Recently, Tom Perkins, the legendary venture capitalist from Silicon Valley, was harshly criticized for his comments regarding the vilification of the so-called “one percent.” Perceiving “a rising tide of hatred of the successful one percent,” Mr. Perkins went on comparing it to the vilification of the Jews by the Nazis and insinuating the “one percent” might face their own “Kristallnacht” as a result of “‘progressive’ radicalism.” This remark was met with almost universal outrage.
The reference to “Kristallnacht” was unfortunate, and Perkins has expressed regret over the use of that term. But Perkins was on to an essential truth here about how businessmen are viewed: Aren’t businessmen disproportionally portrayed as criminals by Hollywood? Doesn’t Obama target “millionaires and billionaires” in his rhetoric—as if it’s a moral crime to make money? Doesn’t Obama accuse those “at the top” for making life increasingly miserable for the “99%” by “taking” a larger “share” of “the national income”?
About 50 years ago, Ayn Rand made this observation about the same basic issue:
Every ugly, brutal aspect of injustice toward racial or religious minorities is being practiced toward businessmen… Every movement that seeks to enslave a country, every dictatorship or potential dictatorship, needs some minority group as a scapegoat which it can blame for the nation’s troubles and use as a justification of its own demands for dictatorial powers. In Soviet Russia, the scapegoat was the bourgeoisie; in Nazi Germany, it was the Jewish people; in America, it is the businessmen. (“America’s Prosecuted Minority: Big Business,” Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.)