Friday, May 04, 2007

Why is it still OK to be a Marxist?

In the shadow of May Day, the Portland Tribune publishes a story about the work of a proud Portland Marxist who has just published a book that chronicles the radical movement in Portland circa 1930s.

Whenever I read some puff piece on a local Marxist/communist (which really are not all that uncommon) I wonder why is it that it is still considered socially acceptable to be associated with an ideology that resulted in the government-sanctioned murder of 100 million souls?

Can you imagine how outraged people would be if any newspaper published a glowing story about "Portland's last Nazi?" Can you imagine joking comments about how one of our prominent local colleges is a bastion of Nazis, and indoctrinates students in that ideology?

Well, when it comes to government sanctioned murder, the Nazi's were just pikers compared to the Communists. So why is it still considered OK to be a Marxist? Why is being a Marxist still considered to be quaint and charming? It is the most murderous ideology ever to darken the globe, yet guys like the one in the Tribune story are feted, not discredited.

Marxism/communinism/socialism are all collectivist ideologies. The United States was founded on the principle of individualism. The history of the 20th century can be best understood as a near 100 year clash between these two world views.

One resulted, wherever it prevailed, in totalitarian societies, devastating poverty, and mass murder by the governemnt. The other resulted, wherever it prevailed, in wealth and prosperity and freedom of its people.

Yet for some reason the people who populate and control the cultural institutions in our country - the mainstream media, the entertainment industry and both K-12 and higher education are overwhelmingly collectivist in world-view.

So the collectivist worldview gets perpetuated and celebrated, and the monumental disaster that the ideolgy has brought wherever it took root is covered up.

Read Matt Wingard's piece today at Oregon Catalyst for a good analysis of how and why this happens.

It is outrageous - and I think people who still adhere to the foundational values and principles of this country - individual, rather than collective, rights -- should be far more vocal in pointing out the disaster that was the communist/collectivist ideology.

It is about time Marxism was discredited as badly as Nazism.


Mick said...

Although I'm not a Marxist anymore, I think it's unfair for you to paint it as you have. Marx himself never promulgated the ideals that you despise here. The various implementators have, but that only damns them, not Marx.

Nazism, on the other hand, explicitly holds ideals that most people find to be abhorrent. Your comparison is flawed.

Having said that, I concluded long ago that Marxism was not practical because of government's innate tendency towards innefficiency. If our huge government bureaucracy is bad under capitalism, how bad would it be with Marxism? I'm sure many ex-Soviets could tell us.

PDX Livin said...

I agree with the previous commenter. It is the IDEAS that Marx put out that are what people hold high. It is about the working man over the corruptness of the old blue line. The implementers of communism are the ones who got it wrong.

The saying, "Absolute power corrupts absolutely" holds true no matter what political philosophy one practices.

OregonGuy said...

Knee-jerk reaction time.

It bothers me that Lefties view the Nazi/Commie divide as two antithetical belief systems...almost Hegelian in reduction.

Let us compare. National Socialism.
Soviet Socialism. Okay, both purported to be socialist.

What else? Collective consciousness? M'kay. How about the dissent thing? No dissent. Authoritarian? Check.

So Lefties under Hitler are bad...Lefties under Stalin are good? Maybe it's the Jewish thing? You know, the conservative belief in anti-Semitism? You know, like the Nazi's and the Communists? This lefty dream that socialism under Russia was a simple, historical mistake--the dream is alive, the implementers got it wrong--is painful. Did Nate Scheransky believe in the peaceful nature of socialism? Ask the Jewish dissidents.

Nazis and Commies are hideous inventions of the Left. You own them. Take pride in that. If the Right has one error it is our trust in your common sense. Individual responsibility is deplored by the Left. It is embraced by the Right.

The essence of Marxzism is flawed because it reduces the individual to a cog within the state. The essence of conservatism is that it elevates the individual as the source from which the state gains its legitimate power. Marxzism is, will never be, acceptable.

Anonymous said...

I see no harm in giving publicity to a local Marxist who has invested in a research and writing project. I would be more concerned if such ideas were banned from public view.

Incidentally, the U.S. economy is a mixture of collectivist and free-market principles with government involvement via subsidy, tax policy, direct and indirect investment etc.

Who, but a mixed economy would deliver a costly public school paradigm that grants teachers monopoly rights to bargain collectively but individually against Oregon's 197 districts while permitting union employees to strike in the middle of a school year.

Neither Joe Stalin, Adolph Hitler, Andrew Carnegie nor Horace Mann would permit the current public education mess in the U.S.

Rob Kremer said...

Well said, Oregon Guy.

Marxism cannot distance itself from Communism and Socialism, because Marxism is the ideological framework for both of these poltical systems.

And that ideology is collectivism. That is, that the rights of the individual are subservient to the rights of the "collective."

The problem with the ideology is that people are not slaves. Human nature is to act in self-interest. Collectivism requires humans to sacrifice self interest for the interests of others. That is called slavery.

Because people don't willingly accept slavery, all collectivst regimes must try to change human nature so that they will go along. Hence - New Soviet Man, the Cultural Revolution, etc.

This is totalitarian at core. Changing the natural tendency of self-interest requires draconian indoctrination and controls on human behavior.

That is why regimes inspired by the Marxist ideology are inherently murderous and oppressive. Plus, being contrary to human nature, the economic system that underlies the political machinery simply do not work.

So I don't buy for one second that Marxism is wonderful ideals that was screwed up in its implementation by the commies and socialists.

The Marxist ideology is collectivist, and from that fact everything else is put in motion.

Collectivism does not work. When tried, always and everywhere it has resulted in human misery on a scale never before experienced on this planet.

The Marxist IDEALS that you say people hold in high regard are the ideals of collectivism.

Sad that it is still true that people hold these ideals in high regard. Even after such terrible 20th century examples of the result of this evil, toxic ideology.

Anonymous said...

I have observed an inability of those on the left to consider the practical realities of their theoretical ideas for improving the human condition. Thus we get grandious schemes all the way from Russian Communism to Johnson's Great Society, that flat out only do not work, they create more misery than doing nothing. But for the liberal mind, this seems to be acceptable, as their is never any accountability. Strange isn't it?

Anonymous said...

The apologists miss the big point. Marxism requires the individual to come after the state. That is exactly where the evil of marxism begins by discounting the worth of the individual man, woman, worker, child, artist, teacher. Failing to own up to this fundamental ideological flaw along with the real world results of it's implementation exposes the ignorance reality.

Elevating the collective over the individual will continue to yield the worst of things. That is why capitalism is successful, it values the single soul and recognizes it is what makes up the masses.

The guilt by association is fair. Allowing the horrors of 20th century Marxist ideals lead to the millions of deaths it caused while turning a blind eye is a crime in itself. The shame should burden all of them. The tolerance we show of this is misplaced as well.

Steve Plunk

Anonymous said...

Your complaint is against totalitarianism, not Marxism. Marxism is an economic philosophy which has never been implemented in the real world. It remains a theoretical construct, and a quite appealing one at that. It is not more prone to totalitarianism than is capitalism (see Bush, GW).

Anonymous said...

Here again we have a Marxist telling us not that Socialism has not just been implemented inperfectly but that it has NEVER been implement in the real world at all -- tell this to all the Marxist dictators who claim to have done so.
And this writer goes on to say that Socialism which gives all power to the state versus Capitalism which is just the opposite -- is not more prone to Totalitarianism which again is pure Socialist hog wash -- just look at all the Totalitariam states in this last century which were Socialist in origin -- once the state has absolute power over individuals it is fact in Total control.

Rob Kremer said...

I'm always amused at the claim that Marxism hasn't ever been done properly.

The implication is: "Just let US try it, we know where the others went wrong."

I for one think they've had enough chances. Shouldn't we be suspect of an ideology and associated economic system that, every time it has been tried, has resulted in the mass murder of its own citizens? Should we give it one more chance?

On the other hand, you have capitalism. Wherever THAT has been tried, even where it has been done badly, has resulted in increasing freedom and prosperity of the people.

Hmmmmm.... tough choice.

One last thing: to claim that capitalism is as prone to totalitarianism as socialism puts you squarely in the category of "not a serious person."

Max said...

A couple of things seem to be missing from this discussion. First is the fact that Socialism has been tried in America; it was in fact the initial organizational effort in the Colonies. What the colonialists found was that, while good in theory, it sucked in practice because those who worked hard were denied the fruits of their labors while slackers were rewarded. After a couple of years of this nonsense, they instituted a diferent approach: capitalism.

As well, the Trib story focuses upon the fact that Portland has a long and storied history of Socialist leanings, which not only is the subject of the guy's book - but also explains much of what we see going on in the Portland area even today.

Anonymous said...

Lefties claiming that Marxism has never had a fair chance to succeed reminds me of public school advocates whimpering that they do not receive enough public funding to deliver on their public education promises.