The Marxist Left has nowhere to go. Wherever it has gained power it has failed, and it has no new ideas. Like a demented parrot it screeches words at the world outside its intellectual cage: “Racist!”, “Sexist!”, “Xenophobe!”, “White male privilege!”, “Global warming denier!” – as if they were statements complete in themselves and nothing needed to be added. They are subjects without predicates.
For a hundred years, 1917-2017, the enemy of liberty, reason, humanity, justice, civilization itself was the Marxist Left.
From the beginning of its era of implementation – the seizing of power in Russia by Vladimir Lenin and his Bolsheviks – to its fading with a cacophony of screeches when its American president, Barack Obama, stepped down from power, the Atrocious Ideology was fomented and imposed on nations by intellectuals who knew how to argue at a dinner table or a Stammtisch, in a classroom or a newspaper column, but had no understanding whatsoever of how most people lived or to what they aspired.
From the 1920s onwards, a majority of the intellectuals in the free Western world embraced the collectivist ideology of Marx and Lenin and called for the ruin of their own house. In the Anglosphere (e.g.), the writers who enthralled the reading classes – though they esteemed themselves artists and above politics – were almost all dedicated to the destruction of their warm, comfortable, beautifully appointed, endlessly entertaining, safe nursery. And they convinced untold millions that to smash it and everything in it was the nobly ideal thing to do.
To take just one of the noble destroyers who thought they would enjoy Communism, one who attracted, and continues to attract, devoted admirers, let us consider Virginia Woolf (1882-1941). She was not merely a typical member of that class, she was the leading light of it.
A revelatory portrait of her is to be found in an essay by the great British essayist, Theodore Dalrymple.
“Virginia Woolf,” he writes, “belonged by birth not merely to the upper middle classes but to the the elite of the intellectual elite”.
He concentrates his surgical analysis on one of her books in particular, Three Guineas.
It was about how women could prevent war.
Virginia Woolf’s name is not normally associated with great affairs of state, of course. Quite the reverse. She regarded them with a fastidious disgust, as a vulgar distraction from the true business of life: attendance to the finer nuances of one’s own emotional state. Along with the other members of the Bloomsbury group – that influential and endlessly chronicled little band of British aesthetes of which she was the moving spirit – she was dedicated to the proposition that beings as sensitive as they to the music of life ought not to be bound by gross social conventions , and that it was their duty (as well as their pleasure) to act solely upon the promptings of the sympathetic vibrations of their own souls. …
Despite its concern with war, the book is not a work of political philosophy or contemporary history:
No: it is a locus classicus of self-pity and victimhood as a genre in itself. In this it was certainly ahead of its time, and it deserves to be on the syllabus of every department of women’s studies at every third-rate establishment of higher education. …
The book is important because it is a naked statement of the worldview that is unstated and implicit in all of Virginia Woolf’s novels, most of which have achieved an iconic status in the republic of letters and in the humanities departments of the English speaking world, where they have influenced countless young people. The book, therefore, is a truly seminal text. In Three Guineas, Virginia Woolf lets us know without disguise what she really thinks: and what she thinks is by turns grandiose and trivial, resentful and fatuous. The book might be better titled: How to Be Privileged and Yet Feel Extremely Aggrieved. …
Her point about war is that it is waged by men, and men suppress women; and if instead they treated women as equals, there would be no more wars.
One might think that to descend from the aesthetic to the ideological plane would be distasteful for a woman of such languorous, highly strung, thoroughbred equine beauty as she; but under the influence of a general idea, Mrs. Woolf revealed herself to be a thoroughgoing philistine of the most revolutionary and destructive type, quite prepared to bring the temple crashing down about her ears, that her grudges might be paid back. Let my ego be satisfied, though civilization fall.
The temple of learning, that is. She had in mind one of the repositories of the riches of Western civilization – a Cambridge university college. A woman’s college. (A great achievement in itself as women’s colleges were only established at Oxford and Cambridge in the 1880s – in Virginia Woolf’s lifetime). She advises that it should be burnt down with all that it contains; all the books in its library consigned to the flames. The worthlessness, in her estimation, of all that accumulation of knowledge and wisdom in print on paper, suggests that she would be happiest if the whole venerable university were to be reduced to ashes.
Dalrymple quotes her:
And let the daughters of educated men dance round the fire and heap armful upon armful of dead leaves upon the flames. And let their mothers lean from the upper windows [before, presumably, being burnt to death] and cry “Let it blaze! Let it blaze! For we have done with this education!”
Virginia Woolf was consumed with bitter, contemptuous, snobbish distaste for everything that did not appeal to her exquisitely refined aesthetic sensibility. Form, appearance, was all to her. She expressed a low shallow anti-Semitism in passages describing, with revulsion and disgust, the appearance of Jewish men. Yet she married a Jew! (They had no children. Did she, like her character Mrs. Dalloway in the novel of that name, lie alone in a narrow bed?)
Food disgusted her too. She was revolted (again) by seeing through the window of a London tea room, well-dressed women eating cakes. They were fat. They obviously had rich husbands who paid for their cakes. Nauseating! Despicable! Thin-ness and sterility were aesthetic and moral ideals to her. Instinctively, her philosophy of life was based on anorexia.
Life was too messy, the world too unbeautiful for her. It was Jewish. It was fat. It was sexual, fertile, dirty. She sought water, drowned herself in the River Ouse near her country house in East Sussex. (The reason she gave in her suicide note was that she couldn’t face another attack of recurring insanity.)
Theodore Dalrymple describes the sort of academy that Virginia Woolf would have approved of. It is one with which we are all too familiar:
Mrs. Woolf’s ideal college … would be entirely nonjudgmental, even as to intellect. … Henceforth there is to be no testing of oneself against the best, with the possibility, even the likelihood, of failure: instead one is perpetually to immerse oneself in the tepid bath of self-esteem, mutual congratulation, and benevolence toward all.
And he concludes:
Had Mrs. Woolf survived to our own time … she would at least have had the satisfaction of observing that her cast of mind – shallow, dishonest, resentful, envious, snobbish, self-absorbed, trivial, philistine, and ultimately brutal – had triumphed among the elites of the Western world.
It triumphs chiefly now in the universities, where the diehards of the Marxist Left linger on beyond their time with that Atrocious Ideology of theirs, stale, dull, tragic, disproven.
1.This essay displays Virginia Woolf’s distaste for capitalism, and asserts that [her being above politics] what she desired was “a communism of the soul”. And the author quotes this from Woolf’s novel A Room of One’s Own: “Masterpieces are not single and solitary births; they are the outcome of many years of thinking in common, of thinking by the body of the people, so that experience of the mass is behind the single voice.” It is a notion that Barack Obama and Elizabeth Warren would heartily endorse.
2. The Rage of Virginia Woolf in Our Culture, What’s Left Of It by Theodore Dalrymple, Ivan R. Dee, Chicago 2005
3. Mr. Virginia Woolf by John Gross, Commentary Dec.1. 2006: “It also seems clear that the marriage worked. Many things about it are mysterious. Did, for instance, the fact that it was sexless leave Leonard constantly frustrated, or did it in some way suit him? We are unlikely ever to learn the answer to such a question, and perhaps it is none of our business.”
4. Yet Mrs. Woolf was not wholly consistent in her distaste for food, pleasure, or even sex. She also wrote this: “I want to dance, laugh, eat pink cakes, yellow cakes, drink thin, sharp wine. Or an indecent story, now – I could relish that. The older one grows the more one likes indecency.” (From Monday and Tuesday by Virginia Woolf.) Perhaps that was an aberrant thought that occurred to her in one of her periods of madness (see Note 5).
5. Virginia Woolf wrote to her husband:
Dearest, I feel certain I am going mad again. I feel we can’t go through another of those terrible times. And I shan’t recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can’t concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don’t think two people could have been happier till this terrible disease came. I can’t fight any longer. I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can’t even write this properly. I can’t read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that – everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can’t go on spoiling your life any longer. I don’t think two people could have been happier than we have been.
Virginia Woolf and her coterie were erudite, cultured, brilliant – but nevertheless a silly lot.
Here’s one of them recording his significant thoughts:
Today we re-discovered a 2012 essay, by the economist Steven Plaut, on the Bolsheviks who took power so disastrously in Russia in 1917.
The essay is titled: Just What Was Fundamentally Wrong with Bolshevism?
We choose these passages to quote, but the whole thing needs to be read here.
As great believers in Marxist theology, [the Bolsheviks] advocated the imposition by the “proletariat” of urban workers of “its” will upon the country, including upon the agricultural laborers who constituted the bulk of the population. Even if the Bolshevik party could seriously be thought to represent the urban “proletariat,” they would still have constituted a movement representing only a very small portion of Russian society. …
The Bolsheviks represented a movement seeking to impose the interests of this minority “class” over the interests of the bulk of Russian society (and later over non-Russian populations in the Soviet empire). …
The Bolsheviks … claimed to represent “the working class” of urban workers, but never considered it necessary to allow those same members of the “proletariat” a say in what they themselves considered their “class interests” to be. The communist party leaders claimed to represent the proletariat automatically, supernaturally, by dint of their having studied Marx and Engels. Under their theology they could automatically divine from the dusty 80 year old writings of Marx what served the interests of the Russian “working class,” without having to ask any actual workers, and in most cases without having to engage in actual work. Party leaders, led by Lenin and Trotsky, lived bourgeois lives even in the most difficult days of the Russian Civil War, often living in luxurious royal apartments inside the Kremlin (which had been the royal residence before the Revolution). Soviet leaders were attended by large numbers of servants, and Trotsky himself never went anywhere during the Civil War without both his large flock of servants and a 35-member military band. Bolshevik leaders (Trotsky in particular) generally had never done a day of honest labor in their lives in any factory or farm; their entire “careers” consisting of political activism.
The Bolsheviks believed that they could divine the answers to what the “workers” collectively needed in much the same way that Church clergy could conjure up the agenda of God, by reading the holy scriptures. And like other manifestations of theology, the Bolsheviks tended to bicker and break up into small factions over minor questions of belief. Like in the Church, the factionalism was suppressed by means of the proclamation of official dogma approved by the party’s Pope. It was the beginning of the thought police system, later perfected by Mao.
In the case of communists, these scriptures meant Marx and Engels, and later Lenin. The problem of course was that Marx and Engels never spelled out the nitty gritty details of what “workers” would need, and basically had no understanding whatsoever of economics. They can hardly be excused for this ignorance on grounds of writing before the advent of modern economic understanding, because it was already well on the course of development at that time.
As just one example of the problem, should the price of shoes in a “workers’ state” be high in order to benefit shoe workers producing shoes, or low to benefit workers who are consumers? And if the representatives of the proletariat cannot make up their minds about the price of shoes, then how the Devil can they decide what constitutes “worker interest” in thousands of other dilemmas. Asking the workers themselves what they wanted was quickly ruled out by the Bolsheviks as a counter-revolutionary nonstarter.
The solution of the early Soviet regime was essentially to suppress and terrorize urban workers, not just the peasants. …
In fact, the “alienation” of the “urban workers” by the party had occurred even earlier. The Bolshevik coup and the storming of the Winter Palace were uprisings of the “working class” only in party mythology. The bulk of those rising up in support of the Bolsheviks were soldiers in the Czarist or Kerenski armies, who supported the party because of the promise by Lenin to surrender to the Central powers and end all fighting and mobilization of troops.
The Bolshevik banner may have featured the hammer of the urban worker with the sickle of the peasant, but at the time of the Revolution it was little more than a party of disgruntled soldiers and sailors, most from rural background, reluctant to be sent back to the World War I front to defend Russia. Their opportunistic support for the Bolsheviks largely vanished in thin air as soon as the party tried to mobilize them and send them out to fight the “whites” during the civil war. Trotsky was forced to recruit ex-czarist officers to serve as commanders in the Red Army.
The main groups of soldiers supporting the party with enthusiasm were non-Russians desiring the end of Russian domination over their native lands, like the brigades of Latvian riflemen who served as Lenin’s praetorian guards. By 1921, the same Kronstadt sailors who had been critical in bringing the Bolsheviks to power in 1917 were shooting them and organizing a massive mutiny, brutally suppressed by the communists. The suppression of the rebellion led Whittaker Chambers to label bolshevism a form of fascism …
Bolshevik thinking in the early days carried strong features of theology. The Bolsheviks believed that if they were to follow the precepts of Marx to the letter, and pronounce the correct incantations, then magic would take place and socialist revolutions would spring up all over the world like adorable leprechauns. This voodoo Marxism eventually led to the rise of Stalin and totalitarian “socialism in one country”. And an ice pick in the skull of Trotsky.
Most Bolshevik leaders had no skills or experience in government administration, management, business, or anything else. Their only claim to legitimacy was their assertion that they understood the needs of the “proletariat”. Trotsky believed in command control and central “planning” of the economy until his last breath, and he was hardly alone. Within days of seizing power in their coup d’etat, the Bolshevik leaders were seeking to impose their “dictatorship of the proletariat”, by which they meant the dictatorship of those party officials, more often than not from middle class backgrounds, claiming to represent the proletariat. The Russian economy imploded under their rule. Output of Russian factories and mines in 1921 was only a seventh of what it had been under the Czar in 1913.
Their understanding of foreign powers and diplomacy was even more pathetic than their ignorance of economics, and was also dominated by belief in magic. During the first years of the Soviet regime, its leaders quite seriously expected communist revolutions to break out all over Europe. And they were truly surprised when none did, except pathetic attempts – quickly suppressed – to install bolshevism in Germany and Hungary.
Part of their problem was that Marx and Engels were themselves wrong with regard to just about everything. They were wrong, first and foremost, with regard to the claim that there exists some sort of monolithic “working class” with some sort of uniform set of “class interests.” Urban workers share no common interest, as the above example involving shoe prices illustrates. Urban workers indeed were a “class” with a common interest only in the most tautological sense, only in the sense that all those assigned to any “class” would favor increases in the incomes and wealth for all members of that “class.” By the same token, people with curly hair constitute a “class,” because any proposal to raise incomes for all those with curls would be supported by them. But regarding any other issue that would arise, the curly headed would have no common interest. Ditto for urban workers. And in the exact same sense, there is no capitalist class. An assembly of the “capitalist class” would similarly be incapable of agreeing over whether shoe prices should be high or low.
And just why were urban “workers” even considered to be politically superior to everyone else in society? Marx, Engels and the Soviet leadership had great difficulty conceiving of anyone doing productive work unless they were making “things”. And heavy “things” were more valuable, important, and productive than light “things”. Certainly producing services was not understood by them as productive labor, explaining why the quality of services of all sorts in the Soviet block remained abysmal all the way down to the fall of communism.
But just what was a “worker”? Do not bankers and teachers and dentists and engineers and pharmacists work? In many cases, they work longer hours than factory workers. Marx and Engels had insisted that urban factory workers must seize political control of society, and they must do so by means of a dictatorship by the party claiming to speak in their name. In any case, Marx and Engels were pretty sure that peasants did not really provide important “work”. After all, they just produce food. So they need not really be part of any revolutionary regime.
Peasant reluctance to deliver food products to the urban “masses” without getting paid was “counter-revolutionary” and could be resolved by starving them to death, terrorizing them, and locking them up in non-productive collective farms. There food production would prove too low even to feed the peasants themselves, let alone export food to the cities. …
At least in the early stages of the “Revolution”, [the Bolsheviks] were truly captivated by utopian delusions. The problem of all utopians is that they advocate systems and ideas that can only work with imaginary idyllic humans, but never with real human beings. When they discover that real human beings refuse to knuckle under and behave according to utopian expectations, the utopianists respond with violent rage. The greatest strength of capitalism is that it actually works with real human beings, people who are lazy, base, narcissistic, self-indulgent, foul-smelling, mean-spirited, and unsophisticated. Capitalism does not require idyllic fictional humans in order for it to work.
The most violent terrorists and oppressors of others have always been the utopians. The French Revolution turned violent and the guillotine was introduced to attempt to terrorize actual humans into behaving according to the expectations of the utopianists. The leaders of the Soviet Revolution were no slower or more squeamish in following the same route.
We continue the series of short essays by Jillian Becker posted on our Pages section under the general title of The Darkness of This World.
Here, in full, is the tenth essay, starting Part Two of the series.
It focuses on Russia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; the nihilistic mood that prevailed there among discontented intellectuals; the decadence of the monarchy and the Orthodox Church; and it outlines the astonishing story of the mesmerizing, disgusting, scandalous mystic and lecher Rasputin, a peasant who rose to wield imperial power – the enormous autocratic power that history had reposed in the weak hands of the last Tsar, Nicholas II.
Romanticism – which grew in opposition to Reason from the very beginning of the Enlightenment, their common parent – is a kind of religion.
In certain essential ways it most closely resembles the Gnostic creeds of early and medieval Christianity. Both Romantics and Gnostics depend on feeling and intuition for their “truth”, which stands in both cases in opposition to their culture’s norms. To rebel against conventional morality, they choose evil. Both rationalize their perversity as the means to a higher good. For the Gnostics good lies in the heavens after life on earth is over; for the Romantics it lies in this life on this earth, just over the horizon, beyond the next revolution. Whether up there, or over there, both promise paradise.
In actuality, Romanticism led the way not to an earthly paradise but to earthly hells.
If Romanticism could be said to have a deity, it was “the Devil”. The Romantic imagination clung to him long after “God” had faded away. Germany “sold its soul” to him. Entranced by a Wagnerian fantasy of brutality, violence, war, conquest, “blood and beauty”, Nazi Germany chose evil, rode the storm triumphantly for a time, fulfilled its romantic dream in atrocity, and ended in flames and irreparable moral degradation.
Karl Marx prayed in romantic poetry to be empowered by the Devil, and metaphorically speaking his prayer was granted when Marxists took power after his death and tormented and destroyed millions of hapless victims. The Russian Bolsheviks were the first tyrants to govern in the name of the creed that bears his name. But they were not the first (or last) tyrants to govern Russia, nor the first Russians to choose evil.
The Enlightenment did not penetrate far into Russia. Even by the late nineteenth century, the Russian people were still deeply religious and the church was still immensely powerful. But a weariness with the old order, a romantic pessimism was spreading through the vast anachronism that was Tsarist Russia.
Dostoyevsky’s novel The Possessed (or The Devils or Demons), was published in 1872, eleven years before Karl Marx’s died. It has a cast of intellectual nihilist terrorists who typify the Romantic rebel in late nineteenth century Russia. They are against everything. Patronized, courted, and encouraged for the thrill of their scandalous philosophy of existential despair and malicious criminality by a stupid Governor’s wife – another type of civilization’s decline – they transgress all moral and conventional boundaries and eventually murder for the sake of murdering, and literally set the town on fire. One of them commits suicide and allows the others to blame him for their crimes, leaving an untrue note that he is the culprit. Why? Because nothing matters. Nothing. The man they look to as their leader, Nicolai Stavrogin, is the son of a wealthy landowner, an eccentric widow. She enjoys a protracted and chaste love affair of the mind with a once-daring but now perfectly tame intellectual rebel who has long since outlived his small fame. Young Stavrogin – handsome, rich, and privileged – is the rebel du jour, reckless and unpredictable. At his mildest, we learn when we meet him, he has publicly indulged his evil impulses by making defiant gestures against polite custom, saying and doing irrational things – such as biting a distinguished gentleman’s ear – deliberately to outrage society. In secret he has done far worse. He has committed a terrible crime that we learn about eventually: he raped a child, and the girl killed herself. Then, secretly again, he married a poor despised ill-used madwoman. Why? In penance? Out of compassion? Is he a saint as well as a sinner? Or is it a bizarre joke? Dostoyevsky perfectly describes what Stavrogin is doing: he is “living sarcastically”.
Dostoyevsky believed Russia was sick with nihilism and despair, and could be saved only by a return to Orthodox Christianity. But the sun was going down on “Holy Russia”. The Orthodox Church was no longer capable – if ever it had been – of distinguishing between its saints and its sinners.
In Orthodox eyes, which of the two – saint or sinner – was Grigori Rasputin, the man who more than any other single individual hastened Tsarist Russia into extinction?
Rasputin was a peasant monk who the royal family of Russia needed to believe was a mystic healer. They put all their hopes in him to cure the Tsarevich of hemophilia, the bleeding disease that threatened the life of the young heir to the throne, the only son of the Tsar. The peasant monk might also have been (it was both alleged and denied) a member of the Khlysty, a Gnostic sect that had arisen in the 17th century and lasted into the 20th century, to be ended along with everything else by the Communist revolution. The Khlysty believed in direct (“intuitive”) knowledge of the divine and redemption through sin.
Whether or not as a member of the Khlysty, Rasputin convinced numerous highborn ladies that they could be redeemed through sin. Their lust being sanctioned by so exciting a promise, they stripped naked for him, begged for his sexual attentions, and – according to some colorful accounts – would even lick his greasy fingers clean after he had been eating with his hands at the table of the Tsar. What is well attested is that the occult was in vogue in high society, and some of its luminaries seriously expected – because they deeply longed for – miracles. Rasputin was their master; to them he was the Devil himself, laughing among them.
His own motive in performing his part may only have been the simple one of enjoying himself. By many accounts he fed gluttonously, drank copiously, and copulated promiscuously.
The Tsarina could not live without him. She did as he told her. And as she depended too much on her “holy healer”, the Tsar depended too much on her. By her insistence, the Tsar took into his own hands the direction of his country’s forces in the Great War, and he did not do it well. Persons in high places became concerned that Russia was being governed and misgoverned by the “mad monk” – and it was not too much of an exaggeration. He apparently had power even over the Holy Synod, though he had never been ordained a priest. It seemed that a lascivious peasant was working his will over church and state. The Tsar refused to send him away. Nothing could dislodge him.
Plots were hatched to kill him. And finally four would-be assassins – the Grand Duke Dmitri Romanov and Prince Felix Yusupov, along with a member of the Duma and an army officer – set about murdering him in the basement of the Yusupov palace on December 17, 1916; first with poison – but he stayed alive; then with a gun, shooting him many times – but still he did not die; then stabbing him and beating him on the head with a truncheon. Finally they dropped him, probably dead but by some accounts still alive, over a bridge and down through the ice of the River Niva. So ended his real-life performance as a “holy sinner”, or magus.
It had been a magnificent mockery – of religion, power, aristocracy, and morals – born of a brilliant, if instinctive, perception that the stupidity of the great laid them open to exploitation by bold native cunning. Had the Romanovs, in particular the Tsarina, and her noble ladies avid for sin, not been mystics themselves, not believed in miracles, they would not have fallen under Rasputin’s spell. The Orthodox Church itself – or part of it – romanticized mystic charlatans of his kind. Both the institutions of monarchy and church had become rotten stumps ready to be kicked over.
And kicked over they soon were. The downfall of Tsarist Russia began on April 16, 1917, just four months after Rasputin’s death, when Lenin returned from exile and began the process that brought the Russians under Marxian Communism.
Jillian Becker September 20, 2014
The Left, as a whole, in the Western World, has become far more extreme in this century than it was in the last. The Socialist and “Conservative” parties of Europe, the Democratic Party of America, the universities everywhere, the media and the film industries, book publishers, song writers, judiciaries, and a slightly varying half of the voters in almost all Western countries, are predominantly of one opinion, consciously or semi-consciously, articulately or silently, that Marx and Lenin, and even (though their names may be spoken a shade more sotto voce) Stalin and Mao, were right.
This is from Front Page, by Vladimir Tismaneanu:
It has become fashionable among leftist circles to invoke a return to Lenin, to radicalism, to utopia. Among those who advocate such imperatives to “retest the communist hypothesis” one can count French philosopher Alain Badiou, a former admirer of the Khmer Rouge, and Slovene thinker, Slavoj Zizek, the new idol of Western university campuses, subject of documentary hagiographic movies, and prophet of a new phantasmagoric world revolution.
To know more about Slavoj Zizek, see our post Red alert, January 21, 2009. And to get the flavor of the man, watch the video at the foot of this post.
Did the partisans of such positions ever stop to think how it would sound a call for “retesting the Nazi hypothesis”? One must be totally oblivious to history, an incurable cynic, in order to ignore the fact that Leninism, just like National-Socialism, means political terrorism, the apotheosis of fanatical partisanship, the boundless cult of violence and nihilism, etc. In short, Leninism presupposes … the destruction of the inner man. Leninism is theoretical and practical anti-humanism.
‘The inner man” in this context means the individual for himself alone, not as a unit of “society”.
There have been conferences and symposia where Lenin is presented, in an academic context and without any trace of compassion for the millions of victims of “the great experiment”, as the philosopher of the break with an order putatively condemned by history.
The “order putatively condemned by history” is of course capitalism, or the free market. Those who condemn it and praise “the great [Communist] experiment” have not noticed that the free market has brought widespread prosperity wherever it has been allowed to, or that Lenin’s experiment, the miserable Soviet Union, failed and fell and lost the Cold War.
All in all, it is unsurprising that the prophets of violence worship Lenin. What is surprising is that intellectuals, who should have learnt from the catastrophes of the 20th century, are engaged in an endeavor driven by programmatic irresponsibility. It is simply shocking that in countries where the Leninist model was implemented, one can still read and hear hymns honoring the architect of a criminal system.
Should we be amazed by all this? What could one expect from the epigones of Georg Lukacs, the Marxist philosopher who declared … that he preferred the worst form of socialism to the best incarnation of capitalism. …
Georg Lukacs was the Hungarian Commissar, and philosopher of drama and art, on whom Jillian Becker’s character L is based in her novel L: A Novel History.
Real history does not matter for such sectarians. What does matter is the dogma to which they are faithful in total disregard of reality. … It is quite telltale that one of Hugo Chavez’s intellectual heroes was Istvan Meszaros, one of Lukacs’s former students who … has remained a flaming Marxist, faithful to the dialectical sophistries of his mentor.
An excellent example of such world-view is a recent memoir by a Romanian Marxist intellectual, Ion Ianosi, who happened to be deeply involved for long stretches of time in the ideologization of the country’s culture during communism. The volume’s title is My International. Some critics glorify the book as testimony of heartfelt sincerity. What is missing in those more than 800 pages is an honest analysis of Bolshevism as justification of social genocide. Ion Ianosi seemingly excels on topics such as “Marx and Art”, “Lenin and Art”, pretty much the same fields for which his expertise was called upon during his activity within the Romanian communist party’s Agitprop. But Ianosi shies away from trying his expert pen on topics such as the crimes against humanity inspired by the Marxist-Leninist ideology.
Even before the Bolsheviks’ coming into power, it was clear that Lenin was a fanatical propagandist, a utopian ideologue fixated on social purity and purification, an heir to Robespierre and St. Just, but no philosopher. Philosophy implies doubt and Lenin was the man without doubts. …
Lenin was the practitioner of a simplistic, partisan, and exclusivist philosophy. He rejected emphatically any possibility for a middle path, of a tertium datur between what he called “bourgeois ideology” and the “proletarian” one.
We at TAC are all for “bourgeois ideology”, if the bourgeoisie as such – the successful middle class – can be said to have such a dusty thing as an ideology. We value the middle class, anyway, above the others, because out of it has come almost every one of those men (and handful of women) who have advanced our civilization and augmented the glory of our culture in the last five hundred years. (Though also most of those who’ve done our civilization the worst harm, such as Marx, Lenin, Lukacs …)
Lenin’s Manichaeism [bourgeois bad, proletarian good] was inexorable. For Lenin and his followers, ideas were (are) always the manifestation of class interests. … This is the meaning of a notion essential for the Leninist conception about ideas, ideologies and philosophical consciousness: partiinost – partisanship, class position, militant commitment, total and abject subordination to the party line.
Leninism is a revolutionary doctrine that sanctifies political violence and condemns entire social categories to state-engineered extinction. It is … rooted in the visceral contempt for the rule of law, legality, and the universality of human rights. “Back to Lenin” means a return to barbarism, blindness, and murder.
We are not enamored of the phrase “human rights”. We prefer to speak of human freedom, which we suppose is what Professor Tismaneanu, who has lived under Communism in Romania, probably means.
Now here’s Slavoj Zizek. He starts at about the 2 minute mark. Don’t expect to be rewarded for over 15 minutes of paying attention with any impressive ideas. He says nothing much, but with strong emphasis, and what he does say is notably wrong. For instance, that Norway is intolerant of immigrants! (Go here to test this notion, and to any other of Bruce Bawer’s numerous articles on the same subject.) He thinks the major political groupings in Europe are now the “capitalist anti-immigrants” on one side and the [Islamic] immigrants on the other. (Would it were so! ) He calls himself a Leftist, though oddly declaring that in America there is “an excess of anti-capitalism”; calls Fox News “the enemy”; and implies that the worst problem facing mankind is … you guessed it … global-warming.