By Aaron Klein
The Communist Party’s People’s World newspaper yesterday ran an article memorializing violent abolitionist leader John Brown, who led a massacre in which five pro-slavery supporters were killed.
President Obama himself has a largely unreported connection to the memorializing of Brown through the selection of Osawatomie, Kan., as the site of a Dec. 6, 2011 economic policy speech denouncing capitalism.
The Osawatomie site also has major significance for Bill Ayers’ Weather Underground domestic terrorist group.
The People’s World ran an article titled “Today in labor history: John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry.”
The communist publication said: “Brown led the attack on the arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. Brown, a minister and fierce opponent of slavery, sought to obtain weapons from the arsenal to defeat the slaveocracy in the South. The raid, which some consider the opening battle of the Civil War, was unsuccessful. John Brown and his men were captured and executed.”
The article quoted socialist W.E.B. Du Bois hailing Brown as “lov[ing] his neighbor as himself.”
Du Bois said Brown’s assault “did more to shake the foundations of slavery than any single thing that ever happened in America.”
Entirely unmentioned in the People’s World memorial is that Brown was known for using violent tactics to oppose slavery and for expressing dissatisfaction with what he viewed as the abolitionist movement’s passive resistance. Also unmentioned was that seven were killed during Brown’s raid at Harpers Ferry.
Aside from that raid, Brown led an anti-slavery campaign in Kansas in which he and his supporters killed five pro-slavery southerners in what became known as the Pottawatomie Massacre in May 1856.
On Aug. 31, 1910, President Theodore Roosevelt gave a historic “New Nationalism” speech in Osawatomie, the site of another skirmish between abolitionists and pro-slavery Missourians, urging greater government control over the economy.
One hundred and one years later, Obama’s Osawatomie speech on the economy contained no mention of the actual reason for Roosevelt’s visit to Osawatomie – the commemoration of John Brown. Roosevelt had been invited to Osawatomie to dedicate the John Brown Memorial Park.
In an ode to Brown’s violent tactics, Osawatomie became the name of the newspaper launched by the Weather Underground terror group.
In his Osawatomie speech, Obama soundly denounced capitalism, saying it “doesn’t work, it has never worked.”
Obama used the speech to promote something he called “Economic Fairness,” a mantra he has since channeled multiple times.
KleinOnline previously reported how progressives point to revolutionary socialist Karl Marx as divining economic theory that stresses “economic fairness.”
Also, KleinOnline reported how late Harvard professor John Rawls, one of the most important philosophers of liberalism in the 20th century, named his own theory “justice as fairness.” Some have previously pointed to Rawls possible influence over Obama. Rawls calls for ensuring distributive justice of resources.
Lester C. Thurow, a founder of the progressive Economic Policy Institute, explained in his 2003 book, “Fortune Favors the Bold: What We Must Do to Build a New and Lasting Global Prosperity,” that Marx related the ideals of economic fairness while explaining how capitalism must end.
Thurow’s Economic Policy Institute, or EPI, which is funded by billionaire George Soros, has reportedly been influential in helping to craft White House policy. The EPI’s official slogan includes “economic fairness.”
EPI describes itself as a “nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank, research to achieve a prosperous and fair economy.”
Last June, the EPI website argued, “Tax policy should be designed to promote economic fairness by pushing against the trend of ever-widening income inequality.”
The EPI, together with other progressive groups, including ACORN, pushed for a loosely described Economic Fairness project. One of its partners in the project, United for a Fair Economy, says it seeks to raise awareness “that concentrated wealth and power undermine the economy, corrupt democracy, deepen the racial divide, and tear communities apart.”
The group’s official vision seeks a “global society where prosperity is better shared, where there is genuine equality of opportunity, where the power of concentrated money and corporations neither dominates the economy nor dictates the content of mass culture.”
Another organization in the Economic Fairness project is Citizens for Tax Justice, whose catch phrase is, “Working for a fair and sustainable tax system.”
According to its website, the group fights for:
- Fair taxes for middle and low-income families;
- Requiring the wealthy to pay their fair share;
- Closing corporate tax loopholes;
- Adequately funding important government services;
- Reducing the federal debt;
- Taxation that minimizes distortion of economic markets.
Another group pushing the “economic fairness” theme is the Center for American Progress.
The center is led by John Podesta, who was co-chairman of the Obama-Biden White House Transition Team.
A Time magazine article profiles the influence of Podesta’s Center for American Progress in the formation of the Obama administration, stating that “not since the Heritage Foundation helped guide Ronald Reagan’s transition in 1981 has a single outside group held so much sway.”
The economic fairness phrase so thoroughly permeates the center’s literature that a search for the phrase on the groups’ website brings up hundreds of items, including major policy papers that use the term in both the title and in the text.
A small sampling includes, “Small Businesses Support Fairness,” “The Economy Grows When Everyone Pays Their Fair Share,” and “Middle-Class Economic Security Begins with Paycheck Fairness.” Each of the articles describe economic fairness doctrine.
The center’s research paper, “Understanding Mobility in America,” describes “the fairness or unfairness of access to economic opportunities” in the U.S. Another paper describes the role unions can play to “restore economic fairness.”
The phrase also appears prominently in literature from the Marxist-oriented Institute for Policy Studies. That group, too, describes itself as “working for economic fairness.”
In attempting to divine Obama’s economic policies, some have pointed to Rawls, who died in 2002.
Lawrence Tribe, a constitutional scholar at Harvard, taught Obama and has been described as an early mentor to the future president. Tribe was Rawls’ Harvard colleague and wrote about Rawls’ theories.
Chris Underation, writing in the American Communication Journal’s Winter 2011 edition, examined Rawls’ influence on current legislation.
“Using the paradigm of social justice set forth by John Rawls – a philosophy Obama evidently picked up during his time at Harvard – this article will examine contextually the rhetoric used by the president to push for healthcare reform,” Underation noted.
Prominent among those theories was Rawls “A Theory of Justice,” which he later redefined as Justice as Fairness.
In that theory, Rawls called for first establishing equal basic liberties for all citizens and then ensuring distributive justice of resources.
Writing in the New York Times last October, Bard College professor Steven V. Mazie pointed out, “Rawls would argue that Occupy is fully justified in its criticism of the political and economic structures that propagate massive concentrations of wealth; he saw the ‘basic structure’ of society as the ‘primary subject of justice.’”
Regarding Rawls’ call to ensure distributive justice, the website ProgressiveHistorians.com cross-posted an article titled “Obama, John Rawls, and a Defense of the Unreasonable,” describing how affirmative action fit Rawls mantra.
“Rawls said that there would be equality of opportunity with regard to positions of power. He also said that inequalities, which were necessary in a non-Marxist society, would ‘be of the greatest benefit to the least-advantaged members of society.’ This last bit became known as the ‘difference principle.’”
The article said wh Rawls “was getting at, put simply, was that if someone was going to get a leg up from the system, it should be the least fortunate, not the most.”
“A perfect example of this idea is affirmative action: since we can’t make hiring and college admissions completely fair, they should be biased toward those who need them most.”
With additional research by Brenda J. Elliott