The Octant
Insights and reporting from Caleb Maupin


The common charge of hypocrisy against wealthy people with leftist views (“champagne socialists” “limousine liberals”) now has a new twist, as the growing number of billionaires in China, or the purported wealth of leaders in Bolivarian countries, is presented as proof that socialism is simply a myth utilized by power hungry politicians.

 These very common charges are based on a misconception, and fundamental lack of understanding about what socialism really is, and why it is different from capitalism. Furthermore, if one looks into the lives and activities of various figures labelled as “Socialist Oligarchs” and sees how they acquire their wealth, and how they function in their respective society, it is apparent that they are quite a different breed than the western profiteers they are compared to.


What is Socialism? What is Capitalism?

In order to understand why the phrase “socialist billionaire” is not an oxymoron, it is important to clarify the difference between the two economic systems. Contrary to popular cliché socialism and communism are not “everyone getting paid the same wage no matter how hard they work.”


The media executive and political activist Steve Bannon, now no longer a member of the Trump administration, has dedicated himself to traveling across the United States espousing a political gospel he calls "economic nationalism."

In his rhetoric, he highlights the shortcomings of the American economy, and offers his unique solution. His rhetoric presents a view of world politics that is potentially damaging to the global community and contains blatant falsehoods.

Speaking on December 5 at the"Black Americans for a Better Future" summit in Washington DC, Bannon agitated about the decline in wages, the opioid crisis, and the real problems plaguing the U.S.


There are clearly big disagreements among the American ruling class. Donald Trump is President of the United States, despite having a large number of adversaries in powerful places. Congress continues to investigate Trump for alleged ties to Russia, with leftist comedian Randy Credico being subpoenaed and former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleading guilty to perjury. Meanwhile, an unprecedented number of public figures have been fired or stepped down in a wave of sexual assault and harassment allegations.

This is just the latest episode in an ongoing drama. As the impoverished countries of the world have been asserting their economic independence, centered around Russia and China, the circles of wealth and power in the United States have long disagreed about how to respond. Disagreements about geopolitics, which become particularly intense in the context of domestic unrest, has been the basis for lots of Bonapartist maneuvering in modern American history.


An incident in which China's under-20 soccer team stormed off the field until a protest involving the unveiling of a Tibetan separatist flag in the stand at a stadium in Mainz, Germany, was dealt with, aroused much attention. However, the players' action on November 17 was completely justified.

The incident caused much embarrassment for the organizers of the match, one of 16 the Chinese team is playing against lower-level teams in Germany between now and next May in preparation for the 2020 Olympics in Japan.

However, Western observers should be able to easily understand why the players took their action, if events are explained in the proper context and with appropriate background.


The Ritz Carlton Hotel in downtown Riyadh is now serving as a temporary prison, holding some of the 201 people that have been detained on the orders of Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman. 1800 bank accounts have been frozen.

The drama is escalating on the international front as well. The Saudis are blaming Iran for a recent missile attack from Yemen. The Prime Minister of Lebanon has resigned from his post, while in Riyahd, and echoes Saudi rhetoric against Hezbollah. The price of oil is rising again, the highest its been in two years, approaching $58 per barrel.

What’s going on? Something is clearly boiling below the surface on the Arabian Peninsula. How can we interpret these chaotic moves?


While the two profiles of mass murderers across the western world in recent years seem totally different from each other, they seem to share a common theme. While the “angry white men” and “ISIS inspired” “lone wolves” have different world views, backgrounds, and perspectives, it is in the psychological underpinnings driving these killers where we can find common ground.

At this point the perpetrators of brutal acts of violence claiming sometimes scores of innocent lives can be divided into two major categories. The first are usually younger American men of European heritage. Devin Kelley who shot up the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs Texas on November 5th, Adam Lanza who mercilessly killed a room of children at Sandy Hook Elementary, James Holmes who gunned down movie goers in Colorado, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold of the 1999 Columbine Massacre all fit this profile. While Stephen Craig Paddock, who recently shot down country music fans in Nevada was much older than other mass murderers, he can still certainly be considered an “angry white man.”


On Arts Express at WBAI radio, Prairie Miller interviews journalist Caleb Maupin who shares his ideas about the October Revolution, the Soviet Union, 'not-Capitalism' and much more!

Caleb's points:

  • October was " a rare moment in history", "an anomaly" where the Bolsheviks were able to become the ruling party, which changed world history
  • "I don't think anyone in October 1917 knew what was going to happen"
  • The actions of the Bolsheviks in October and after split the political Left; some forces on the Left denounced it after-the-fact
  • In October, it was not clear at all what Soviet power and the Revolution would proceed in
  • While they are romanticized in Soviet Historiography, "these were bad times", with hardship, famine, invasion, "some of the hardest times in Russian history"

Recorded by Arts Express with host Prairie Miller on WBAI radio 

100th Anniversary of the Russian Revolution