Monday, September 07, 2009

Van Jones' Bio: A Geek from Rural Tennessee

Glenn "Joe McCarthy" Beck's primary accusation against Van Jones, and all progressives, is that we are scary socialists and/or evil communists.

After reading up on Van Jones, it's clear that I too would be at the top of Glenn "Joe McCarthy" Beck's hit list if only I were important enough. For gawd's sake, my egalitarian communist sympathies are such that I have even lived in a "radical" commune!

Environmental hero Van Jones was born in 1968 in rural Tennessee. He grew up in Jackson, Tennessee. As a child, he was a total geek, a book worm, always a dangerous phenomenon in America. Talk about Un-American activities! Like a lot of us who read too much, or ask too many questions, Van Jones found plenty of fault with capitalism. Big freaking deal. Who on the left hasn't?

This is not the 1950s, we have an avowed socialist in Congress. And we have profoundly ignorant avowed flat-earthers at the highest levels of government.

We have misogynists, racists, idiots, crooks and liars at the highest level of government, but we can't have a low level advisor to the president who is an intellectual who once flirted with the preeminent critique of capitalism known as communism?

Communism is "a socioeconomic structure and political ideology that promotes the establishment of an egalitarian, classless, stateless society based on common ownership and control of the means of production and property." Communism is a whole lot like capitalism, in theory both look good. In practice, greedy power-hungry humans ruin it for all of us.

Here's the biography of Van Jones: he was a bookish black kid from Tennessee who went to Yale Law and moved to San Francisco and became a radical. Then he decided to use his law degree and smarts to clean up and make things better from inside the establishment. He was, he openly acknowledges, a "full-on Marxist" in early '90s California. He joined a revolutionary Marxist group and protested police brutality. Then he founded the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, which combats over-incarceration, police brutality, and urban poverty and violence.

Running a civil rights group dedicated to producing real and immediate improvements in urban life will make a revolutionary Marxist a bit more pragmatic. Jones began focusing on job creation, and, with a bit of prognostic intuition that ought to put Thomas Friedman to shame, he decided, in the late-'90s, to focus on "Green Jobs." This is, you know, capitalism—he wants to create wealth, and use market forces to make the world and black communities better places! And in 2008 he wrote a book called The Green Collar Economy, and it made theTimes best-seller list, making him as much of a figure of the mainstream as Sean Hannity or Malcolm Gladwell. . .

So here we have a radical youth turned respectable liberal. Respectable enough to be on Time magazine listicles and win World Economic Forum prizes and everything. Respectable enough for Tom Friedman to profile him. And The New Yorker.

Respectable enough for Meg Whitman, as in former eBay CEO and wealthy Republican California gubernatorial candidate and John McCain advisor Meg Whitman, to proclaim herself "a huge fan of Van Jones."

Meg Whitman: I'm a huge fan of Van Jones