Sunday, February 27, 2011

Everyone Who Doesn't Agree With Me Must Be a Communist

In a recent political discussion with a conservative homeschooler (I would say friend, but she'd probably be offended, given that I'm a communist and all), I was surprised to hear her still generalizing that all liberals are actually communists. Here are some of the organizations she considers Marxist:

The Coffee Party, the Obama campaign, Center for American Progress,, the SEIU, MoveOn, La Raza, Organizing for America, the Alliance for Climate Protection, NPR, and PBS.

Yes, even Elmo -- well, he is already red.

It strikes me that it's really counterproductive for the right to redefine "communism" as anything left of Glenn Beck. If people keep getting told that something as centrist as the Coffee Party is communism, eventually the word is going to lose all power to terrify and subdue. And where you can you really go, after communism has lost its oomph? They'll have to start marching up and down insisting that everyone who doesn't agree with them is a cannibal. Hey, it worked for the Romans. Carthage never got over that particular smear.

For me it's possible the overuse of the charge "communist!" has already lost some of its power to terrify and dismay. Instead of heading for my basement in fear, or defending my honor, I feel more likely to roll my eyes and vote for another Democrat. The fact that the word has already been softened should be a warning to conservatives.

Are there real communists out there? Sure. Ones that want to abolish private property and inheritance, land ownership and the accumulation of wealth. If you hunt hard enough, you can find one or two. Probably they'll be hopping mad that Obama is too centrist, and the Coffee Party isn't progressive *enough.* You may find them at liberal marches or rallies. If they're smart, they're voting Democrat, but it's equally likely they're voting for their own candidates. There is a radical fringe on both sides. Failing to recognize that means you don't understand your own position.

I just want conservatives to embrace some intellectual rigor! Calling all supporters of the Coffee Party, for example, communists would be analogous to us calling all supporters of the Tea Party fascists. It wouldn't be true, and worse than that, it wouldn't be smart. It's more difficult to understand complexity in an idea or a group of people -- easier to shriek "COMMIES!" or from this direction maybe "RACISTS!" and be done. But it's not only incorrect -- it's dishonest. And increasingly, it's ineffective.

People are getting educated - they're waking up to the fact that their neighbors, their third grade teacher, the cops down the street, the firemen downtown... aren't actually communists. They're regular people, trying not to get crapped on so that big corporations and the top 2% of earners can have their tax cuts. And the more that realization comes home to people, the more the Tea Party "Patriots" who dance around shrieking "COMMIES! COMMIES!" are going to be the ones looking foolish.


  1. I completely understand your annoyance. No matter the stance, there is a problem when the world is seen as black and white, yes and no, right and wrong. It's the reason why I have always had trouble fully supporting one view. I like to consider all sides of the issue and I try to impress upon my children to do the same. I guess I think too much.

    Logic! Doesn't anyone teach logic anymore? :o)

    Peace and Laughter,

  2. Excellent post, Lydia! Thank you!

    Yes, I wish reason were more popular right now, too. For some reason, people on both side seem afraid of moderation and complexity.

  3. OH MY GOSH!!! ELMO! and I completely agree

  4. I'm actually at the point of calling myself a socialist just because I'm so sick of the ignorance in this country. And I guess in theory, I am. In Germany, I'd vote for the social democrats -- they're far more liberal than the Dems we have in office here -- and they're the ones who brought us such greatness as - gasp - that Commie communal health insurance. Which I savor for its savings. Call me commie, call me socialist, I just believe that more than the wealthiest one percent deserve a chance to live.