Joseph Flom as a Stereotypical Jewish Success Story

Joseph Flom, a name partner of the massive law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, died recently. Flom fit perfectly a certain Jewish stereotype—rising to the top with a powerful combination of intelligence, interpersonal aggression, and lack of a moral sense. He was “a lawyer whose expertise and ruthlessness in corporate mergers and acquisitions reshaped America’s business landscape during the 1980s.” He “relished his reputation as a street fighter willing to go to any length to win. [He had the] habit of jabbing a cigar “‘close to the face of someone he was talking to, without apology’” (Washington Post Obituary: “Corporate lawyer Joseph Flom transformed  business world with mergers, takeovers“).

He was not hired by New York City’s white shoe firms of an earlier age, and probably never dropped the grudge.  He joined a firm that was soon taking on “dirty” business like hostile takeovers that were shunned by other firms because such practices were seen as unethical: “Firms and their chief executives who had inclined to be raiders but had been inhibited by public censure from the business community now became unrestrained.”

Joseph Flom and his partners got very rich doing this. With the millions he made, he gave generously to Democrats and supported efforts to boost minorities. This behavior reflects the left-liberal values of the Jewish mainstream in America whose political behavior is far more a function of Jewish identity politics than social class–Jews as pioneers of the racialization of American politics. As the old cliché has it, “Jews earn like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans.”

I note a few things.  First, it’s unclear to me exactly what good this character did for America.  The business of mergers and acquisitions, in my view, has only slight utility compared to the money to be siphoned off the top.  People at the bottom lose their jobs, while the lords orchestrating the changes at the top get rich.  I am sure that a Chicago-school type could give us a defense of the practice as helping to make business more efficient through “synergies”, but I remain skeptical.  It’s basically a power game played by those who can.  Better goods and services, the creation of wealth and jobs…   all of these things seem to me to be pretty remote from mergers and acquisitions.

Second, I’m not sure how Joseph Flom qualifies as a good lawyer.  He basically inserted himself into the system as an opportunistic bully, creating fear in his adversaries—so much so that, according to the Washington Post obituary, he was often “bought off” by getting handsome retainers by companies fearing potential takeover.  This sounds more like the tactics of a mobster than a lawyer (though I realize many will say “there’s a difference”?).

Third, I see Flom as a great example of how Jews become successful in any Western society:  by achieving near-pathological levels of disregard for the conventions of the society seen as an outgroup.  Like a pornographer, Flom found something that was publicly shunned by society as immoral but was nevertheless quite lucrative, and he did not hesitate to engage in it anyway.  That was his “in”.  Flom didn’t hesitate to become a pornographer.  His career path was enabled by his Jewish “outsider” status and hostility toward our society.

The lesson for whites is to keep our eyes open for the Joseph Floms of the world — and to ignore the praise heaped upon him by the fawning elites.

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