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NO FEAR OF THE EVIL EYE: The Fascist Metaphysics of Marxism

metaphysics-of-marxismSeventh installment: Chapter Seven of Part I: Envy.  I’m really looking forward to your Forum comments on this one.

THE FASCIST METAPHYSICS OF MARXISM

We have now learned of the extent to which tribespeople in a tribal culture suffuse their lives with superstition, witchcraft, sorcery, voodoo, “black magic,” the “evil eye.” The world for them is teeming with demons, spirits, ghosts and gods, all of whom are malicious and dangerous — in a word, envious.

A principal reason why tribal and traditional cultures remain non-dynamic, unchanging and static for centuries and even millennia is the dominance of envy and envy-avoidance. As anthropologists call it, institutionalized envy, or the envy-barrier.

For the Mambwe in Zambia for example “successful men are regarded as sinister, supernatural and dangerous.” In Mexican villages, “fear of other people’s envy determines every detail of life, every proposed action.” Among the Aritama in Colombia, “every individual lives in constant fear of the magical aggression of others… There is only one explanation for unforeseen events: the envious black magic of another villager.”

Members of a Hispanic “ghetto” in a community in Colorado “equate success with betrayal of the group.” Whoever works his way up socially and economically is regarded as “a man who has sold himself to the Anglos,” someone “who climbs on the backs of his own people.”[1]

At first glance it may seem that an ideology that argues for a “revolutionary society” would not have much in common with societies that revere stasis and are fearful of change. The Marxist sees himself as being in the progressive vanguard of modern, sophisticated “social science.” But Marxism really is nothing but an atavism, a regression to a primitive tribal mentality.

What Marxists call “exploitation,” the anthropologists call “black magic.”

The Exploitation Theory is the core concept of Marxism, the notion that any income not derived from manual labor is exploited from workers. Marx constructs an elaborate justification for this theory with such concepts as his Principle of Surplus Value (that all capitalist profit is the theft of the workers’ unpaid labor time or surplus value) and the Labor Theory of Value (defining the economic value of a product as the amount of work or labor it took to produce it).

These concepts and definitions were easily shown to be false by economists contemporary with Marx, such as Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, who, in 1884, ridiculed Marx’s “almost incomprehensible error of positing labor as the universal principle of value.”[2]

As anyone who has tried to sell yesterday’s newspaper knows, as anyone with the slightest trace of familiarity with selling anything understands, what something is worth has nothing whatever to do with how much work went into making it. Things are worth what people will pay for them. Economic value is determined by subjective utility in accordance with supply and demand, not by any “objective” criteria.

Marxism was no less absurd, took no less an act of faith to believe in it, in the middle of the 19th century than today. That the conditions of the Industrial Revolution justify the advocacy of socialism and communism is part of Marxist mythology.[3]

The religious obsession of Marxism is based on the envious man’s theory of causality in human affairs: that one can be prosperous and happy only at the expense of others, that one man’s gain necessitates another man’s loss, that for the rich to get richer the poor must get poorer, that wealth is gained only through exploitation.

The Marxist, and all envious people in general, look upon any desired commodity as having a fixed amount, like a pie of a certain size. You can only divide the pie one of only two ways. Either everyone gets the same size slice, or some get bigger slices which necessitates others getting smaller slices, the former unfairly exploiting the latter.

Where did the pie come from, how wealth is created in the first place, how do you make more pies — these are boring issues to the envious who do not want to be faced with the responsibility of creating it themselves, or the unpleasant possibility that they may not have the ability to create as much of it as they would like.

All the envious are concerned with is the distribution of wealth. For the Marxist an unequal distribution is a priori evidence of unjust exploitation which obligates the state to expropriate the exploited wealth.

What makes envy so horribly destructive is that envy is not only malicious — filled with schadenfreude, malicious glee, that the envious feels at, e.g., the sight of some “rich bastard” getting his comeuppance, it is self-malicious.

 

Envy involves the willingness to screw yourself as long as those of whom you are envious are similarly screwed; the willingness to deprive yourself of any increase in happiness or wellbeing, so long as those you are envious of are similarly deprived. By wanting to have the Cadillac of some wealthy SOB taken away from him, you deny yourself the possibility of you ever earning one.

Egalitarian socialism is institutionalized masochism.

In a capitalist society, one is free to emulate, rather than envy. The distinction between envy and emulation was first made by Aristotle.[4]

If somebody has something you would like, in a capitalist society you are free to try and earn it. “Keeping up with the Joneses” is a far more peaceful and productive pursuit than spitefully demanding that Joneses have whatever they possess that you don’t be taken away at police gunpoint.

Besides, when you are free to emulate in a society that doesn’t pander to envy, there is no obligation to keep up with anybody at all and you can make what you want out of your own life.

The motto of a free society is: Live and Let Live. The motto of a communist society is that of Lenin: Kto-Kovo, Russian for “who-whom,” who conquers whom.

As Stalin said, “The fact is, we live according to Lenin’s formula of kto-kovo.”[5]  If the only way to achieve your goals is at someone else’s expense and the only way they can achieve their goals is at your expense, then the only question left is who conquers whom.

Place this perspective in a tribal context in which the individual subordinates his will and identity to that of a tribe and you get class or racial warfare.

Just as Marxism is a primitive way of thinking, recasting envious black magic as exploitation, it is equally atavistic in defining a human being’s identity as a member of a tribe, urban tribes such as the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, racial tribes such as non-whites and white. Class warfare, or the racial warfare of Marxist “identity politics,” is urban tribal warfare, with the Marxists as sorcerers telling the tribesmen they have to fight each other.

The intellectual justification for this tribal mentality is also a regression, namely, back to the worldview of pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus (533-475 B.C.), which was shown to be nonsensical by Aristotle 2,300 years ago.[6]

The metaphysics of Marxism is so bizarre and off-the-wall that your first temptation will be to say, “Oh, come on — no one can actually believe that!”

Yet the following is what every school child in the Soviet Union had, and continues to have in Communist China, drummed into his or her brain as a catechism – and is the unspoken foundation of what “progressive” professors in elite universities drill into their students that turns them into snowflakes today.

The basic tenet of “dialectical materialism,”[7] the philosophy of Marx, Engels and Lenin, is that contradictions not only exist between thoughts and propositions, but also in nature, the material world. The clearest statement is that of Engels:

“Motion itself is a contradiction: even simple mechanical change of position can only come about through a body being at one and the same moment of time both in one place and in another place, being in one and the same place and also not in it. The continuous origination and simultaneous solution of this contradiction is precisely what motion is. Here, therefore, we have a contradiction which is objectively present in things.”[8]

This is a restatement of the famous assertion of Heraclitus that one “cannot step into the same river twice,” because, since it is moving and constantly changing, the second time one steps into it, it is a different river from the first time.

A disciple of Heraclitus, Cratylus, became immortal in the history of philosophy for taking this belief to its logical and practical conclusion. If you cannot step into the same river twice, then, said Cratylus, you cannot step into the same river once: for the river is changing and becoming different during the very act of your stepping in to it.

Cratylus concluded that since reality is in a constant state of flux and nothing ever stays the same, then the meaning of words which allegedly refer to reality must also be changing. He subsequently abandoned language, refused to speak, and communicated with others solely through pointing and gesturing.

One wishes that, if Marxists really believe in what they say, the very least they could do would be to follow Cratylus’s example, and have the courtesy and intellectual integrity to shut up.[9]

But they have not, constructing instead the most elaborate superstructure of convoluted thought since the scholasticism of the High Middle Ages. All the torrent of words that have issued from Marxists since the 19th century all boil down to one justification: that might makes right, the doctrine of fascism.

Marxism’s “solution” to its self-imposed “problem” of the contradiction of change, its explanation of why there is any change or development of anything at all is a fantastic piece of scholastic jugglery Engels called “The Interpenetration of Opposites.”[10]

Sounds pornographic, doesn’t it?  This “dialectical law” is the foundation of Marxist-Communist metaphysics, of how the world, nature, and human activity works – that change in the world consists of contradictory, opposing forces overcoming or being overcome.

Mao Tse-tung, founder of Communist China and greatest mass murderer in human history, was very clear on this.  In the very first line of his 1937 essay, On Contradiction, he cites Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin:

“The law of contradiction in things, that is, the law of the unity of opposites, is the basic law of materialist dialectics. Lenin said, ‘Dialectics in the proper sense is the study of contradiction in the very essence of objects’.” 

So it should be no surprise that whatever politics you get out of this won’t be peaceful or democratic.

Thus, the basic Soviet textbook on Marx’s dogma, The Fundamentals of Marxism Leninism (that was required reading in all Soviet high schools), states:

“Contradictions between social groups or classes whose basic interests are irreconcilable are called antagonistic.  Such are the contradictions between oppressors and oppressed, exploiters and exploited.  In our time this applies above all to the contradictions between the working class and the capitalists.  These will not disappear until the capitalist class has been deprived either by peaceful or non-peaceful means of political power… This can only take place through a socialist revolution.” [11]

As the International Communist Workers Party puts it recently in their publication Red Flag (April 21, 2010):

“Dialectical contradiction is a unity and struggle of opposites, things or processes which are connected, but which interfere with each other and cause change… When contradictions reach a peak of intensity, they are resolved, like the worker-capitalist contradiction, which is resolved by communist revolution.” 

Thus, Marxists and all those on the “Radical Left” to this today, right now, really view our values of individual liberty, freedom of speech, press and religion, the resolution of problems through cooperation, as “bourgeois prejudices,” and therefore invalid. As Marx says in The Communist Manifesto:

“Your bourgeois notions of freedom, culture, law, et cetera, are but the outgrowth of your bourgeois production and bourgeois property.”[12]

But if all morality is class determined, why is one class’s morality better than any other’s? Marx explicitly argued that the bourgeoisie, defined as “the owners of the means of social production and employers of wage-labor,” were themselves at one time “an oppressed class under the sway of the feudal nobility.”

Why is it, then, that when socialism overthrows capitalism, just as capitalism once overthrew feudalism, that when the proletariat becomes the ruling class over the bourgeoisie, the oppressed won’t become the oppressor once again, and the whole cycle begun anew?

The internally fatal flaw in Marx and Engels’ “historical materialism” is, given the mechanism of class struggle, what makes the proletarian class any different from its predecessors? It is just asserted that, once the proletariat gains political power, “the conditions for the existence of class antagonisms, and of classes generally,” will magically — through an act of utter and genuine magic — disappear.

It’s exactly like the famous New Yorker cartoon:

metaphysics-of-marxism
The Marxists tried to get around the problem by claiming that the cycle of negation will come to an end with a transformation of human beings into a new form of human life fundamentally different from all others that preceded it, thus breaking the cycle. Socialism uniquely necessitates the evolution of homo sapiens into an entirely new species of Socialist Man.

In an unintended attempt at black humor, the Fundamentals of Marxism Leninism offers as evidence the “triumph for socialism in the USSR,” as a “conclusive” example and refutation of “Neo-Hegelian tragic dialectics” (that the cycle keeps repeating itself and can’t be broken by a victorious proletariat).[13]

Those who dream of the communist millennium dream of magically transforming people into good little boys and girls who do just as they’re told; into selfless, egoless robots with no dreams or goals or possessions of their own; into faceless, indistinguishable and interchangeable ciphers who recoil with horror at the notion of individual excellence; and whose highest goal is to serve and obey, obeying above all the sacred commandment of Equality: Thou shalt not do or have anything which might cause someone to envy you.

And now for the pièce de résistance, the final unintelligible “dialectical law of nature”: the Law of the Negation of the Negation. I told you that you wouldn’t believe this.

But I am not making all of this up — this really is the heart and soul of the philosophy of Marx, Engels, Lenin and all of their Marxist socialist disciples to this day. In chapter 32 of Das Kapital, entitled Historical Tendency of Capitalist Accumulation, Marx asserts his thesis:

That the last days of capitalism will come when the contradictory opposites of the expropriating giant capitalist enterprises confront the impoverished proletariat, and the latter rise up to burst their chains: “The expropriators are expropriated… Capitalist production begets, with the inexorability of a law of nature, its own negation. It is the negation of negation.”[14]

For Engels, the law of the negation of the negation “is an extremely general and for this reason extremely comprehensive and important, law of development of nature, history and thought, a law which holds good in the animal and plant kingdoms, in geology, in mathematics, in history and philosophy.”

Engels’ famous example is that of the barley plant: “it grows, flowers, is fertilized and finally once more produces grains of barley, and as soon as these have ripened, the stalk dies and in its turn negated. As a result of this negation of the negation we once have again the original grain of barley, but not as a single unit, but 10, 20 or 30-fold.”[15]

This is, of course, awe inspiringly sophomoric. Death may be the “negation,” the absence, the dissolution of life, but not the other way around: life is not the absence of death any more than light is the absence of darkness — it is something positive, not the lack of a lack.

As philosophy professor Henry Babcock Veatch explains:

“Such things as negation and denial pertain only to our intellectual operations and not at all to the real world or the objects intended by our operations.  In this sense, there is simply no negation in reality: the way things are not is certainly not the way they are.”[16]

Unfortunately, it is one of history’s great tragedies that this is not just boring, ivory tower, silly nonsense. For the practical result of the Law of the Negation of Negation is that, for the Marxist, human progress can be achieved only through destruction and violence.  That is the doctrine of Fascism.


 

[1] Examples from the research of various anthropologists compiled by Helmut Schoeck, in Envy: A Theory of Human Behavior, New York: Harcourt Brace, 1969), pp. 46-57.

[2] Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, Capital and Interest, South Holland, Illinois: Libertarian Press, 1959 (translated from the original edition in German published in 1884), Vol. I, p. 302. Bawerk continues: “It is really difficult to understand how scientifically trained men after mature deliberation can maintain a doctrine for which they simply cannot find a shred of logical support”.

[3] The myth is so elegantly exploded by Ludwig von Mises that, if you will excuse my self-indulgence, I would like to quote him at length.

“Marxist authors sketch an idyllic image of conditions as they prevailed on the eve of the industrial revolution. At that time, they tell us, things were, by and large, satisfactory. The peasants were happy. So also were industrial workers under the domestic system. They worked in their own cottages and enjoyed a certain economic independence since they owned a garden plot and their tools. But then ‘the industrial revolution fell like a war or a plague’ on these people. The factory system reduced the free worker to virtual slavery; it lowered his standard of living to the level of bare subsistence; in cramming women and children into the mills it destroyed family life and sapped the very foundations of society, morality, and public health. A small minority of ruthless exploiters had cleverly succeeded in imposing their yoke upon the immense majority.

The truth is that economic conditions were highly unsatisfactory on the eve of the Industrial Revolution. The traditional social system was not elastic enough to provide for the needs of a rapidly increasing population. Neither farming nor the guilds had any use for the additional hands. Business was imbued with the inherited spirit of privilege and exclusive monopoly; its philosophy was restriction and the prohibition of competition both domestic and foreign.

That the factories could thrive in spite of all these hindrances was due to two reasons. First, there were the teachings of the new social philosophy by the economists. They demolished the prestige of mercantilism, paternalism, and restrictionism. They exploded the superstitious belief that labor-saving devices and processes cause unemployment and reduce all people to poverty and decay. The laissez-faire economists were the pioneers of the unprecedented technological achievements of the last 200 years.

[4] . “Emulation (zelos) makes us takes steps to secure good things.  Envy (pthonos) makes us take steps to stop our neighbor from having them.”  Rhetoric, II, 10 (1138a35).  Here, Aristotle is making clear Hesiod’s difference between Good and Bad Strife (eris) – see the Hesiod quote at the start of this book.

[5]. “The right deviation in the CPSU,” Report to the Plenum of the Central Control Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, April 1929, Works of Joseph Stalin, Moscow Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1955, Vol. 12, p. 40. Note that “kovo” is often transliterated from the Russian as “kogo,” but it is pronounced ko-vo.

[6] . Metaphysics VI, 3-8. Cratylus is mentioned at 1010a12.

[7] . The term “dialectical materialism” was coined by the founder of Russian Marxism and the Mensheviks Party, Georgi Plekhanov, in 1891, as compromising the philosophical worldview of Marxism. The portion of it that applies to human society in particular Engels called “historical materialism.”

[8] . Frederick Engels, Anti-Düring, Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1962, p. 166. From the original written in 1877.

[9] . It was Aristotle who first formally codified the “Principle of Non-Contradiction”. “It is impossible for the same attribute at once to belong and not to belong to the same thing and in the same relation” (Metaphysics 1005b20). For Aristotle, it is one thing for Engels, or Marx, or any cocktail party leftist to say that reality is contradictory, that the same thing is and is not, and quite another to act in accordance with one’s professed beliefs.
“Hence, it is quite evident,” observed Aristotle, “that no one who professes this theory really does believe it. Otherwise, why does such a man walk to Megara and not stay home when he thinks he ought to make the journey? Why does he not walk early one morning into a well or ravine, if he comes to it, instead of clearly guarding against doing so – thus showing that he does not think that it is equally good and not good to fall in?” (Metaphysics 1008b13–19)

[10] . Engels entitled his Second Law of Dialectics “The Interpenetration of Opposites” or “The Law of the Unity and Struggle of Opposites” in his 1883 notes on Dialectics of Nature (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1976).  He described it in Anti-Düring, that everything in nature and human activity “is every moment the same and not the same… these opposites are as inseparable as they are opposed and that despite all their opposition, they mutually interpenetrate” (op. cit. pp.35-36).

[11] . O.V. Kuusinen, et al, Fundamentals of Marxism-Leninism, Moscow Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1963, page 81.

[12] . Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto, Chicago: Regnery, 1954, p. 47 (from the original in 1848).

[13] . Op. cit., p. 83.

[14] . Karl Marx, Kapital, Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1958, Vol. I, p. 763.

[15]  Engels, op. cit, pp. 193 and 187.

[16] . Henry Babcock Veatch, Intentional Logic: A Logic Based on Philosophical Realism, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1970, p. 257.