Sunday, October 5, 2008
[Barre – Montpelier, Vermont]
Diamondstone on slate for 19th time
October 5, 2008
By Peter Hirschfeld Vermont Press Bureau
At 73 years old, Peter Diamondstone may well be the most prolific
candidate for public office the state has ever known.
Since 1970, when he launched his inaugural bid for attorney general,
the socialist stalwart has run for various offices under different
party banners every two years.
“I think this is the second time I’ve been a candidate for governor,”
Diamondstone said Friday.
This year, he bears the Liberty Union tag, a party around which
true-blue Vermont socialists have coalesced since it earned
major-party status in recent years. He unabashedly calls himself the
“Castro” of the Vermont Liberty Union Party, and he revels in
discourse on socialist polemics.
“Socialism is the only way — it’s not even an option anymore,”
Diamondstone says. “Capitalism requires violence as a tool of policy.
It requires the exploitation of resources on the planet. It requires
the exploitation of people.
“Socialism has its problems,” he says, “but at least we can stop
exploiting the planet and people and stop using violence as a policy.”
God help the reporter that asks Diamondstone why he’s “running” for
office. Over the years the Brattleboro grandfather has developed a
sensitivity to media verbiage. “Running,” he says, is for athletes,
horses and warriors. He prefers to view his candidacy as part of a
statewide hiring process.
“When you use the language of sports and war, words like ‘run,’ people
in journalism need to do that to sell papers and get people to
listen,” he says.
Diamondstone has his own way of getting people to listen. As a
“fringe” candidate — another term the former lawyer abhors — he is
often treated as a black sheep, ushered from the pack to ensure
speaking time for the more “serious” contenders. He has been arrested
more than a half-dozen times — most recently in Waitsfield at a
candidates forum in July — for trying to insinuate himself in debates
to which he wasn’t invited. He notes that he has never been brought to
trial or convicted for any of the alleged transgressions.
“Silencing opinions robs the whole human race,” says Diamondstone,
paraphrasing John Stuart Mill. (During a 90-minute interview, he also
cited Noam Chomsky and Albert Einstein, whom he described as one of
the “most perceptive people in the science industry.”)
“Most people interpret the First Amendment to protect the right of the
Fourth Estate, to protect speakers, politicians,” Diamondstone says.
“I don’t really interpret it that way at all, and I don’t think the
people who wrote it interpreted it that way.”
The purpose of the First Amendment, Diamondstone says, is to ensure
the public’s right to hear what people like him have to say.
“That’s the point of the First Amendment — that the people are
entitled to hear and read the opinions of everyone,” Diamondstone
says. “Not that I have the right to speak them, but that they have the
right to hear them.”
Diamondstone has plenty to say, and he’s carried his message to
audiences of varying sizes around the state. He differentiates between
his long-term goals and short-term policy initiatives. The former
includes, most notably, Vermont’s secession from the United States of
America. Following the $700 billion Wall Street “bailout” approved by
Congress on Friday, Diamondstone says, the issue of secession ought
not to seem controversial.
“There’s just no benefit anymore,” Diamondstone says of Vermont’s
membership in the United States. “If we force secession, we’re going
to work less, get paid the same and have more jobs for people.”
As for his gubernatorial agenda, Diamondstone leads off with a plan
for rehabilitating Vermont watersheds.
“What we need to do is require all new parking lots to be unpaved and
grassed,” he says. “It means they occasionally won’t be useful and
businesses will have to close. When it comes to those parking lots
already in existence, when those pavements disintegrate, you can’t
repave them. That’s how we stop runoff into brooks and streams.”
He also promises to disband the Vermont National Guard.
“We set up a civilian militia, and not a state militia, so the
national government can’t shanghai people from Vermont to go fight in
imperialist wars,” he says.
The Diamondstone economic agenda relies in large part on secession,
and includes the formation of a new “state bank” that issues Vermont
currency and a radical compression of income strata.
Under Diamondstone’s plan, no one can make more than $75,000 per year,
and no one can make less than $15,000.
“The wealthiest in Vermont will have to sell their yachts, that’s
all,” he says of a 100 percent tax on income over the proscribed
He promises an accompanying increase in quality of life. Workers will
be guaranteed 30-hour weeks, four weeks of paid vacation and 10 paid
“Part of the economy is based on people buying stuff they don’t need,”
he says. “Vermont’s going to change. We’re not going to buy stuff we
Diamondstone wants to pay youngsters a wage for going to school,
shutter Vermont Yankee, and set up a Vermont Drug Administration to
replace the FDA that presently regulates medicines.
He points to high levels of wood alcohol in aspartame as evidence of
the FDA’s malfeasance, and says recommendations for yearly mammograms
ensure that women eventually contract breast cancer.
“Mammograms cause cancer. Everybody knows it, because radiation causes
cancer,” Diamondstone says. “The people who are building these
machines have to make money, the people in the pharmacy business have
to make money, and the hospitals have to make money. … It’s all about
Diamondstone is earnest in his vision for a more beneficent
government. He says he hopes to bring Vermont closer to that vision by
winning the November election, but doesn’t necessarily “expect” that
voters are ready to make the leap.
Still, he retains irrepressible optimism for a future, however
distant, in which the populace embraces the ideals he’s spent much of
his life espousing.
“Socialism says no production for profit. Profit is how we destroy
people, how we kill people. It’s all about markets,” Diamondstone
says. “No more production for profit. Only production for need. That’s
my kind of socialism.”
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