"One section leader proposed to cure economic distress by putting all rich people to death."
-- The French Revolution as described in The Age of Napoleon by Will and Ariel Durant
Why was the frequently outspoken actress Daryl Hannah suddenly so shy when talking to Sean Hannity?
Why was the always outspoken actress Roseanne Barr suddenly so angry with a celebrity financial website?
And why was the never shy Alec Baldwin twittering cagily in non-denial denial mode?
What could possibly make these three famous activist actors so respectively reticent, furious and coy?
The Occupy Wall Street Movement has received cheers from President Obama, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats, with the President's union and media allies swarming to support the protest.
What is the question that, according to Occupy Wall Street supporter and Columbia professor Jeffrey Sachs, is driving the movement? Simply put, Sachs sums up the driving force as "economic justice." It is this that has caused liberals to rally, conservatives to be appalled. The issue is thus joined, and goes precisely to the heart of what kind of a country America will be.
Since "economic justice" is the demand here, let's explore why liberal actors and Occupy Wall Street enthusiasts Hannah, Baldwin and Barr would suddenly exhibit the behavior they have so publicly displayed. What specifically is the history behind this demand for economic justice, or the division, as it is currently phrased, between the "1%" and the "99%"? How did previous supporters seek to bring "economic justice" for the "99%" to reality? Is there something in the history of this issue that is affecting the behavior of Hannah, Barr and Baldwin, while posing considerable risk to Democrats in the 2012 presidential election?
In 1789 the rumblings of an earlier version of Occupy Wall Street were already in evidence. By 1792 King Louis XVI was under arrest and France was launched on the first serious modern movement dedicated to what is now called "economic justice." It became known, of course, as the French Revolution.
As the Revolution picked up speed, famously under the influence of a Jacobin leftist named Maximilien Robespierre, a Catholic priest named Jacques Roux and his followers -- the "Enraged Ones" -- marched on the new authorities in Paris, a.k.a. the Committee for Public Safety in which Robespierre played such a key role -- saying:
"Yours is no democracy, for you permit riches. It is the rich who have reaped, in the last four years, the fruits of the Revolution; it is the merchant aristocracy, more terrible than the nobility, that oppresses us."
Within two months a French deputy in the Revolution pronounced the rising sentiment: Let Terror be the order of the day. The cry went out: "War on tyrants, hoarders and aristocrats."
And so it was. The demand went up for authorities to travel France with a "portable guillotine" compelling any French citizen of any discernible wealth to, as recorded in The Age of Napoleon, "surrender his hoarded produce or be executed on the spot."
The Terror began, and the hated French capitalists of the day and others who had incurred the wrath of the mob became the first -- after the King and Queen -- led to the guillotine. Death sentences were issued at the rate of seven a day. Every rich person available was hustled away from home and hearth, given a brief, well-fixed trial or none at all -- than summarily carted to the guillotine. On and on this went -- and then, inevitably, the charges of wealth and just about everything else from suspected loyalty to the dead king to insufficient rigor in supporting the Revolution was deemed as treason to the masses and took the inevitable turn. Shocked, one prominent Frenchman of the day observed: "The Revolution… is devouring its own children."
The city of Lyons was seen in the day as "almost the capital of French capitalism" -- the 18thcentury French version of New York City and Wall Street.
Robespierre issued his edict:
The city of Lyons shall be destroyed. Every habitation of the rich shall be demolished…
A "Temporary Commission" was created to judge the entrepreneurs of Lyons. Those suspected of possessing any signs of wealth would receive a "trial." All private wealth was to be confiscated, "the rich" and others to have their property taken. When a petition signed by ten thousand women begged mercy for their family and friends already now imprisoned, the response was the public execution of sixty of the "prisoners." Then another 209 the next day. Then three days later another 200. All shot to death with "showers of slugs or grapeshot from a row of cannon." A proposal was floated that all rich people should be put to death.
Prices rose amid the blood, in direct contradiction to the promise of the Revolution. Lines formed for bread, milk, meat, butter, oil, soap, candles and wood. Which only increased demands to increase the power of the state. The "laws" tumbled forth proclaiming "free, universal primary education" and the establishment of a welfare state. Rationalism was the order of the day, and religion was to be replaced. In Paris, the Cathedral of Notre Dame was momentarily renamed "The Temple of Reason."
By the time this was all over, with revolutionaries turning on each other with swift judgment, the total number of victims in this swirling madness is estimated to have reached some 40,000.
Eventually, predictably, the attention of the Revolutionaries now busy devouring their own children turned on one of its fathers -- Robespierre himself.
He met the guillotine on July 28, 1794. Jacques Roux, the head of the Enraged Ones had preceded Robespierre -- the latter having already turned his sights on his one-time political soul mate and imprisoning him over a disagreement of political ardor. Roux committed suicide in prison six months before the blade finally came around to Robespierre's own neck -- when Robespierre's comrades decided their leader had been found wanting.
Alas for the world, there was more to come from the believers of "economic justice."
The philosophy of the Nazis, the German National Socialist Labor Party, is the purest and most consistent manifestation of the anti-capitalistic and socialistic spirit of our age.
So wrote the famous biographer of the idea of economic justice in practice, the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises in his landmark book Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis.
Mises noted that the Nazi slogan Gemeinnutz geht vor Eigennutz -- the commonweal ranks above private profit -- "implies that profit-seeking business harms the vital interests of the immense majority and that it is the sacred duty of popular government to prevent the emergence of profits by public control of production and distribution." The Nazis applied this "justice" argument not only economically inside Germany itself, it formed the basis of their belief in the need for Lebensraum (living space). Which is to say, the Nazis demanded not only the redistribution of income -- but the redistribution of land, of physical living space outside of Germany -- and the resources that went with it. They demanded "Nahrungsfreit" -- freedom from importing food. Which began the Nazi takeovers of Czechoslovakia, Austria, and eventually on to the rest of Europe. Nazism, says Mises, "was nothing but the logical application of [the tenets of economic justice] to the particular conditions of comparatively overpopulated Germany."
Mises goes on to note that German academia had for decades previous to the rise of Hitler "eagerly imbued their disciples with a hysterical hatred of capitalism, and preached the war of 'liberation' against the capitalistic West.… When the Soviet policies of mass extermination of all dissenters and of ruthless violence removed the inhibitions against wholesale murder… nothing could any longer stop the advance of Nazism." Adolf Hitler was a "maniac" and "sadistic gangster" but…and this is important to note…he was not the founder of Nazism -- he was the product of it. Not only did the Nazis aim to abolish free-market economics, they intended to abolish the laissez-faire production of human beings. They would become the managers of a "breeding farm" intent on "rearing superior men and eliminating inferior stock." To wit: Jews, gays, the disabled, gypsies, and so on and on.
The mass slaughters that horrified the world, as Mises describes them, were the result of "the logical and consistent applications of doctrines and policies" in a society that had been swept away by socialist doctrine -- the doctrine of economic justice.
This, of course, does not touch the murderous reign of the Italian Fascists, their program as adopted in 1919 described by Mises as "vehemently anti-capitalistic." Nor can one leave out the obvious: Marxism in the Soviet Union as detailed in The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression.
The concept of "enemies of the people" (the wealthy, those who worked in banks, the "bourgeoisie") swept through the new Marxist state after 1917, with specific measures designed to intimidate those who did not cooperate. What began with names printed in newspapers and lists posted in public places quickly became the sweeping and constant state of violence against those judged to be "in contradiction with the worker and peasant government, or with the political programs of the Socialist Democratic or Socialist Revolutionary parties." A state of mind that morphed into Stalin's mass murders, the gulags and for the duration of the Cold War held behind the "Iron Curtain" a considerable portion of Europe, ending finally with the collapse of the Berlin Wall and eventually the Soviet Union itself.
Here then are four examples from the 18th century to the 20th of anti-capitalist revolutions or societies that have acted on the expressed ideal of "economic justice." Their resulting actions speak for themselves -- and they speak loudly down through the centuries and the recent decades that were the end of the 20th century.
And what is it we are seeing now -- right now -- in this Occupy Wall Street movement?
Two interesting facts that have emerged.
• Doug Schoen, the longtime professional pollster and Democrat, an adviser to the Clintons, took the moment to send his polltakers down into the Occupy Wall Street camp in New York's Zuccotti Park. Here's his piece in the Wall Street Journal.
What did he find? "The protesters have a distinct ideology and are bound by a deep commitment to radical left-wing policies."
Then Schoen says:
Our research shows clearly that the movement doesn't represent unemployed America and is not ideologically diverse. Rather, it comprises an unrepresentative segment of the electorate that believes in radical redistribution of wealth, civil disobedience and, in some instances, violence. Half (52%) have participated in a political movement before, virtually all (98%) say they would support civil disobedience to achieve their goals, and nearly one-third (31%) would support violence to advance their agenda.
Coming in at about the same time was a poll taken of one hundred of the Occupiers by New York Magazine which found an unnamed number wanted to "burn it [Wall Street] down" and that 34 percent believed the United States government was "no better than, say, Al Qaeda."
One poll finds those who believe in burning down Wall Street? And in another 31 percent -- nearly a third -- would support violence to advance their agenda of "radical redistribution of wealth."
This is, of course, precisely the same agenda of Robespierre and the Jacobins in the French Revolution, of the Nazis in Germany, of the Communists in the Soviet Union.
• Fact two? It emerges that the American Nazi Party supports the Occupiers, as seen here in this official statement. So too does the Socialist party USA endorse the protest, as seen here. Not to be left out is the Communist Party USA, as heard here in their You Tube conference call
Now take a look here at this video posted by my colleague Quin Hillyer, which he discovered in turn from our friends at National Review. It's the Oakland, California edition of Occupy Wall Street and someone has taken the time to interview the participants.
Here are a few of the quotes:
"We're here to build a movement for economic justice."
"I don't really have a lot of…any… sympathy for people with, you know, obscene amounts of money, you know…anything over $200,000 is like…you're…that's…no one spends that amount of money on anything. That's ridiculous."
"The people who have all the money certainly didn't work for it."
"The rich, the elite…are exploiting the people."
"I don't think the rich people realize whose going to go first."
"My landlord is rich…I say eat her."
"Kill 'em. Just kidding."
And while she's not on this tape, here is the recent quote from Roseanne Barr that was in the news:
"I first would allow the guilty bankers to pay… back anything over 100 million in personal wealth because I believe in a maximum wage of 100 million dollars and if they're unable to live on that amount then they should go to the reeducation camps, and if that doesn't help, then be beheaded."
And then there are these statements not from Occupy Wall Street in 2011 (here is a link to their official manifesto) but an earlier time:
"Every habitation of the rich shall be demolished." -- An October 1793 Robespierre directive issued by the "Committee for Public Safety" in Lyons, France.
"We will make France a graveyard" -- French Revolutionary Jean-Baptiste Carrier in July 1793 of his campaign to kill the wealthy of France. He had fifteen hundred men , women and children loaded onto vessels of all types -- then scuttled them in the Loire River. Within four months he had disposed of four thousand "undesirables."
Gemeinnutz geht vor Eigennutz -- Nazi slogan from the 1930s meaning "the commonweal ranks above private profit." Note the eerie similarity in this slogan to these words from the official Occupy Wall Street press release linked above that attacks those who "place profit over people."
"We reject the old systems of morality and 'humanity' invented by the bourgeoisie to oppress and exploit the 'lower classes'. Our morality has no precedent, and our humanity is absolute because it rests on a new ideal….Blood? Let blood flow like water! Let blood stain forever the black pirate's flag flown by the bourgeoisie…For only through the death of the old world can we liberate ourselves forever from the return of those jackals!" -- A 1918 editorial from Kiev's The Red Sword, the newspaper of the new Soviet political police, the Cheka.
"We are exterminating the bourgeoisie as a class. In your investigations don't look for documents and pieces of evidence about what the defendant has done, whether in deed or in speaking or acting against Soviet authority. The first question you should ask him is what class he comes from, what are his roots, his education, his training, and his occupation." -- Martin Latsis, deputy chief of the Cheka, in a November 1918 order to his officers that was part of a first campaign of Soviet genocide by the new Communist government of Vladimir Lenin.
What is it that we know that has caused Daryl Hannah to suddenly become tongue tied in her radio interview with Sean Hannity?
What is it that caused Roseanne Barr to launch a twitter tirade against a celebrity financial website?
And what is it that caused Alec Baldwin to become uncharacteristically twitteringly coy?
That's right. It was references to their personal wealth.
Sean Hannity asked Daryl Hannah how much money she was worth. Ms. Hannah, suddenly hemming-and hawing, declined to answer. According to Celebrity Networth, the correct answer is that Daryl Hannah is worth $15 million.
Roseanne Barr, she of the statement cited above that those worth more than $100 million should be beheaded, was absolutely furious with the very same site, Celebrity Networth. Why? Because it lists her wealth at $80 million. To be precise, Ms. Barr, who dwells richly in Hawaii, upon learning that a listing of her own personal net worth had gone public, Twittered thusly:
@celebnetworth you lying piece of s[--]t- i said guilty bankers, not non guilty ones! not all rich people r guilty including me- u commie"
And what set Alec Baldwin off? The information from Celebrity Networth (contained in my own revelation here in an article about Mr. Baldwin's financial ties to Wall Street and Big Oil through his mother's quite admirable breast cancer foundation) that Alec Baldwin is worth some $65 million and makes $300,000 per episode for his NBC-TV series 30 Rock. Twittered Baldwin target after angrily denouncing my article (but not responding to my answer that I would be happy to correct any errors or, as he put it, "lies"):
Some website wrote that I'm worth $65 mill, so have no cred at OWS. Man.....news to me. Didn't know I had $65 mill.
In other words, he didn't deny the story. He simply said he "didn't know" he had that much money.
So. What do we have here?
What we have are three extremely well-off American actors who have made a considerable living in the American capitalist system. Richer, it should be said, than many who work on Wall Street and who are not the CEOs of places like Goldman Sachs.
But to acknowledge this personal wealth can easily cause Hannah, Baldwin and Barr a problem with the very people they are egging on in the Occupy Wall Street Movement. If, as that Occupy Wall Street protester on the video declared, any personal wealth north of $200,000 is "obscene" -- then Ms. Hannah (personal wealth $15 million), Mr. Baldwin ($65 million) and Ms. Barr ($80 million) are, well, walking, talking capitalist obscenities. At least in the eyes of Occupy Wall Street protesters. In another age Hannah, Baldwin and Barr would be hustled off to the guillotine for "hoarding."
All one has to do is read the results of the Schoen poll, the New York magazine poll, or listen to those in the video of the Occupy Wall Street crowd in Oakland to discern not only the intellectual connection from the "General Assembly" that runs the OWS to the "Committee for Public Safety" of Monsieur Robespierre and his fellow French revolutionaries. Members of the Committee for Public Safety targeted what they called "the aristocracy of merchants" -- proposing to arrest the rich, put them in prison, and blow the prison up with mines.
Not to mention the OWS lineage that comes straight from the anti-capitalist German National Socialist Labor Party -- the Nazis. Not to mention the Communists of the 1917 Russian Revolution. Tellingly, it is a fact that the American Nazi Party, the Socialist Party and the Communist Party -- all alive and well here in America -- are out there right now supporting the OWS crowd along with Hannah, Baldwin and Barr.
(Not to go unnoticed is OWS supporter Susan Sarandon -- listed with a net worth of $50 million as seen here -- recently referring to Pope Benedict as a "Nazi." The Pope is German, and like all young Germans was forced to belong to the Hitler Youth as a youngster. But it is Sarandon -- no youngster -- who is voluntarily keeping company these days with the Nazis who are busily supporting OWS.)
It is certainly safe to wonder if the reason for Daryl Hannah's reticence with Hannity, Roseanne Barr's fury at Celebrity Networth and Alec Baldwin's non-denial denial about the accuracy of his net worth is directly tied to the reptilian section of their brain that has begun to flash a warning light, however dimly.
If Hannah, Baldwin and Barr in fact are siding with people who have
a) aimed their anger at people of wealth,
b) marched on the homes of some of these wealthy people,
c) have freely admitted to having no problem with violence directed against people of wealth, and
d) are receiving open support from American Nazis and Communists…
-- somewhere the lessons of what happened to the wealthy in the French Revolution or at the hands of the Nazis and Communists have been lost.
Mr. Baldwin surely does not wish to see these people camped out on his lawn in Amagansett in the Hamptons. Ms. Hannah, her income affording her a dwelling in the remoteness of the Rocky Mountains, would not be thrilled to see herself surrounded and harassed at home either. One can only imagine the greeting these people would get when Roseanne realizes they are now on her reportedly 46-acre doorstep in Hawaii looking to personally redistribute her $80 million. (Ms. Barr, according to public records, purchased her Hawaiian property with what was listed as her aptly named "Big Bucks Trust.")
This said, who quite deliberately is taking the lead in playing with this kind of political fire?
Who is pinning a Scarlet Letter on fellow Americans as like Hannah, Baldwin and Barr as "millionaires and billionaires" -- exhuming the language of the French Revolution? Who has disinterred what Mises called the "hysterical hatred of capitalism" that was the philosophical underpinning of the German National Socialist Labor Party? The latter a 20th century nightmare that Mises describes as based on "the purest and most consistent manifestation of the anti-capitalistic and socialistic spirit of our age."
Just who is leading the charge against people like Daryl Hannah, Alec Baldwin and Roseanne Barr? Who intends to make people like these three actors campaign issues in 2012?
Astonishing as it may be, that is the man in the White House. The leader of the Democrats in the 2012 election.
You might call him President Robespierre.
And as a result, consciously or not, three very rich liberal Hollywood actors are already flinching when it comes to discussions of just how rich is rich.
Rich, isn't it?
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