David Thompson


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March 09, 2010


John D



It doesn't matter if Marxism doesn't work. It's about telling yourself you have good intentions.


Much as with the Witch-finder General assurances that the oh so painful flames are, in fact, rather good for you.


“It’s about telling yourself you have good intentions.”

I wouldn’t say Marxism was even about having good intentions. I tend to think of Marx and Engels’ output as a mixture of whimsy and grandiose sadism. It’s hard to believe that credulous students still fawn over this ranting, anti-Semitic fantasist and his cohorts, whose ideas led to man-made famines, unprecedented murder and authoritarian horror on a continental scale. Yet there are those who pretend these men can be neatly isolated from the inevitable fallout of their imaginings, as if those consequences weren’t starkly evident in their writings – and often noted with enthusiasm. Maybe some people can just skip over the bits about “the murderous death agonies of the old society,” the “complete extirpation” of “reactionary peoples” and the advocacy of “revolutionary terror” for which “we shall not make excuses.”

Those don’t sound like good intentions to me.


The interesting bit ist "telling yourself". With the rest - d'accord!



Apologies, but what do you mean?


Shrinks is nuts. As Sam Goldwyn said, anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

Karen M

"...to each according to need."

"A family of four with a combined weight of 83 stone say they are "too fat to work" and need more than the £22,000 they currently receive in benefits."


"Essma Marjam, 34, is given almost £7,000 a month in housing benefits. She also receives an estimated £15,000 a year in other payouts, such as child benefit, to help look after her children, aged from five months to 14."



It is difficult to get someone who claims to believe the Marxist bromide "From each... to each..." to actually chat about the implications. If they try to defend it against "minimize abilities... maximize needs" they are open to suffering a chat such as:

So, for example, if I have the ability to work the fields and you have the need to sit on the porch in the cool breeze sipping mint juleps, then I should get to work out there in the field?

Well, of course not. We're not talking about slavery here!

Oh, really? What are we talking about? Who will define "abilities" and "needs"? Should we each define our own abilities and needs? I need to rest as much as possible, have plenty of adult beverages handy as needed, and I'm willing, ready, and able to critique other people's work between 10AM and 1M on alternate Wednesdays provided it doesn't interfere with holidays or vacations.

What's that? What's wrong with my definition of my needs and abilities? Oh, so somebody else has to define them heh? Who might that be? You? Committee of My Betters?


[ I’ve deleted the earlier, incomplete comment to avoid confusion. ]

Simen Thoresen

It seems to me that confusion is inherent to any discussion about Marxism.




What confuses me are people who read communist literature and then try to convince others that it’s all about “freedom.” It has a cartoonish, Alice in Wonderland quality, but with more corpses and starvation.

Much as there are devotees of Marx who insist the theories had nothing at all to do with the subsequent horrors of enacting them. There are some devout Marxists who insist that unapologetic “revolutionary terror” wasn’t meant to entail mass arrests, gulags, oppressive population control and a climate of fear. Perhaps such people imagine those things needn’t follow from totalitarian fantasies and a worldview in which glorious ends justify the means. Possibly such people imagine that enthusiasts of “revolutionary terror” are scrupulous in their probity and respect for the individual.

Such people are of course idiots.


And here is the famous communist bozo, Slavoj Zizek, rambling something about cutting the balls of capitalism. What then, he doesn't tell us:


I've always found it fascinating that people who otherwise seem intelligent, and often have some recognizable level of achievement to suggest that they are, in fact intelligent, are idiots when it comes to human nature and ideas such as Marxism.

They somehow seem to convince themselves that a number of things that experience and history cannot support. Just as an example take the notion that "abilities" and "needs" will be defined in some way that not only will they be just in a theoretical sense but that people will perceive them to be just in a practical sense. Our society, or at least some fairly powerful portion of it, has conjured an ever growing list of "disabilities". Some reach down to levels of mental or physical discomfort most of us would regard as mere anxiety or life's aches and pains. How do those who do not suffer from these disabilities (primarily because we treat them as discomforts rather than disabilities) ever become comfortable with providing for those needs through the sweat of our abilities? Where do we see the justness?

The fact is many people will recognize, and resist, the injustice. Then comes coercion. First through seemingly innocuous methods such as taxation but eventually this will, because it must, rise to violent coercion. Oh, of course, we'll avoid that THIS TIME, through proper education. What dolts!



“They somehow seem to convince themselves [of] a number of things that experience and history cannot support.”

In my experience, gatherings of such people – say, in far left student groups – are often exercises in role-play and bad faith. Participants may say they’re terribly concerned with X or protesting righteously about Y, but sometimes they’re just excited about being excited, and being seen to be excited. The particulars of a given cause, and the efficacy and realism of the proposed course of action, may be secondary concerns, if that. Sometimes it’s just psychodrama:


I remember one lengthy discussion with someone who held absurd (and rather obnoxious) political views. Slowly, tediously, I refuted each point he advanced with factual corrections and numerous sources, none of which were disputed. This went on for some time until finally the person buggered off, by now irritated. A few hours later I found him having exactly the same discussion somewhere else, making exactly the same discredited claims as if our exchange had never happened. That encounter isn’t as unusual as one might suppose and it does cast doubt on the person’s motives, and the motives of others like him. Clearly, what he was doing wasn’t about evidence or sound argument. It was about something else, a performance of some kind, something not amenable to rational discussion.

Of course performers crave attention and it needn’t be favourable. If the person or group’s activities involve disruption, inconvenience and subsequent resentment, so much the better. Some people weigh their activist credentials by the annoyance they arouse. The degree of inconvenience and subsequent hostility can then be taken as a validation of their righteousness and a source of satisfaction. (See the link below for a textbook example.)


One shouldn’t underestimate the importance of self-absorption and theatrical urges. If the ostensible arguments don’t stand much scrutiny, or any scrutiny at all, that may not be the point. The activity may best be understood as a kind of theatrical narcissism.


Isn't Marxism similar to religion, in that the existence of a god is irrelevant to the experience of the believer?

In my dealings with left-wingers, I often get the impression that it is their view of an idealized truth that matters, not an actually shared 'objective' reality. Thus Marxism is more about being devout and to be right (to have seen the light) than about actually being right in any provable way.

Of course, if this continues after the revolution, the game turns into 'holier than thou', with the heads of their subjects as chips.



"If the ostensible arguments don't stand much scrutiny, or any scrutiny at all, that may not be the point. The activity may best be understood as a kind of theatrical narcissism."

Did someone mention Sean Penn?



David and Simen,

Would that I had time (and intellect) to pursue these notions of "faith" (or perhaps more accurately "religion") and role-playing or performance art. I would especially be interested in pondering the intersection of those things and how that relates to leftism.

Certainly there are those who would self-describe as "religious" but primarily are interested in exhibiting their virtue by demonstrating their participation in rituals such as going to church and receiving sacraments. My Mom has long commented on the "good Christians who'd run you over in the parking lot in their rush to get into or out of church". Of course they wouldn't actually run anyone over but they'd be visibly peeved and rude to the point of shouting, gesticulating, and running traffic lights and such as they arrived at or departed from the scene, their stage, for their Behold My Virtue activity. They are performing but apparently cannot recognize that the rest of us have a pretty darned clear view of what's going on backstage and off camera.

Consider what, to many of us, is a time honored truism - "The true measure of character is how we behave when nobody is watching."

I've long wondered what the actual dividing characteristic is between "Left" and "Right", "Liberal" and "Conservative" (lose the caps if you prefer). I, like most, use those terms but I don't believe they are usefully descriptive beyond their value as labels. Is the division along the lines of the value one places on "the state" vs "the individual"? I doubt it, most folks don't think long or deep enough for that to be it. Is it "egalitarian" vs "capitalist"? Probably not. I'd begun to think it was "optimist" vs "pessimist". Leftists/Statists/Liberals were, essentially, pessimists who believe that the chance of things going so badly that only the full power of the state can save them from disaster is so high that they are willing to trade their personal upside potential to insure against it. And, of course, Rightist/Individualist/Conservatives are optimists who believe their chances of doing well through their own efforts is so high that statism has little potential value.

But you guys have tossed another possibility into the mix. Perhaps the difference, or some meaningful portion of the difference, is "performance art". Leftists are performance artists. This may explain why they seem to value rhetorical skills so highly. The extreme value they place upon "giving good speech" has always been perplexing to me. That was part of the reason Reagan peeled off so many liberals. I like listening to a nicely delivered speech but I place the skill to deliver one somewhere down the list of what is important to me to get my vote. If I know what you're talking about I'm OK with it - I don't need to enthralled with the listening.

There also seems to be an element of sheer selfishness at work here. To provide an example (and I need to paraphrase) I'll describe a college student I heard speaking during a newscast the other evening. Obama delivered a "healthcare speech" at a small university in PA, IIRC, Monday. Naturally moonbats and others were lined up for miles for tickets. The news dude (sorry, I don't pay enough attention to know who or what station) asked a student why he was spending so much time in line. The student rattled on about how important a national healthcare plan was and how hard poor ObiOne was working to try and get that in the face of such evil opposition and so forth. The kid had to set stage and perform the act to feel that what he was after was something big and important to the world, but what he was really after surfaced when he said he would soon graduate and jobs are hard to find and he'd need health insurance and wouldn't it be great if it passed. He's perfectly willing to wreck the current system as long as his perceived need is met as long as he can pretend something else.

carbon based lifeform


"If the ostensible arguments don't stand much scrutiny, or any scrutiny at all, that may not be the point. The activity may best be understood as a kind of theatrical narcissism."

Did someone mention the tossers at Indymedia?

"At 2 am this morning, Tesco Metro on Lodge Causeway was attacked with bricks and spray, with broken windows and "no more Tesco" sprayed on both sides of the store. This action is not to pressure not to build more Tesco stores, but as a total rejection of all they represent. We see Tesco as extreme form of the capitalist domination that entraps and enslaves us all. Our message is simple: if you build up, we smash down. For a world free of capitalist exploitation and authoritarian rule (A)"


Total wankers.



“We see Tesco as extreme form of the capitalist domination that entraps and enslaves us all. Our message is simple: if you build up, we smash down. For a world free of capitalist exploitation and authoritarian rule. (A).”

I was reading about this at Harry’s Place. I scarcely need to point out the grandiose narcissism and blatant projection. As Brett says, “What you are doing is forcing your distorted minority view on a community in the name of that community. You are not the community, you are vandals and thugs.” So no domination or authoritarianism there.


However, it seems overly charitable to assume that these pretentious little shit stains actually believe in anything they say, or rather shout. If they do, they’re fantasists and pathologically credulous. But most likely they exploit juvenile politics as a license to vandalise and intimidate. It’s a way to scare innocent people while pretending to be radical and heroic, which I’m sure is very exciting to a certain kind of misfit.

How mighty they must be.

Andrew Fry

And here is the famous communist bozo, Slavoj Zizek, rambling something about cutting the balls of capitalism. What then, he doesn't tell us:

Posted by: simplius | March 09, 2010 at 21:40

I couldn't watch too much of that guy Simplius. He sounds like Yakov Smirnoff mixed with Sylvester the Cat, and why can't communists wash their hair and put on clean clothes? Marx and Engels didn't look like slobs.


Andrew, that is the outcome of communists becoming postmodernists.

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