Tag Archives: Marxism

Reason is always a kind of brute force; those who appeal to the head rather than the heart, however pallid and polite, are necessarily men of violence. We speak of ‘touching’ a man’s heart, but we can do nothing to his head but hit it… G. K. Chesterton

Writing about Tolstoy in 1903 Chesterton may have isolated the difference between the merely intelligent – however intelligent [or well credentialed which is something entirely different] they may proclaimed by themselves or their adherents – and the wise. The truth is that Tolstoy, with his immense genius, with his colossal faith, with his vast fearlessness and vast knowledge of life, is deficient in one faculty and one faculty alone. He is not a mystic; and therefore he has a tendency to go mad. Men talk of the extravagances and frenzies that have been produced by mysticism; they are a mere drop in the bucket. In the main, and from the beginning of time, mysticism has kept men sane. The thing that has driven them mad was logic. …The only thing that has kept the race of men from the mad extremes of the convent and the pirate-galley, the night-club and the lethal chamber, has been mysticism — the belief that logic is misleading, and that things are not what they seem.

And by mysticism we are not talking about embracing the irrational – all the way from the belief that we slipped out of the ooze and are destined to evolve into some sort of superlative creature that will have dominion over the farthest galaxies to the belief that some sort of superlative creatures from the farthest galaxies catapulted some flotsam or jetsam onto our tiny planet and we are the result of their largess or carelessness.  Finally neither this nor the pseudoscience promoted by Wilson, a true heir of the enlightenment, recognizes the reality that both the beginning and end of knowledge requires belief. We are blessed in being able to substantiate our belief by observation of the natural order and by the observation of our own behavior and twice blessed in the regulation of that behavior to our own highest and best ends. Put very simply it is easy to have a history of philosophy but it is not possible to have a philosophy of history – most recently Marxism attempted the latter and it has not worked out well!

Consilience: the unity of knowledge New York: Knopf: Distributed by Random House, 1998 Edward O. Wilson Philosophy, Order (Philosophy)Philosophy and science Hardcover. 332 p.: ill.; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 299-319) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

In this book, the American biologist Edward O. Wilson argues for the fundamental unity of all knowledge and the need to search for consilience – the proof that everything in our world is organized in terms of a small number of fundamental natural laws that comprise the principles underlying every branch of learning.

Professor Wilson, the pioneer of sociobiology and biodiversity, now once again breaks out of the conventions of current thinking. He shows how and why our explosive rise in intellectual mastery of the truths of our universe has its roots in the ancient Greek concept of an intrinsic orderliness that governs our cosmos and the human species – a vision that found its apogee in the Age of Enlightenment, then gradually was lost in the increasing fragmentation and specialization of knowledge in the last two centuries.

Drawing on the physical sciences and biology, anthropology, psychology, religion, philosophy, and the arts, Professor Wilson shows why the goals of the original Enlightenment are surging back to life, why they are reappearing on the very frontiers of science and humanistic scholarship, and how they are beginning to sketch themselves as the blueprint of our world as it most profoundly, elegantly, and excitingly is.

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Comments Off on Reason is always a kind of brute force; those who appeal to the head rather than the heart, however pallid and polite, are necessarily men of violence. We speak of ‘touching’ a man’s heart, but we can do nothing to his head but hit it… G. K. Chesterton

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A communist is someone who reads Marx and Lenin. An anti-communist is someone who understands Marx and Lenin.

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Shore conveys something of the tragedy of Poland and much of Europe during the 20th century. Just as Poland would suffer the worst depredations of both Nazi and Soviet socialism so to would most of the European continent. And the nightmare has by no means ended as the same failed policies are attempted today under the guise of Christian socialism – or, since all things Christian are being done away with, as pan Europeanism or whatever title they want to give it this week.

The fundamental flaw in Shore’s work is in her assumption that Grydzewski and those like him were intellectuals. They were credentialed to be sure but for the most part they were educated fools. Like the characters in Dr. Johnson’s The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia, the were long on improvement and short on practical. There were true Polish intellectuals in the 20th century and we think especially of Stefan Wyszynski who passed his mantel to Karol Józef Wojtyła the first of whom stood up to Stalinism and the second of whom broke the grip of the Soviets in Eastern Europe. These are the men to study!

Caviar and ashes : a Warsaw generation’s life and death in Marxism, 1918-1968 New Haven : Yale University Press, c 2006 Marci Shore Communism Poland History 20th century Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. xxii, 457 p. : ill. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 379-446) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG 

“In the elegant capital city of Warsaw, the editor Mieczyslaw Grydzewski would come with his two dachshunds to a cafe; called Ziemianska.” Thus begins the history of a generation of Polish literati born at the fin de siècle. They sat in Cafe Ziemianska and believed that the world moved on what they said there. Caviar and Ashes tells the story of the young avant-gardists of the early 1920s who became the radical Marxists of the late 1920s. They made the choice for Marxism before Stalinism, before socialist realism, before Marxism meant the imposition of Soviet communism in Poland. It ended tragically.

Marci Shore begins with this generation’s coming of age after the First World War and narrates a half-century-long journey through futurist manifestos and proletarian poetry, Stalinist terror and Nazi genocide, a journey from the literary cafes to the cells of prisons and the corridors of power. Using newly available archival materials from Poland and Russia, as well as from Ukraine and Israel, Shore explores what it meant to live Marxism as a European, an East European, and an intellectual in the twentieth century.

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Comments Off on A communist is someone who reads Marx and Lenin. An anti-communist is someone who understands Marx and Lenin.

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The state is nothing but an instrument of opression of one class by another – no less so in a democratic republic than in a monarchy. Friedrich Engels

The Buddha may have spent his life in search of compassion just a Confucius may have spent his in search of wisdom. Moses may have been chosen by God as the law giver just as the prophets may have been sent to prepare the way for the Lord. What all of these wise and holy men have in common is their humanity which is to say that whatever steps they took in search of virtue they never completely arrived. There is only one begotten Son of God and it is only through the contemplation of His word – and reducing that contemplation into act [however imperfect] – that we may seek to emulate their example and travel our own path towards salvation.

We should not be surprised in a world that has reduced religious truth to equivocation at best and downright blasphemy in many instances that the works of men like Marx and Engels are placed on par with the Word.  Tragically some attempt to conflate the two in the name of social justice or – as in the case of this biography – attempt to legitimize the all too human author.

The rules of formal criticism require that you separate all the accidents of time, place and circumstance in considering a work and thus someone who is an axe murderer, an adulterer and who always takes the last cookie may be adjudged a great author. The common sense of our existence seems to dictate that if you walk though a cesspit your shoes are going to get dirty and if you give yourself up to authors of blasphemy you may become a blasphemer. 

 

Marx’s general : the revolutionary life of  Friedrich Engels    New York : Metropolitan Books,  2009  Tristram Hunt Engels, Friedrich,  1820-1895 Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. xii,  430 p., [16] p. of plates : ill., ports. ; 25 cm.  Includes bibliographical references (p. [369]-410)  and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with  clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or  marginalia in text. VG/VG

A remarkable new biography from one of  Britain’s leading young historians that recovers  the co-founder of communism from the shadows of  history, portraying how one of the great “bon  viveurs” of Victorian Britain reconciled his  exuberant personal life with his radical political  philosophy.

Though The Communist Manifesto credits Friedrich Engels as its co-author, it was Karl Marx who gave his name to the creed that swept the world. Yet without Engels, Marxism would have been impossible. For forty years Engels supported Marx personally and financially, enduring a loathed existence as a textile magnate to give his friend the freedom to write. It was Engels’s firsthand knowledge of slums and factory conditions that underpinned Communist doctrine; it was his grasp of global capitalism that made its way into Das Kapital. And, after Marx’s death, it was Engels’s work that set the stage for the political theories of the USSR.

Drawing on a wealth of letters and archives, renowned historian Tristram Hunt reclaims the intellectual legacy of one of the greatest social commentators, and details a life of extraordinary contradiction: the capitalist mill owner who urged the dictatorship of the proletariat; the incendiary radical who concealed scandalizing love affairs behind a façade of bourgeois respectability. An epic tale of devoted friendship, ideological struggle, and family heartbreak, Marx’s General restores to full importance this major historical figure.

Comments Off on The state is nothing but an instrument of opression of one class by another – no less so in a democratic republic than in a monarchy. Friedrich Engels

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