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World Association of International Studies

Post How is California "Marxist"?
Created by John Eipper on 10/12/21 3:21 AM

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How is California "Marxist"? (Harry Papasotiriou, Greece, 10/12/21 3:21 am)

Could our friend Francisco Wong-Díaz please explain how he defines the term "Marxist"?

California gave us Apple, Google, Facebook, Instagram, Netflix, Zoom, not to mention older Hewlett-Packard and even older Hollywood. Give me an example of more capitalist creativity in recent decades anywhere in the world! It is true that California has become less business-friendly in recent times, but that hardly makes it Marxist, if this term is to have any meaning beyond crass Trumpist propaganda.

JE comments:  Excellent point.  As for launching corporate juggernauts in the last 40 years, a distant second to California is probably...China.  (Seattle could also make a legitimate claim, with Amazon, Costco, Microsoft and Starbucks.) Not sure what Marx would say about any of this.

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  • California as Marxist State: I Agree with Francisco Wong-Diaz (George Aucoin, -France 10/13/21 2:25 AM)
    I welcome the analysis of our friend Francisco Wong-Díaz on the plight of California. I have been stationed as a military officer in California on and off for over a decade since 1980. Gratefully, never as an over-taxed state citizen, but often in an observer's position to witness the diaspora of the middle class and the consolidation of politics around a one-party system. The term "Marxist" as used by Francisco replaces the less descriptive adjective of "Leftist," which doesn't begin to convey the corrosive and economically retardant effect of Democratic Party social policy on one of the most temperate and beautiful places in America.

    Marxist California, as properly used by Francisco, conveys the electoral hopelessness of ballot harvesting, a California Original always leading to just one outcome. It conveys the state overreach of excessive corporate and individual taxation driving the diaspora of qualified labor and entrepreneurial capital from the ambit of Sacramento's control. Above all, it conveys the display of government diktat at the expense of personal freedom and liberty.

    Francisco, a California citizen, describes the situation quite accurately.

    JE comments:  One wonders what Marx would say about Silicon Valley's venture capitalists.  Or the conspicuous consumption of Rodeo Drive.  It's all a far cry from uniting the workers and peasants to throw off their chains.

    George, what recommendations would you give to make California housing more affordable?  Or the problem of rampant homelessness?  If California were truly Marxist, wouldn't it move about thirty families in with Elizabeth Holmes at Green Gables?

    The above is in response to Harry Papasotiriou's question about defining "Marxism" in the California context.  Francisco Wong-Díaz has also sent a response (next).

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    • Trump's Cheerleaders, and a Comment from George Clooney (Tor Guimaraes, USA 10/14/21 3:32 AM)
      WAISdom's in-house right-wingers are not very good at balanced discussions over ideology. I am a firm believer that debating any "ism" is a waste of time. There is too much smoke and no conclusions at the end, not to mention that it is useless.

      I love capitalism because I believe in savings and investment, democracy, free markets, and entrepreneurship. I also love socialism because Social Security and universal health care are great ideas if you are a true patriot. However, too much socialism may stifle reward for performance, which I am very keen on. Too much unbridled capitalism will lead to monopoly power, government corruption, an obscene disparity of income and wealth, and the eventual destruction of democracy.

      Discussing the finer points of social political economics with Trump supporters is like debating the Kamasutra with the Pope.  It ain't going nowhere, as my gardener would say. They do seem to appreciate slogans and name-calling, which cam be fun, albeit not very constructive.

      As I said before, in general the American people have no idea that if Trump had won in 2020, there would not have been fair elections in America for the foreseeable future. Despite his loss, his followers continue to chant their slogans with religious zeal, show total disrespect for science and reality, for the Constitution and rule of law, and the preachings of Jesus Christ. I know they hate Democrats and I don't blame them for that, since it is part of the game. But, what kind of world do they want? Trump as the dictator, a Goebbels-type as the cheerleader, and violence against non-Trumpsters? What kind of world would that become for people who just want have a happy productive family life, and get along with all people of good will?

      Last, I already said that Trump followers often show they are not decent debaters using facts and logic. But perhaps it is our fault for not communicating effectively. Perhaps they will get his message? Commenting on Trump's attempts to create a wedge between Middle America and "the coastal elite," George Clooney stated:

      "Here's the thing: I grew up in Kentucky. I sold insurance door-to-door. I sold ladies' shoes. I worked at an all-night liquor store. I would buy suits that were too big and too long and cut the bottom of the pants off to make ties so I'd have a tie to go on job interviews. I grew up understanding what it was like to not have health insurance for eight years. So this idea that I'm somehow the "Hollywood elite" and this guy who takes a s%*# in a gold toilet is somehow the man of the people is laughable. People in Hollywood, for the most part, are people from the Midwest who moved to Hollywood to have a career. So this idea of "coastal elites" living in a bubble is ridiculous. Who lives in a bigger bubble? He lives in a gold tower and has twelve people in his company. He doesn't run a corporation of hundreds of thousands of people he employs and takes care of. He ran a company of twelve people! When you direct a film you have seven different unions all wanting different things, you have to find consensus with all of them, and you have to get them moving in the same direction. "He's never had to do any of that kind of stuff. I just look at it and I laugh when I see him say "Hollywood elite." Hollywood elite? I don't have a star on Hollywood Boulevard, Donald Trump has a star on Hollywood Boulevard! F%*$ you!"

      Then he got this scary t-shirt (attached), much to my original point.  [JE note:  This photograph is not genuine.  See Edward Mears' correction below.]

      JE comments:  Clooney reminds us of the need for a corollary to Godwin's Law:  Any online discussion inevitably leads to an analogy with Hitler's Germany and the US Confederacy, as well as a comparison between the two.

      Trump's greatest achievement may have been creating his image of a "man of the people," despite his life of extreme privilege.  Did any prior political leader accomplish this?  I'm thinking of FDR, although the Depression-era masses did not see him as one of their own, merely as an elite savior in a time of crisis.

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      • The Clooney "Losers" Shirt is Fake (from Edward Mears) (John Eipper, USA 10/14/21 9:40 AM)
        Edward Mears writes:

        It has been a while, but glad to see the Forum is still as spirited as ever!

        I have no desire to jump into the political/ideological fray re: the recent posts on California and Trump, but I did want to point out that the picture of George Clooney in the "losers" t-shirt is not real.

        Per the USA Today article below, the original picture is from 2015 and the t-shirt in that picture featured Clooney's tequila brand, rather than the "losers" meme.


        JE comments:  Fake it is.  A big oops.  I should have verified the provenance of the shirt before posting.  (And tsk tsk, Tor, you should have done the same.)

        I've added an addendum to the original posting.  Eddie-San, thank you for your eagle eye! What's the news from Japan?

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  • Defining Marxism in the California Context (Francisco Wong-Diaz, USA 10/13/21 2:47 AM)
    In response to Harry Papasotiriou, I do not have to define such a basic term (Marxism) known since the mid 19th century. It has gone through many permutations, too. Those who refuse to see or laugh at what is currently happening should read The God that Failed, Darkness at Noon, The New Class, and other accessible, popular books on the topic.

    I usually fall back on the original writings by German-born Karl Marx and the Russians Lenin and Trotsky, etc. It was Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (Lenin) who clarified that the purpose of Socialism is Communism. He also modified Marxism by introducing the Communist Party as the vanguard of the proletariat, etc. Who is a Marxist? Communist?

    In my youth I learned from the difference between the "card carrying," indoctrinated and ideologically tested party members and the rest. Not anyone, as some of you might be, can become a party member. To say that Marxists are involved in the changing of California from a democratic (small d) to a Marxist-driven system is not Trumpist on my part. I did not vote for him.

    Being a Marxist has not prevented many hypocrites and liars like Bernie Sanders from exploiting and benefiting from the capitalist system. In their mind it is part of the normal dialectical process. Many Marxists leaders have been raised in wealthy families or are/were wealthy themselves. A classic Latin American example is that of the late Salvador Allende, a wealthy physician who owned the finest wine cellar in Chile and as president tried to offer his path to electoral Socialism (the Chilean Way) as an alternative to the Maoist strategy of guerrilla warfare advocated by Che Guevara (see Regis Debray's Revolution in the Revolution) and somewhat reluctantly by Castro (both Che and Castro were sons of upper-class or wealthy parents). The experiment cost Allende his life. (What happened to his wine?)

    The battles are being fought through those who control the means of communication. While the people are being distracted by arguments over vaccines and masks and January 6th, and where is Kamala, the real events are at the Southern border, in the schools, at the airports and gas stations, and on the streets.

    In Venezuela, and now here in the USA, the global Unlearned Lessons from the failures of Marxism are being repeated. Venezuela shows us what the New Class really wants--power over a population living in misery. Money man George Soros is a capitalist whose financial commitment to transform (destroy) the US as it is has been clear and transparent. He is the man behind Obama 1, 2 and now 2.5 [Biden]. The best example of how his strategy works at the local level are the crime pandering DAs in LA, San Francisco, and Chicago.

    If any of you "ivory tower" residents who are not Marxists or ideologues refuse to see the obvious trends on the streets or America, go ahead and act the puppet by attacking (cancelling) me as an Anti-Semitic by including Soros as one actor in this American drama. My Jewish goddaughter and my ex-Russian Jewish in-laws always have a good laugh whenever I tell them.

    JE comments:  I believe Harry Papasotiriou was interested not in a definition of Marxism per se, but in how it could even remotely characterize the epicenter of tech capitalism.  Likewise, the three books cited here by Francisco Wong-Díaz (first paragraph) are all very long in the tooth (late 1940s and 1950s).

    Is it possible to understand today's California with Cold War-era theory?  Even if we loathe what California has become, shouldn't we seek a more up-to-date toolbox to understand it?

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    • The "Wimp" Factor, Revisited (Paul Pitlick, USA 10/13/21 10:10 AM)
      Ok I get why an individual may think that the Democratic Party is the party of wimps, etc. (See George Aucoin and Francisco Wong-Díaz, October 13th.)

      However, I look at how the US as a whole was left after the last two Republican administrations, and frankly, I would prefer that so-called "Marxists" in charge. At the end of President #43's term the economy was in free-fall, period. Fortunately, President #44 was competent. Frankly, I don't know if we'll ever recover from #45 and his mindless minions.

      JE comments: Paul Pitlick raises the "wimp" factor, which hasn't been part of political discourse since the days of Bush the Father. Trump has been called many, many things, but never the "W" word. Even his bone spurs were presumably muscular, meat-eating ones.

      Genuine Marxists (at least of the revolutionary type) were anything but wimps.  Might this alone suggest the unsuitability of "Marxist" as a label for today's "snowflake" Californians?

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    • Levin's "American Marxism" (Francisco Wong-Diaz, USA 10/14/21 8:49 AM)
      John E decried my book recommendations of October 13th as "long in the tooth."

      The American Constitution is also long on the tooth but it works!

      There is, nonetheless, a recently published book by conservative commentator Mark Levin entitled American Marxism that I have on my shelf. I invite WAISers to give it a chance and read it with an open mind. He is a lawyer, not an academic.

      JE comments:  The US Constitution is so vibrant because it can be amended as times change.  This was the brilliance of the Founders.

      Levin is a well-known commentator on Fox News. From the sampling of reviews I've just read, his book is as polarizing as you might expect.  Depending on your preconceptions, it's either a "must-read wakeup call" or a base diatribe that discovers Marxism in every progressive belief.

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