. . . this pursuer of truth decided to make some rounds. First in order of reporting, last night, 4/9/16, at College of Complexes, meeting these days at Dapper’s East, 2901 W. Addison, in the Addison Mall, where I heard a few things.
I heard something about Ronald Reagan being a benchmark for suspicion of socialists, which had begun to boom in the ’50s, and something else about U.S. being a tabula rasa compared to Europe, where traditions militated far less against socialism.
Oh. Yes, we are different. Nice to see that recognized, even if as a drawback.
Then the conversation began. It’s important to “transcend the wage system,” Earp said in answer to the first question — replacing it with a system that would not “cramp creativity.”
He works in the travel industry himself, but lives in a commune, though he’s not a member of the commune. This he said in answer to a question about starting socialism one group, or “colony,” at a time, which he called building communism “from below.” He rejected this strategy because all is interconnected and you can’t do it piecemeal.
Nor would he attempt socialism through partisan politics, which he said “only keeps the rich in power.” Hence his declining to support Bernie Sanders. “The rich will still run the government even if Bernie is elected,” he said. He does not feel the Bern.
What’s more, socialism is international or it’s not socialism at all. So the Soviet Union has not been a socialist country since Stalin chose a path of national socialism — one country at a time. But the term, which he did not use (it was Hitler’s), is provocative, is it not? Neither was China ever socialist, because it too was a national venture. World socialism is the true Marxist goal.
“Where does socialism work?” asked an old fellow. We were mostly old fellows, let me tell you, in stark contrast with my first socialism-learning venture a week or so earlier, where in a book talk the median was closer to 25, among a similar size group, 30 or 35 people. More later on that session.
Another asked whether Norman Thomas was a CIA agent. Earp did not dismiss the idea, but noted that suspicions lurked about Thomas, who headed U.S. socialists for decades between wars and into the post-war years. Hmm.
“Seems like we need a revolution,” muttered a woman at my table, one of a dozen or so tables he in this back room, where the working-class waitress bustled about efficiently in pursuit of her wage through friendly service. (Three-dollar cover charge, she told me when I declined a menu. I forked it over next time she flew by. It was College of C. “tuition,” which I already knew.)
A questioner used the term “democracy and freedom,” meaning the two together as peas in a pod. Earp asked, “Do you feel free?” but smiling as he said it and was in no way dismissive. Throughout, he was the pleasantest, most reasonable-sounding Marxist I ever listened to. Not sold on himself or on his cause, for that matter. It made easy listening.
He is “not a Trotskyist,” he said, in one of several byroads into theory cum autobiography,. Theory actually came through as his chief interest, and that contributed to the easy listening part. Nor did he espouse Lenin’s “left communism,” by which the founder meant “too left,” somehow overdoing it.
Talk like this, with perfectionism built into it, led to questions about what he had in mind. He admitted he’s been called “defeatist” in his letting the perfect be enemy of the good (my phrase here).
His personal goal? By now, at age 53, not knowing “all the answers” and no longer wanting to change the world, he wishes only to add to the membership of the Socialist Party of Chicago — whose Rogers Park branch, by the way, had hosted the Loyola-campus book talk, about which more later, as I said.
Asked if stock ownership can be socialistic, in that it means ownership of the means of production, Earp said not if it’s for profit. So the motive is the thing, said the questioner. Yes, motivation, Earp replied.
But more than that, of course, is ownership by whom? Not by some goldarned Wall Street investor, that’s for sure.
Bernie Sanders and Democratic Socialism:
Beyond the 2016 Election
Meeting # 3,369 – Charley Earp of the Chicago Socialist Party who says: “It’s debatable whether Bernie Sanders is an actual socialist, but those of us who advocate democratic socialism can’t afford to focus on merely getting Bernie elected. A real socialist movement isn’t reducible to one candidate or even a presidency, the working people of the world have to fight capitalist exploitation on many levels and fronts.”
Democrats are “screaming ‘Crisis! Crisis!'” when “they created it,” he said.
It’s a long-standing issue, of course. A Democratic position in the matter is laid out by a high-ranking Illinois senator in this excerpt from my Illinois Blues: How the Ruling Party Talks to Voters, :
Another CLAIM [parent] questioner [in a 2013 meeting at Oak Park’s Percy Julian middle school] raised the long-standing hot-button issue of state funding of public schools . . . setting up a haves-vs.-have-nots give and take.
[Sen. Karen] Lightford complained that the formula for allocating school funding — $4 billion in 2013 — was based on forty-to-fifty-year-old poverty figures. She was to co-sponsor a bill two years later that sought to alter that formula, taking from the wealthier districts and giving to the poorer ones. . . . .
“Is it fair?” she asked, that Oak Park gets as much as it does, “considering its lower-than-average poverty rate?” State aid (to Oak Park schools) “may be” less, she said. Which was sufficiently ambiguous for the occasion. Then she launched into numbing detail about the process of deciding how funds are apportioned.
[Oak Park’s Sen. Don] Harmon ignored her allegation of unfairness — no need to ruffle feathers — but agreed that the formula is “complicated.” He took note also of the long-standing teacher pension subsidy for non-Chicago school districts — featuring highly publicized retirement bonanzas for suburban administrators — as further complicating the matter.
Illinois Blues is available at Lulu.com as paperback and ebook.
The conference’s keynote speaker was Kathy Talvacchia, associate dean of academic and student affairs at New York University Graduate School of Arts and Science and co-author of the book Queer Christianities. The Spectator noted that Talvacchia “has narrated her experience coming out as a lesbian woman and how the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola were a really important part in balancing her identity of being Catholic and queer.”
“Being at a Jesuit university, that [experience] toes the line of official church teaching and healthy inquiry and respect for the human person and individual,” said Seattle University’s campus minister for faith formation, Rachel Doll O’Mahoney, according to the Spectator.
Toes the line? Try “straddles.” Rachel Doll might consult a dictionary.
In contrast, the style of Praise & Worship songs is obviously contemporary, American, and secular. If missionaries were to impose these songs on some indigenous tribe elsewhere in the world, it would be comparable to asking them to dress, eat, and talk like Americans. It is, in that sense, comparable to jeans, Coca-Cola, and iPhones.
Which is fine with mainstream liturgists, but indefensible, this author argues.
A typical blue-state solution to “violence”: make-work jobs to keep youth busy enough to stop shooting each other. Thank you, county commissioner Boykin.