Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

July 17, 2009

Letter sent to Goldman Sachs PR chief

Filed under: capitalist pig,financial crisis — louisproyect @ 2:33 pm

Lucas Van Praag

Dear Lucas Van Praag,

I almost feel like a doctor being called in to assist a patient with stage 3 lung cancer, but as a Goldman Sachs alumnus, I feel the call of duty and want to offer my services as a public relations consultant. I have a background eminently suited to the problems you are facing and that no other PR firm can offer. As a Marxist since 1967, including the time spent at Goldman, I am uniquely positioned to sensitize you to the ever growing hostility to corporations, particularly those perceived as operating above the law.

Back when I worked at Goldman, Newsday ran a profile on Nicaragua solidarity activists that mentioned me:

Lou Proyect works in a Wall Street investment bank, one of 25 “database administrators” who sit in a numbing row of fluorescent-blanched cubicles and stares at computers until the end of the day. It is the latest variation on the kind of job he has held for 19 years. Tacked to the wall of his cubicle is the latest article cut out from PC Week, a personal computer trade magazine: “IBM’s PS/2s aren’t all that revolutionary.” Neither, he says, is Lou Proyect.

But don’t let that fool you. I am a revolutionary and have a 400 page FBI file to prove it.

I know that it must be painful to be perceived in these terms, but you have to admit that this is Goldman’s image. As inured as I am to radical critiques of American society, even I was shocked to hear financial analyst Max Keiser tell France 24 TV news that “If Goldman Sachs took Auschwitz public, they would sell shares to their friends and family and say, ‘this concentration camp’s a great business’” and that “The tragedy of 9-11 is that more of these Goldman Sachs bankers didn’t go down, that’s the ultimate tragedy.” When a Wall Street insider like Max Keiser begins to sound like Ward Churchill, let’s face it, you have serious problems on your hands.

Now I have to admit that I was never a big shot at Goldman like Nomi Prins, whose new book “It Takes a Pillage: Behind the Bailouts, Bonuses and Backroom Deals from Washington to Wall Street” will likely cause more embarrassment for the firm. I was only a systems analyst hired to convert Goldman from Burroughs to IBM. It did grieve me to leave the firm in 1990 after word got out those older and better-paid employees in information technology would be replaced by younger and cheaper trainees. I know that I could have sued the firm for age discrimination, but I decided to resign instead. I didn’t want to work for people who saw me as a kind of potted plant that could be replaced on a moment’s notice.

Of course, Rick Adam, the partner in charge of IT, should have gotten the axe rather than me since he was a decidedly shady character despite a West Point degree that must have recommended him to the firm.

As you may know, Adam has the reputation of something of a crook. I hope that is not what qualified him to be hired as a partner. He is being pursued now by the town of Pueblo, Colorado that is  seeking $2 million owed them after his aircraft company declared bankruptcy. I imagine that if he was made of true Goldman stuff, Pueblo would be paying him off.

Anyhow, let me get down to brass tacks. It seems to me that Goldman’s problem is that it is too insulated from American public opinion, particularly from its growing left wing, to understand how to improve its image. In a way, you are the Wall Street equivalent of the George W. Bush White House.

I realize from the email I get as a former employee that the firm is involved in various philanthropic and environmental initiatives but that hardly seems adequate to mollifying a rising tide of anger akin to the homeowners being victimized by Lionel Barrymore in “It’s a Wonderful Life”.

Here’s what you need to do. You have to begin funding radical causes in the U.S. and around the world. Forget about the Bono/Jeffrey Sachs approach. From a PR standpoint, that is like putting iodine on a melanoma. You need to set up a foundation targeting explicitly anti-capitalist ventures.

For example, it would do wonders for your image if you donated 10 million dollars to Hugo Chavéz’s party. Can you imagine the screeching that would be heard from Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh? That would do more to salvage your reputation than double that money spent on the World Wildlife Fund or Meals on Wheels.

There is absolutely nobody in a better position to identify deserving radical causes than me, having been in the trenches of the American left for more than 40 years. Give me a call at Columbia University between 9 and 5 and we can work out the terms of a contract that would be mutually beneficial.

Yours truly,

Louis Proyect


  1. Way to go, Louis! If you need to outsource some consultation services in connection with this project, I’m available… for a price of course, a price in keeping with the grand tradition of Goldman-Sachs.

    Comment by Richard Greener — July 17, 2009 @ 3:07 pm

  2. […] Rich Off Your Money, How to earn money like Goldman Sachs, Goldman is a little bit pregnant, Letter sent to Goldman Sachs PR chief, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs Profit Surge is an Accounting Mirage, Not a Sustainable Sector Trend, Free […]

    Pingback by Wall Street Takes America's Money And Runs | Prose Before Hos — July 17, 2009 @ 5:07 pm

  3. During the years in which Louis labored amid the GS bits and bytes, I pretty much suspected he had something up his sleeve. Perhaps naively, I assumed it had to do with funds transfers to Cuba, Mozambique, or at one point, France. I kept my basement more or less prepared for his unmaksing and hasty dive underground. Little did I suspect so long a con.

    Comment by J. Marlin — July 17, 2009 @ 7:29 pm

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