Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Another Damn Hornets' Nest

Several days ago I posted a piece, here, titled “Saving Karl’s Soul” in which I argued that the Left would do well to embrace the evangelical movement since many of its believers are members of the working poor.

I reposted the article at http://smirkingchimp.com/thread/22897 under the title “Karl Marx, Evangelical?” It stirred up a bit of a hornets' nest, and the comments underscore some of the problems that are hamstringing the Left. I’ll lift some of the quotes and then comment on them.

On commentator wants to restrict the “real left” to ideologically pure Marxissm in an attempt to do for it what Pope Benedict is trying to do for the Roman Catholic Church. The only difference is that this Marxist wants to keep the movement mired in the nineteenth century while Benedict wants to return the church to the fourteenth century. Bigotry is not the sole province of the Right.

The comments about the religious right and the weird concept of Marx “going evangelical” are ridiculous.

Not so! They aren’t ridiculous, they’re downright stupid.

However, we have to ask what has “smart” done for us lately.

Every smart idea we’ve had for the last three decades has yielded stupid results. Trickle-down economics was a smart idea. Deregulation, derivatives, sub-prime mortgages, credit-default swaps, Iraq and Afghanistan were all smart ideas, products of the best and brightest minds in America.

If there’s one constant at work, here, it’s that smart ideas produce stupid results.. Perhaps it’s time to try a stupid idea and see if we get a smart result. We know what “smart" will get us.

Speaking of the Lerner article, the commentator says:

It smacks of a return to a form of religious idealism that flies in the face of materialism and rationality. In fact, it seems to advocate abandoning rationality. This is a return to barbarism.

Ideology is rationality run amuck. More slaughter and misery has been perpetrated by a slavish adherence to a "rational" ideal that is as rigid as it is linear than by “religious idealism.” A barbarity driven by passion soon spends itself, while one driven by rationality goes on and on and on as we discovered in Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany.

Do you really believe this horseshit? The only movement these people [the religious right] could be the vanguard of is a reactionary movement of fascism.

This will be true if the Left considers itself too good to embrace the working poor. Ideological prissiness renders the Left incapable of the strategic thinking that must be a part and parcel of a revolutionary movement. It must go down into the marketplace and accept the working poor as they are. Dismissing them as “fascists” is the surest way to insure they will become fascists.

Another commentator laments:

These people ARE the religious right BECAUSE they are intellectually and emotionally flawed. They are born/raised with these flaw first and cleave to the Christian nazi dogma second.


Of course the poor and working poor are intellectually and emotionally flawed, because they are poor. This is the problem with poverty and the reason we seek to alleviate it. The comment that these “people” would never embrace Marx ignores the Latin American experience where the combination of Christianity and Marxism is effecting a revolutionary change. But then, the “people” down there aren’t as fastidious as we are.

The bottom line is that this country is badly in need of a systemic revolution. Unfortunately it will never happen as long as the Left remains mired in its ideological purity.

Incidentally, Marx said of religion, “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world and the soul of a heartless world.”

Barbarism, my ass!


Iago de Otto said...

The frente continued to hold the annual meetings but they were no longer the big assemblies of the old days. Gone were many of the old-time trade unionists, the Trotskyists, anarchists, Castro-communists, splinter socialists and the two crack-pot liberals who'd written a book about collectivized coffee-farming and tried to start a political party on the strength of it. Now there were a dozen delegates, but the real power was in the hands of only three people. Ramon – dressed today in perfectly pressed camouflage fatigues and a clean black beret – represented his armed MAMista. Big Jorge was the coffee farmers’ hero. Professor Doctor Alfonso Marti led the 'Moscow communists' who were doing everything they could to ignore the reality that communists in Moscow were now an endangered species.

Paradoxically this year the delegates met to discuss the sins of materialism in an impressive house. It was one of several such lovely houses owned by the Minister of Agriculture. Officially he did not know that the revolutionaries had taken over his mansion. Unofficially he gave tacit consent to such uses of his property from time to time. He considered it a concession made in order to have no guerrilla activity near his fruit estates in the western provinces. This was a land of paradox. MAMista patrols exchanged greetings with priests as they went through the villages preaching violent revolution. Guerrillas crossed themselves before throwing a bomb. A $100,00 grant from a European Church charity had paid for Ramon's 750 second-hand Polish AK-47 rifles.

The delegates sat around the table. There were big earthenware jugs of iced water on the table but most of the men had other drinks too. Ramon had beer, Big Jorge had Spanish brandy and Professor Marti had freshly squeezed lemon juice. Ramon apologized for Dr. Guizot's absence. He was suffering from a recurrence of his malaria and had sent his good wishes to them all. Thus Professor Doctor Marti accepted the chair as his rightful due as secretary-general of the communist party of Spanish Guiana. He was an august old man with a white beard and gold-rimmed glasses. For many years he had been a minor literary figure. Still he was frequently to be seen at conferences and other gatherings where publishers, and those who write intermittently, get together over food and drink. His long book on the history of Latin America, seen from the party's point of view, was still used in Russia's schools. He was an urban intellectual: a theoretical extremist. Well to the left of the followers of Dr. Guizot, he was better able to re-fight the struggles of Bolshevik, Trotskyist and Menshevik than to take arms against a modern police force and army. Perhaps this was why he'd so readily accepted the honorary professorship, and found ways to coexist with successive right-wing governments who allowed his Latin American history book to be published (although the chapters concerning the Guianas had been discreetly edited). The regime brought him out and dusted him off to show visiting liberals how much political freedom the citizens of Spanish Guiana enjoyed.

(From MAMista by Len Deighton)

Mark Prime (tpm/Confession Zero) said...

The bottom line is that this country is badly in need of a systemic revolution. Unfortunately it will never happen as long as the Left remains mired in its ideological purity.

Well said! Well said, Case!

Case Wagenvoord said...


Revolutions are never permanent solutions. They are simply respites from the greed and lust dfor power that is the underbelly on the human condition. The greed is pushed back, a space is cleared, and then it begins to seep back in again.

However, this is no way diminishes the importance of the occasional revolution. It's like house cleaning. The place looks great, then the crud starts building up again.

Not only the purity, but the fragmentation.