Yesterday on Facebook, someone took exception to my saying that Marxist ideas are ascendant in the world. This shocked me so much I didn’t know how to react, and before I had time to explain – I was trying to finish the novel. No, it’s not done yet. Long story, but hey HVAC people this afternoon – people were in a big argument over whether or not we’re living in a police state.
I have opinions on that too (duh) but it has nothing to do with the incontrovertible fact that we’re soaked in Marxist philosophy on all sides.
It’s entirely possible, in fact, that my commenter isn’t aware of that, because fish aren’t particularly aware of water. It takes an effort to become aware of the Marxist premises underlying everything because they’re taken for granted. No one studies Marx himself, because we assume his theories as proven, and the stuff we live in, all over the world, is dictated by his premises.
This would be a little less damaging if the Hairy Grifter (he was once described as an angry, hairy inkspot) weren’t wrong about … everything, really.
You want to look at the decay of Western civilization? It’s mostly the unexamined absorption of Marxist ideas.
Now, I’m one of those people who live too much in books and theories, and, as such, I can tell you why they’re absorbed and treated as gospel: it’s because they make internal sense. This is not the same as having even a glimmer of real world application, of course, but they satisfy the minds of intellectuals by dividing everything into categories and presenting a (false but deceptively smooth) system for historical change and, in general, sounding REALLY plausible.
Take the Marxist theory of value. It is utter nonsense of course. The idea is that what gives value to something is the labor put into it. You can see how this would appeal to Marx, or, indeed, to any intellectual. Laboring forever over a book that sells one copy is now a genuine, bonafide “injustice”. The book is valuable. Just look how much work you put into it.
The REAL theory of value, is much messier and doesn’t fit nicely within the pages of a book, even if you beat it with a hammer, because then the blood oozes out all over the theory. The REAL theory of value goes something like this: something is worth what people are willing to pay for it.
This means if caveman Grog just was LUCKY to be near where the thunderbolt struck dry wood, the caveman could then sell the flaming branches for a year’s worth of hunt. No work involved. He just was there.
Our monkey brains want things to be “fair” (Dave Freer tells me fairness is wired into simians, part of being a social species that lives in small bands. It helps survival.)
The fact that the Marxist theory of labor has buggerall to do with real life – you can spend seventy years polishing a dog turd. It still won’t be worth a million – doesn’t matter. It has such BEAUTIFUL internal logic. (By which you should read no logic at all but an appeal to our back brains.) It allows serious people behind desks to make decisions on what everything is worth.
Well, let’s say that we’ve got out of mandatory prices in every day goods – the crash was that big when we tried that – but what do you think Obamacare will do but set prices for highly specialized knowledge and services. And what do they set them based on? Well, they set them based on how much effort they think is involved. This is where we get that doctors should be paid like teachers.
It’s also part of the trite, ridiculous idea that professional athletes should make less than teachers, because teachers “work harder” or are “More important to society” or whatever.
It’s all bokum, but it’s penetrated through the society to such an extent that people – with a serious air of much learning – will tell you that books will be better (of course) if they take longer to produce. They will say the same about any art work, or discovery REGARDLESS OF WHAT HISTORY TELLS THEM ABOUT REAL BOOKS OR ART.
That last about teachers being more important to society than professional athletes? Marx again. We’re supposed to prioritize the good of the collective over the good of the individual.
You want to see a good basketball game or a good wrestling match and are willing to pay for it? Why you selfish capitalist pig. Don’t you know the children need better teachers? We should pay more to the teachers, so they’ll be better. It’s for the good of society.
This has penetrated everything, too, including literary criticism. It’s now all “is this book socially relevant?”
What in living daylight this has to do with being a good book (or poem or play) is beyond me. No, seriously. Look, Shakespeare wrote his “socially relevant” works. They’re the historical plays and by and large we ignore them. They’re certainly not among the most watched/read. Those are the ones where he touched humanity on the raw and took us, despite ourselves, on an emotional ride: Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night, yes, even Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Scottish Play.
I’m fairly sure if asked about relevance, Jane Austen would think Mansfield Park, having to do with raising kids and the behavior of young women, and the division between classes was the most relevant of her works. To us it reads turgid and infused with a totally alien morality (unless we belong to particularly strict sects.) Pride and Prejudice, though, which, again captures humanity in a nutshell? THAT we have read and watched and dreamed ragged.
BUT publishing is being run according to “relevant” works, which of course means agreeing with the social vision of those in power which is – largely – Marxist.
This is because it is the vision being promoted in college, where they actually DO Marxist literary analysis. (Even if Marxism had any point of contact with reality, using a political theory to analyze why a book is good or enduring is sort of like using an ax to comb your hair.)
Then we get into sociology/politics/moral/religion, where the idea of collective guilt and collective punishment has taken hold. And it’s insane. (It’s particularly insane in Christianity where for the sake of ten righteous men G-d would have spared an entire corrupt city. [He probably would have gone to one, except he could tell the one to skeedadle with his family.])
It’s not just that they assign guilt to people on the basis of what group they belong to. It’s that they throw people into groups based on characteristics that don’t mean anything. Take White Males (not mine. Okay, the boys are technically Latin and look it. But they’re still mine. You can’t take them.) I live with three of them, and they’re all very different people. I have a multitude of male friends, gay and straight (I always got along better with men than with women. Probably the result of growing up with an older brother and HIS friend group. In fact, right now I have more women in my inner circle than ever before, and it startles me a little, but I still have more men.) None of them is guilty of slavery, sexism, exploitation. If any of them enjoys white male privilege they haven’t done it where I could see it. Most of them work really hard and don’t get any breaks that they didn’t fight for for years. In fact, particularly in federal jobs, women are likely to be promoted ahead of them.
Mostly what they get is blamed for the “historical oppression of women” and slavery and stuff that wasn’t happening when they were born, wasn’t happening when their fathers were born, and into which they had absolutely no say.
Now take white women. Look, do you really think their ancestors didn’t participate in any oppression going among white men? Why, of course they did. Good heavens, we had white female queens. But they’re “victims” because women are in the victim class of Marxism. And so women now are born without sin and OWED. No, it doesn’t matter what they’re owed. Whatever their little heart desires, I guess. They also always get to claim discrimination when things don’t go their way.
(Were women oppressed? Some of them, undoubtedly. Some still are. Look at Islam and some of the more traditional cultures. Mostly it has to do with the horrors of biology and the fact women couldn’t control their own reproduction until we had the pill. But that doesn’t fit in Marxists’ pointy heads, see.)
Entire tribes in Africa subsisted from hunting other tribes and putting them on boats headed for slavery. But these days anyone born of those slave-selling tribes is considered as much of a victim as the rest, because he’s black and he’s from Africa and therefore he’s a “victim.” He’s a “victim” even if he was born to one of the Kleptocrats of Africa and his pampered feet never left the limo to touch the ground.
And let’s not get into social classes. That will make your head hurt. Is a small businessman, owner of his own business, a worker? No? Because Marx said the workers didn’t own the means of production? BUT what if this poor guy paints houses for a living and spends his time schlepping paint and ladder around and working REALLY HARD. Nope, he’s still not a worker, because you see, Marx’s vision was limited to industrial revolution England and limited is the point. He wasn’t even very up to date on his reading.
AND if that small business man hires an employee to help schlep the paint cans, he’s suddenly a guilty part and an exploiter. Even though most small businessmen will make payroll before they pay themselves, and work into the night, while the employee keeps regular hours.
But, you say, Sarah, no one takes the Marxist theory of classes seriously anymore!
Really? No? That is why we have people talking about the “one percent” as though they were an homogeneous group? That’s why we have taxes on people who “make too much.” (Too much for what?) That’s why our entire tax system is based on redistribution. Because for a long time it was believed that extreme redistribution was the way to stop communist revolution, which the scientific theory of history said would come otherwise. This is how the Scandinavian countries got in the trap they’re in, and we too, just later and slower.
And that’s why people can’t be IQ tested the old way, because IQ tests are “inherently racist” – let alone that this theory is based on the idea that every race is alike within itself, and therefore is a racist claim in itself. That’s why women are given breaks to get into STEM degrees, because even if their performance is inferior to keep them out would be sexist. Their under performance is because their group are traditional victims!
ALL our society is run according to the theory of classes and designated historical victims. And our churches. Don’t get me started on our churches.
There was, circulating on Facebook, the story of this minister, hired by a mainstream congregation, who decided to try a stunt and come to his first service dirty, disheveled and looking like a homeless man. He then “discovered” that his congregation didn’t “behave like Christians.” They didn’t eject the man, mind you, but they gave him a seat in the back, and clearly kept an eye on him.
They didn’t ask him to sit up front and treat him as an honored guest, therefore they weren’t Christ-like, and when the minister did his big reveal, he excoriated them, and this got written about and distributed with approval.
Had I had hiring power in that congregation, I’d have called him aside after that stunt, told him that sorry, but the holy book in this church isn’t bound in red, given him his paycheck and a handshake.
But, SARAH, you’ll say. Christ got beggars and…
Yes, indeed. And Christ’s world was very different. It was very easy – in fact it was the norm – for hard working people to find themselves starving and destitute. Without help, without any form of social services, MOST PEOPLE WERE POOR. Helping the poor, and yes, even the prostitutes (I still wonder what He was up to with tax collectors. Never mind) most people starved or worse.
BUT we don’t live in Christ’s world. There are layers of government services and private charities. Most of our homeless are in fact mentally ill, drug addicted or both.
How many of us have NEVER seen a homeless man expose himself/been threatened by a homeless person/been pursued by a beggar yelling curses? If you haven’t, you must either be very lucky or live in a very small place.
I’m sorry, but people go to church with their families, including small and vulnerable children. When a dirty, disheveled homeless person shows up, you’re going to wonder what he’s going to do next. Putting him at the back and watching him isn’t lack of charity. It’s lack of death wish. (Not too many years ago, a man shot himself in the bathroom of a church in town. A homeless, mentally disturbed man. If they’d watched him and kept an eye, perhaps that wouldn’t have happened. Before the elections in 2008, two naked men showed up outside the church door of a church in town, supposedly to protest priestly abuse but in fact they were both mentally ill.)
These days, in the world we live in, keeping the homeless at a distance is called “self preservation instinct.” It doesn’t mean we don’t help them, but we can’t treat any homeless person who shows up, particularly a dirty disheveled one, as an innocent victim who IS NOT going to do something awful suddenly and for no reason. (Look, the sane homeless aren’t usually dirty and disheveled and you won’t know they’re homeless unless they tell you. Yes, I’ve seen someone wash AND PUT ON FULL MAKE UP in a public bathroom. People do that when they care and are trying to find help.)
A priest/minister who doesn’t see that is in fact drinking Marx by the cupful and thinks in terms of classes. And in the world of classes the homeless are just “victims” and thus entitled to the best treatment REGARLESS of personal safety or the facts of life about most of the homeless today.
I suspect Christ might tell the man a thing or two about causing scandal, in fact. It was, if nothing else, a piece of self-aggrandizing, showing a lack of respect and priory condemnation of his future congregation based on class. “They’re comfortable, therefore they must be afflicted.”
SOCIAL justice was never part of the gospel or of any Western religion. Justice, guilt and sin are individual and expiated as such. (Yes, ancient Judaism, but it’s different when you’re in a land RULED by G-d. And even there… ten men would spare a city.)
Only Marx thinks that on the terrible day of judgment in which he doesn’t believe, people will come before their Lord in classes and ranks of standing, and be condemned or forgiven according to things they could do nothing about.
In fact making the homeless into a Marxist victim-class precludes helping them as individuals. You can’t say they need to be clean or moderate their behavior, even if you offer them help towards that. Because they’re discriminated against, see? And heaven forbid you try to help the mentally ill, because then you’re the Soviet Union, incarcerating “dissenters.” Yay and verily, ask a college sociology professor and he’ll tell you that by standing on the corner and peeing himself, a homeless man is protesting heartless capitalism. (The same heartless capitalism that allows him to eat at a soup kitchen and gives him clothes and sundries, no questions asked. You got it.)
And don’t get me into the Marxist view of history. Faced with the fact that the proletariat has not risen up as the great master predicted, they keep finding surrogates, mostly in third world countries, and treating THOSE as the international equivalent of homeless people.
You know, Somalia is starving because you’re rich, you bastard!
The fact that the aid western countries sent is pilfered or left to rot, the fact that their – Marxist, most of them educated at the Patrice Lumumba university in Moscow – are kleptocrats who line their pockets over those of their citizens, the fact that our surplus of donated goods destroy local industry has nothing to do with it.
You see, Marx thought that wealth was a finite pie. That meant that for you to be rich someone else had to be poor. And colleges still teach it that way. No, seriously.
Apparently knowing that what kept a tenth of the population in bare subsistence in medieval times now keeps ten times as many beyond the dreams of medieval kings means NOTHING to them. There’s finite wealth in the world, and if you take more than you “need” (from each according… yeah) then someone else will starve.
And those countries are by the way, always victims, because the “colonialists” took their “raw materials.”
No, I kid you not. Seriously. They are poor because people in the eighteenth century got gold or iron or cotton or something from them. That makes them poor forever. It’s the evil of Colonialism. The kid’s college Geography book tried to sell that one. I pointed out to the kid that Portugal was colony and colonizer and if it were a matter of stealing raw materials, then Portugal should be the richest country on Earth. (And we won’t go into how fair trade isn’t stealing, even if fair trade for the time was something else.)
I’m sorry, Portuguese culture and the made infatuation with various forms of socialism probably has more to do with the mess the country is in then the fact that the Romans took all our gold. (Which is why the area beneath the village looks like swiss cheese and sometimes vast portions cave after a heavy rain.) Or is it Portugal is comfortable (relatively) for reasons having nothing to do with the fact it stole piles of gold from South America. Which one is it? It makes my head hurt.
None of Marx’s theories stands up to real world examination or real world scrutiny. And yet you have people running around declaring themselves Marxist and neo-Marxist. And, inexplicably, people don’t point and laugh.
His ideas have penetrated how things are done UNEXAMINED. Which is the only way they could penetrate because if you examine them they crumble into incoherence.
The last time I pounded on Marx some twit informed me that it was very useful for literary analysis by which he (she? I don’t remember) meant that it’s a handy self-contained system that you can apply to books and decide what is good and what isn’t by what conforms and what doesn’t.
It makes me think of that mythical king who cut off the parts of men who didn’t fit into his box.
It might be easy to apply, but it doesn’t touch reality at ANY point.
And this is where Western civilization is. Admitted (and a lot of is admitted on college campus) or not, we’re bound in fifty shades of Marx.
And no one has given us a safe word.
*By which we mean Karl and not one of the three geniuses of comedy. If we’d arranged the world according to NHUK NHUK NHUK it would be less of a mess. UPDATE: I’m reliably informed I confused my pop culture references. Never mind. Any three comedians are interchangeable. I still say Nhuk Nhuk Nhuk is a better organizing principle!