Sunday, August 25, 2013

Nazis vs. Communists

I have been studying a lot of Soviet ideology stuff lately, and so I bought a book about Bolshevism by a German named Heinrich Härtle.  It is a reprint from the University of California Libraries, and I bought it because it was one of the few German-language books I could find on the subject.  Having no idea of the contents, I took a small risk on a very inexpensive book.

Well, after reading a fair amount of the book, I started getting a strange vibe about it.  After what seemed to be a competent explanation of certain Bolshevik and Marxist beliefs followed by fairly decent criticisms, he would go on to say things like, “This is typical of Jewish intellectuals.”  It seemed as if the author was a bit obsessed with race.  I looked at the publication date—1944.  No way!  This book was written by a straight-up Nazi during WWII!

I did some research on the author and it turns out that he was one of the most important intellectual Nazi ideologues.  He was member #60,398 of the Nazi Party.   In 1928 he joined the Sturmabteilung (Brownshirts), and in 1942 he became a Sturmbannführer in the SA (equivalent to a Major).  He played an important role in linking Nietzsche ideologically to National Socialism.

It is fascinating to witness this ideological war between the Nazis and the Communists.  Both had one thing in common:  They both saw people first and foremost as members of groups rather than as individuals.  For the Communists, it was all about in which of the warring classes one found oneself.  For the Nazis, it was all about one’s racial identity.

Härtle berates the Marxists for thinking that class identity can produce a true culture.  Only racial identity can produce a true culture.

A couple of choice quotations that I have selected:

This one I think has a ring of truth to it:  “Since ‘Bolschevism’ doesn’t always sound sufficiently scientific, they increasingly adopted the very learned-appearing name of ‘Dialectical Materialism.’  In the USSR, this name is supposed to play the role that the scholastic philosophy—Thomism—plays in the theology of the churches.  Dialectical Materialism became the theology of Marxism, the ruling fundamental concept of research as well as teaching, of the university as well as the academy, of the institutes and the libraries.”

But then things get serious:  “Marx displays the following entirely typical Jewish traits:  First, the instinct toward economic activity; second, a parasitic-plagiaristic foundation; and third, the destructive and annihilating effect on non-Jewish people.”

Further:  “Only the racial investigation solves the final riddles of this unholy development [Marxism].  […]  Jewish is the parasitic exploitation of the intellectual achievement of others, and Jewish is the intellectual misrepresentation of original discoveries.”

“When we briefly confront, in the following, the main thesis of his [Marx’s] theory, it is not in order to refute Marx ‘scientifically,’ which presupposes to take him scientifically seriously, but rather to characterize him as a Jewish intellect.”

And it goes on.  National Socialism vs. Communism!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Appeal of Communism

Why was Soviet communism so popular among the elites in the West, in spite of its dismal record of ruined economies and murdered masses?  J. M. Bochenski argued that it was precisely its dogmatism and confidence in opposition to the relativism and skepticism of the West that attracted many disillusioned Westerners to its creed.  It also made appeal to a heroic ethic, in which good inevitably triumphs over evil.  These appeals are clearly illustrated in the following passage (that I have attempted to translate as accurately as possible) from Grundlagen des Marxismus-Leninismus from 1960, which was a German translation used in East Germany of the official book published by the Soviet Union, the purpose of which was to lay out the fundamental ideas of Marxism-Leninism.  This passage comes from the Introduction:

“While faith in Man and the destiny of civilization lies in a hopeless crisis in the bourgeois ideology of the West, the Marxist-Leninist worldview awakens in us the passion to engage in a noble battle for high social ideals.

Everyone who adopts this worldview will not only be deeply convinced that the cause of the workers is just, but also that the victory of socialism across the entire world is historically necessary.  Armed with the worldview of Marxism-Leninism, you become strong, politically steadfast, and principled.  You win an unshakeable conviction that gives you the strength to overcome any challenge.

Millions of people across the globe have already drawn the high ideals for their behavior, as well as the necessary energy for their realization, from the inexhaustible well of Marxism-Leninism.

Is it worthy for a modern, thinking person to live without a progressive worldview, or to content himself with the beggar’s soup of inferior pseudo-worldviews?

It is decidedly better to strive for a mastery of the fundamentals of the Marxist-Leninist worldview so that you may develop intellectually and emerge victorious in the battle against the imperialist enemies of humanity.”

The original German:

“Während in der bürgerlichen Ideologie des Westens der Glaube an den Menschen und an das Geschick der Zivilisation in einer hoffnungslosen Krise liegt, weckt die marxistisch-leninistische Weltanschauung in den Menschen das Streben nach edlem Kampf für hohe soziale Ideale.

Jeder, der sich diese Weltanschauung zu eigen macht, wird nicht nur zutiefst davon überzeugt, daβ die Sache der Arbeiter gerecht ist, sondern auch davon, daβ der Sieg des Sozialismus in der ganzen Welt historisch notwendig ist.  Mit der Weltanschauung des Marxismus-Leninismus ausgerüstet, wird der Mensch stark, politisch standhaft und prinzipienfest.  Er erwirbt eine unerschütterliche Überzeugung, die ihm die Kraft verleiht, jegliche Prüfungen zu bestehen.

Millionen Menschen auf dem Erdball haben bereits aus dem unerschöpflichen Quell des Marxismus-Leninismus die hohen Ideale ihres Handelns und die für deren Verwirklichung notwendige Energie geschöpft.

Ist es eines modernen, denkenden Menschen würdig, ohne fortschrittliche Weltanschauung zu leben oder sich mit den geistigen Bettelsuppen minderwertiger Pseudoweltanschauungen zu begnügen?

Es ist entschieden besser, sich um die Aneignung der Grundlagen der marxistisch-leninistischen Weltanschauung zu mühen, um geistig zu wachsen und die imperialistischen Menschheitsfeinde im Kampf zu besiegen.”

Friday, August 16, 2013

Ride Before You Die!

Ever since I survived leukemia, I've been droppin' the hammer on these freaking motorcycles, smoking pipes, lettin' 'er rip, rip-rock flashin', and eating all kinds of whatever. A close brush with mortality can be so liberating in so many ways. Is riding this bike gonna kill a righteous bro? Eating this, drinking that, and smoking this going to give me cancer? Been there, done that, loser! My date with destiny is fixed, and I've never felt better. Fists in the wind, my friend! Don't you know? We must ride before we die!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Soviet-Russian Dialectical Materialism

During my recent trip through Europe, I studied J. M. Bochenski’s Der Sowjet-russische dialektische Materialismus.  If you are interested in worldviews in general and Marxism-Leninism in particular, check out my summary here.

For the Soviet Marxist-Leninists, politics was not sufficient.  In order for a revolutionary political movement to be successful, it had to have a metaphysic.  Although I am on the complete opposite end of the political spectrum as the communists, I agree with them about the following proposition:  A metaphysical worldview is of essential importance to live an authentically human life, to have a basis for one’s views, and to provide meaning to one’s life.  They were right about all of this.  So what was the worldview that they chose?

It is important to emphasize how crucial Dialectical Materialism (DM) was for the Marxist-Leninists.  For them, it was essential—one could not truly be a Marxist-Leninist without adopting DM.  The Soviet ideologues never ceased to emphasize its importance.

The influences for DM were Hegel (developed the idea of a dialectical movement of history), Feuerbach (took Hegel’s notion of the spiritual nature of reality and flipped it into a material one), Marx (developed the idea of Historical Materialism, in which history has a necessary and inevitable development through time), Engels (developed DM as a metaphysical explanation of Marx’s Historical Materialism), Lenin (developed Engels’ ideas and emphasized the importance of the rejection of God’s existence and religion for the sake of revolution), and the scientific materialism beginning with the French philosophes and carrying through Darwin’s work and the mechanistic materialistic determinists of all stripes.

DM possesses the following traits:  It is Realist (affirms the existence of a real world outside our consciousness that in no way depends on consciousness for its reality), Rationalist (the world is theoretically knowable in all of its particulars), Materialist (affirms that matter is the ultimate reality), Evolutionist (accepts Darwin’s theory and affirms that reality is constantly evolving in general), Optimistic (reality is evolving in a positive direction), and Dialectical (the universe evolves through a series of “leaps” to ever higher degrees of reality).

On Materialism:  DM affirms that mind depends entirely on matter, but that mind, being a “product” or “process” of matter, is not merely matter.  To assert that mind is merely matter is to be a “vulgar materialist” in the eyes of the DMers.  Also, there is no afterlife, all human behavior is causally determined (there is no free will), there is no God or Gods, there are no supernatural forces or powers of any kind.  The universe is uncreated and infinite in both time and space.

On the Dialectic:  Through a process of development, a “thesis” (a particular state of affairs) gives rise to an “anti-thesis” (a “contradicting” state of affairs), and the conflict between the two creates a “synthesis” (a new reality that encompasses the best of both previous states of affairs and brings about a new one).  As quantitative developments accumulate, they produce a qualitative “leap” that brings about a previously non-existent state of affairs.  Examples of such qualitative developments are life, consciousness, animals, and man.  Man is the highest state of metaphysical development in existence, and can therefore be seen as the highest order of being that exists.

Bochenski identifies the following as praiseworthy in the theory:  He appreciates that DM affirms Realism and Rationalism, in contradistinction to the fuzziness of Idealism (the idea that no reality exists outside of consciousness) and the lazy lack of disciplined thought that produces both Relativism (the idea that there are no absolute truths or standards) and Skepticism (the idea that nothing can be known).  DM also rejects a categorical Monism (the idea that there is only one kind of thing) by its tweaking of classical Monist Materialism (which does not recognize the existence of mind).  He agrees with its claim that our bodies and minds affect each other, and that our environment—including our economic environment—affects the way our minds work, although DM overemphasizes this.

He finds the following to be seriously problematic:  DM emphasizes reason and rationality in the metaphysical sphere, but also emphasizes that one must believe DM on the basis of succeeding with a revolutionary political movement, thereby simultaneously emphasizing Pragmatism, the opposite of Rationalism.  Also, DM recognizes a series of qualitatively different realities, which is in deep theoretical conflict with its Materialism, which is supposed to assert that only matter exists (this is the fundamental conflict that develops when uniting Materialism with Hegel’s Dialectical Idealism).  Finally, although Marxism-Leninism is obsessed with moral obligations (one must serve the proletariat, capitalism is evil, etc.), DM provides no basis for objective ethics in any way, producing an internal conflict between moral demands and the lack of any basis for them.  Finally, the Dialectic makes no sense, since true contradictions can’t exist by logical law, and if the “contradictions” are understood in any other way than in the sense of true logical contradictions, then the problem is solved at the expense of making DM’s claims about contradictions trivially and uninterestingly true.

If DM has intellectual problems, why were so many attracted to it?  He identifies the following:  The moral appeal of Communism leads people to accept whatever metaphysical basis is given to it, since it is Communism’s moral appeal that is really doing the work, rather than any persuasive arguments for DM.  Also, DM gives people a sense of meaning in life—by contributing to the forward march of the universe and history, one connects oneself to the movement of the deepest reality of the universe.  Additionally, DM appeals to us by virtue of its “heroic ethic”—Man, alone in a godless reality, tragically strives to improve the condition of Humanity in the face of an uncaring universe.

My thoughts on DM:  I find DM to be an amazing and creative worldview that understandably appealed to people.  I believe that no consistently atheistic and anti-supernatural worldview has ever been more successful in offering humans a story in which their lives could have a transcendental meaning, thereby motivating humans to live with passion and energy.  At the same time, I believe that DM is ultimately false, and that that is the ultimate standard by which we should judge it.  I am of the opinion that any worldview that categorically rejects any transcendental reality (as DM explicitly does) is going to have an ultimately impossible time of explaining from where absolute moral obligations originate.  I am convinced that there are, in fact, such things as absolute moral obligations (a good example being, “Don’t rape children solely for the sake of your own sexual pleasure”).  Since DM can’t provide a convincing foundation for such claims, I am forced to reject it.  In spite of that, DM is certainly worth studying and reflecting upon, since it offers many thought-provoking ideas that can help a person to come ever closer to the Truth about what the universe is and how it works.