Cramer Likens Bonus Outrage to Lenin in 1917: 'It's Really about Stringing Up Guys'
On CNBC's Oct. 15 "Street Signs," Jim Cramer, host of "Mad Money," was asked by fill-in host Melissa Francis what he thought about the outrage over Wall Street hitting its stride, while unemployment continues to rise.
"What did you think about [Morgan Stanley CEO] John Mack's answer to the big question of the day, which is the divergence between Main Street and Wall Street?" Francis asked. "We see Dow 10,000 - bonuses are back at the same time Main Street is in a shambles."
Cramer took a different and unexpected tact by explaining he was a Spartacist, one who believed in a Communism in his youth. But during that time in his life, he said he became very familiar with the teachings of Vladimir Lenin.
"I was a Spartacist when I went to college and I took a, went for a Master's Degree in Communism and we learned these things," Cramer explained. "Don't mock it - I took seven courses in Communism. Lenin, when he came in, in 1917 felt that thhe bankers were making much too much money. He confiscated all their wealth. The peasantry felt terrific about it. The peasantry reacted positively. ... It traced out well and the peasantry was rejoicing and the bankers - many of them were killed - and there was a terrific, terrific surge of opinion that Lenin was a great man."
Based on his familiarity with Lenin, Cramer said the mob mentality facing Wall Street is similar.
"You know, it's very easy for me to come on," he continued. "I could do that. I know that rap, I studied it. I know most of Lenin's speeches during the period, including ‘What is To Be Done,' which I committed to memory in the first chapter and it's really about stringing up guys like John Mack and then feeling great about it and we studied it," Cramer said. "It didn't work, OK. But it did happen, alright? And it was really because the people on Main Street, people on Main Street were doing very poorly."
And although Lenin's revolution in Russia, overthrowing the czars in Russia to form the Soviet Union was successful, it didn't turn out well when Joseph Stalin rose to power and wound up taking the lives of 7 million in Ukraine by engineering a famine. But Cramer explained, when he was down on his luck for a period of time in his life, the teachings of Lenin sounded justified.
"As a matter of fact, the peasantry was doing very horribly. Of course then Stalin annihilated the peasantry in the next act. But you know look, we played it out. And if people want to do it, that's fine. It didn't work and I'm not being facetious. That's what we did in the Soviet Union. That's what I studied and that's what I thought at the time when I was a callow youth was a good idea, because I felt that the disparities and the fact that I was living in my car at the time, the fact I had no money - it seemed justified."
However, he pointed to that as the fundamental flaw - why should a person with such a skewed and jaded perspective of the world be pushing for an economic policy that is so punitive for the wealthy?
"But you know what - justification of what someone makes and someone doesn't shouldn't rest on the idea I was living in my car, drinking too heavily, had an ax and I had a shotgun," Cramer said. "Why should I be making policy? What we want to do is do the right thing and the right thing is, that if you think they're paid too high, then raise their taxes, OK? Maybe put a windfall taxes. I'm against this, but the idea because someone's poor - I was poor, and I studied what Trotsky had to say, which by the way he would be in favor of the workers over the production. And, I studied Lenin and I was very caught up in this notion that the peasantry should win. But you know, the peasant just didn't work."
Cramer told Francis if that's the way people and the government in power wants things to be - there's a handbook, "What is To Be Done," by Lenin.
"I'm being serious, go read ‘What is To Be Done'" Cramer said. "You have got the handbook for all the people who are complaining. We can put it into place. We can. I wanted to. I wanted to do it for 10 years when I was poor. It was a great satisfaction."