Sunday, October 19, 2008

Anti-Anti-Communists

In a recent op-ed by Paul Kengor titled "Why Obama's Communist Connections Are Not Headlines", the author states:
There's a lot of frustration among conservatives over how Barack Obama's radical past seems to be making no impact whatsoever among the American public. His connection to communists in particular, from communist-terrorists like Bill Ayers to the communist agitator-journalist Frank Marshall Davis to fellow travelers like Saul Alinsky, has simply failed to resonate beyond the political right. Quite the contrary, the more information that becomes available on Obama's radical associations, the more he seems to widen his lead over John McCain, a man who was tortured by communists in Vietnam.
Although Kengor is absolutely right in expressing frustration and confusion over the lack of public outrage and hostility to Communism, he does not understand the root cause of this fact.
I have seen for quite some time that although we won the Cold War -- and defeated the Soviet communist empire -- America is vulnerable to varying degrees of collectivism, wealth redistribution, "creeping socialism" (Ronald Reagan's phrase), class-warfare rhetoric, and generally milder, more palatable (but still dangerous) forms of disguised Marxism. Why? How? The answer is simple: The history and truth about communism is not taught by our educators.

Although he is right that lack of education is critical, this fact is a symptom of the underlying problem not the primary cause. He does make the following observation in regard to the Leftist academics' reaction to his lectures in which he cites historical facts regarding the mass murder and atrocities commited by communists.
These professors glare at me as if the ghost of Joe McCarthy has flown into the room and leapt inside of my body. In fact, that's the essence of their criticism: It is not so much that these professors approve of communism as much as they disapprove of -- actually, utterly despise -- anti-communism. They are anti-anti-communist more so than pro-communist. Conservatives need to understand this, so as to avoid broad-brushing and losing credibility. Sure, a lot of professors are Marxists, and many more share the utopian goals of Marxism, but the vast majority are simply leftists.

Being on the left entails many strange contradictions and political pathologies, one of which is this bizarre revulsion toward anti-communists. These leftists -- to their credit -- despise fascism, and will preach anti-fascism until they're blue in the face. They are as appalled by fascism as conservatives are by communism. But while conservatives detest both communism and fascism, liberals only detest one of the two.

Keep in mind, that the Left is not opposed to murder, torture and repression. They are opposed to murder, torture, and repression for the wrong reasons by the wrong people. Properly, both fascism and communism should be understood and rejected as being two variants of the same underlying philosophy of collectivism. That is, both fascism and communism deny individual rights and subjugate the individual to the group. Under Hitler's version of fascism, the group was based on race. Under communism, the group is based on class. (In a theocracy, the individual is subjugated to God.) The methods of fascism might be marginally different in that there are nominal property rights although this is meaningless as the state reserves the right to tell you what to do with it. Under communism, the idea of property rights are overtly rejected. However, these details are insignificant considering both ideologies endorse the wholesale abrogation of individual freedom which in practice has led to death and misery on an unprecedented scale (over one hundred million in the 20th century) through "its purges, mass famines, show trials, killing fields, concentration camps" as Kengor points out.

However, the Left does not oppose this outcome per se. They reject fascism because they connect its underlying philosophy to racism which they rightly oppose. Importantly, they do not oppose fascism because it denies individual freedom and/or property rights nor do they uphold individual freedom or property rights. Communism rejects private property and free markets based upon Marx's economic theories which hold that capitalism is necessarily exploitative to workers or the proletariat - a theory entirely accepted by the academic left. They do not accept that rejection of individual rights contradicts man's fundamental nature which necessitates freedom in order to live properly nor do they see the connection between this fact and the historical fact that, in practice, communism leads to chaos, oppression and death. In their view, communism is well-intentioned. They take the morality of altruism or self-sacrifice seriously. If a few hundred million people need to be killed to obtain a utopia then so be it.

The more modern twist on this phenonmena is the idea that these Leftists are more opposed to anti-communists than they are in favor of actual communism. As Kengor states, they are in a sense "anti-anti communists." They save their most vitriolic attacks for those who overtly oppose communism on principle and dismiss them as right wing wackos or smear them as McCarthyites. This has to do with modern philosophy's attack on reason and therefore any philosophic system that leads to some purported political conclusion. In other words, modern philosophy has taught these intellectuals that there are no black and whites and that no one can known anything for sure. Therefore, in their mind, the idea of a systematic, logical refutation of communism could only be undertaken by uneducated rubes unaware of the nuances of the modern dialectic.

One might ask, if they reject philosophic systems and therefore ideology as such, then how can they endorse communism? Well, they do not endorse any specific system. However, very few take their ideological void to its logical conclusion and sit in a white rubber room all day. By default, they accept the cultures prevailing ethos that altruism or self sacrifice is morally virtuous and extend this politically by upholding the redistribution of wealth from rich to poor which they deem to be a form of "social justice." Therefore, to them, any system which undertakes to affect such an outcome is an end which justifies the means - even if it entails violence which any theft must. If that system is communism than so be it. If the system is a mixed economy as exists in America currently then so be it. The modern leftist does not agitate for a particular "system" only political outcomes which are consistent with their desire to redistribute wealth from rich to poor. So, in combining sympathy with the underlying premises of communism with hostility to the notion that any ideology is truly valid, we obtain a pathetically modern perversion: the anti-anti-communist. The antidote is a philosophy that is overtly and boldly pro-reason, pro-individual rights, and pro-capitalism.

4 comments:

madmax said...

I think that Leftists oppose fascism primarily because it is non-egalitarian. The Left is totally dominated by the egalitarian form of altruism. Fascism was a form of collectivism that preached that one race or ethnicity or nation was *superior* than every other and should rule. While this is collectivism to be sure, that is not its sin for a Leftist. Its sin is that it is a non-egalitarian form of collectivism.

I think the philosophical father of the Left is Rousseau. Kant gave the egalitarians the tools they would need to attack all people that would oppose them on principle. He paved the way for the destruction of principles. As a result, today's Leftists hate anyone who opposes egalitarianism, and that includes both genuine racists and individualists which they lump under the same umbrella. Mention Ayn Rand's name on any Leftist website and be prepared for ridicule and being labeled a "fascist." I should be used to it by now, but it always gets under my skin.

Anonymous said...

if leftists are against fascism, wouldn't voting for the bailout of private companies/banks be a contradiction of this?

Beth said...

Thank you for the analysis of anti-anti-communists. I think this will be helpful in better understanding people I generally regard as well-intentioned but misguided. The comment about egalitarianism is also spot on. Many modern liberals elevate equality over individual rights. Making equality the essence of fairness (i.e. justice) allows them to justify the use of government coercion against individual liberty and private property. Equality has become the central value, not an individual’s self-ownership. What is missed is that egalitarianism contains a fatal contradiction: saving the individual through sacrifice of the individual.

Beth Haynes
http://wealthisnottheproblem.blogspot.com/

Doug Reich said...

Thanks for the great comments. I am going to address some of these points in a follow up post.