Taking notice 5

Yesterday we had 1,643 readers of (or glancers over) the essay by Jillian Becker (under Pages in our margin), posted on January 14, 2015, titled:

 Communism is Secular Christianity

We have no idea why there is a sudden interest in it.

But for those who have discovered it, and enjoyed finding it right and good, or provocative and outrageous, we recommend, for more pleasure or vexation, our post of June 19, 2015, titled:

 Paul and Karl: the most consequential same-sickness marriage in history 

Comments on either article, pro or con, are welcome.


On the same theme, Steven Hayward at PowerLine quotes this from the concluding chapter of Leszek Kolakowski’s “magisterial three-volume treatise”, Main Currents of Marxism:

Marxism is a doctrine of blind confidence that a paradise of universal satisfaction is awaiting us just around the corner. Almost all the prophecies of Marx and his followers have already proved to be false, but this does not disturb the spiritual certainty of the faithful, any more than it did in the case of chiliastic sects: for it is certainty not based on any empirical premises or supposed “istorical laws”, but simply on the psychological need for certainty. In this sense Marxism performs the function of a religion, and its efficacy is of a religious character.

We like that. But then Kolakowski goes on to say:

But it is a caricature and a bogus form of religion, since it presents its temporal eschatology as a scientific system, which religious mythologies do not purport to be.

And that spoils the point. While it is true that other religions do not purport to be scientific, we cannot see that that nonsensical claim qualifies the religious nature of Marxism. Regardless of its claim, Marxism is not “scientific”. It is as much a superstition as any other religion. It  even has a god, which it names History.

Kolakowski certainly understood the nature of Marxism. After writing three volumes on its shades and interpretations, his undertanding of it could not have been less than profound. But he turned from faith in Marxism in his youth to the Christian faith in his maturity. (In a non-conformist way – see here and here.)

Steven Hayward also quotes this passage from Main Currents of Marxism:

Communism was not the crazy fantasy of a few fanatics, not the result of human stupidity and baseness; it was very real, very real part of the history of the twentieth century, and we cannot understand this history of ours without understanding communism. We cannot get rid of this specter by saying it was just human stupidity. The specter is stronger than the spells we cast on it. It might come back to life.

The same can be said of Christianity – a very real part of the whole history of our Common Era. That specter will be hard to banish too. It seems to have grabbed Kolakowski by the same need in his personality that had once driven him to Marxism. We think he should have rendered himself invulnerable to the temptation a second time. It is the same specter. That Kolakowski could not see it, proves his depressing assertion is right: it is a strong temptation  – whether to “human and stupidity and baseness” or idealism and naivety – and it will not easily die.

Posted under Christianity, Commentary, communism, Religion general by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, September 1, 2015

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This post has 5 comments.

  • liz

    He’s right- “the psychological need for certainty” is at the root of both religion and Marxism. This is why most Christians and Marxists cannot be persuaded with empirical evidence – they refuse to be confused with the facts!
    Christians will quickly point out the “religious” nature of Marxism (“it’s certainty not based on any empirical premises”), yet at the same time fail to recognize the obvious application of this to religion itself!
    Kolakowski was also right that Marxism “might come back to life” – it certainly did.
    It really never died – it just transformed itself into new “isms” – environmentalism, feminism, racism (towards whites), multiculturalism…etc.

  • A.Alexander

    I must add a little: Marx` bird that so revolted H.Wells as the obscurantism symbol, appeared in reality the fashionable attribute of the scientific community`s men of the time. The Marx`s bird demonstrate his wish to be mainstream.

    • Sorry, A. Alexander, but you have lost me! What is the
      “Marx bird”?

      • A.Alexander

        Bad memory,excuse me,I meant barb.

        • Thank you for the correction, but please explain a little more. What barb? What did Wells say about it?