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The Heresiarch on abortion and assumptions

The Guardian’s feminist-in-chief Suzanne Moore tweeted that… “the Tories will not win their war on women.” Two incredibly lazy but widespread assumptions combine in the notion of a “Tory war on women.” Firstly, that the divide on abortion is primarily political (and left-right) rather than moral, and that the pro-choice position is progressive, and the pro-life one reactionary. Secondly, that the pro-choice case is the pro-women, feminist one, and its opponents are motivated by hatred of women, or at the very least by an inherently misogynistic desire to control women’s lives... 

There is indeed a gender divide on the abortion debate in Britain, and it is especially stark in relation to the question of term limits. A YouGov poll in January found that of the 37% of Britons who favoured a lowering of the 24 week limit (34% supported the status quo) the majority were women. In total, twice as many women as men (49% as opposed to 24%) wanted to see a lower limit. There was also an interesting age difference: among the younger age group (18-24) support for a lower limit stood at 43%, whereas in the two older age groups it was 35%. Strikingly, support for a reduction to 20 weeks or below was highest among people who expressed a preference for Labour rather than the two other main parties - which again fits ill with the concept of a “Tory war on women.” 

For a snapshot of some more, rather instructive, feminist thinking on the subject, see also this

And Theodore Dalrymple on the late historian and Stalinist Eric Hobsbawm

A writer of my acquaintance once turned down an invitation to dinner with Hobsbawm (who rarely refused any honour or privilege that the unjust capitalist state could offer him) on the grounds that if Hobsbawm’s political wishes had come to fruition, he would have had his proposed guest shot in short order. A man who could think until late in his life, as Hobsbawn did, that the murder of 20 million people would be justified if it brought about a socialist utopia, would hardly balk at the death of a single bourgeois guest.

In my experience, Marxists prefer to be judged, if judged at all, by their theories and rather fanciful abstractions, and by their pretensions of moral elevation - all conveniently bleached of realism and messy human detail. And so, when not simply lying, their conversation turns to the potential of communism - communism in theory - never actual communism, i.e., communism in power. But the practical and psychological implications of egalitarian utopias aren’t exactly hard to fathom. Unless, that is, one takes care not to notice certain things or think in certain ways, and then goes on not noticing with growing sophistication. And I suspect that sophisticationa practiced unrealism - is driven by something very nasty indeed.

There are of course those who read Marx and Engels while somehow ignoring the salacious references to “revolutionary terror,” the “murderous death agonies of the old society” and the “complete extirpation” of “reactionary peoples” – i.e., thee and me - as if the horrors that followed had nothing at all to do with the urges to which they give intellectual license. An abstracted, sanitised belief in Marxism – detached from its consequences - isn’t just an oversight. It requires colossal bad faith, especially among the intelligent.

To read Marx and Engels - to say nothing of Trotsky and his enthusiasm for guillotines and the prospect of beheading people who didn’t wish to be communists – to read such material and somehow not grasp where that thinking goes isn’t just a failure of critical wherewithal. It’s a contrivance. Just as some contrive an indifference when faced with Engels’ eagerness to see “the disappearance from the face of the earth not only of reactionary classes and dynasties, but also of entire reactionary peoples.” A global class genocide that would be, in his words, “a step forward.” Hobsbawm, like many others, traded his probity for vanity. He chose to be seduced. And if people still want to play at Angry Marxist™ - and it seems some youngsters do - they might at least be honest about it.

Related, this and this

As usual, feel free to add your own links and snippets in the comments.


Patrick Brown

I like the Daily Mash's take on Hobsbawm:




the “complete extirpation” of “reactionary peoples” – i.e., thee and me

Extirpation is a much nicer word than extermination.


“Extirpation is a much nicer word than extermination.”

As I’ve said before, what’s remarkable is the way Marxism and its variants have been sanitised and excused as somewhat impractical but nonetheless well-intended. (And not, say, the elaborate and sadistic rationalisations of a chronic moocher.) It’s a mystery to me how so many people can believe that the authors of communism – a system rooted in and dependent on monstrous coercion - were well-meaning souls. Any familiarity with Marx’s own behaviour would provide plenty of clues as to the kind of little shit he was, and what, given power, might follow from that. Say, from his trademark anger and contempt for others (just about everyone), his intolerance of dissent, his dishonesty with data, his readiness to abuse the generosity and trust of others, and his salacious fixation with violence and apocalyptic scenarios. As David Hulme noted, “a violent man will beget violent ideas.” And violent ideas… well, we know the rest.

But instead, for some, it’s all very righteous and lofty, even jolly.

We could, I think, be charitable and assume that the young woman holding that banner - a student, of course - is oblivious to its connotations. In which case, she’s simply foolish, a dupe. Though maybe we shouldn’t be quite so forgiving of those employed to teach her politics and history.


I wonder if Hobsbawm was a kind of relic of the time when many people felt they had to make a choice between being Communist or Nazi in the 1930s - he seemed not to have progressed in some fundamental way from that mindset, hence his extremely dodgy question-avoiding on the topic of whether the deaths in Soviet Russia would have been 'justified' in some way

Perhaps he was a classic example of quasi-religious convert to Marxist thinking, who made up his mind early on fundamental political theory, then used a great deal of cleverness amassing facts and fitting them into his own interpretation...and arguing the case quite fluently, no doubt.

Anyway to go through your lifetime not ever questioning one's political beliefs is really a variety of stupidity all the same.


Perhaps he was a classic example of quasi-religious convert to Marxist thinking

Aren't they all?


The usual argument by Marxists when faced with the ocean of blood that it has flooded the world with is that true Marxism has never been tried.

To which I ask: How many more tens of millions must die before Marxists "get it right?"

And how insane does someone have to be to keep running experiments that massacre millions in the hopes it will turn out okay the next time?



“The usual argument by Marxists… is that true Marxism has never been tried.”

Which is odd, really. As millions of believers and countless Marxist intellectuals – including Lukacs, Gramsci, Althusser and Hobsbawm – and of course Marx, Engels and Lenin - were pretty sure that their utopia necessarily required a little pushing and shoving… a little unpleasantness. Or as Marx and Engels put it, “When our turn comes, we shall not make excuses for the terror.”


The usual argument by Marxists… is that true Marxism has never been tried.

What I find interesting is that you never hear anyone ask where are Capitalism's failures? Where has capitalism ever destroyed the economy of a country? Where are capitalism’s Soviet Unions, Cubas, North Koreas, Eastern Europes, Cambodias, North Vietnams, Mao-era Chinas, etc., etc., etc.? Note that in every country that has turned away, or turned partially away, from central planning and a large government footprint on the economy, the quality of life has drastically improved. It's only major flaw has been to bring about a huge prosperity never before perceived, thus creating jealousy on a scale never before perceived.

Capitalism. User friendly. Cheaper to implement.


"The usual argument by Marxists when faced with the ocean of blood that it has flooded the world with is that true Marxism has never been tried"

Sorry to come in again on this, but this is the crux of the problem. You are exactly right that Marxists, when pushed, will predictably use exactly this argument, and it is wrong on almost every way it is possible to be wrong - and possibly some others :)

It's not clear what exact system Marxists think would work, as they can't agree on this. In any case they're talking about a highly speculative, untested theoretical model of how to run a state.

On no evidence (except for a list of economic and humanitarian disasters) these people blandly propose conducting a big experiment with populations of millions. If they've got their theory wrong it could once again mean mass starvation and extreme political instability (possibly necessitating a strong authoritarian secret police to keep control)

Myself, I wouldn't want to conduct an experiment with millions of peoples lives, but then I suppose the reply would relentlessly come back "but it's not an experiment...!" And so it goes on.



I suppose the refusal to accept the practical horrors of Marxism is mirrored by the surprisingly common belief that Marx was somehow – despite all evidence to the contrary – a noble and compassionate guy. That being so noble and compassionate, so altruistic, his ideas must always have been ‘corrupted’ by others – that they weren’t inherently a license for brutality and a recipe for disaster. I’ve had exchanges with people who insisted that Marx and Trotsky were two of those nice, benign, fluffy communists, untouched by the sadistic megalomania that informed so much else. When I pointed to Trotsky’s self-declared enthusiasm for guillotines, concentration camps and “rooting out counterrevolutionaries without mercy,” this didn’t go down terribly well. Though I doubt it altered their view that Marxism and its variants are both noble and necessary.

Next time it’ll work, you see. Or maybe the time after that.


No, leftists love death. Hence their joy over abortion and their desire for "assisted" suicide. Although why anyone would need assistance is beyond me.Suicide is easy, it's living that is hard.

Anyway, leftists love death, other people's deaths. It always ended up the same, though. Lefty "intellectuals" were always going "if only Stalin knew..." as the pistol bullet went into the nape of their necks. Hobsbawm would have been killed by Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky or Mao, or any of their grubby little clones. Any "intellectual" not realizing that simple fact is too stupid to live outside of academia.

sackcloth and ashes

On the subject of female Guardianistas, Deborah Orr - better known for her 'chosen people' rant a year or so ago - has shown the magnanimous and compassionate side of her personality again:

Alan K. Henderson

The people who say "Marxism hasn't really been tried" skate over two critical elements of Marxism. First, there is the dictatorship of the proletariat, the prescribed interim government between capitalism and the pure classless society. Second, there is the goal of setting up an international utopia. All utopias are dystopias, because you cannot have the perfect society unless everyone agrees on what constitutes perfection, and such consensus does not exist. A regime evil enough to use deadly force to take everybody's property is evil enough to use deadly force to coerce popular consensus.

There is no Marxist parallel to dhimmis. Marxism seeks to abolish all classes; dhimmitude is a class, so Marxism makes no concessions for dissidents. You are with the program, or you are vermin.


I’m sure I’ve said this before, but you’d think that a few Marxists might pause to wonder why it is their Most Brilliant of Brilliant Ideas™ always grinds to a halt at the ludicrously misnamed and supposedly temporary “dictatorship of the proletariat” stage, i.e., naked tyranny and mass immiseration. Somehow, the classless, moneyless, non-exploitative utopia is never quite reached. The state never disappears; it just gets even more bloated, coercive and malevolent. The damn thing always seems to stall just when the more psychotic egalitarians take it upon themselves to dictate on behalf of the lumpen proletariat. Because – and here’s the shocker - they know best and quite like having power over others.

You’d think our leftist intellectuals might register the pattern and let it tell them something. But there are evidently those who can read the articles and letters of Marx and Engels, or dear God, the Communist Manifesto, and still believe that the authors were altruistic visionaries and people to be trusted. Cynics might wonder whether so many intellectuals can really be that credulous, that unworldly, or whether they’re just not being entirely honest about their own motives.

[ Added: ]

At least the wannabe-totalitarians of Occupy are occasionally a little more explicit about their motives. As when they get excited about “destroying capitalism” by “seizing houses, controlling trains and interfering with the police.” Or when Occupy cheerleader and chronic adolescent David Graeber enthused about the prospect of “physical intervention” as a way to “destabilise the country” and “smash capitalism.” Or when Occupy’s guru Kalle Lasn told readers of the Vancouver Sun that, “It’s about antagonising people and slapping them around a little bit and waking them up to reality.”

Yes, seizing other people’s stuff, harassing them, bullying them, holding them prisonerslapping them around. It’s all very exciting. If that’s what gets you hot.


It is no coincidence that Marxists tend to be well educated and intellectual. Only the 'bright' could be clever enough to be so self-deceptively stupid.


I’d imagine there’s quite a large overlap between (a) Marxists and (b) people who want to dominate others but were really crap at sports.

In the case of people like Graeber, who seems to believe that voters will be thrilled by the “anti-capitalist struggle… destabilising the country,” you do have to wonder if he’s ever going to arrive at adulthood. Psychologically and emotionally, I mean. Somehow I doubt the general public is keen to participate in a communist coup with lots of “physical intervention.” Or as Graeber puts it, “a vision of revolution inspired by anarchism.” When you hear this kind of bollocks coming from a grown man, the odds are pretty good that, if he’s employed at all, he’s employed in academia, most likely to teach a disreputable subject of negligible value. Like so many academic revolutionaries, Graeber must spend much of his time surrounded by impressionable teenagers and likeminded fantasists who in turn spend much of their time surrounded by impressionable teenagers. Which may explain a lot. Including his disinterest in – and disregard for – the actual electorate.


Why is it not possible to support free trade capitalism, self-reliance & freedom of speach and expression without ending up being lumped in with religious fanatics and people who can make such risible statements as "...leftists love death. Hence their joy over abortion and their desire for "assisted" suicide..."

carbon based lifeform

"When other duties tore him away from his beloved execution yard, he consoled himself by viewing the slaughter. Che's second-story office in La Cabana had a section of wall torn out so he could watch his darling firing-squads at work."


A pity that recently departed marxist traitor and historian didn't share Che's fate.

Chris Thompson

@ David:

"I'd imagine there's quite a large overlap between (a) Marxists and (b) people who want to dominate others but were really crap at sports".



I imagine there is also a large overlap between (a) religionists and (b) people who want to dominate others

And I imagine that there is a large overlap between (a) law enforcement officers and (b) people who want to dominate others

And I imagine there is a large overlap between (a) politicians and (b) people who want to dominate others

And I imagine there is a large overlap....

Jeff Guinn

I’m sure I’ve said this before, but you’d think that a few Marxists might pause to wonder why it is their Most Brilliant of Brilliant Ideas™ always grinds to a halt at the ludicrously misnamed and supposedly temporary “dictatorship of the proletariat” stage ...

There's no such thing as a good theory that doesn't work in practice.

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