Possessed by an ideology: The re-emergence of Marxism

Ideologies possess us
Ideas do not die: they my hibernate, they may go underground, they may mutate or metastasize, adapting to new circumstances, adopting suitable trains of thoughts from other ideas, stripping themselves of some of the old ones. Yet, once they are born, they are immortal. What is more, though ideas originate in human minds, paradoxically, once they are born, as Carl Gustav Jung famously said, it is not people who have ideas; people are possessed (obsessed) by ideas.

It is the peculiarity of the human mind to create ideas about the world, life, natural and social phenomena. These can be channelled in the form of a religion or ideology or a mixture of the two, never mind the denominations. A thought has a life of its own and starts growing, ramifying and developing, now due to clashes with real, palpable problems, now due to clashes with other ideas, beliefs, thoughts. A thought evolves in the process, and at times it is more real than reality itself in that a man who believes in dragons will spend his lifetime in pursuit of them: a belief will control his activities.

Beliefs, philosophies, ideologies – you name them – are there to explain the world and to provide guidelines. A human being needs guidelines: he needs to know whether it is good or bad to lie, to cheat, to steal; whether it is mandatory to lie to some, to tell the truth to others; whether it is prudent to lie under these, but be veracious under those circumstances. A human being needs to know what is worth striving, fighting, or dying for. And a human being has little time and little capability to solve each and every problem; instead, he prefers to rely on recipes of conduct that are rooted in an ideology. That is why ready-made sets of rules and values are in such demand.

Eternal Marxism
Marxism is one of the many ideologies that explain the world and provide guidelines. It traces its origins back to the 19th century. It was not a birth of a star but rather a transmutation and coalescence of earlier ideologies: German ideal philosophy (Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel), from which it took dialectics, French utopian socialism (Charles Fourier, Henri de Saint-Simon), from which it took the social concerns, and English classical economics (David Ricardo, Adam Smith), from which it took the economic thought.

In the age of thriving industrialism and the rapid development of the sciences Marxism worked out an appeal that was suited to the people of the epoch: it claimed to have discovered scientific therefore immutable and infallible laws governing the life of human societies since times immemorial to the present and well into the future. The ideology’s attractiveness was reinforced on the one hand by the promise it made that it had found the effective cure for social ills and on the other by the flattery that it extended to the down-trodden, the weak, the poor, and the outcast that they deserve better. Continue reading

Eternal tilting at windmills

On February 18, UN Secretary General António Guterres graced the world with another of his many uplifting speeches. Of the limited range of topics that are routinely broached – climate change, discrimination, the pandemic and racism – he chose to focus on the last of the mentioned. It went something like this: Ladies and gentlemen, in case you have not noticed, (which is even absurd to assume but never mind) racism plagues our world. Then António Guterres – in the Alfred Hitchcock style: first an earthquake, then the tension rises – hyporbelised this breathtaking gambit with the usual adjectives to the tune of “abhorrent”, “ugly”, and the noun “repudiation”. Racism – despite decades of reeducating the humanity and despite the Charter of the United Nations – is !everywhere! and so it will take a long time to combat it. The top representative of humanity went on to appealing to his worldwide audience that it must – without reservation, without hesitation, without qualification – reject and condemn racism which still permeates institutions, social structures and everyday life. Furthermore, António Guterres said that although racism, a repudiation of our common humanity, is deeply entrenched in centuries of colonialism and slavery and is a complex cultural phenomenon, especially because our world is letting go of the primacy of reason, tolerance and mutual respect, leaving place for – yes, of course – growing anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim hatred (some undefined minority Christian groups have also been thrown in), intolerance and – yes, again an easy guess – xenophobia, which, again is everywhere, around the world. António Guterres coupled the above mentioned phenomena with the COVID-19 pandemic, which exposed the inequalities, systematic prejudice and discrimination against marginalized, racial and ethnic groups, against – surprise, surprise – gender, age, class, caste, religion, disability, sexual orientation as if we all did not know this string of adjectives by heart by now.

The solution? There you have it. António Guterres says that we must build a better world (since the dawn of history we are nothing but engaged in building a better world), forge a new social contract (is António Guterres another embodiment of Jean-Jacques Rousseau?) based on – now the usual fashionable buzz words – inclusivity and sustainability; we must invest in social cohesion (obviously by) making societies more and more diverse, more and more multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural. People must be made to see the benefits of diversity rather than perceiving it as a threat.
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