I was encouraged this morning to read Gavin Mueller’s delirious response on the website of Jacobin magazine to The American Spectator’s June cover story. (“Response” isn’t the right word here. Mueller clearly hasn’t read the piece, James Piereson’s serious-minded review of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century—but let that pass.)
There is not a single statistic, percent sign, chart, graph, or symbol in this 845-word article. There are no conciliatory gestures, no hat-tips or trigger warnings. And the article’s title, “Chicken Littles of the Right,” does not begin with or even contain the words “How” or “Why.”
Instead Mueller foams at the mouth. He hurls insults. He exaggerates, distorts, and caricatures. He is nasty and, when he casually equates Piereson and the Spectator with the racialist seasteading dorks of the Dark Enlightenment, mildly libelous. He is humorless, indeed hilariously so, in the manner of an old-fashioned Nation columnist or Robespierre himself. It is made clear that he and the dwindling contingent of orthodox Marxists at Jacobin are out for blood: ours.
Remember this: no matter how many country clubbers flip through Piketty’s book, at bottom, the rich hate us. They disdain us. They mock us. And they fear us, even though the current balance of forces favors them overwhelmingly and sometimes “common ruin of the contending classes” seems like an optimistic outcome.
Yet I have to fall back on some advice I got as a kid: If the American Spectator wants to cry about class warfare, we should give them something to cry about.
The article is completely incoherent, of course. What begins as an exercise in name-calling at the expense of the Spectator’s editorial staff soon becomes an excoriation of Wall Street, Silicon Valley, complaisant European social democrats (who in Mueller’s estimation come up rather short of the Leninist gold standard), and the police state. But what a piece! Even some of my favorite columnists at Salon would be hard-pressed to produce anything so unabashedly frenetic and thesis-less.
All of this is to the good. NPR, the New York Times Book Review, and the rest of the affectless Type B Left should be worried that someone on their side is still calling the guillotine the “National Razor.” Here at the Spectator, we’re exhilarated.
PS: Tony Blair is an arch-villain.