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Communism then and now


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A review of the origins and history of Cultural Marxism, an analysis and critique and beginnings of a response.

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Communism then and now

  1. 1. Communism then and now
  2. 2. Why learn about communism? • The Berlin Wall 1961-1989
  3. 3. Why learn about communism? • Collapse of communism in late 1980s
  4. 4. Marxism in the lecture hall - 2009 Introduction to Theory of Literature (ENGL 300) Professor Paul Fry, Yale University
  5. 5. Who was Karl Marx? • German philosopher • Left- wing Hegelian – Thesis-antithesis • Grandson of Jews – Anti-Semitism • Economic injustice • Social injustice • Sought to change society – Overthrow existing order Leopold Schwarzschild
  6. 6. How to change society? • Analysis of what is wrong – Class society – rich and poor – Exploitation – Alienation • Cause of the problems – Division of labour – Private property • Solution – Abolition of private property – State ownership of economy – Violent revolution – Extermination of ruling class
  7. 7. What is communism 1? • Abolition of the third blessing – “Communism is the abolition of private property.” Communist Manifesto 1848 – State control and ownership of all property – No free markets; planned economy – State/Party control of creative arts • Cannot become a true owner • Cannot become Lord of Creation • Cannot inherit God’s creativity
  8. 8. What is communism 2? • Abolition of the second blessing – “The workers’ state will come to replace the family.” – “The obligations of parents to their children will wither away gradually until finally society assumes the full responsibility.” – “Marriage . . . has given way to the free and honest union of men and women who are lovers and comrades.” Alexandra Kollontai, 1920 • State takes over law, education, health, welfare and civil society
  9. 9. What is communism 3? • Abolition of the first blessing – “Atheism is a natural and inseparable part of Marxism, of the theory and practice of scientific socialism.” Vladimir Lenin – “Communism is incompatible with religious faith.” Nikolai Bukharin – “In our country, the lie has become not just a moral category but a pillar of the State.” Alexander Solzenitsyn • No freedom of speech or religion • Persecution and suppression of religion – 1941 500 out of 54 000 churches were still open
  10. 10. What is communist ideology? • Dialectical materialism – Only matter exists - No God or spirit – Progress based on dialectical conflict between thesis and anti-thesis • Historical materialism – Productive forces determine society – Progress through class struggle – Violent revolution justified • Revolution will happen in capitalist countries
  11. 11. The rise and decline of Communism
  12. 12. What was the human cost of communism? 20-60 million in the Soviet Union 65 million in the People's Republic of China 1 million in Vietnam 2 million in North Korea 2 million in Cambodia 1 million in communist Eastern Europe 150,000 in Latin America 1.7 million in Africa 1.5 million in Afghanistan Stéphane Courtois (ed) The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression. Harvard University, 1999
  13. 13. Alexander Solzhenitsyn
  14. 14. Communism in Cambodia • Under the Marxist leader Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge tried to create an agrarian utopia by forcing millions of people from the cities to work on communal farms in the countryside. The brutal regime, in power from 1975-1979, claimed the lives of up to two million people.
  15. 15. There are many films about the evils of Nazism and fascism but very few about the evils of socialism and communism. Why?
  16. 16. Final years of the Soviet Union • Gorbachev elected 1985 – Perestroika – Glasnost • Gorbachev – Reagan talks 1985-87 • End of Cold War – Withdrawal from Afghanistan 1989 – End of the Angolan conflict 1989 – Fall of Berlin Wall and revolutions in East Europe 1989 • End of Soviet Union 1991
  17. 17. Reagan and Gorbachev
  18. 18. Rev Moon with Mr and Mrs Gorbachev Meeting at World Media Conference in Moscow in 1990
  19. 19. Does communism work? • Predictions didn’t come true • Economy stagnates • Impossibility of planned economy – Impossibility of calculation • Ludwig von Mises, F.A. Hayek – All knowledge is tacit knowledge • Michael Polanyi – Knowledge for planning does not exist • G.L.S. Shackle
  20. 20. What happened next?
  21. 21. Two routes of subversion • Environmentalism – Undermine the free market – Restrict ownership of property – Destruction of the Western economic model through green policies – Abolition of third blessing • Cultural Marxism – Identity politics – Gender politics – Gay rights – Gay marriage – Gender fluidity – Abolition of marriage and the family – Abolition of free speech – Abolition of religion – Destruction of education – Abolition of first blessing
  22. 22. Where did this all come from? Frankfurt school – Critical theory • 1920-30s • Max Horkheimer (1895-1973) • Theodor Adorno (1903-1969) • Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979) • Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) • Friedrich Pollock (1894-1970) • Leo Lowenthal (1900-1993) • Eric Fromm (1900-1980) • Jurgen Habermas (1929-)
  23. 23. Their origins • “The initial idea of an independently founded institute was conceived to provide for studies on the labour movement and the origins of anti- Semitism, which at the time were being ignored in German intellectual and academic life.” • Claudio Corradetti, University of Rome
  24. 24. Response to . . . • Social and economic injustice • The Jewish question – Christian churches • Teaching of contempt • Accusation Jews rejected and murdered Jesus • Created environment to make anti-Judaism and the Holocaust possible – Racial anti-Semitism • ‘Jews’ discriminated against even after abandoning Judaism
  25. 25. Theodor Adorno • Interested in why Nazi soldiers were so willing to persecute and kill members of minority groups such as Jews. Could it be blamed on a personality trait? • He claimed a particular personality type is likely to obey authority • A high level of obedience is a psychological disorder
  26. 26. Origin of the authoritarian personality Harsh and punitive upbringing: Little love Much punishment Fear of parents Hatred of parents Excessively respectful of authority figures Hate and anger displaced onto others Based on Sigmund Freud’s idea that the adult personality is determined by childhood experiences
  27. 27. Factors associated with an authoritarian personality • Parenthood • Pride in one’s family • Christianity • Traditional gender roles • Love of country Critical theory – Critical and subversive of all the above
  28. 28. Its influence • The academic influence of the “critical” method is far reaching in terms of educational institutions in which such tradition is taught and in terms of the problems it addresses. Some of its core issues involve the critique of modernity and capitalist society, the definition of social emancipation and the perceived pathologies of society. Critical theory provides a specific interpretation of Marxist philosophy and reinterprets some of its central economic and political notions such as commodification, reification, fetishization and critique of mass culture.
  29. 29. Student unrest 1968
  30. 30. Herbert Marcuse in conversation with Bryan Magee 1977
  31. 31. The plan . . . • To extend the base of the student movement, “Rudi Dutschke has proposed the strategy of the long march through the institutions: working against the established institutions while working within them.” Marcuse, Counter-revolution and Revolt, 1972 • Universities, schools • Bureaucracies • Media • Hollywood
  32. 32. Destruction of freedom • “It is also possible to identify policies, opinions, movements which would promote this chance [of peace], and those which would do the opposite. Suppression of the regressive ones is a prerequisite for the strengthening of the progressive ones.” Marcuse
  33. 33. Traditional liberalism • If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind. • “The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.” – John Stuart Mill ‘On Liberty’
  34. 34. In practice • ”No platform for racists and fascists” • Safe spaces • Restrictions on research • Restrictions on speech • Restrictions on reading lists • Forceful imposition of the use of new gender pronouns - ze
  35. 35. Joseph Salerno, vice president of the Mises Institute, professor of economics at Pace University What is cultural Marxism?
  36. 36. • Cultural Marxists include the withdrawal of toleration of speech and assembly from groups and movements which promote aggressive policies, armament, chauvinism, discrimination on the grounds of race and religion, or which oppose the extension of public services, social security, medical care, etc. Moreover, the restoration of freedom of thought may necessitate new and rigid restrictions on teachings and practices in the educational institutions which, by their very methods and concepts, serve to enclose the mind within the established universe of discourse and behavior – thereby precluding a priori a rational evaluation of the alternatives. • And to the degree to which freedom of thought involves the struggle against inhumanity, restoration of such freedom would also imply intolerance toward scientific research in the interest of deadly 'deterrents', of abnormal human endurance under inhuman conditions, etc. • attack-blame-marcuse/
  37. 37. Marxism is the same as Nazism • There is not much difference between the Nazi politics of Carl Schmitt and the Marxist politics of Herbert Marcuse. They both exist within the same Hegelian ideological bubble, operating as mirror images of each other. One gives rise to the other in alternating sequences of action and reaction. Two sides of the same coin. Each wants to suppress the other, which is why the complaints of alt- rightists are so disingenuous. They complain about having their free speech rights violated, but they aspire to do exactly the same to their own enemies. • Jeffrey Tucker, Foundation for Economic Education
  38. 38. What is the dialectic? • “Dialectic (διαλεκτική) is a form of reasoning based upon dialogue of arguments and counter-arguments, advocating propositions (theses) and counter- propositions (antitheses). The outcome of such a dialectic might be the refutation of a relevant proposition, or of a synthesis, or a combination of the opposing assertions, or a qualitative improvement of the dialogue.” – A.J. Ayer, Dictionary of Philosophy • Crudely it is about winning an argument, defeating opponent, contradiction • Two sides of the argument: either/or
  39. 39. The roots of the dialectic • Limited • Odd • One • Right • Male • Resting • Straight • Light • Good • Square • Unlimited • Even • Many • Left • Female • Moving • Crooked • Darkness • Evil • Oblong Pythagoras’ Table of Opposites A B
  40. 40. Implications • Opposites, not complementary – In permanent state of conflict • Good and evil are woven into the fabric of the universe – Can’t have good without evil – Dualism • Everything in the right (B) column evil by association. – Left = sinister in Latin, left handed people • Diversity bad; unity good
  41. 41. Why is this important? • I do not know of any other man who has been as influential as Pythagoras was in the sphere of thought. . . The whole conception of the eternal world, is derived from him. Bertrand Russell
  42. 42. Examples from poetry • Shakespeare, All’s well that ends well “Good with out evil is like light with out darkness which in turn is like righteousness without hope.” • Edmund Spencer wrote: The earth, the air, the water and the fire Then began and to range themselves in huge array, and with the contrary forces conspire, Each against other by all means they may. • And John Milton: Hot, cold, wet and dry, four champions fierce Strive here for maistery.
  43. 43. What are the implications? “Western thought”, says Derrida, “has always been structured in terms of dichotomies or polarities: good vs. evil, being vs. nothingness, presence vs. absence, truth vs. error, identity vs. difference, mind vs. matter, man vs. woman, soul vs. body, life vs. death, nature vs. culture, speech vs. writing. Barbara Johnson ”The whole reductionist enterprise in Western philosophy may be seen as the conquest of B by a transcendent A.” Hall and Ames
  44. 44. Structuralism and its critique • Saussurean structuralist theory – A binary opposition is seen as a fundamental organizer of human philosophy, culture, and language – For Derrida a “violent hierarchy” where “one of the two terms governs the other.” – Deconstruction rejects most of the assumptions of structuralism and more vehemently “binary opposition” on the grounds that such oppositions always privilege one term over the other, that is, signified over the signifier.
  45. 45. A typical example • ”Poststructuralists insist that words and texts have no fixed or intrinsic meanings, that there is no transparent or self-evident relationship between them and either ideas or things, no basic or ultimate correspondence between language and the world” • Thus, while language has been used to create binaries (such as male/female), poststructuralist feminists see these binaries as artificial constructs created to maintain the power of dominant groups – "Deconstructing Equality-versus-Difference: Or, the Uses of Poststructuralist Theory for Feminism," Joan W. Scott
  46. 46. The solution? • Critique is to reverse the binary dichotomy – Post-colonialism etc. – Purify the curriculum of “Dead white males” – Reverse discrimination – Radical feminism • Post-structuralism – Deconstruction - Derrida • There are no binaries • Categories are an artificial construct
  47. 47. Are these categories arbitrary? Pythagoras is a description of the fallen world of patriarchy, conflict, zero-sum game, oppression, eliminate the ‘other’ Derrida and others stuck in a Pythagorian/Hegelian/Marxist dialectic paradigm Have to avoid not opposing from within the framewor
  48. 48. New paradigm needed • The Principle of Creation: • Dual characteristics – Are positive and negative particle and atoms merely artificial social constructs? – Does DNA define sex? • They are not opposites but complementary and mutual attractive • Can’t have one without the other
  49. 49. All Beings Masculinity Femininity Humans Man Woman Animals Male Female Plants Stamen Pistil Molecules Atoms Particles + – + – + – Dual characteristics in creation
  50. 50. Relationships • Give and receive instead of dialectic
  51. 51. A new ideology is required • A new ideology to resolve conflict must arise out of the democratic world which is rooted in the Abel-type view of life • This new truth is the essence of the Abel- view of life and the core of democracy • The new truth will conquer the communist ideology and unify the world EDP, 377
  52. 52. What is this ‘new ideology’? • Philosophy – God’s existence – Dual characteristics – Purpose of creation – Basis for morality, values • Has to engage in the conversation people are having today
  53. 53. What is this ‘new ideology’? • Liberal democracy – F.A. Hayek, Constitution of Liberty – Michael Oakeshott, On Human Conduct – Karl Popper, The Open Society and its Enemies – Institute of Economic Affairs – Civitas – Institute for the Study of Civil Society – Heritage Foundation
  54. 54. books • Science and religion – Jonathan Sacks The Great Partnership – Faraday Institute – Denis Alexander Creation or Evolution – Ian Barbour – Paul Davies • Economics – Public choice school – Austrian school
  55. 55. Good book to read • The best book to understand what is happening today
  56. 56. • “The true democrat wishes to share the great works of culture with all who are able to appreciate them; the egalitarian, recognizing that genuine excellence is rare, declares greatness a fraud and sets about obliterating distinctions.”