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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Sunday February 27 2011

I’ve spent most of my blogging time this weekend editing an interview I did earlier in the week.  But I’m glad I found time to read this, which was, however many minutes or hours ago it was, then linked to by Instapundit and is now being read everywhere that the truth about the evilness of those who tried to excuse the horrors unleashed by Marxism is understood.  I.e. not in most parts of most Anglo-Saxon universities.  In places where thinking straight about things is the rule.

The internet is changing everything.  The rules about what can be said and read have changed.  Changed so much, I believe, that it is taking time for everyone, wise and foolish, good and bad, to realise it.  New methods of communication are always like this, if my reading about earlier communicational dramas is anything to go by.

The important thing is to go for the morals of the Marxists.  They were and are not just wrong as in mistaken.  They were and are wrong as in wicked.  Not least, they were wicked because of how persistently they bashed on with their mistakenness.

Pejman Yousefzadeh quotes David Pryce-Jones:

A mystery peculiar to the twentieth century is that intellectuals were eager to endorse the terror and mass-murder which characterized Soviet rule, at one and the same time abdicating humane feelings and all sense of responsibility towards others, and of course perverting the pursuit of truth. The man who sets dogs on concentration camp victims or fires his revolver into the back of their necks is evidently a brute; the intellectual who devises justifications for the brutality is harder to deal with, and far more sinister in the long run. Apologizing for the Soviet Union, such intellectuals licensed and ratified unprecedented crime and tyranny, to degrade and confuse all standards of humanity and morality. Hobsbawm is an outstanding example of the type.

Says Yousefzadeh himself, concerning something said by somebody called Paul J. Cella, who promptly thanks Yousefzadeh for the link!

Writing on Eagleton’s mash note to Hobsbawm and Marxism, Paul Cella says that Eagleton’s essay “shines with a palpable warmth.” No, it doesn’t. Rather, it misleads with a palpable malice; a malice shown to facts, to the intelligence of readers, to history, and to all of those who suffered at the hands of the Marxist cause.

This claim that Eagleton’s essay “shines with palpable warmth” is the one bit in Cella’s piece that Yousefzadeh disagrees with, and this bit by Yousefzadeh is the one bit in his piece that I disagree with.  Can an article not shine with a palpable warmth and mislead with a palpable malice?  Can warmth not be switched on, to mislead?  Surely yes.

Lucky I followed the link to the Cella piece, or I would have had him tagged as just another cretinous apologist for Marxism.  He is no such thing.

Says Cella:

There is no political cause comparable to Communism in at least this respect - it allows respectable men to endorse mass butchery, connive at sedition, falsify scholarship, and still live to be revered by the very sort of men and women who would surely perish, had that “radiant tomorrow actually been created.”

But the point surely is that there was no “radiant tomorrow”.  There was only a nightmare of terror and mass murder.  And there was no “very sort of men and women” who were particularly singled out by the nightmare for terror and death.  Everyone was in the firing line.  Seriously, Stalin used to instruct his murderers to murder people literally at random, just to make this very point, that nobody was safe.

Details.  What matters is that now we are arguing about the details of how evil Marxism was, and about the details of what exactly are the right words and phrases we should use when denouncing it and its evil apologists.  As Samizdata‘s Perry de Havilland would say, the metacontext has changed.

I particularly like this, from Instapundit:

Oh, my mistake. I thought, somehow, that Hobsbawm had died. Oh, well - all the more reason to speak ill of him now, then.

Indeed.

It’s a very good point, but I also wonder if it is yesterday’s argument. Marxism/communism was a vile, vile thing, and we must never let it off the hook, but it is no longer the enemy. The enemy now is anglospheric progressivism, which has absorbed elements of marxism but is syncretic.

I think we need to excape this American/Anglo “metacontext” or narrative or discourse or what have you regarding the old Enemy Without, because the problem now is the Enemy Within. Communism is now a matter mostly for historians, like fascism.

Posted by Ian B on 28 February 2011

Ian: surely in the implementation of “progressivism”
there are significant overlaps with a recognizably Marxist - Leninist strategy even if the tactics chosen differ slightly (e.g. the 2009 stimulus bill as fulcrum either for soaking up the private loan market, or releasing inflationary pressures on the U.S.$).

Posted by mike on 01 March 2011

Indeed mike, I may have overstated my case a bit. I think the current “Left” or “statists” or what have you are syncretic, incorporating a number of ideologies in a “coalition” and marxism is only one of them. But then one finds something like this-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHPCEagV4bk

-and find that the daffy woman prattling about Leninism is listed on Monbiot’s “Campaign Against Climate Change” website as a member of the “steering group” to be reminded that the Communist formation- good old fahsioned raw Communism- is very much alive and well.

Posted by Ian B on 01 March 2011

I agree that things have changed, but agree even more about the overlap of the old enemy and the new one.

Besides which, this “it’s all history now” story is one of the ways that the Left evades responsibility for its past misdeeds.  We should not be helping them do this.

An example of which is how they have long said of any film set in the Cold War era that such films are now “obsolete”, merely because the Cold War is over, or even that it was merely winding down.  That would make The Dam Busters, The Battle of Britain, All Quiet on the Western Front, to say nothing of Waterloo or Henry V, “obsolete”.  What bollocks.  Personally I think Hollywood has seriously failed by not making enough Cold War movies, of the Us v Then sort, like The Dam Busters was for WW2.  Let’s have some heroic besting of the Bad Communists by Our Good Guys movies.  They could still do this.  Why on earth not?  What about, just as a for-instance, a big Hollywood blockbuster about the Berlin Airlift?

Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 01 March 2011

“I think the current “Left” or “statists” or what have you are syncretic...”

You could say that’s got to be simply a natural reflection of the fact that the Left are operating within the democratic constraints of party politics, but I think that if this was missing, they’d almost have to invent it - because it suits them strategically; it both broadens and deepens their base of political support whilst muddying the ideological waters at the same time.

I’d say it’s more accurate to describe the current Prez as a (somewhat) subtle Marxist rather than Fascist or Progressive or Puritan or anything else for a whole slate of reasons.

“Let’s have some heroic besting of the Bad Communists by Our Good Guys movies.  They could still do this.  Why on earth not?”

Brian when was the last time you (or anyone) watched a new Hollywood film with a proper hero as distinct from a “flawed hero” or anti-hero, or cartoon superhero? By “proper” I mean something like someone who does the right thing at great cost - because it is the right thing. I’m not much of a film buff, but I think you’d have to go back to something like Spartacus.

Posted by mike on 01 March 2011

I think one interesting question when we find these commies in various places is how much they are the driving force, and how much they are entryists on somebody else’s bandwagon. I can’t claim to have any settled opinion on that score.

It does seem to me that the leechers against cuts movements (e.g. the recent stoodent mobs) and Islamophile movements that have sprung up have at least a very significant Trotskyist front group element to them. One mystery is why a “Tory” like Cameron would be so willing to ignore the clear fact that Unite Against Fascism, with whom his Tories are openly affiliated, is a SWP front group, for instance. Is he dim, is he uninformed, or does he just not care?

Posted by Ian B on 01 March 2011
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