Why does Marxism, neo or otherwise, necessarily bend towards evil? After all, due to the Fall we are all bound to sin and thus do evil. What differentiates Marxism from any other ideological system for the worse?
I’ll freely admit that other equally terrible or even worse human ideologies are possible. It’s just that to this point in time nothing except Fascism has demonstrated such an overwhelming compulsion towards conscienceless evil than has Marxism.
The best place that I’ve found to illuminate this terror is through the perspective of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, author of The Gulag Archipelago. This issue was recently explored by Gary Saul Morson in a New Criterion article titled “How the Great Truth Dawned.”
Well into this article, after a fascinating meditation on the nature of moral truth, Mr. Morson gets to the core issue.
Compared to Soviet interrogators, Solzhenitsyn observes, the villains of Shakespeare, Schiller, and Dickens seem “somewhat farcical and clumsy to our contemporary perception.” The problem is, these villains recognize themselves as evil, and say to themselves, I cannot live unless I do evil. But that is not at all the way things are, Solzhenitsyn explains: “To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good, or else that it’s a well-considered act in conformity with natural law. . . . it is in the nature of a human being to seek a justification for his actions.”
Why is it, Solzhenitsyn asks, that Macbeth, Iago, and other Shakespearean evildoers stopped short at a dozen corpses, while Lenin and Stalin did in millions? The answer is that Macbeth and Iago “had no ideology.” Ideology makes the killer and torturer an agent of good, “so that he won’t hear reproaches and curses but will receive praise and honors.” Ideology never achieved such power and scale before the twentieth century.
Anyone can succumb to ideology. All it takes is a sense of one’s own moral superiority for being on the right side; a theory that purports to explain everything; and—this is crucial—a principled refusal to see things from the point of view of one’s opponents or victims, lest one be tainted by their evil viewpoint.
If we remember that totalitarians and terrorists think of themselves as warriors for justice, we can appreciate how good people can join them.
The last quoted sentence should make your blood run cold. For while only an infinitesimal percentage of Americans are “warriors for justice” in the sense experienced by Solzhenitsyn, a significant percentage of Progressives consider themselves to be “social justice warriors.” In fact there are enough of these people with sufficient influence to warp the Democrat Party towards neo-Marxist ideas and policy prescriptions.
If you think I’m being overdramatic here, consider this passage from later in the article.
The contrary view, held by ideologues and justice warriors generally, is that our group is good, and theirs is evil. “Evil people committing evil deeds”: this is the sort of thinking behind notions like class conflict or the international Zionist conspiracy. It is the opposite of the idea that makes tolerance and democracy possible: the idea that there is legitimate difference of opinion and we must not act as if God or History had blessed our side as always right. If you think that way, there is no reason not to have a one-party state.
Can anyone seriously contend given the statements and behavior of the Progressive Left, up to and including their Presidential candidates, that they are perceptibly moving in this direction? It is they who have been weaponizing government agencies against their political opponents, they who are encouraging lawlessness rather than working to change our laws, they who are demanding fundamental change to our republic without reference to the legitimate Constitutional means for obtaining that change. No, this is not totalitarianism, but it is movement in that direction. And in that direction is such great evil that no-one should dare to move so much as an inch towards it. Continuing the article’s excerpts.
Bolshevik ethics explicitly began and ended with atheism. Only someone who rejected all religious or quasi-religious morals could be a Bolshevik because, as Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, and other Bolshevik leaders insisted, the only standard of right and wrong was success for the Party. The bourgeoisie falsely claim we have no ethics, Lenin explained in a 1920 speech. But what we reject is any ethics based on God’s commandments or anything resembling them, such as abstract principles, timeless values, universal human rights, or any tenet of philosophical idealism. For a true materialist, Lenin maintained, there can be no Kantian categorical imperative to regard others only as ends, not as means. By the same token, the materialist does not acknowledge the supposed sanctity of human life. All such notions, Lenin insisted, are “based on extra human and extra class concepts” and so are simply religion in disguise. “That is why we say that to us there is no such thing as a morality that stands outside human society; that is a fraud. To us morality is subordinated to the interests of the proletariat’s class struggle,” which means to the Party. Aron Solts, known as “the conscience of the Party,” explained: “We . . . can say openly and frankly: yes, we hold in prison those who interfere with the establishment of our order, and we do not stop before other such actions because we do not believe in the existence of abstractly unethical actions.”
Neo-marxists divide all demographics (white, black, asian, male, female, gay, straight, etc) and place them in a hierarchy of oppression as determined by how successful that demographic is.
Thus, if we simply replace “class” with “race/identity” we move from classical Marxism to the neo-Marxism that drives contemporary Progressivism. It should (but doesn’t) shake Progressives to the core that this is the almost exact substitution that differentiates the internationalist socialism of Marxist Communism from national socialism of Nazi Fascism.