Thursday, February 2, 2012

Richard Wolff Explains It All to the Sweet People of Occupy Marin

January 7, 2012:

For those of you who don't know much about California's political, economic, and social geography, you might miss some of the frequently delightful ironies of Wolff's talk on this fine, sunny January afternoon in San Rafael, CA.

Marin County (big, slow-loading pdf; be warned) is just north of San Francisco on the opposite side of the Golden Gate Bridge. It's hilly country, and remarkably rural still. At one time it was mostly ranches and resort communities like Tiburon and Sausalito, and much of the spirit of ranching and resorts continues among the couple of hundred thousand who live in Marin County today.

For many years, Marin County was home to some of the wealthiest people in California -- as it still is -- and people who lived in San Francisco aspired to one day be able to afford to live in Marin. The per capita income in Marin County in 2007 was the highest in the Bay Area and in fact it was the highest in California. Marin County is the country seat of California's "1%". Keep that in mind while listening to Wolff's talk and you will see what I mean about the ironies of his observations. Does he know where he is? OMG. "11 shares of GM that your grandmother left you?" "Working people?" "Wages?" Hello?!!

It's a lovely area, relatively unspoiled, "like California used to be," and its people are fiercely protective of its natural beauty and the legacy of its rural past.

The thing about Marin is that despite the overall wealth of its inhabitants, it's politically and socially far more (academically) leftist than practically any place else in California. Make no mistake, this is the leftism of the elites and the bourgeoisie, not the gritty and radical working class leftism of the East Bay, centered in Oakland. The people of Marin do not, how you say, engage in The Class Struggle.

They are, however, great supporters of those who do! Bless their hearts.


  1. Count my older brother as one of them; he lives in Greenbrae, and I'm proud to say he's a lefty, if not an occupier.
    He used to be a Republican, and we fought bitterly over politics. Then, he just changed, and we fought about other things. Now, he's a geezer and he's mellowed, so we don't fight at all. Maybe it's that rarefied suburban air.

  2. To me, Marin is unique; there's no place else quite like it, with quite the concentration of both wealth and eccentricity in California -- but I've never been to Ojai, so I could be wrong about that. They tell me it's pretty cool in its own special way, too.

    It seems to me it would be very hard to remain an unreconstructed rightist in Marin, it's just not socially acceptable, unless, of course, it is accompanied by suitable external signs of madness or at least peculiarity. I'm told Michael (Weiner) Savage lives there, for example. I bet even he wears Birkenstocks. (I've never actually been convinced by his rightwing schtick anyway...)

    Glad your brother reformed.

    But Wolff going on and on about Marxian economic theory and how the rich make their money and unfair taxation and economic inequality etc. just left me gobsmacked. These people definitely know how they get their money, thankyouverymuch, and how the poor suffer because of it. This is why they're lefties, for cripes sake. Guilt! ;-)

    Of course there are actual working stiffs in Marin, too. I shouldn't be so cavalier.

    Shame on me.

    But it made me laugh, I'm sorry...