Monday, October 12, 2020

The Danger of Marxism

What does it mean if a person supports Marxism? Why should that be a cause for concern?

The January 1997 issue of Midstream contains some incisive analysis of Marxism in a George Jochnowitz article titled "Marxism—The Real Danger." Jochnowitz wrote that Karl Marx and his The Communist Manifesto co-author Friedrich Engels "dreamed of a world that embodied all the values of the primitive, tribal society--of the Noble Savage." 

Marx envisioned a world without merchants and commerce, and a world with no experts, professionalism or inequality. Marx believed that capitalism would disappear in favor of a "higher stage of communism," after which the apparatus of the state would collapse and people would be free to do whatever they want to do. 

Anyone who thinks about the real world implications of those sentiments understands that Marx is not describing a Utopia, even if a childlike mind may find such empty slogans to be superficially wonderful.   

Jochnowitz declared:

This dream is not simply impossible; it is a nightmare. Its ugliness comes from its rejection of the human desire to know more and more, which involves specialization; from its denial that people want to move from the country to the city and not vice versa; from its blindness to the fact that disagreement is inherent in human nature and necessary if society is to change and face new problems. Moreover, believing that this impossible situation is one's goal is dangerous because it involves a commitment to believing a lie and a consequent abandonment of rationality. In order to protect the lie, the state must be designed to eliminate the freedom to examine the philosophy underlying this lie.

Jochnowitz explained what happens when Marxist theory is put into practice:

In a world whose history is the story of cruelty, nations ruled by the Communist Party stand out among the most vicious. Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Castro, Mengistu, Ceausescu—it can't just be a coincidence…

The Marxist vision of the future implies the realization of a society without disagreement and therefore the end of history. That is why thought reform is considered a desirable and realizable goal. Those societies that have attempted to reshape human nature have been noted for their ruthlessness. All of the cruelty of the Communist states, all of the evils committed by Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot are implicit in the Marxist idea of the withering away of the state…

Communism under Mao was very much like feudalism. In both these systems, the overwhelming majority of the population is equal and powerless. At the top, there is a tiny, highly structured class. In medieval Europe, this was called the nobility, and consisted of titled ranks (duke, earl, etc.), with the king, who rule by divine right, at the top of the pyramid. In China, those at the top are called cadres. Like the nobility, they are ranked, not by title but by number. There are 23 degrees of cadres. And at the top was the absolute ruler, Chairman Mao. In both systems, there was a faith that could not be questioned, since heresy was punishable by death.

Without exception, every country that has tried to reach the "higher stage of communism" ends up mired in a stage of despotism and misery. Capitalism is by no means a perfect economic system, but Marxism has proven to be an unmitigated disaster. The introduction of Marxist economic ideas into a country's policies and the introduction of Marxist historical critiques into a country's mainstream intellectual life foreshadow the end of prosperity and freedom for that country.

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