Don’t Dare Call Them Socialists
I recently published two stories about outspoken, committed socialists: one, an active member of the Industrial Workers of the World running for U.S. Senate and the other a self-described Marxist college professor leading a movement urging the federal government to regulate the Internet. While the facts I cited were undisputed, the left nonetheless reacted with attacks on me personally, on the organization I run, and on people they presume are our donors – which just proves how important it is to assure the privacy of our actual donors and protect them from such attacks.
Socialism has always inspired ideological people, mostly young, with wonderful aspirations. But it came to be seen as a pejorative for very good reasons; it was proven theoretically unworkable because of the knowledge problem, and it was tried in practice with calamitous results.
A system of centralized economic control is simply incompatible with basic human freedom. It should be within the bounds of polite political discourse to point out dangerous, extremist views. But in the current environment, it provokes a backlash.
When Amanda Curtis was nominated by the Montana Democratic Party to replace disgraced plagiarist John Walsh on the ballot for U.S. Senate, I checked to see whether she had a public Facebook page where I could learn more about her. What I found was shocking.
Less than two weeks earlier, she has tagged herself in a picture featuring Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) banners and identifying herself as a “Fellow Worker,” the term used in IWW for group members. Her husband Kevin Curtis is a leader of the state IWW, known as the Two Rivers General Membership Branch.
The group’s mission? “We are working to organize the people of Montana into the One Big Union to end wage slavery and eventually end the capitalist system.”
Did the media care? Not much. CNN did ask the campaign about it deep in a story for their website, and the conservative Washington Free Beacon covered the story, but that was about it.
The Huffington Post, which didn’t see Curtis’s radical affiliation as worth reporting, took me to task for pointing it out. Their reporter Ryan Grim asked: “Are you really trying to red bait somebody in 2014? That’s funnier than it is anything else.”
I asked if I got any facts wrong, and he said: “I don’t think so.”
I thought red-baiting involved false allegations.
But this was nothing compared to the angry reaction when I emailed conservatives about our StopInternetRegulation.org petition to oppose efforts by liberal activists to have the Federal Communications Commission reclassify the Internet as a public utility.
I accurately identified the intellectual leader of the regulate-the-internet effort as Robert McChesney, an avowed Marxist college professor who founded the advocacy group Free Press. I accurately quoted McChesney saying: “In the end, there is no real answer but to remove brick by brick the capitalist system itself, rebuilding the entire society on socialist principles.”
For this I was accused of “disinformation and fearmongering,” was called a “fascist,” and was told: “You will not be missed when you die.” (When I told the gentleman who made the last comment my wife and three kids would miss me, he disputed that, too.)
The ultraliberal Daily Kos website even ran a story that hilariously attacked us for claiming the left wants to reduce the Internet to a public utility – while a call-to-action overlay on the page promoted a petition to President Obama… to turn the Internet into a public utility.
Now, I wouldn’t work in public policy advocacy if I couldn’t handle angry attacks from opponents. It goes with the territory and it means we’re being effective.
But liberals want to go further, reversing the principle established by the Supreme Court in the 1958 landmark civil rights case NAACP v. Alabama that protects the privacy of the members of groups that engage in controversial political speech.
When the U.S. Senate returns from their summer break, they will vote on a Democratic amendment to the Constitution that would effectively repeal the First Amendment with respect to political speech, subjecting any organization that utters any criticism of elected officials or candidates for public office to forced disclosure, violating the privacy of their members.
On the left, supporting even the most radical and extreme ideas will result in no repercussions. On the right, people will be viciously attacked, vilified, and intimidated into silence. I’d list some of the places that possibility reminds me of, but that would only get me accused of more red-baiting.
Mr. Kerpen is the president of American Commitment and the author of “Democracy Denied.” Kerpen can be reached at email@example.com.