Political Name Calling

On being called a Communist at a Company Lunch

I was at a company lunch last week, when I mentioned an idea for providing free or cheap internet service, taking advantage of wireless technology and solar power.

There were a couple of responses. One person said that was done frequently in the third world. Another person said it sounded communist.

People seldom label my ideas communist, but when they do it in public, it deserves a thoughtful response.

My first thought was that all ideas, except for the occasional trade secret, are communistic. After all, ideas are the most freely shared of what we have come to think of as our own possessions. There is a great deal more free advice available, than there are willing takers for that advice. As a response however, this is off the mark.

To assert that an idea has philosophical or political values and beliefs is to attribute human traits to our thoughts. That is a mistake. It cannot be the idea that was communist. Only people can be considered communist.

Thus the comment must have been intended to label me, my own person, as a communist.

Rarely, since the fall of the Soviet Union, do people attempt to label other people communist. Communism, as a political system, was given its full chance to succeed, and proved itself a failure. Any political system which assumes the government more wise than the governed will likely suffer a similar fate to that of communism.

On rare occasions, when setting up practical governments, people engage in political thought in an effort to engineer a workable society. America's founding fathers engaged in that activity in 1776 and 1784. Excepting that occasion and a few others, most political thought or speech, be it left, right, authoritarian, or collectivist, serves mainly to alleviate or engender fear, or to disguise evil. Most political speech, including my own, is just an effort to deal with fear engendered by the dangerous actions of others, often leaders of governments.

Having thus deprecated 95% of all political speech, I will now state for the record my own political beliefs.

All humans, regardless of previous handicap or condition of servitude, are free to act in any manner they can conceive, and to bear the responsibility for the results of those actions. That is an existential, not a political fact.

All humans may join together in groups and coalitions to gain the benefits of cooperation. Some coalitions may be necessary for common defense. Others may be necessary for the general welfare. Some of the coalitions get labeled as governments. Some of the coalitions get labeled as religions. All coalitions get out of hand from time to time, and have to be broken up.

The reasons coalitions get out of hand are always the same: fear, greed and a desire for power. The tool coalitions use to maintain their power, and to confuse their victims, is political speech. The most common type of political speech is creating labels to which are assigned all the evil and fearful thoughts that people may have. Those labels, those complexes of evil and fear, are then hurled at the victims or opponents of the coalition, in an attempt to discredit or confuse them.

That is what happens when one person smears another as a communist.

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