Sutherland: Occupy Olathe — The Class Struggle Comes to JOCO

Chairman_MaoOne of the most hateful legacies of Karl Marx is the notion of “class enemies.”

This is the idea that if you belong to a certain social class (e.g. Stalin’s “Kulaks,” Mao’s “rich peasants”) you are by definition an exploiter of the proletariat and thus intrinsically evil.  Class enemies were “outlaws” in the original sense. That is they were outside society’s protection. No law protected them and they could be killed and their property seized by anyone.

An unfortunate example of this syndrome ran in last week’s Kansas City Star in the form of an “As I see It” column.  Written by Jim Haas of Olathe, a retired history teacher, principal, and graduate degree director, it was a slam on Downton Abbey, the PBS prime time soap opera set in an English country house 90-plus years ago.  The title of the piece was; “Downton Abbey: A Republican Dream.”

Mr. Haas argues that the show’s depiction of an aristocratic family living in close proximity to its servants and dependents is a call for a return to a feudal oligarchy, which it shamelessly romanticizes.  Haas would have us believe that this sort of exercise in reactionary nostalgia is not only offensive but dangerous.  It serves to undermine democracy and justify evildoers like Governor Sam Brownback and his conservative Kansas legislature!

Never mind that Downton’s protagonist, Earl Grantham, is shown again and again to be wrong in resisting social change.  Never mind that the working class servants are shown to be wise and resilient in ways their supposed social betters would do well to learn from.  Never mind that its lessons of honor, duty, and loyalty apply to all its characters, regardless of where they are in the social hierarchy.

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Downton Abbey’s Earl Grantham

The real crime, in the eyes of Mr. Haas, is that the upper class characters have any redeeming qualities.  If a member of the landed aristocracy is shown to be a gentleman (noxious term!) “courteous, generous, and considerate,” who knows what’s next?  Why, we might even be forced to concede that Charles and David Koch are members of the human race!

To the extent the series has a political message; it’s a simple one, i.e., “We’re all in this boat together.”

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The Koch Brothers

It’s better if we recognize this, respect each others’ contributions, and try to work together as a society.  Demonizing people of a different social class as members of that class may seem like good politics (Sam Brownback of Parker, Kansas as a member of the nobility?  Whatever!), but like all attempts to play on people’s fears and resentments, it has a way of turning on you.

Sam Brownback Parker HS Yearbook

Sam Brownback
Parker HS Yearbook

As a student of history (e.g., the French and Russian Revolutions), Mr. Haas should know better.

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29 Responses to Sutherland: Occupy Olathe — The Class Struggle Comes to JOCO

  1. mike says:

    Class warfare is what Obama and most of the left have used to win elections. What seems to be forgotten is that “From each according to his means. To each according to his needs” has been tried in many countries and has just led to everybody being poor.

    • Jim says:

      Pols on both the left and the right have pitted “classes” against each other forever. It’s not an “Obama” thing or a conservative thing or a liberal thing. It’s a political “thing” that both sides will continue to perpetuate as long as people continue to swallow it. Both parties point at each other and claim it’s THEIR fault. The general public just nods its collective head and says, “Yeah, it’s THEIR fault!” Truth be known, both parties are bought and paid for by the SAME entities. Their general policies are going to be in line with the interest of those entities…….NOT yours.

      • mike says:

        You do make a valid point. On one hand, you have the George Soros funded leftists who feign that they care about the poor and are just using them to increase the power and control of government. On the other hand, you have the Koch Brother’s funded right wingers who want to increase the power and control of the rich. Basically, socialism/Marxism versus an oligarchy/plutocracy. Most of the politicians are no longer public servants but have become a ruling class. No wonder our middle class is shrinking!

  2. david says:

    Got it folks, class warfare is bad when the left does it, but when the right coins the term ‘takers’ it’s all good.

    “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what… These are people who pay no income tax…”[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” – Mitt Romney

    • Mitt Romney says:

      I think that it is weird, that everything I said there was true and no one came out to vote for me.

      BREAD AND CIRCUS!!! Hand me my fiddle.

    • Dwight D. Sutherland, Jr. says:

      To pay for the existing federal programs of Medicare,Social Security,and Medicaid will require a hefty increase in taxes reaching well down into the middle class.To dramatically EXPAND these programs,as many liberal politicians are urging,would put an unsustainable burden on taxpayers.If a large percentage of the electorate-47%- doesn’t pay federal income taxes(the Reagan and Bush tax cuts dropped twenty million lower income households off the tax rolls),these arguments will carry little weight with them. How can you dispute that?
      “Free stuff from the government?” How can Republicans out promise the Democrats when it come to government spending? (I’m sorry, government “initiatives”or “investments”!) You may see this as an attack on the poor but the “I want what I’ve got coming to me!”attitude extends to all levels of society. Look at the corporate welfare,subsidies,grants, and tax abatements the wealthy cheerfully pocket whenever they can. How is having your local member of Congress and your U.S. senator re-write the Internal Revenue Code to specifically benefit your family any different morally from trafficking in phony W-2s to claim earned income tax credits? What about the woman interviewed by Time Magazine who openly said;” I was all for Obamacare until I found out I was expected to pay for it.”? I also guess Romney’s attacks on crony capitalism like Solyndra are covert racial appeals.No,questioning the attitude that “its alright to milk the Federal Government for all it’s worth and that you’re a fool not to” is not engaging in class warfare.
      “See themselves as victims”? I’m looking at a letter written by a great-great-grandfather in the Union Army in 1862 while suffering from small pox. I have another ancestor who was locked up in Libby Prison,the Confederate P.O.W. camp in Richmond that had a death rate akin to Dachau’s.(Fortunately he managed to escape !) I think it could reasonably be said that their sacrifices benefited African- Americans. Yet one hundred and fifty years later my family and I are bombarded with popular entertainment showing sadistic white people cruelly exploiting saintly,long-suffering blacks,e.g.”The Help”,”The Butler”,”Lincoln”,etc.
      There is a reason this story of victimization is constantly crammed down our throats.It is to promote a political agenda based on the presumption of white guilt,which means in practical terms preferential treatment by the government for victims.In 1993,during the first Clinton inaugural,a bitter dispute broke out between gays and blacks over who were bigger victims of discrimination and thus should get the better place in the parade! Every Democratic Convention over the last fifty years has been a WWF smackdown of victimhood.It reached the point where the Republicans had to follow suit and staged their own Convention program that resembled the old lachrymose TV show “Queen For A Day” in which contestants vied to tell the most pathetic stories,with the winners picked by an ‘Applause-O-Meter’! (This is what we watched in the 50’s in KC-but only if ‘Bowlin’ With Mowlin’ wasn’t on!)
      Six years ago we were told we needed as a nation to atone for white racism by electing a millionaire graduate of The Punahou Prep School,Columbia University,and The Harvard Law School because he was black. Challenging this assumption is not an attack on the poor and uneducated. No, Romney was right,but as always in Washington a terrible gaffe is when you inadvertently tell the truth.

  3. Rico_suave says:

    Actually, the whole “kerfluffle” about Stuart Varney’s comment was exactly one year ago, at the start of the 2013 season of Downton.

    Naturally, all the “HuffPo” types , (and teachers union newsletters,) said what Haas rehashed last week – all Republicans are heartless cruel aristocrats yadda yadda

    Haas himself parroted this meme in his own blog – at that time

    His Star column was basically a reprint of his own blog column from a year earlier.

    You’d think the Star editors woulda researched this a little better.

  4. the dude says:

    And we all know the Koch Bros. hatched from eggs like all reptiles do including congressional critters.

  5. Nick says:

    TV shows, most especially soap operas regardless of form ( e.g. ‘oaters’, historical dramas, sci-fi, dramedies, et cetera), are mostly mindless examples of ‘entertainment’; simply viewing them — much less acceding to them the power of instructional morality primes or auguries — is a mug’s game. But to actually argue over the meaning of the less than ephemeral? My gawd, man – it’s rather as if someone was in error on the innernetz!

    • Dwight D. Sutherland, Jr. says:

      I wasn’t the one to read into a costume drama a threat to the American Way 0f Life(as defined by Norman Lear). It was Mr. Haas,with a little prompting by his buddies at the NEA and the Huffington Post. Interestingly,one recent reply to the latest HuffPo piece on Downton brought up the Rothschilds,confirming my surmise that most of the anti-semitism in public discourse these days is found on the Left,a point I made in my last post on January 3rd. Maybe this is a serious topic, after all, in the way it brings out people’s hatreds. What next,Nick,the Trilateral Commission?,the Illuminati ?,the Council on Foreign Relations ? Dr.Lyndon LaRouche,call your office! Gore Vidal,where are you now that we need you?

      • Nick says:

        Maybe this is a serious topic, after all, in the way it brings out people’s hatreds.

        It’s only serious in that people keep ascribing unwarranted value to it.

        Though the latter half of your response was indeed pretty funny. Kudos.

  6. James says:

    Ideaology and political theory does not determine election outcomes or revolutions, only hard enconomic realities on the ground.

  7. Dwight D. Sutherland, Jr. says:

    The defense budget for this year is $612.4 billion. The deficit is slated to be $650 billion. Spending on Social Security is $860 billion, Medicare is $524 billion,and Medicaid is $304 billion . If you cut defense spending in half,how do you eliminate the deficit and increase spending on the latter three entitlement programs?(No,not in the sense of the ’70s psycho-babble term “sense of entitlement” but meaning that if you are legally qualified to receive the benefits they can’t be take away without due process. This spending is on autopilot,i.e.its outside the usual budgeting and appropriations process.) Because we boomers are retiring in droves,in many case earlier than expected because of the economy,specifically how do you double medicare and social security spending,expand Medicaid as part of Obamacare AND eliminate the deficit by cutting $300 billion from defense? Assuming that you trust the North Koreans,the Iranians,the Chinese,and the Russians enough to believe this is prudent!(Oh,yeah there’s the little matter of militant Islam,which the Obama administration pretends has disappeared but hasn’t.) Inquiring minds want to know!

    • Nick says:

      Tell you what – you chose your plan to cut the deficiet and we’ll see if our priorities are the same.

      But it can be done.

      • Dwight D. Sutherland, Jr. says:

        Thanks for the tip! I’ll seriously look at that site and see if I can’t come up with some choices that add up to a solution. My own initial response is that the Simpson -Bowles Commission is a good starting point. Both sides are going to have to give up some sacred cows. I disagree with whoever said taking on more federal debt is no different than a family taking out a mortgage. Every home mortgages I’ve heard of is required to be paid off over time. It doesn’t just have its principal balance double every five by continuous new advances.Yes,no one expects it to be paid off all at once,but you’re supposed to pay it down over the term of the loan. That isn’t true of the national debt.

        • grovester says:

          That’s the beauty! A country has no life span, there are no terms of the loan. It’s just a debt payment management situation. You are correct, Simpson/Bowles is an excellent framework. At some point we’ll get there. But we will never eliminate the debt. And shouldn’t.

  8. grovester says:

    Why in the world would anyone “eliminate the deficit”? A ridiculous concept. Why don’t we ask all of America to pay off their mortgages NOW instead of making payments for 30 years.

    • the dude says:

      Because idiots have to shout something at the top of their lungs when they have nothing good to bring to the table.

  9. chuck says:

    Game, set, match to Conan the Sutherland, who sees his philisophical enemies scatter before him and hears the lamentations of their women.

  10. Vincent Vegga says:

    Mama and I can’t print money….

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