If you have seen or heard about Neo-Nazis Flash Mobs in Germany, other phenomena like it manifested in Europe, Brexit or Trump, you must surely wonder about the apparent returning-force of nationalism and race on politics. I have tried to stress in many of my articles — for instance see, Idea and Culture — that culture (capital C style) is not the result of good tribal traits, genetics, religion, nationalism or race, but rather that superior acculturation, (if there is such a thing, and I think there is), is based solely on ideas. Tolerance, democracy, law & order, reason, self-criticism, liberty, multi-culturalism and other ideas which have produced the West as we know it, are either worth fighting for, or the faceless hate-filled mob like the one above in that German flash mob will again lead to the phenomena of the gulag and gas chamber. In Christopher Hitchens’ article, Martin Amis: Lightness at Midnight, (from Arguably, Selected Essays), he alludes to a formula which always baffles the Left and gives them their sense of moral superiority over the other “Bully” on the block, the Right: Hitchens writes: “In making the inescapable comparison with Hitler, who killed many fewer people (and even killed many fewer Communists) than Stalin, Amis is guided mostly by the view of Robert Conquest. He also relies, in varying degrees, on Martin Malia, Richard Pipes, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. In Conquest’s opinion, the visceral reaction to Nazism entails a verdict that it was morally worse than Stalinism, even if its eventual hecatomb was a less colossal one. This distinction rests on the sheer intentionality and obscenity of the Shoah, or Final Solution. Those who were killed in Ukraine, by a state-sponsored famine, were not killed as Ukrainians in quite the same way as the Ukrainian Jews of Babi Yar were later killed as Jews. The slave system of the Gulag did not have as its primary objective the turning of living people into corpses. The huge callousness of the system simply allowed vast numbers to be treated as expendable. The distinction is certainly worth preserving.” (Fifty million went through the gulag, at it's height, 14 percent of the population of the USSR! The democide figures range (all communist countries in) between 80 and 120 million.)
I Couldn’t Disagree More With This Distinction
The growth of modern sectarian religious violence caused by runaway fundamentalism is directly related to academic philosophy’s attack on reason and The Enlightenment in the last hundred years. It is The Age of the Irrational; Marxism is a fairytale religion, which led to labeling the middle-class as (‘the disgusting, lowlife, money-grubbing’) Bourgeoisie much as the Nazis demonized (‘the disgusting, lowlife, money-grubbing’) Jews. This undercuts their argument substantially. Jews were a category worth destroying for about the same reason that the Leninists, Bolsheviks, Maoists, Stalinists and other Marxist’s groups destroyed the middle-class (i.e., the Bourgeoisie). In this vein, it is just as Islamists label Jews, atheists, Hindus and unbelievers as (‘unclean, unworthy and appalling’) Kafirs, much like the Christians of the Medieval times pronounced their enemies as (‘revolting, defiled hedonistic or debauched’) Pagans. As I have pointed out numerous times, the phenomena of scapegoating gives us, especially in youth, a sense of purity. We are the righteous, they are the atrocious. It is frankly that simple! Most religions and ideological movements use this simple trick. Marx used it: “At all events, I hope the bourgeoisie will remember my carbuncles until their dying day. What swine they are!” Rand used it in regard to her intellectual enemies who she treated as anathema and depicted as parasites. Freud used it to mark his as mentally ill. Mohammed used it to stigmatize his opponents as nonhuman and worthy of killing. Jesus, branded those who value the material over the supernatural as eminently punishable by death. To quote him, “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” John 15:6. Nietzsche applied it to all but the most brutal leaders and mismanaged artists, of which he was one. However, Plato used it against all people except the elitist philosopher-kings /rulers who were no more than interpreters of the mystic. All of these thinkers/ prophets /philosophers were phobic to some extent of mob rule, and to them, often, democracy was just that.
Why democracy first above all else? It’s simple. You can fire the bosses without violence to brutally paraphrase Popper. It protects individual rights better than autocracies. It has a fairly good record for finding a middle ground between extremes. It, in general and by comparison, doesn’t eliminate through violence people who are skeptics of what the state says and does. Despite what happened to Socrates in Athens 2500 years or so ago, an intellectual, even a warmonger like Karl Marx, a violent Islamist like Khomeini, a skeptic like Russell, an anarchist like Proudhon, an atheist like Rand and a gadfly like Hitchens, can thrive in the West.
Extreme nationalism is vexing. Racism is easily refutable through reason. Religion is a crux for the poor in spirit. Much of the Right, especially Conservatives, really are George Bush Junior dumb-downs who think you can overdo reading and don’t even understand why people call them names. If you say to them, Big Brother is real; they believe it, but they’re not sure whether you’re talking about the TV show or the totalitarian phenomena created by Karl Marx and others of the collectivists’ mode and depicted with a certain irony in the novel 1984. At any rate, they would be the first to say it had nothing to do with Jesus and Christianity. The Christians of course — at least to them — have only brought about overall good in the world, see Jesus Marx. That myth is bothersome enough; however, for a really annoying modern fairy story, the Left takes it all the way from the grand old commune myth, to the war stories in Spain, to the belief that unions saved our parents from certain exploitation, to the outright fraud that Wall Street represents laissez faire markets and the consistent lie that in the long run government works more efficient, caring and dependable than the market. Marxism was a violent rush to socialist heaven (the hell where we are pretty much in today). The Left would argue against this point vehemently. To them, Platonism has nothing to do with this fight, or Marxism or Christianity. Many Leftists are anti-communists; many loathe Marxism, more have never read Marx and could care less; nonetheless, they blithely refuse to see that the orbit of their belief is religious and that the welfare state and the socialist one are in many ways the same event and come from the same motives, i.e., Marx leading back to Christ and he to Plato. They see capitalism everywhere, and no alternative to it. No matter how big the state gets, it’s always the completely unregulated imperialistic economy driving poverty to new lows. To the Right, television is more important than bread and to the Left everybody who doesn’t own a house is living under a bridge; I mean aren't you tired of the Right and the Left?
To the ideologues and religionist’s minds, the issue between the Right and Left can be described in the story of the Nazis and the Stalinists, or between Salvador Allende versus Augusto Pinochet or some such match between the Fascist and the Marxists. Democracy is not a valid alternative to the Right. To them, democracy is the socialist left. To the Left, democracy is ultimately the fascist right. With Salvador Allende, the freely elected Marxist of Chili in 1970, nationalization wasn’t theft and the right wing CIA backed coup d’etat which killed him wasn’t fascist. Except of course they both were. It’s the Hitler-Stalin event in miniature. And so The Cold War played out.
But what about Fidel Castro of Cuba versus Jose Figueres of Costa Rica? Here is where the Left fails to adequately explain themselves. They don’t well describe the nations who became democratic without the old violent right-left seesaw. In Cuba, surely now the very font of a Banana Republic compared to Costa Rica, which is a modern state with an outstanding record of achievements on all fronts. It is like comparing Haiti and the Dominican Republic. If you’ve read Collapse, by Jared Diamond, the difference speaks for itself. In Costa Rica, we see a long-standing democracy. During his time ( September 25, 1906 – June 8, 1990), Figueres abolished the army, granted women and blacks the right to vote. He promoted private industry and stimulated the national economy. He embraced the middle class and detested autocracy. He stood up to the Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza and deplored the army generals who ruled the rest of Central America. He was the true revolutionary, a democratic one, and the pseudo revolutionaries like Ché (see, Land Without Dogs) and Castro, by equating them to him, look anemic indeed.
Another example of this back and forth is the analysis of the collectivist Karl Marx and the anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. They both, “of course” had absolute knowledge of the scientific nature of democracy and economy; their scientism is self refuting and this makes their disputes and anti-Semitism look pretty laughable from this time frame. However, it had deadly consequences in the last century. Nevertheless, it’s the well known contrast between them which caused the split between the statists and anarchists. It reached its climax in the disagreement of the Marxist hypothesis of the Dictatorship of the Proletarian with which Proudhon so emphatically disagreed. Marxist theories were all about power; Proudhon’s, about mutualism. He was against state possession of capital goods and endorsed worker’s ownership instead. You give a gun to a Marxist absolutist, he’s got to kill a Bourgeoisie, Jew or Capitalist with it; political power and hatred is practically all there is to this philosophy of resentment.
The celebrated artists in this fight are worth pondering as well notwithstanding the Nobel literary prizes which are rigged by the Left for them to look after their own. Gabriel García Márquez and Ayn Rand, the penultimate communist up against the purveyor of rational selfishness are such a demarcation. The Columbian Nobel winning writer pledged in the eighties not to publish again until the Chilean Dictator Augusto Pinochet was deposed. Unlike Rand's (see Atlas Shrugged), that strike didn’t pan out; what would we do without Márquez's insights? Indeed, he has become a cultural ambassador for the Cuban regime, hosting the visits of foreign writers and even occasionally helping to release celebrity literary prisoners. He is a literary hatchet man for Fidel Castro who is one of his best friends. It just doesn’t get any better than that. Ayn Rand, who of course commits the ultimate sin to the Left, being as anti-communist as Márquez is an anti-American, is his opposite in so many ways, countering his magical-realism with her romantic-realism. Her theory of a strike was to take all people of ability and withdraw their talent from society. But you can’t fool the Left. To them she can’t write at all, and to think they used to call Solzhenitsyn a liar. To the garbage can she is sentenced. The socialist hack, Gore Vidal called her theories “nearly perfect in its immorality”. Actual democide figures from communist countries mean little to the wicked socialites of the Left. She of course screeches as bad as Márquez whimpers, but you can’t get a better dividing line than these two novelists.
Graham Greene and Somerset Maugham; the Catholic Liberationist versus the secularist doctor are another such example. Greene is lauded by the Left as a salon communist, a God-fearing Catholic in the best ‘leftist’ sense, a devotee of Castro and a writer with sympathies to the democratic (or if necessary violent) revolution. The Left call Maugham, a spy for the queen, a queen’s writer and a downright queen. This is what he said about religion. “I’m glad I don’t believe in God. When I look at the misery of the world and its bitterness I think that no belief can be more ignoble.” Of Human Bondage stacks up against anything Greene ever wrote, although The Power and The Glory is amazing. But to hear tell, by this very life, one would think Greene a god and Maugham a fraud.
To continue in this vein, George Orwell and Arthur Koestler are another example of the sheer prejudice of the Left against anyone opposed to the ultimate socialist solution. I think 1984 is a cynical view of human nature. As in Brave New World, we are all ploughed over by the miraculous efficient state. At least Darkness at Noon solely squares the idiocy of the totalitarian regimes of the last century directly on the shoulders of the socialists and know-it-all-youthful-activists who first informed it. Orwell, the church going socialist has become to the democratic Left a writer par-excellence and his contemporary, Koestler — who even influenced Orwell — is wrongfully defamed by the Left as deranged, a drunkard, a misogynist and even serial rapist. Like the Right, the Left have no shame.
Look at Maxim Gorky and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. They were direct products of the Soviet Union, the cowardly inventor of Socialist Realism up against the author of the really real who lived two decades of Gulag hell. Gorky is celebrated endlessly among the Left as the darling of the Bolsheviks, (The Mother is a pretty good novel) even writing positive articles for them about the Gulag (which they euphemized as re-education work camps). Solzhenitsyn had the nerve to prove to Western intellectuals that the Soviet terror machine was not created by Stalin but instead by their beloved Lenin himself directly influenced, of course, by the messiah Karl Marx, who theories, indeed, are perfect in their immorality.
Perhaps the best divide between these two worlds — let’s call it, the Platonic Utopian up against the Indulgence of Liberty — are the two extremely famous novelists, Franz Kafka and Mark Twain. The one from Europe, the other from the Great Satan; the one a self proclaimed socialist-libertarian and self-doubting Jew and the other a skeptic fascinated with scientific inquiry. Kafka’s The Trail, The Metamorphosis and In the Penal Colony are at once fascinating and creepy. Kafkaesque is a word now used to described a relentless vague mindless labyrinth of the menacing psychological complexity of the modern landscape, or in lib-media dialect, seinfeldish. I might add that this not unlike the logic the Left uses to defend the modern bullying democratic state of the West and the reasoning the Right uses in defending fusty old religions. Kafka is the voice of the 20th century angst; Munch's, The Scream. Mark Twain is Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn; a slap of zip, a romantic urge, an adventure—a life to live. He had a long enduring friendship with Nikola Tesla, and once quipped, “Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.” He’s the American antidote to the European shriek of despair. But the Right and the Left? What can you say if you’re caught in the middle? Giving up God and the State at once seems impossibly hard. It’s like giving up smoke and drink at the same time. I guess living a good life is learning to do without. At any rate, these two ancient rivals negate each other, and it is now seminal for the third avenue to take hold: classical liberalism, fiscal conservatism, libertarianism, rational anarchism and the separation of market and state.
Libertarians refuse the Leftist Antigone dichotomy of civil disobedience as a false solution unless there is absolutely no other alternative (including fleeing) except either the choice by force of serving the Right or serving the Left. In that case serving the autocratic Right is far superior to serving the tyrannical Left for one singular reason: the body count will be one tenth of that on the Socialist side. The true ideologists always are far more vampirish than the mafia boss who just wants to do business at any cost. The socialist wants you to love it, and shut your mouth and be happy or he’ll kill you, your whole family, village, community and even race, there is no end to their hatred of human nature.