The California Legislature is considering lifting a ban on communists holding office in the Golden State. Considering that officeholders are required to uphold the state and federal constitution, it would seem that there could be a conflict of interest there…

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26 Responses to Commifornia

  1. Michael Anderson says:

    Another red meat herring to poke the alt-right hornet nest. Which I support BTW, the poking that is. Just for the entertainment value mostly. Fussy old irrelevant white men heads exploding and all that. Super good fun.
    It’s almost the middle of 2017 and there are still nobody-dinosaurs looking for communists under the bed. It’s un-flippin’-believable. Seek psychiatric treatment people, communism is long gone. Under the bed these addled neurogenically-challenged cold warriors find scary things like single payer health care, net neutrality, building codes, and national park systems. Yep, communism fer sure.
    Ain’t no divide happenin’, grandpa. My 4 sons under 30 see the divide much differently, they can’t wait for the dinosaurs to leave. The natural dividing of the un-evolved from their life force, otherwise known as old age leading to death, is the only Great Divide they care about.
    “I have a strong feeling that I shall be glad when I am dead and done for – scrapped at last to make room for somebody better, cleverer, more perfect than myself.”
    George Bernard Shaw

  2. Judith Lowry says:

    This is just another way President Trumpski is going to make our country great again.
    Nostrovia! And pass the potatoes.

  3. rl crabb says:

    In recent years I’ve noticed more people coming out of the closet on this one. There are numerous articles on the rehabilitation of Marx and his philosophy. It’s only natural for California to lead the way as it moves closer to being a one party state that seeks to make its citizens dependent on government. However, if you are Hmong or Tibetan, I imagine its a step backwards into an ugly period of history.
    You certainly can’t deny the right of people to embrace communism. It’s a first amendment thing. The government still can deny citizenship to anyone who won’t pledge to follow the basic rights laid out in the constitution.

    • Chris Peterson says:

      True communism will never take hold here, any more than it’s taken hold anywhere else on the globe. Arguably, the era in which our long-standing combination of democracy and socialism worked best was under FDR, when we pooled our money to feed the suffering and set about building infrastructure that still is in use today. A time when labor was viewed as equal to capital, and we quite literally pulled ourselves up by our boot straps, having suffered a catastrophic fall in our market.
      This time around, rather than build from the ground up. as before, we made those at the top, who for the most part caused the crash, whole again by taking money from the working class. That, in large part, is the reason for the political backlash that made possible the rise of a carnival barker who promised the people a new voice in Washington.
      It is said by some that we must root for him as we would the pilot of a plane, but truth be told, none of us would ever board a flight that had an egomaniac that had never flown before for a pilot.
      Let’s table the discussion on the absurd possibility of communist rule until after we remove the orange elephant in the room, OK?

      • Michael Anderson says:

        Absurd indeed, Chris. Those in search of people or things to blame for their own personal anxiety disorders will relentlessly search for commies under the bed and fascists on the school board.

        Meanwhile Donald Trump spirals ever downward, trying to out-Nixon Nixon at every turn. I give this constitutional crisis a 1999…it’s got a great beat and I can party to it all night long.

        • Greg Goodknight says:

          I’m trying to remember… who was it, writing at Rebane’s blog, who was calling for the good people of Nevada City and County who voted for GW Bush to be identified so they could be properly reeducated?

          Yes, the Trump presidency truly is circling the drain of history unless. of course, he really didn’t collude with Putin and if Democrats can’t find the sort of evidence Senator DiFi has declared she has not seen to date and get it out to the voters in time for the Nov 2018 polling, the GOP will have a field day with the irony.

          • Chris Peterson says:

            Betcha’ $20 he doesn’t make it to the 2018 election.

          • Greg Goodknight says:

            The last bet I made with anyone was a local warmista named Anna Haynes who bet me $1 that I couldn’t provide her with “peer reviewed” research backing up what I had just told her, but refused to pay up when I provided her printouts, primarily “Celestial driver of phanerozoic climate?” (Shaviv & Veizer 2003) a couple of days later.

            Perhaps if the folks reading this can lean on Anna to pay up, my faith in committed progressives to honor such wagers will be restored.

  4. Steve Frisch says:

    I find this issue fascinating not because I have any particular love for communism but because our society does not spend enough time talking about the social and economic theories that organize our society.

    “Communism” per se is not a government or a political party it is a theory of social organization based on the holding of all property in common, where actual ownership is ascribed to the community as whole rather than the individual. As such it is really no different than any other theory of social organization, it posits a system of organization and the means are left to the implementers. It is the means that are he question, and the confusion between theory and means has been seized upon to create what is essentially an un-Constitutional ban on thought. Under our Constitution we do not own nor do we have jurisdiction over what a person thinks; we have jurisdiction over what a person does, their actions, based on our collectively chosen form of social organization.

    Let’s review the California oath of office:

    “I, __, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of the United States and the State of California; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties upon which I am about to enter and during such time as I hold the office of (Job Title)”

    Pretend for a minute that one is a communist, or a subscriber to any theory of social organization, and choses to attempt to implement that theory through Constitutional means; confirmation by the people through their votes, legislation, the Courts, and/or amendment to the Constitution. That action would be entirely legal.

    The confusion over means comes when the attempt to institute such a theory of social organization adopts extra judicial means—violence or coercion—to institute its theory.
    How is the communist any different than the separatist Sage of Cement Hill positing that people of a particular cultural identity should have the right to live together without “interference” from people of different cultural identities? The Sage posits that all of this could be done entirely constitutionally, through policies restricting certain actions or behaviors. Of course that would require overturning and entire body of originally adopted constitutional principles, and the laws flowing from them…just as the abolition of private property would require of the communist…but heck, why not. It is ironic that the very people who hope to live in a culturally pure Mayberry and would twist constitutional law to achieve it are the loudest critics of another theory of social organization that would seek to do the same thing.

    I think Bob that you are entirely correct when you say that, “You certainly can’t deny the right of people to embrace communism. It’s a first amendment thing.” It is not about thought it is about actions.

    But I think that Michael Anderson and Chris Peterson are equally correct when they reject the threat that communism poses. Communism as a theory of social organization is dead in the modern world because in practice it has been demonstrated time and again that collective ownership of property doesn’t work—invariably government becomes the repository of that collective ownership (although early socialist thinkers like Proudhon, the father of Anarchism, believed that the people sans government where the ultimate owners and rejected the state as an intermediary) and thus it becomes bureaucratic, hidebound, inflexible and ultimately usually authoritarian—which is why I am a dyed in the wool Capitalist.

    For all of its faults, including negative externalities like pollution, unfair labor practices, and unequal distribution of capital based on labor contribution, Capitalism based on private ownership has done a better job of advancing human well being and distributing resources equitably and extending more democratic rights to more people, than any other theory of social organization to date in human history.

    I would even defend that statement with my friends of the “Democratic Socialist” bent, largely because no form of social ownership of the means of production has yet proven more sustainable or secure from threats of authoritarianism, addressed the ‘acting in self interest’ question, or addressed the accumulation of capital in the hands of the state issue, better than private ownership.

    Private property ownership and democracy are intrinsically linked.

    This is what many of my friends on the left fail to understand; where property rights are weak, improperly documented, where certain people are excluded, and where we lack robust market institutions to exchange value, corruption, kleptocracy, and authoritarianism thrive, and economic growth and the sharing of wealth is inhibited. Economic exclusion is a self-fulfilling prophecy; exclusion has a direct impact on the quality of democratic governance because it weakens the rule of law, which is the underpinning of a democracy; law is what separates thought and action. The best antidote to this is not to restrict property rights but to broaden property rights and the numbers of people who own property because it strengthens democratic institutions that make property ownership meaningful.

    But that doesn’t mean that to survive and thrive, and address the social issues embedded in its practice, Capitalism doesn’t need reform or that property rights supersede all public or collective interest. And here is the rub; the Neanderthals will label anyone who professes to want to reform Capitalism to address these issues and threatens the primacy of the Laissez-faire theory of Capitalism a communist.

    But Capitalism is a system of social organization just as communism is. The risk is that if Capitalism as a system of social organization is not flexible, if it does not react swiftly to new conditions, if it does not self identify needed reforms and responsibly implement them, Capitalism is equally as susceptible to revolution or irrelevance.

    Every year the World Economic Forum publishes a Global Risks Report. 2016’s report was perhaps the most direct and articulate critique of the growing risks to economic and democratic systems to date. The report characterizes risks in 5 categories: economic, environmental, social, geopolitical and technological. There are elements in each of these categories that are related to others, and collectively they point to a series of rising risks. These include: failure of financial markets and stability, leading to state and governance collapse; collapse of ecosystems leading to famine public health and migration crises; rising income inequality and economic dislocation leading to a rise in authoritarianism; failure of global security institutions leading to conflict; and, rising disruption from technological innovation leading to unemployment, idleness and social and economic instability.

    [Well worth the read even if you disagree.]

    And now we get to the part that my friends on the right fail to get—worshiping at the alter of Smith, Basiat, Hayek and Laffer is going to kill us if you are not careful—you are part of the world and there is no safe place for you to retreat to. Isolationists and cultural supremacists have to come to grips with some way to reconcile themselves with different cultures and find a way to recognize human rights. The way to do that is to extend rights, including democratic and property rights, not restrict them.

    We have to address income inequality, political polarization, climate change and/or resource depletion, global security, transitioning people economically in an age of technological revolution, global migration, and human rights because if we don’t they pose an existential risk to democracy, and by diminishing democracy they pose and existential risk to each of us as an individual. History teaches us that if you think you as an individual are immune to risk because you happen to be ‘on top’ today…well I got new for you…when the revolution comes, metaphorically or virtually, you’ll be the first motherfucker up against the wall.

    The only social organizational theory that we have to address these issues today is Capitalism.

    • Greg Goodknight says:

      I see they saved the best for last in that report you found so interesting, Steve, an essay on page 18 by that famed scientist Al Gore on the challenges of climate change.

      You write “And now we get to the part that my friends on the right fail to get—worshiping at the alter [sic] of Smith, Basiat, Hayek and Laffer is going to kill us if you are not careful—you are part of the world and there is no safe place for you to retreat to”.

      You’re projecting again, Steve. Personally, I don’t worship at any altar, but I have studied enough math, science and philosophy to recognize a steaming heap of self serving crap when you’ve served it up. Leftovers again?

      Mother Earth is running the experiment and some of us will be wrong once the data is in. I fully expect that to be you and 90+% of the current population of Planet ‘Frisco.

      • Steve Frisch says:

        I almost added a caveat to this little essay, that I fully expected a small minded troll who views the world through a lens of self appointed intellectual superiority and a single minded jihadist focus on climate change, would find the spelling error. Oh, BTW, “worshiping at the altar of Smith…” wasn’t referring to you. I was really thinking way behind the tiny world of Goodknight.

        I am amazed every time you comment at just how small you are.

      • rl crabb says:

        Greg, you well on your way to purgatory if you can’t keep the personal insults out of your argument. Last warning.

        • Steve Frisch says:

          I clearly think a much more interesting topic raised by Bob is the one originally posted: what is the nature of free speech, how do we maintain individual ideas in a society of law, and, my added interest, in a society that is organized through capital, how does capitalism address our most pressing problems. I welcome that discussion sans the personalization of the issues.

        • Greg Goodknight says:

          RL, that 5:29 am warning of your would have been more effective had there truly been a personal insult in my 5:42 pm, or had there been anything but personal insults in Frisch’s 3:35 am.

          • Steve Frisch says:

            There were absolutely no “personal insults” in my 3:35 am post. I never pointed to any specific ‘person’, I did not direct it at an individual and I critiqued left and right equally.

            The response was directed at me by name, did not address the broader content, chose instead to address one minor sub-point of the case made by the WEF, pointed out a spelling error as an implied critique, and included the statement , “…a steaming heap of self serving crap …” without backing up your opinion with any cited sources, references or even a logical train of thought.

          • rlcrabb says:

            Purged. I’m fed up with this endless bickering. If you want to carry on Mr. G, I suggest you try the Dragon’s Breath.

  5. fish says:

    ….…when the revolution comes, metaphorically or virtually, you’ll be the first motherfucker up against the wall.

    To quote Edie McClurg…..

    “Oh, Ed, you sounded like Dirty Harry just then.”

    Revolution usually eats its own first as it solidifies its grasp on power. Can’t have poseurs and second and third tier strivers having second thoughts about things now can we!

    Anybody you want me to call? You know…..after.

    • Steve Frisch says:

      You will note Fish that I did not direct that at any particular group rather the group of people who foolishly believe that have some sort of immunity or advantage. That could equally be the vanguard of the revolution or the privileged.

    • Chris Peterson says:

      Any revolution would leave most of us on both sides of the divide dead, and all those left living would be under martial law no matter who won. America will be unrecognizable; a mere shell of a third world country, and ripe for the picking.
      An outright revolution will not bring change; it will only hasten the end of our nation.

      • Steve Frisch says:

        Agreed Chris, as I am sure you noticed, my statement was cautionary.

        I know too many people who in their hubris are waiting and cheering for the revolution…many of them the same ones who said there was not a dimes worth of difference between the major party candidates in the last election.

    • Michael Anderson says:

      Goading is a national treasure Earl. It is one of things Americans have done best for ~230 years.
      That said, I agree with Steve Frisch that outlawing a particular economic theory is just plain stupid. Unfortunately, “just plain stupid” is also a national treasure and we just keep getting better and better at it. This should have been a line item in a consent agenda vote–fixing a past stupidity–but instead it was a double-down stupidity, allowing a whole bunch of stupids the opportunity to show their raw stupidity on both sides of the aisle. So excellent.
      I can’t get too excited about this particular topic since I am so very riveted at the moment at the coming total destruction of the Trump Crime Family. Watching this group of malevolent thugs meet their much-deserved end is definitely going to be the best part of my 21st century experience thus far.
      Just checked…popcorn futures are up 12 trillion percent.

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