President Barack Obama’s is currently maligning extremely successful businesman Mitt Romney as a man heartlessly engaged in the exploitation of American labor and the outsourcing of their jobs to foreign countries. I am reminded of Nikita Khrushchev’s portrayal of his competitor, President John F. Kennedy, as a “capitalist pig.”
With my own ears I more than once heard Khrushchev cussing out that “millionaire’s kid” and threatening to wipe that “pig” off the face of the earth. As a matter of fact, all the leaders of the former Soviet Union regularly referred to capitalists as “pigs.” Under Lenin and Stalin, the Soviet Union’s “capitalist pigs” had been killed off. When Khrushchev came along, there were no more “capitalist pigs” left there, so he turned his hatred towards America.
Heaven forbid I should be understood as comparing President Obama to any of the Soviet monsters. I strongly believe that the first black American president should have a place of honor in our country’s history, but I note a few coincidences that do serve as food for thought.
Khrushchev matured politically in a period when Lenin and Stalin were pulling off what historians term the greatest peacetime mass terror in European history, in which millions of “capitalist pigs” living in the Soviet Union lost their lives. That experience left Khrushchev with a deep-seated hatred for capitalists: “It is in my blood — my serf’s blood!” I repeatedly heard him brag, for he was proud of it. Now, let’s consider what may have been going through the mind of President Obama during the twenty years he was receiving the message of liberation theology, a distorted view of the world specifically created and disseminated by Khrushchev’s KGB (I describe this more fully in my upcoming book Disinformation).
The purpose of liberation theology was to spread hatred for American capitalism throughout North America. Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who presided over Obama’s wedding and baptized his two children, is now most famous for “God damn America.” In such an environment, it is no wonder Senator Obama of 2008 described the undisputed leader of the free world as a “decaying, racist, capitalist realm” unable to provide medical care for the poor, rebuild her “crumbling schools,” or replace the “shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race.” Of course the senator pledged to change it by redistributing its wealth.
For people who dared to start their lives again from scratch in order to become citizens of this great country — as I did, and as did those millions who have patiently waited in line for their immigration papers — America is “the Canaan of capitalism, its promised land,” as prescient German economist Werner Sombart called it in 1906. This “Canaan of capitalism” was not created by Jeremiah Wrights; it was created by a long procession of American presidents who were capitalists like Mitt Romney, men who were daring enough to become successful in business and to earn sizeable fortunes. George Washington’s assets are estimated in today’s dollars at $525 million, Thomas Jefferson’s at $212 million, Theodore Roosevelt’s at $125 million, Andrew Jackson’s at $119 million, James Madison’s at $101 million, Lyndon Johnson’s at $98 million, Herbert Hoover’s at $75 million, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s at $60 million. John Fitzgerald Kennedy may not have earned his own fortune, but he inherited an estimated $1 billion. Some of these presidents were better than others; none has ever been called a “heinous capitalist.”
Europe generated two world wars along with Nazism and the Holocaust; our “Canaan of capitalism,” led mostly by capitalist presidents in the Romney mold, defeated them.
After World War II, our “Canaan of capitalism” generated an unprecedented technological explosion that pampered the whole Western world with a flood of cars, household appliances, and nutritious foods, throwing open the gates to an unimaginable new era of television, automation, and computerization. Concurrently, Eastern Europe devolved into one of the most destructive dictatorships the world has ever known, a behemoth known as the Soviet empire, which killed some 94 million people and waged some forty long years of Cold War against freedom and democracy. In the end, it was our “Canaan of capitalism” run by capitalist presidents that assumed the burden of freeing the world from the Soviet boot.
Now, the president insists on denigrating America’s uniquely successful capitalism as he attempts to change our country into a debt-ridden socialist realm. I have no reason to doubt the patriotism of our president and of the Democratic Party leaders. Nevertheless, I can see a frightening similarity between the Democratic Party’s electoral tactics aimed at discrediting American capitalism and the Kremlin’s plot to damage the United States by portraying its leaders as capitalist monsters during the years I was at the top of the Soviet bloc’s disinformation community.
The Kremlin’s slogan during the Cold War was “a fish starts smelling from the head,” and we did everything we could to make the head of capitalist America stink. We portrayed President Harry Truman as the “capitalist butcher of Hiroshima,” painted President Dwight Eisenhower as a “capitalist shark” of the warmongering military-industrial complex; described President Kennedy as an arrogant millionaire who acted as if he owned the world; insinuated that President Lyndon Johnson was a capitalist Mafioso who killed his predecessor; and spread the word that Nixon was a capitalist crook, that Gerald Ford was an obtuse football player who became a dull-witted capitalist, and that Jimmy Carter was a hapless peanut farmer who metamorphosed into a capitalist. It worked. By 1978, when I broke with Communism, the Soviet bloc’s disinformation community had collected over 700 million signatures on various international appeals blaming the U.S. for all the evils of the world.
“Yesterday, the devil came here. Right here. Right here. And it smells of sulfur still today,” said Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez in a 2006 speech to the United Nations in New York. The “devil” was the American president. The New York Times compared this vitriolic attack with Khrushchev’s venomous demagoguery.[i]
Now the “devil” is the Republican candidate for the White House, Mitt Romney, and his denigrator is the president of the United States himself. “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America,” Senator Barack Obama told an electoral gathering in Missouri on October 30, 2008.[ii] Transforming “American capitalism” into a political invective is indeed a fundamental change in American politics and a first for an American president.
“There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own,” President Obama stated four years later, speaking in a fire station during a campaign rally in Roanoke. “You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: you moved your goods to markets on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces that the rest of us paid for.”[iii]
This is the quintessence of the The Communist Manifesto.
We can only hope that President Obama will abandon his craving for Marx’s utopia. Fortunately, the United States is still run by We the People, and it still has free elections. On June 5, 2012, We the People in Wisconsin owerhelmingly endorsed the “Canaan of capitalism,” and Scott Walker became the first governor in U.S. history to win a recall.
On the day after Scott Walker’s victory, the United States celebrated the 68th anniversary of VE Day, commemorating the “Canaan of capitalism’s” triumph over another evil heresy, that of Nazism. By 1939, when WWII began, the military force of the U.S. was ranked number eighteen in the world, just ahead of Holland. The Great Depression had left no reserves to fund our defense. The U.S. army had only 325 tanks, while Hitler had more than 2,000. The Army Air Corps, the forerunner of the U.S. Air Force, had only 1,700 planes, mostly fighters and trainers, while Hitler’s Luftwaffe had nearly 8,500 fighters and bombers.[iv] Time magazine summed it up: “The U.S. Army looked like a few nice boys with BB guns.”[v]
A Congressional commission — whose legal counsel was Soviet spy Alger Hiss — proposed the nationalization of America’s military industry. Fortunately, President Roosevelt was a capitalist himself. He asked America’s “capitalist” industry to re-arm the country, and he appointed a “capitalist” as chairman of a “capitalist” commission charged with coordinating that immense task: William S. Knudsen, chairman of General Motors. “This country has been good to me, and I want to pay it back,” Knudsen said. He was an immigrant from Denmark.
Japanese admiral Yamamoto famously said he feared the attack on America at Pearl Harbor had “awakened a sleeping giant.”[vi] Yamamoto was right. In the following months America created the most powerful military industry on earth, producing two-thirds of all the Allied military equipment used in World War II. That included 96,000 tanks, 2.5 million trucks and a half million jeeps, 286,000 warplanes, 8,800 naval vessels, 5,600 merchant ships, 434 million tons of steel, 2.6 million machine guns, and 42 billion rounds of ammunition. That also included the nuclear bomb, which ended the war and brought the world into the nuclear age.[vii]
In November, the United States will face what may be the most important election in our history. The Democratic Party wants to present these elections to us as just a competition between people. Let us not fall into this trap. These elections will decide if the U.S. will remain a “Canaan of capitalism” or a utopian nightmare. There are many people in this country who know much better than I do how to convince the new generation of Americans who have not been taught real history why they should preserve our “Canaan of capitalism.” I once was the national adviser for science and technology to the Romanian president, so allow me to give you one simple yardstick for measuring the difference between capitalism and socialism. Over the last century, capitalism’s United States of America won a total of 331 Nobel Prizes; Marxism’s Russia got only 20.
Two worlds, light years apart.
[i] Warren Hoge, “A Speech That Khrushchev or Arafat Would Admire,” The New York Times, September 24, 2006.
[ii] Jim Geraghty, “Obama’s Position on Fundamental Change Changes Fundamentally,” National Review Online, April 14, 20121, http://www.nationalreview.com/campaign-spot/264719/obamas-position-fundamental-change-changes-fundamentally.
[iii] Toby Harnden, “And what do you know?: Business leaders hit back at Obama after he says the wealthy AREN’T responsible for their own success,” MailOnline, July 16, 2012.
[iv] Herman, Freedom’s Forge, pp. XI, 6, 7, 8
[v] Richard Holl, From the Boardroom to the War Room, (Rochester, NY: Rochester University Press, 2005), p. 41.
[vi] Arthur Herman, Freedom’s Forge: How American Business produced Victory In World War II, Random House, New York, 2012, p.XI.
[vii] Herman, Freedom’s Forge, p. IX.