He wasn't always a communist, he said. When he was in elementary school he attended a Young Republicans meeting, to the chagrin of his union-organizing father. But it didn't take long for Langdon to realize that mainstream politics wasn't his thing. In the 1970s he joined the Socialist Workers Party, which he describes as more radical than the Communist Party USA, into whose fold he later moved.
Langdon has been a card-carrying communist since the 1980s and served for the past eight years as chair of the party's local chapter, the Humboldt Communist Alliance. He recently moved into the position of co-chair because he doesn't have a computer, he said, or access to the Internet from his home.
Langdon, 54, short and stocky, looks the part of a radical. His long reddish hair, streaked white, hangs down past his shoulders. He has deeply pockmarked skin and a big nose that pokes out from a full beard. He wears glasses and gesticulates while he speaks about class struggle with a slight lisp.
A registered Green, he can't seem to recall who the communist candidate for president is this year, but guesses it's Sam Webb, chair of the Communist Party USA. Still, it doesn't really matter since Langdon is backing Barack Obama.
"We support any progressive candidate that will overturn the Bush reign and start coming back to more humanitarian ideals and the end to the war," he said. "The war is a big factor with us. Most of us are all egalitarians and peaceniks."
The "us" refers to the 10-15 registered communists in Humboldt County, according to Langdon's figures. And though that number seems small, he insists that "right now we have an upswing of people interested in the progressive movement, the socialist movement, because the economic situation is getting harsher by the minute." In fact "interest has peaked," he said.
Langdon folded one leg under the other and — sitting in a half lotus position — explained that there are a lot more communists in Humboldt than the dozen and a half who are "out of the closet," as he puts it. "A lot of people fear what they don't understand," he said. Communism is still a dirty word, but less so, Langdon believes, than it used to be.