Famous VC: I meant what I said. Criticizing the rich is like Nazism

Tom Perkins, partner emeritus of Kleiner Perkins, says in an e-mail to Bloomberg that he really meant what some feared he'd said to the Wall Street Journal -- that criticizing the rich is akin to Nazism.

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read
Tom Perkins of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, September 11, 2013 in San Francisco, California. Getty Images

You might have heard a slight collective inhalation on your Twitter account over the last 24 hours.

It seems that Tom Perkins, the Perkins Of Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers (and now merely partner emeritus), believes that expressions of concern, distaste, or protest toward the 1 percent who have a lot more money than the 99 percent is akin to Nazism.

In a letter to the Wall Street Journal headlined "Progressive Kristallnacht Coming?", Perkins said, oh just read the whole thing:

Regarding your editorial "Censors on Campus" (Jan. 18): Writing from the epicenter of progressive thought, San Francisco, I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its "one percent," namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the "rich."
From the Occupy movement to the demonization of the rich embedded in virtually every word of our local newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, I perceive a rising tide of hatred of the successful one percent. There is outraged public reaction to the Google buses carrying technology workers from the city to the peninsula high-tech companies which employ them. We have outrage over the rising real-estate prices which these "techno geeks" can pay. We have, for example, libelous and cruel attacks in the Chronicle on our number-one celebrity, the author Danielle Steel, alleging that she is a "snob" despite the millions she has spent on our city's homeless and mentally ill over the past decades.
This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendent "progressive" radicalism unthinkable now?

Some thought this a temporary aberration, brought on by a touch of intellectual vertigo. Kleiner Perkins quickly condemned the letter. Could it really be that an apparently intelligent man would compare some sniping in the streets to the murder of 6 million Jews?

However, on Sunday, Perkins e-mailed Bloomberg to say that that no, indeed, he really, really meant it.

He wrote: "In the Nazi area it was racial demonization, now it is class demonization."

I do wonder whether this can be even remotely accurate. It seems to me that many wealthy people are admired. Bill Gates being just one.

However, as my colleague Charles Cooper explained, the system isn't exactly helping those who would like to get ahead through their own hard work in post-industrial capitalism.

Expressions of frustration take many forms. Perkins' is just one, albeit staggeringly vacuous, vain and deeply insulting to everyone affected in one way or other by Kristallnacht and the Holocaust.

It must be very frustrating to own vast yachts and homes and not be universally admired. It must be very frustrating to not have the world genuflect in your direction at every turn of your tiller.

In the end, the frustrated begin to throw things. Yes, like accusations of Nazism on the part of those they perceive as their enemies.

Cogent and patient critiques have come from people such as VC Mark Suster, who tried hard in a blog post to point out some obvious and very logical flaws in Perkins' argument. Even he couldn't help but become frustrated with Perkins' unpleasant, some might say disgusting, comparison.

He ended his thoughts with one suggestion to Perkins:: "STFU."

The insightful Marc Andreessen, who went from Netscape wunderkind to VC, was more blunt:

Still, if we are to believe that we are in the presence of something akin to Nazism, who is the alleged Hitler?

I suppose it must be MSNBC, right?