Karl Marx Was a Populist!
Jude Wanniski
November 30, 1999


Memo To: The New York Times
Re: Marx, Buchanan, Fulani and Perot

What a coincidence? On Friday, the 26th, I wrote you a letter about how Pat Buchanan, Lenora Fulani and Ross Perot were all Marxists at heart, not only Ms. Fulani. And on Sunday, you run an op-ed by Kurt Anderson, "The Next Big Dialectic," which quotes the Karl Marx of 1847 warning about "globalization." It is a Marx sounding like the same Buchanan who is today in Seattle, demonstrating against plans to further globalize the World Trade Organization. In Das Kapital, Marx wrote that "improved communications" had been the key to increased prosperity and productivity, and the "last 50 years have brought about a revolution in this field... the entire globe is being girdled by telegraph wires... the time of circulation of a shipment of commodities to East Asia, at least 12 months in 1847, has now been reduced to almost as many weeks... and the efficacy of the capital involved in it has been more than doubled or trebled." Anderson also quotes Marx on the phenomenon of machines being created to build other machines. In another great quote, he turns to Marx's partner, Friedrich Engels: "A new machine invented in England deprives millions of Chinese workers of their livelihood within a year's time. In this way, big industry has brought all the people of the earth into contact with each other, has merged all local markets into one world market, has spread civilization and progress everywhere and has thus ensured that whatever happens in civilized countries will have repercussions in all other countries." The point of the op-ed is that Anderson sees "Cyber-capitalism" igniting a new class struggle, with a new Marx sure to follow. Hey, we don't need to wait for cyber-capitalism. The financial and industrial multinationals already are forcing the folks who are being sent into early retirement to look for political ways to slow things down, for the world to catch its breath. Make no mistake: That's what the Reform Party is all about.

P.S. I wish you would run my letter. It's not very long.

November 26, 1999
To: Letters Editor, The New York Times
From: Jude Wanniski

As a friend of Pat Buchanan's for 30 years and an admirer of Lenora Fulani, it is not that difficult for me to see how she, a black Marxist, could endorse Pat, a conservative Catholic capitalist, in his bid for the Reform Party presidential nomination. Amy Waldman's marvelous account of this political marriage, "Strange Can't Begin to Describe It," November 27, makes one tiny error which helps explain it all. She notes that Ms. Fulani has long been known "as a far-left espouser of Marxist-Leninist politics." Once you remove the "Leninist" tag, which does not belong on Ms. Fulani, you can understand that both of them are "populists" who are comfortable with the Karl Marx who insisted on his death bed that he was not a "Marxist," as the term was being used in the 1880s and later was associated with Lenin as a kind of short-cut to communism and a "withering away of the state."

Marx admired the kind of entrepreneurial capitalism he observed in the United States from his London adult years. Our society was extremely "fluid" in those days, while Europe's society was stratified. Marx predicted capitalism would fail unless saved by "active, universal suffrage." That is, if the masses at the bottom of the pile could compose their differences and outvote the big guys who ran Europe from the top, as they did in his day and still do today.

In this sense, Ross Perot also is a true Marxist, "anti-Establishment," a foe of the status quo and its benefactors. The folks who use their money and connections to build political floors under their enterprises, floors that prevent failure, floors that are ceilings to those below, the disenfranchised who have no money or connections, but lots of votes. That's where Pat and Lenora see eye-to-eye. In a three-way race with two Establishment parties, they dream of the kind of long-shot victory Karl Marx had in mind.