Chicago It used to be a daily thing, now, thankfully, sometimes weeks will go by without some rightwing troll hurling a word bomb my way. I read them sometimes, if I’m not familiar with the author in order to see if there’s a new twist or something imaginative in the effort of insult. For me, it’s water off a duck’s back. I’m mainly interested in what it says as a signal to his tribe, a dog whistle to the pack he wants to follow him.
Recently there was a new twist on this old theme on a website called “front page,” I think. The author, whoever that might be, was trying to cook up some conspiracy involving me, Wade Rathke, as an instigator of Occupy, which I guess I should perhaps take as a compliment, though I’ve often commented that the story of Occupy is the time a “tactic swallowed a movement.” Anyway, he referred to me as a “neo-Communist.” Is that a thing? And, if so, how interesting is that, and what should we make of it?
Red-baiting has been a “go to” move since its heyday in the 1950s. But, being called a “commie” is such a last century, conservative trope that you don’t see if much even in most rightwing screeds. In fact, it’s more common that they call people “socialists” now in the US, where candidates for president in the Democratic primary are sending their own smoke signals by either signing a verbal pledge of “say it’s not so,” or going silent and seeing if this also shall pass. Of course, one of the reasons you don’t see a lot of finger pointing, name calling redbaiting anymore is simple: what’s a communist anyway? Do they live in Russia or China? Hmmm, not really, except in the same technical way that we might call America a democracy, we might call them communist countries, but they are almost more rapaciously capitalist than most of the rest of the world’s country club.
But, a neo-communist, that’s somewhere between fish and fowl, compliment and condemnation, it would seem. There are a lot of people searching for a unifying political and economic set of theories and principles adaptable to modern times or with luck, even coming generations. I’ve met many in Germany and the United Kingdom among young activists who are such seekers, and I’ve enjoyed such discussions and see all of them as fellow travelers hoping to find a sure and sturdy road to the future.
With a super troll, twitter fiend, name calling bully in the White House and at loose around the world, it must be hard for old school conservatives to figure out a way to top that. I don’t feel sorry for them, but I recognize the dilemma. How do they compete when they are getting their hate on? It must be maddening!
Meanwhile, the rest of us better keep working on something “neo,” because politics is evolution too. It’s adapt or die or at least disappear in irrelevance, looking around to see where the people are and finding yourself all alone, as many of these conservative pundits have discovered.
Words have meaning and value, but thrown in the wind, they truly can’t hurt us. We keep working, and we can even build something with sticks and stones, if people are with us.