Socialism in Maine Part III: The Mainstreaming of Maine Marxism

9/27/18, by Professor John Frary, 

Socialism appears under multiple names and factions. These factions often collide in power struggles, but all move in one direction, toward more governmental power. It’s convenient to examine these factions under separate headings.

ACADEMIC JACOBINS

Part II of the Socialism Series discussed the campus entertainments put on by Loony-Left academics.

Most of these entertainers are fantasists who make revolution from the security of tenured positions, with plenty of free time, no heavy work burdens, and the expectation of pensions paid from the profits of capitalist enterprise.

L-L intellectuals who expose themselves to gunfire rarely come from academia, but there are always some who edge cautiously toward the revolutionary barricades by taking public positions. We’ve seen columns in the Portland Press Herald by Professors Vail and Hilliard defending Democratic legislators against the Maine Economic Research Institute’s (MERI) low ratings for small business support.

This pair identify themselves as “economists working on Maine policy issues and as citizens wanting our fellow voters to be well-informed.”

Track him down, and you’ll find that Vail describes himself elsewhere as a “progressive economist.” who specializes in “socialist and post-socialist economic systems.” Prof. Hilliard, we discover, was once a member of a commune dedicated to “living socialist and feminist ideals” in his younger years.

Susan Feiner, a Professor of Economics and Women and Gender Studies at the University of Southern Maine, wrote her attack on MERI’s objectivity for the Lewiston Sun Journal. She is co-editor of Radical Economics, co-author of Liberating Economics and sole author of Out of the Margin: Feminist Perspectives on Economic Theory.

Logically, their socialist affiliations don’t disprove their critiques, but they do call their objectivity into question. I’m going to jump to a conclusion here — their journalistic interventions were motivated by their socialist ideals.

SOCIALIST PARTY OF MAINE

Overt socialism made a big step on Sunday, July 14 when the Socialist Party of Maine (SPM) held a founding convention at the Viles Arboretum in Augusta which united the Socialist Party of Eastern Maine with the Socialist Party of Southern Maine. Unity accomplished, the delegates mapped out campaign strategies. “We don’t believe in violently overthrowing anybody,” Spokesmammal Tom MacMillan, explained to the Portland Press Herald reporter. I’m sure we’re all relieved to hear this.

The SPM plans to dangle promises of fair wages, affordable health care, and lots of education, food, and housing for all to attract voters. We learn from MacMillan that its Big Vision goes beyond handing out free stuff. It plans to end oppression and discrimination and build an economy that improves the quality of life for those who live in Maine.

The newly united party has managed to find candidates to run for office in 2018. This is an important landmark. The last time the Socialist Party had a name on the ballot in Maine was 1952 when Darlington Hoopes ran for president. This year Maia Dendinger, community organizer, educator, and former chairmammal of the Socialist Party of Eastern Maine, is running for State Senate in the Fifth District. This gives her the second place in the national hierarchy of Socialist Party of the USA candidates. She’s outranked only by Reid Kane Kotlas, who is running for Senate against Bernie Sanders.

Reid explained this on Sept. 2. For Bernie and the progressives, he tells us, progress means using government to mitigate the dysfunctions of capitalism. They aim to preserve a social order in which working people are dependent and subservient upon owners of capital. Reid and his lot wish to “inaugurate a new social order and a new epoch of human history society based upon universal ownership and self-employment.”

Maine not only has the distinction of presenting the nation with 2018’s second-ranking Socialist Party candidate; it is also the state with the largest number of Party candidates. OK, that’s stretching it a bit since we’re making a total of three by adding Reuben Dendinger and Maia Dendinger, as candidates for Orono City Council in a March 13, 2018 election, to Maia as a candidate for Maine’s Senate

We turn to Reuben’s 2016 Bangor Daily News column “Let’s Understand, Not Misrepresent, Bernie Sanders’ Call for Democratic Socialism,” for an evaluation of Sanders-Socialism a little different from the one presented by Mr. Kotlas. He points that Bernie’s proposals — “strengthening unions, supporting worker co-ops, increasing democracy, reining in the worst excesses of the corporate system, providing universal health care and free higher education by taxing the rich — will weaken capitalism and allow grass-roots socialism to flourish.”

That, he tells us, is why Bernie’s call for a “political revolution” against the billionaire class is supported by SPM and Socialist Alternative as well as Democratic Socialists of America.

The aspiring Orono commissar explains, “workers, not capitalist bureaucrats, are the real producers in a society; therefore, they should control production democratically” and that the for-profit model of capitalism means that money, rather than human needs, is the driving force of our economy.” This brings to mind some lines from Kipling’s “The Gods of the Copybook Headings.”

“As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire”

The vomit, mire and fire to which the commissar wishes to return is an economic theory shared by all varieties of socialists and most progressives. According to this theory, an economy was somehow present when the world began, and then wicked capitalists showed up to take what belongs to the workers. Enterprise, investment, capital, invention have nothing to do with creating economies. Workers, sweating away like galley slaves, make economies.

If you believe workers are motivated by pay, profit, individual gain then you won’t be welcomed at the next SPM convention.

DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISTS OF AMERICA (DSA)

Check out the Democratic Socialists of America website by clicking here.

The Socialist Party of Maine and its comical candidates are insignificant in themselves but interesting as signs. Bernie Sanders, running in the Democratic primary as a Democratic Socialist against Hillary the Corporate Democrat, won Maine’s party caucus. The SPM visionaries hope to acquire power by co-opting the Berniecrats.

A “movement,” not a party, the DSA is free to endorse the SPM candidate and the Democratic Party nominee for U.S. Senate, Zak Ringelstein, as well. Having joined their ranks, Zak has been endorsed by the Southern Maine Democratic Socialists of America (SMDSA).

Perched on the tiny soapbox they gave him he speaks harshly about the lack of accurate media coverage of “Independent Angus’” record on gun control and bank deregulation.

He is also impatient with them for their inattention to his numerous corporate and special interest campaign funding sources. “One of the reasons I’m running,” says Zak, “is to force those conversations into the open.”

THE GREENS

It’s significant that, during its first incarnation in the early 20th century, the Socialist Party of Maine ran a naturalist named Norman Wallace Lermond for governor. Our beautiful state is a magnet for environmental enthusiasts and outright eco-nuts. Some see demon capitalism as the Arch Eco-Wrecker.

So no one should be surprised that SPM spokesmammal Tom MacMillan was Secretary of the Maine Green Independent Party Steering Committee and ran as Green Party nominee for the District 118 House seat.

He received endorsements from the Maine People’s Alliance Campaign Vote, New Progressive Alliance, and Maine Education Association. MPA Communications Director Mike Tipping explained that his organization favors progressive candidates. “But really,” Tipping said, “we support a set of values and we support candidates who support those values as well.” He did not specify socialism as one of those MPA values, but this may be inferred.

The New Progressive Alliance website explains that the organization came into being in 2010 when its founders saw that Barack Obama had betrayed the key principles of Progressivism. It supports candidates who pledge allegiance to the NPA Unified Platform. This farrago of flapdoodle, including the usual Greenish, cant can be found at the appended address: http://www.newprogs.org/2014.

Here’s some background to explain the socialist exploitation of ecological anxieties.

Robert Heilbronner sold more books advocating socialism than any American academic. I have his Worldly Philosophers. It’s scholarly and well written. Honest Bob always acknowledged that real socialism would require the sacrifice of our traditional liberties if we hoped to enact central economic planning and create “a morally conscious collectivity.”

Then, in 1989 as the failures of socialism became undeniable, he wrote a shocking essay for The New Yorker. “Less than 75 years after it officially began,” he wrote, “the contest between capitalism and socialism is over: capitalism has won… Capitalism organizes the material affairs of humankind more satisfactorily than socialism.”

But, he tells us, we still need to reject capitalism on the grounds of environmental degradation. Socialism, we see, is like the old-time patent medicines sold to the gullible as cures for whatever disease was popular at the time. We must give credit to Honest Bob for making it clear that, one way or another the power of government must expand.

That is always the bottom line.

It follows that we can expect to find socialist urges showing up in the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM). Its website tells us that their focus is conservation, advocacy, and education; their methods litigation, education, and advocacy. It has no official affiliation with any party. That would negate its tax-free status.

Check the NRCM facebook page, and you find a “Stop Kavanaugh” (#ImWithHunter gets us there directly). Hunter Lachance tells viewers that he suffers from asthma and Judge Kavanaugh will kill him if he gets on the Supreme Court. Means and motive are not explained.

The inference is that an originalist/textualist Court majority cannot be relied on to invent pretexts for advancing environmentalist issues. It might even overturn eco-legislation on the Constitutional grounds.

A few thousand people watching a few earnest, pimple-free adolescents taking a position on a subject they know next to nothing about is not significant in itself.

The video tells us something important about the left-ward thrust of the organization’s advocacy and educational interests. Their most important projects depend on the exercise of government power.

The Constitution was written in order to erect a powerful national government while erecting constraints of the exercise of that same power. Justices like Kavanaugh are bound to respect those constraints — and no progressive wants to see government impeded.

Overt socialists and ecowarriors alike have no patience with legal obstacles to their grandiose projects.

THE PEACEMONGERS

Peace Action Maine (PAM) explains its mission: “We are a voice of education and a center for people committed to disarmament and creative responses to conflict.”

But Go to their website and the first thing to is a section headed “Have you met Luke Sekera?” It turns out that Luke is a child activist in the Water Justice movement that’s working hard to prevent the Nestle Corporation’s plot to take over Maine’s water. #RiseForClimate

You will also find a place to register for the PAM Annual Meeting, which will feature #RiseForClimate talk ”Divesting from War” by Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Code Pink and the fair trade advocacy group Global Exchange. Code Pink showed up in force to disrupt the Kavanaugh hearings in the Judiciary Committee.

There, and everywhere else you care to look, every progressive/socialist/social justice organization is about its purported and anything or everything else relevant to the growth and exercise of central government power.

Although the titles may be invented to attract the innocent, the idealistic, and the idiotic — their goals are never just one thing for its leaders, unless that one thing is power.

 

*Editors Note* This is part two of a three-part series Mr. Frary is writing on the devastation of socialism in Maine. You can find part one here and click here for part two. Professor Frary will be back next week with another Maine First Media exclusive column. 

John Frary is a retired college professor of 32 years, a well-known conservative columnist and activist, a former Maine congressional candidate and a contributor for Maine First Media.