The truth is out there. It has been for some time. Ten years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the brute thuggery endured by the Eastern Europeans and the poverty and despoilation to which they subjected, are common knowledge. Likewise the pitiful carnage of Cambodia’s ‘Killing Fields’. The blood-chilling stories of cannibalism in North Korea are corroborated by too many sources to be regarded as mere speculation.
Of course, we crusading capitalists knew all along and made no secret of it, while our left-wing compatriots waspishly accused us of being, well, ‘capitalists’. It was the very worst insult they could muster and carried with the implication that we were liars and wreckers. For so long as they could avoid being confronted with the terrible truth, they could dance ecstatically in the Elysian Fields of La-La Land.
But no longer do they have any excuses. They may still swoon for the nostalgia of heady, revolutionary days gone by but no longer can they plausibly deny the life-sapping horror that the philosophy of Karl Marx has wrought upon mankind.
Nonetheless, and to my abject disbelief, students pound the streets of Seattle and Genoa waving ‘Hammer & Sickle’ flags while, emblazoned on their T-shirts, are the images of Mao, Lenin and Che Guevarra. Just what is going on inside their addled brains? It is as if they are suffering from some grievous malady that has struck them completely blind to the glaring lessons of very recent and eminantly accessible history.
If you have been as astounded by all this as I have, then this (somewhat lengthy) article in the Economist may be of interest:
“Books on Marx aimed at undergraduates and non-specialists continue to sell steadily in Western Europe and the United States. And new ones keep coming. For instance, Verso has just published, to warm reviews, “Marx’s Revenge” by Meghnad Desai, a professor of economics at the London School of Economics. Mr Desai argues that Marx was misunderstood and that the great man was right about far more than he is given credit for. In August, Oxford University Press published “Why Read Marx Today?” by Jonathan Wolff. It too is an engaging read. The author, a professor at University College London, is a particularly skilful elucidator of political philosophy. In his book, he argues that Marx was misunderstood and that the great man was right about far more than he is given credit for.”
Well, with all due respect to the writer, this is not shocking news. For those of us who do keep abreast of current events, it sometimes feels as if the academic and cultural spheres are dedicated to nothing except the promotion of marxist thought.
Marx has been thoroughly debunked and discredited (as the article sets out in some detail) yet capitalists and conservatives still have to fight tooth-and-nail to get even their most modest viewpoints across amid an intellectual atmosphere which Marx still dominates. Marxism not only manages to effortlessly re-invent itself but it’s flickering flame still draws hordes of helplessly entranced moths from each successive generation. It is the death-cult that will not die.
“It is striking that today’s militant critics of globalisation, whether declared Marxists or otherwise, proceed in much the same way. They present no worked-out alternative to the present economic order. Instead, they invoke a Utopia free of environmental stress, social injustice and branded sportswear, harking back to a pre-industrial golden age that did not actually exist. Never is this alternative future given clear shape or offered up for examination.
And anti-globalists have inherited more from Marx besides this. Note the self-righteous anger, the violent rhetoric, the willing resort to actual violence (in response to the “violence” of the other side), the demonisation of big business, the division of the world into exploiters and victims, the contempt for piecemeal reform, the zeal for activism, the impatience with democracy, the disdain for liberal “rights” and “freedoms”, the suspicion of compromise, the presumption of hypocrisy (or childish naivety) in arguments that defend the market order.
And herein lies a clue: marxism holds no truths for those who examine the world rationally, but it is extremely seductive for those who do not. Capitalists and right-wingers are rightfully contemptuous of the incoherence of marxism but, perhaps, they fail to appreciate that marxism is so attractive to so many precisely because of it’s incoherence. It may be gibberish to left-brain objectivists but, by the same token, it is attractively intuitive and holistic to right-brain subjectivists. Marxism is a means of abdicating from the weighty responsibility of applying intellectual rigour in solving socio-economic problems.
“Anti-globalism has been aptly described as a secular religion. So is Marxism: a creed complete with prophet, sacred texts and the promise of a heaven shrouded in mystery. Marx was not a scientist, as he claimed. He founded a faith. The economic and political systems he inspired are dead or dying. But his religion is a broad church, and lives on.”
A conclusion which may appear trite but one which I feel goes some way to shedding light on this problem. Marxism continues to thrive because it is impervious to rude reality. It is a fundamentalist religious fervour that, by it’s very nature, is logic-proof and common-sense-resistant. Perhaps we have failed to fell this beast because our tactics consist entirely of saturation-bombing with facts; it is like trying to kill a virus with anti-biotics. It is never going to work.
If we regard marxism not as a cogent political worldview, but as an ecstatic faith then that, of itself, is not an answer to the problem. Rather it is a recognition of the true nature of the problem and, with that in mind, it is possible to re-tool our armies in readiness for a final, victorious assault.