Is Robert Reich a Commie?

Just last week, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich got in a huge fuss over Fox News blowhard Bill O’Reilly calling him a “communist” and “secret adores Marx.”  Reich has subsequently challenged the popular TV pundit to a debate while firing back by calling O’Reilly a wuss and a coward.  In a recent blog post, he frets over the national “debate” being poisoned into illegitimacy by O’Reilly’s rhetoric.  According to Reich, “a democracy depends on public deliberation and debate” and without civilized discussion, our wonderful and essential political institutions which we rely on to keep the world spinning are falling by the wayside.

Perhaps O’Reilly struck more of a nerve than Mr. “Locked in the Cabinet” is willing to admit.

Now O’Reilly, besides being an economic ignoramus, is hardly qualified to throw around the term Marxist.  His constant trumpeting of war with Iran and previous support for the Iraq invasion demonstrate that when push comes to shove, Bill-O always sides with the Empire.  Throughout his career, O’Reilly rarely drifts from the neo-conservative paradigm.  The original neo-cons were, of course, ex-trotskyites and ex-communists themselves who, basing the spreading of their ideals off of the teachings of Marxist revolutionary Leon Trotsky, sought overarching government abroad under the guise of fighting an over-exaggerated threat which was in itself financed and supported by the U.S. government.  Under the guise of big government fighters, these warmongers learned from the red’s lesson plan and wanted to spread state domination  far beyond domestic borders.  Antiwar.com editorial director Justin Raimondo explains:

The Trotskyists argued that the Communist Revolution of 1917 could not and should not be contained within the borders of the Soviet Union. Today’s neocons make the same argument about the need to spread the American system until the U.S. becomes a “global hegemon,” as Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol puts it. Trotsky argued that socialism in one country was impossible, and doomed to failure: encircled by capitalism, surrounded by enemies constantly plotting its downfall, the “workers state” would not survive if it didn’t expand. The neocons are making a similar argument when it comes to liberal democracy. Confronted by an Islamic world wholly opposed to modernity, Western liberal democracy must implant itself in the Middle East by force – or else face defeat in the “war on terrorism.” Expand or die is the operative principle, and the neocons brought this Trotskyist mindset with them from the left.

By virtue of being an Irving Kristol-esque neoconservative, O’Reilly’s calling Reich a commie is the equivalent of the pot calling the kettle black.

Reich denies the charge despite having much in common with Marx when it comes to economic ignorance.  Reich has admitted to not seeing the housing bubble coming and even bought a house in Berkley in April 2006- which is often regarded as the height of the boom.  He hasn’t a clue on how central banking causes the business cycle and his Keynesian affinity prevents him from recognizing how important capital accumulation is for building the productive base of an economy.  His constant harping on allowing the thugs in the IRS to pilfer up to 70% of the 1%’s income shows his complete lack of understanding on the importance of economic calculation and why thieving public servants are incapable of utilizing scarce resources effectively.  He has even argued that Obamacare doesn’t go far enough and enthusiastically supports Washington clenching the entire health care industry through outright nationalization.

Most importantly is Reich’s tireless devotion to mandatory unionization in the private sector.  For years, the public policy prof. has played the class warfare card and lamented over laborers being exploited by monocle toting, cigar smoking capitalists.  His solution is having unions coerce employers, who force no one to actually work for them, to pay higher wages out of their marginal profits.  The result is institutionalized unemployment as Mises explains:

The more capital — other things being equal — is invested, the higher wages climb on the free labor market, i.e., on the labor market not manipulated by the government and the unions. At these market wage rates all those eager to employ workers can hire as many as they want. At these market wage rates all those who want to be employed can get a job. There prevails on a free labor market a tendency toward full employment. In fact, the policy of letting the free market determine the height of wage rates is the only reasonable and successful full-employment policy. If wage rates, either by union pressure and compulsion or by government decree, are raised above this height, lasting unemployment of a part of the potential labor force develops.

Reich’s class-based rhetoric is really just Marxism wrapped in a modern veil.  Marx’s theory was based on class conscious and the idea that people are motivated solely by the interests related to their respective class.  When Reich advocates for higher rates of unionization, he uses the same Marxist logic in assuming the low and middle class should automatically buy into his thinking.  Populist class struggle against capitalism is a concept brought up in virtually every piece of his writing.  Just take a look at the phrasing from a Baltimore Sun editorial written back in December:

The (Wall) Street makes bundles from these bets, but they have raised costs for consumers. In other words, a small portion of what you and I pay for food and energy has been going into the pockets of Wall Street. Just another redistribution from the middle class and poor to the top.

Besides his devotion to the menace of government-backed collective bargaining, Reich is also a proponent of public investments such as “education, infrastructure, and basic R&D.”  The logic follows that without evil corporations willing to spend on such goods and services, it’s up to crooked politicians to do so.  But, as Murray Rothbard showed, the public sector “necessarily lives parasitically upon the private economy” and that the resources squandered by the state always end up being directed at politically favored causes.  Rather than fulfill consumer demand, productive resources “are now directed, by compulsion, away from these wants and needs.”  The state lives and grows by siphoning increasing amounts of resources from civil society.  This is the truth Friedrich Hayek referred to when he wrote his classic “The Road to Serfdom.”

However you slice it, Reich’s positions on economics, redistributive schemes, and class-styled politics wreak of the Marxism of old.  O’Reilly’s communist accusation may have been tongue-in-cheek, but he and Reich are just another pair of media enablers who serve as representatives of two sides of the same coin.  One plays the role of a macho man ready to bomb in the front door of whatever dictator that fails to bow down and kiss Uncle Sam’s jackboots.  The other spends his days brainstorming better, more convincing ways to make opponents of the welfare state out to be cruel monsters.  In the end, both seek to use the guns of government to enhance the prestige and supremacy of the state.  They each abide to a rigid set of bullet points that have long defined the “differences” between the left and the right.  Yet neither has any intention of seeing the Leviathan tamed in any significant manner.

Contrary to Reich, O’Reilly’s rhetoric doesn’t ruin the national dialogue.  The so-called “debate” taking place on the editorial pages in major newspapers and on the evening broadcasts of mainstream news networks was hardly ever a debate to begin with.  Charles Goyette, author of the new book “Red and Blue and Broke All Over,” was right when he said that today someone can go through the quintessential American life without ever hearing the case for true freedom.  Indeed, with proposals in Congress over allowing the IRS to confiscate passports of tax delinquents, black boxes to be required in every new passenger vehicle in 2015, the Labor Department attempting to ban child labor on family farms, the TSA finding the need to feel up a 7 year old girl with cerebral palsy, the President allowing himself to assassinate and jail at will, the White House showing no regard to civilian deaths, apathetically called collateral damage, from continuing drone strike campaigns, the recent passing of an executive order allowing for the de-facto nationalization of all vital industries such as agriculture and energy in times of both peace and emergency, and even another variation of the highly unpopular Stop Online Piracy Act passing the House of Representatives thanks largely to Tea Party support, Washington’s insatiable appetite for more power shows no signs of slowing down.

Neither Reich or O’Reilly protest these radical clampdowns on liberty.  They only bicker over the state’s rate of growth; never actually calling for a complete reversal in direction.

Calling the Berkley Professor a red may end up being one of the most accurate accusations to ever come out of Bill-O’s big mouth.  Reich should return the favor.  That way they can both be right.

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.