Rosa Luxemburg at Wikipedia
The text of Reform or Revolution (1900)
Panel at the Left Forum 2016:
Sandra Rein on Rosa Luxemburg
Chris Hedges on Rosa Luxemburg
Richard Wolff on Rosa Luxemburg
Saying or shouting “bullshit” may be appropriate to make your strong rejection or condemnation known as, for example, if you are in an audience listening to a politician; or, if you are asked for, let’s say by a reporter, for a one sentence response to a political speech.
However, in the context of a discussion, saying “bullshit” is, at best, an expression of rejection. But since it may not be clear what is being rejected, the response could and should be: “What are you rejecting?” Is it the importance of what I am saying? Is it the truth of one of my statements? Is it my reasoning? To avoid such follow-up questions, instead of saying “bullshit,” say: what you just said is so trivial, it is not worth discussing; or, what you said is false; or, your reasoning is faulty. And each of these comments should be followed-up with reasons. This way a discussion has a chance; otherwise, saying “bullshit” may just be a conversation stopper.
I will give this talk pretending that I am a capitalist.
I am a capitalist. No, I am an entrepreneur. That sounds more innocuous. What does that mean? It means I have a business which provides services and/or I have a factory which produces widgets. In both instances, I need wage-workers who will provide the services and the labor of manufacture. Also I need a market — a place to sell my services and products. But the indispensable factor here is the workers. Where am I to get cheap workers?
Well, they are everywhere in abundance. They are, as it were, a reserve army of potential workers. They are people who without work are basically the homeless. You say that the homeless are only a small minority. Well, yes, because once they become workers they stop being homeless. But if they do not work, or are not involved in crime and dependency on others, they become homeless. The government — which, of course, works for me — has set up the laws in such a way that you are mostly either homeless or you work for someone like me. And as an entrepreneur, as a business person, that is how I want things to be.
My fear is that this pool of the potentially homeless, that is the pool of potential workers (in short, as Marxists call them, the proletariat) is somehow removed from me. How can this happen? The greatest danger is that the government falls into the hands of those who will institute — God forbid — an agrarian reform. “Agrarian reform” is a eulogistic term for giving away land to people for free. If people have access to free subsistence land, then it will be very difficult (or unprofitable) to hire them. This is the greatest possible evil that can occur to someone like me, a capitalist. To prevent this, I will muster all the forces of government to prevent this from occurring here or anywhere else in the world. My government must intervene in all places where there is any whisper of “agrarian reform.”
There was danger of this occurring in Ukraine in 1918 under the anarchist Nestor Makhno, but miraculously the Bolsheviks prevented this from succeeding. Then another anarchist revolution occurred in 1936 in Spain, but thank goodness Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin by backing Franco prevented this disaster. Then in 1954 in Guatemala, that no good Arbenz tried to get the land back from the United Fruit Company. But our CIA under Allen Dulles orchestrated a coup, and put a stop to this nonsense. Then there were those nasty Sandinistas in Nicaragua who came to power in 1979. They too were full of “agrarian reform.” Well, my hero, President Reagan, though having to use illegal and brutal clandestine methods, put a stop to this danger. Unfortunately, the only place in our hemisphere where agrarian reform succeeded was Cuba. But we quarantined this disease of Cuban agrarian reform through a series of embargoes, which still exist. You say that Cuba is a small place relative to the world. But you forget that such examples are contagious, giving rise to ideas of reform or even revolution.
And of course we have to stop agrarian reform everywhere, directly as in Vietnam, we burned their villages and drove them into the cities where they had to look for work or remain homeless. We — I am talking about us, the American businessmen — helped (indirectly) Indonesia to get rid of those useless villagers in East Timor. Imagine! These people tried to live independently of the market economy. Good riddance!
Talking of revolutions, all these velvet, orange and other multicolored so-called revolutions which have happened recently have simply replaced one president by another — something not unlike voting for a new president. I, as a capitalist — I mean entrepreneur — am not bothered by this. It has little if any effect on my business enterprises. In fact, I am in favor of stirring up people into marches and protests. I like all this hullabaloo about racism, immigration, police profiling, and especially all this attention and preoccupation with President Trump — a Russian probe, pussy grabbing and sexual harassment. I love it. I hope he remains in office for all 4 years; even better for 8. He is a capitalist’s — I mean America’s — godsend. Why do I like all this? Because it distracts people from the root of capitalism — the fact that people do not have access to free subsistence land. As long as there is no talk of agrarian reform — quarrel away, and demonstrate all you will. I on the other hand will use the police and the military in such a way as to pretend that I am terribly frightened by these outbreaks of violence, I am oh so frightened by Neo-Nazis and Muslim terrorists. Yes, I want to create some violence in the expectation of people thinking that because the police are used to quell this violence, that the protests are serious and dangerous for the government. Yes, that is what I want people to think. And it will keep them preoccupied with what to me is a distraction, as I rake in some more cash.
Peter Joseph characterized Stefan Molyneux as being either a pathological bullshitter or a classical (conscious) con man. This made me think about the nature of a con man and how he achieves his goal, which is to get something from you fraudulently — like money. And he does this by persuading you to trust him, or, in other words, having confidence in him. I found the Wikipedia entry “confidence trick” very helpful, particularly the bibliography.
Thinking about this reminded me of the movie The Sting. Here is the trailer.
It also reminds me of the 1955 song by The Platters, “The Great Pretender.”
Here is a cartoon about John Law and the Mississippi Bubble
As to Ponzi schemes, here is a List of Ponzi schemes.
The largest Ponzi scheme was that of Bernard Madoff, he ripped off 65 billion dollars. Here is a trailer of a movie about him: “The Wizard of Lies.”
Jan Lewan, a Polish polka band leader, pulled off a Ponzi scheme, as portrayed in the film: “The Polka King.”
Peter Joseph in 2007 created the movie Zeitgeist which exposed religious, economic, and political bullshit. This exposition was expanded into a trilogy, to include biological, psychological, and social misconceptions. There is now a Zeitgeist movement, other movies, and recently a book by Peter Joseph, The New Human Rights Movement: Reinventing the Economy to End Oppression (2017), which I have yet to read. All this has brought on for him a slew of interviews .
Here are links to some of his movies:
ZEITGEIST: ADDENDUM, 2009
ZEITGEIST: MOVING FORWARD, 2011