“The capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them” — Unknown (attributed variously to Lenin, Stalin, and Marx)
As quotable as some of these old communists may be, it turns out that this quote cannot be definitively sourced to any of them. The meaning, nevertheless, is clear. People acting in their own short-term interest will fall into the hands of those with the will to power. While both the White Russian liberal reformers and the majority “moderate” wing of the Reds, the Mensheviks, dithered and acted as if they were in normal political space, the Bolsheviks acted decisively, initiating a 70-year reign.
Today, we see the left, supposedly defeated when the Soviet empire fell, controlling the commanding heights of American culture, including the new mountains of social media. The long march through the institutions has even led to dominance in corporate America, the capitalists who would supposedly sell the left the rope to hang the capitalists. Yet, the truth is that communism has translated to corporatism, with economic elites holding much of the agenda of the left, especially in their mutual contempt and hatred of “bitter clingers,” “Bible thumpers,” and a written constitution that may thwart illiberal elite desires.
Today, with corporate elites almost universally hostile to the “deplorables” and “bitter clingers,” the aphorism needs revision:
The deplorable bitter clingers will buy the rope with which we hang them, one receipt at a time.
Receipts = Rope