Bernie’s Robin

The medieval Robin Hood, then, was not taking from the rich to give to the poor so much as taking back from the rich to return to the poor, who would be doing all right if the rich hadn’t been so greedy.

So writes James Meek for the London Review of Books. He finds it appropriate and educative to review and renew the original myth of the Sherwood Forest legend, which, Meek believes, has been captured then bastardized by the simpering rich, who continue to concoct new rationales for their obscene wealth and luxurious ways. They who whine when someone looks funny at them, exhibiting all of the righteousness of a playground bully.

Meek condemns the new conservative, typified by the current Tory regime and the modern American robber baron, who takes from the Rest of Us by means of sophisticated financial systems, favorable labor laws, and a facilitative Congress, whose members cannot afford to bite the hand that feeds them.

Bernie Sanders prefers his Robin Hood the old-fashioned way: returning to the Rest of Us what has been stolen, which is our human capital, our labor, our dignity, and our self-worth.

Remember when Mitt Romney dismissed a year’s worth of speaking fees, some $375,000, as “not very much”? After all, he was making over $20 million a year.

Robin, where are you? Meek concludes:

We’re a long way from the return of the literal outlaw to Nottinghamshire. But we need to remember the insight given our ancestors when they saw through the illusion of the Robin Hood myth, when they saw that the strongbox of silver coins wasn’t just money stolen from each of them individually, but power robbed from them collectively, and that they needed to wield that power collectively as much as they needed their money back. For sure, freedom to choose is a grand thing, and the market will try to help you exercise it. With a bit of money in the bank, a middle-class family might choose to send their child to private school, provided by the market; but that same family can’t choose to build and maintain a universal education network by itself, and the market won’t provide it. With money, you can choose to buy a car, and the market will provide it; but you can’t choose, all by yourself, to build and maintain a universal road network, and the market won’t provide it. To make and keep universal networks requires the authority of the state, an authority that has been absent; and it’s hard to see where that authority might come from if the people don’t find a way to assert their kingship.