, but it is important not to confuse the two. Property implies not a good, but a title — deeds, contracts, stocks, bonds, mortgages, &c. When Marxists talk of collectivizing ownership claims on land or “the means of production,” we are in the realm of property; when Fox Business Channel hosts move to confiscate my tie, we are in the realm of personal possessions. Communism necessarily distributes property universally, but, at least as far as this communist is concerned, can still allow you to keep your smartphone. Deal?
Ah! We are ignorantly confused between “personal possessions and private property,” Myerson tells us, so that the principle which justifies expropriation of a billionaire’s wealth (property) will not be extended to your iPhone (a mere possession).
Of course, in actual practice — as opposed to Myerson’s word games — communism’s lawlessness routinely resulted in ordinary people being deprived not only of property and personal possessions, but also deprived of liberty and life. Beyond its inherent tendency toward terroristic violence, communism proved itself incapable of producing an adequate supply of those consumer goods (not just sophisticated devices like iPhones, but also such mundane items as shoes and bread) that Myerson takes for granted in capitalist America.
So not only do the rich people lose their wealth, but everybody else is doomed to hopeless poverty and — oh, yes, by the way — your communist rulers might decide to kill you and a few million other people, just so nobody forgets who’s in charge.
The Secret Elitism of the Occupy Movement
Did I mention that Jesse Myerson’s original claim to fame was as “media coordinator” for Occupy Wall Street? Remember when that mob of smelly losers shut down the Brooklyn Bridge?
New York City police say about 700 protesters have been arrested after they swarmed the Brooklyn Bridge and blocked traffic lanes for several hours.
On the second week of protests by the Occupy Wall Street movement, a large group of marchers broke off from others on the bridge’s pedestrian walkway and headed across the Brooklyn-bound lanes.
Police say demonstrators spilled onto the roadway Saturday night after being told to stay on the pedestrian pathway. They face charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
Some of the protesters said that authorities had tricked, trapped and then arrested them, according to The New York Times.
“The cops watched and did nothing, indeed, seemed to guide us onto the roadway,” Occupy Wall Street media coordinator Jesse Myerson told the newspaper.
Blame the cops! Yes, that’s it — the cops tricked us into breaking the law!
Here’s another bit from the same October 2011 article:
Protesters speaking out against corporate greed and social inequality took their “solidarity march” to Brooklyn, but battled in a war of words against officers, chanting “We are not criminals” and “Let us go!”
Some protesters tried to get away as officers started handcuffing members of the group. Dozens of protesters were seen handcuffed and sitting on the span as three buses were called in to take them away, witnesses and organizers said.
The New York Times reported a few protesters had “clambered dangerously up the structure of the bridge to get to the wooden pedestrian walkway, which is about 15 feet above the road.”
Erin Larkins, a graduate student at Columbia University who says she and her boyfriend have $130,000 combined in student loan debt, was among the thousands of protesters on the bridge. She said a friend persuaded her to join the march and she’s glad she did.
“I don’t think we’re asking for much, just to wake up every morning not worrying whether we can pay the rent, or whether our next meal will be rice and beans again,” Larkins wrote in an email to The Associated Press.
Oh, noes! A graduate student at Columbia (annual tuition, $44,716) is eating rice and beans and worrying how she and her boyfriend can pay their rent because . . . corporate greed! Social inequality!
Why would Myerson pay so much to attend an elite school in Annandale when, a half-hour drive away in Poughkeepsie, Dutchess Community College boasts that it offers “the lowest tuition in New York state,” just $3,200 a year? After a couple years getting your associate’s degree at DCC, then you could transfer to a SUNY campus — say, Albany, about an hour’s drive from Annandale — where annual tuition is $5,800.
Although I don’t know if Bard College requires any math classes to get a degree in human rights, by my calculations, the difference in tuition between attending Bard ($182,920 for four years) and going the DCC/SUNY-Albany route ($18,000) is $164,920.
Saving yourself $164,920 in tuition might not put you into the 1%, but it sure will buy a lot of rice and beans, so . . .
Why did Jesse Myerson go to Bard? Because he’s better than you.
Myerson’s intellectual superiority to others is both the premise and conclusion of his every argument, and you don’t expect someone with such superior qualities to rub shoulders with those lowbrow plebians at community college, do you? No, of course not. Educating the revolutionary vanguard requires the “prestigious faculty” and “vibrant” campus life “with world-class performing arts venues” that only an elite private $45,730-a-year liberal arts college can provide.
This young communist can’t be bothered to learn history or economics, nor has he studied Marxist theory enough to understand that his rejection of revolutionary terror condemns him to the same “renegade” category to which Lenin assigned the pathetic Kautsky. And this same Jesse Myerson (Bard ’08) presumes to enlighten us as to our “huge misconceptions about communism”?
At least Marx got that much right . . .