Chomsky is an example of someone who uses language instrumentally-- in order to provoke certain behaviors (bashing "fascists" in this case) from other people. He is an ideologue, and very likely a crypto-marxist. If blood in the streets isn't his ultimate goal, he should KNOW BETTER than to dehumanize his political opponents1.
I don't use the term crypto-marxist lightly. It isn't just how I call out someone who naively believes in an unworkable economic system. It refers to a pernicious kind of ideologue, one who doesn't take the more violent passages in Marx's manifesto as just a prophesy, but as, let's say, a call to action.
Communism is fucked anyway. It's pernicious, I'd go so far as to say evil2.
What's so horrible is that nobody knows this. Intoxicated on it, so many intellectuals easily overlook its terrible consequences, or say any system that plays out to its logical end under it wasn't real communism. These people have tenure at the university level, and they're in the administration everywhere else, and they write all the textbooks, they're the ones called by the news media to comment on shit, so unsurprisingly, communist atrocities are greatly downplayed in our education system. An utter society-wide failure-- the point of public schools isn't to teach, or to preserve knowledge for future generations, or really even to provide industry with competent laborers3. It's meant to promote an agenda. Gives me conniptions.
The video below is a particularly egregious example. Nevermind that we've SEEN what Marxism does. They don't even give warnings about what can go wrong... If I really believed in Communism, I'd maybe try to learn from history, derive some advice-- "plan your economies carefully, take incentives into account" or maybe "Set up a system of laws that makes the authorities accountable for their actions" They aren't even trying to bring Communism about in a way that might actually not lead to a murderous nightmare state (on the... what are we up to... 5th try? We've got Russia, China, Cambodia, East Germany, North Korea, Vietnam. And that's just what I could remember offhand.). They just implore the youth to try-try again.
There's a saying floating around that if you can't understand why someone does something that seems irrational, look at the outcome of their actions and work backwards. You heard right. This calm, vaguely European-accented gentleman just implored you to become a murderer. It may sound crazy, but if someone were calmly explaining Nazi ideology, or all the good things Hitler did for the German economy and the arts, you wouldn't be so dismissive. I know the Nazis were motivated by hatred, but remember the death counts... Racism is this civilization's most grievous sin, so Nazis are naturally remembered more sorely. It's probably a good thing that we have this bias, God knows it's not a natural part of our temperament. But here's the rub-- you can't just dismiss what Stalin et. al. did as "not real communism." If nothing else, the sheer scale of things has to be worth accounting for. We're talking about a 30-to-1 kill ratio!
To most people, indoctrinated as we are by public schooling, Communism looks like this kind of cuddly thing, a fuzzy little demon that only wants to make life more "fair," to counteract human suffering. And if that's really all it was, I honestly believe that it would not have had the horrible crushing consequences it did. It may have led to a famine or two, embarrassed some intellectuals, but that's all.
Communism has teeth, though. For every sentence in Marx's manifesto describing the coming "inevitable" egalitarian utopia, there's at least one line of invective directed at the bourgeoise, or at least a passive prediction of their death at the hands of their oppressees. If this weren't the case, he wouldn't have had to invent a new term to describe them. (well, he would've done that anyway, seeing as he was imitating scientists of the day-- "See, guys! I'm coining new terms! I'm just as much of an intellectual as Newton!") At its base, Communism might appeal to compassionate open-minded people. I'm sure that's a massive cohort. But there's a resentful sentiment that runs parallel. I'm sure that resentment motivates just as many if not more Marxist adherents than the utopian image. It's not the poor that this particular hook works its way into-- it's the not-quite-rich. Like Marx himself.
I understand resentment, in a far deeper way than I'd like to. When you're denied something you think you're entitled to, it really fucks you up. You hate the haves-- people who don't have to suffer, or watch their life get squandered in menial labor, even people who can just have fun. It's not about getting into the upper-crust, or joining some predestined elect-- it's about destroying the very structure that you feel has failed you. It's about reducing others so they no longer remind you of what you don't have... of what you are not.
I don't know what it is that gives rise to this kind of resentment exactly. I suspect it has to do with what kind of people you compare yourself to. Third world migrants peg their status in relation to their goatherd brothers back home. They never feel resentment towards the rich when they arrive in the west. They're just impressed with the possibilities. The rich are not people they consider their peers... They're something entirely different. Gods? Eh, maybe that's taking it a bit too far. Probably something like untouchable, majestic animals. Something beyond your reach or understanding. You can never hope to touch that power, but you don't feel bad about it because nobody else in your community can either. It's not a failure that you don't have it.
The local poor, however, especially in the west, consider themselves temporarily embarrassed millionaires4. This is a terrible thing to tell people who lack the real wherewithal-- not just the luck, or even the emotional drive, but the inborn temperament-- to really make it. "You could have it all! You still can have it all!" But what about when their nth enterprise fails? What if they can't get funding, or even a job because they can't really do the work?
The answer is resentment. If there's enough resentful people, it leads to instability. If there's enough instability, it destroys everything.
Communism true nature Pt.2
This is the true goal of Marxist doctrine. Marx came from an upper-class family, he had ancestors who were wealthy, but he was poor. He had to work. Oh, he had friends, he had connections. He was by no means unfortunate, in the vast scheme of things, but the relative differential between him and the people he considered his "peers" was too much to bear. They got to pursue their intellectual interests without having to worry about money. They could wake up, cash a check from their parents, and spend the rest of the day in pursuit of idle art or useless study. He considered himself a temporarily embarrassed bohemian. That comes to the fore in his writing. He resented having to work, he had a destiny that reality was denying him. And all along, you just get to watch those rich assholes that had it all. In the deep throes of it, you can even begin to ascribe sinister motives... "They hate me, they love feeling superior to me, they want to see me squirm!" The truth is they probably don't think about you at all5. And that's what will drive you crazy.
Marx wasn't predicting the violent overthrow of the Bourgeois. He was fantasizing about it. And he wrote an elaborate fanfiction to that effect which has influenced millions.
And I think to some degree that's what makes his work so appealing. It has the humane garb of western values-- equality, selflessness, but through positing it as inevitable, it also gives de-facto permission to commit atrocities. It has doctrines that seem tailor made to let those in power commit atrocities without having to claim responsibility... For example, it says that those who we call "criminals" are unfairly oppressed, only laid low by their inimical relationship to the powers that be. Through the indisputable wisdom of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend", it puts them in charge of meting out justice. If they do a good job, if they're fair and level-headed hey, they were unfairly oppressed, of course they had potential that was being squandered! But if they play out their sociopathic tendencies, it's because the bourgeoise created the monster that ate them.
These things only sound crazy if you're not emotionally hooked by the ideology. But if you're ideologically possessed, your ego isn't in control anyway. It's just furiously following along, trying to make sense of everything, trying to extract meaning from the situation in a way that doesn't conflict with your other nominal beliefs. In reality, your ego has no idea what's going on while your hindbrain is already fantasizing about the glorious bloodshed to come. It doesn't want anything to interfere. It doesn't want your ego, your conscience6, the thing which tries to organize your soul, to point out to you that the things you want in the moment will haunt you later. It doesn't want to take responsibility-- that's a problem for "tomorrow you," assuming tomorrow ever comes.
This is why Noam being a marxist is so appalling. I could tolerate the dodgy use of language, the lies of omission (omitting like 50% of relevant human history sometimes), even his pandering to disaffected Gen-Xers in service of propaganda. What I really can't take is the idea that a lot of young people espouse that Marxism, while it may not be workable in fact, is a noble goal. Marxists are good people who got confused. Absolutely NOT! I want to make this extremely clear: The main reason to object to marxism IS NOT that it's impractical7. It is that it's a destructive ideology that puts criminals in power, excuses murder as "inevitable," and has the most soul-corrosive resentment woven into it from its foundation. It's basically a power game between different factions of the upper class.
There is nothing noble about Communism. If anyone tells you it's about equality and reforming the economy, they are lying or deluded. Maybe both. Probably both. And definitely the latter. Ideologues have no idea what's going on, even (especially) in their own minds.8
The cover image is an extreme close-up of Noam's gorgeous mug:
Yes I know it's kind of low to zoom in on a ugly mole on his face, but it's a perfect illustration of my gut reaction to the Soul of Marxism, to the extent that Noam embodies it.
This is in reference to him calling the republican party, (a toothless puppet of transnational interests with almost no functional difference from their nominal opponents), the "most dangerous organization in human history," sorry, bud-- that distinction belongs to the Communists. They had the means, bigger bombs, and more of them. There are rumors that Stalin was assassinated because he was planning to start a ground war in Europe-- sort of a last hurrah, to spread his hatred and suffering as far and wide as he could manage before his natural death took him (I'm not being hyperbolic-- people really DO have these kinds of motivations). And bear in mind this is all just accounting for destructive potential! I don't think anyone is going to be able to touch their real body count without a concerted effort. Even left-wing apologists, and I'm not saying they're understating it to promote their agenda, but they have absolutely every reason to do so, are forced to place the estimate at around 20 million. This is more than three times the number of people killed in the holocaust! Other estimates place it as high as 180 million. I mean, you can say that the right-wingers killed a lot of people militarily, and I suppose that's true, but if we're counting war dead it would put Communism's death toll on par with an asteroid impact. ↩
You have to be VERY careful when something provokes that kind of emotional reaction in you. If you rail hard against someone else doing something you think is immoral, it's VERY easy to take it too far and dehumanize them. I don't mean that in some hippy-dippy "you should have compassion for everyone," sense9,-- I mean you start ascribing to them almost paranormal malevolence. You start to mistake the symbol of the moon for the moon-- or, reversed a bit in this case, you start mistaking the (please excuse my programmer's jargon) instance for the class, (please excuse my Jungian jargon) the individual for the archetype. ↩
The working class has been gutted by automation, and it's not going to stop. Reading, writing and arithmetic isn't enough anymore, but we're still acting as if a high school diploma is a praiseworthy milestone. I'd hazard a guess that a fair proportion of this year's kindergarteners will have more money spent on them trying to get them to perform in school from ages four to whenever-they-drop-out than they'll ever make back in wages--let alone tax dollars. ↩
This isn't just a right wing thing, nor is it restricted to America despite the source of the quote. It's one of the founding myths of all western culture. As soon as others started playing by our economic rules, consuming our media, choosing trade over war as the preferred means of settling things they had to take it up as well10. Whether the circumstances instantiated the myth or the myth reshaped society in its image we can't be sure. ↩
Jordan Peterson says that we have no idea what the conscience is... I'm starting to think that maybe it's the rational mind showing the consequences of one part of your personality to another part, giving it the chance to raise an objection. Letting the Self have veto power. Ideologically possessed people might have their more agreeable, "moral centers" numbed somehow, or maybe distracted with other appealing elements of the ideology, so they can't really formulate a coherent objection. Maybe these moral centers are concerned with maintaining your own position in a status hierarchy, but if they believe that the hierarchy they're in, the hierarchy imposed by the ideology, condones whatever action they want to take, they don't raise any objection. I don't quite believe that last bit though... Often, when ideologically possessed, as I have been in the past, you KNOW the conclusions you're coming to are wrong, but somehow they don't make you hate yourself for it. I think that ideologies subtly lead you in a circuitous route around the uncomfortable things you don't want to face. It's not like they're leading you to some place you don't want to go by telling you that place is great... I think they're giving you an excuse to disavow the consequences in order to bring about something you want. They separate you from other aspects of yourself, keep you from balancing everything. The right hand literally doesn't know what the left hand is doing. ↩
I almost think the whole "they're plotting against me" or "they're proud that they're doing better than me" is a defense. If you're being oppressed you matter. They took at least a micron of consideration for you. If you're just irrelevant... you feel like you're already dead. I am not speaking from the outside here. I completely sympathize with this line of thinking, as terrible as it is. But steel your soul and listen: To people who you don't interact with regularly, whether it's because of the fact that you bring nothing to the table, or you're shy, or you did something that made them want to avoid you, you effectively don't exist. ↩
There are far more impractical things that work great all the time. Have you ever read about what goes on in the nucleus of every cell in your body? That shit shouldn't fucking work. How the hell are we not falling apart, puddles of protein goo? ↩
I'm pretty much the same way, tbh fam. We all need to be aware of the fact that our understanding is so flawed and limited, so much of our interpretation of the world is interpolated. Don't take it when someone gives you an excuse to ignore something that contradicts what you believe. Don't let things slide. If you rely on lying to yourself to get through the day, stop. If you need to fantasize to make things tolerable, don't focus on a past you need to lie about. Instead, focus on the future, and let the fantasy become a plan. Refine yourself. Be better. That is what's important. ↩
Although I do believe that to an extent. Compassion is EXTREMELY important. Have it for everyone-- your enemies, people who annoy you, people you feel contempt for, even your heroes. We are all collections of voices, some screaming, some whispering, some praiseworthy, some predatory, some gently tugging at your arm like a frightened child, others spare all the sentiment and smash you in the face like an angry chimp-- still others stand back and pontificate, only letting choice nuggets of their synthesized wisdom bubble up in sudden bursts of revelation. "I", "you", "me", "they", "them" are ambiguous terms. We are all an amalgamation of different personalities. We don't understand ourselves at all-- sometimes we think we're out of control when we're really steering ourselves with a clear intent, other times we think we're fully self-possessed when the monkey has taken the wheel. But... well, maybe that's the wrong way to think of it. I mean, that monkey IS you just as much as the thing that weighs options and discerns reality is. ↩
At least to some degree. Japan for example, has embraced the myth, but only just so... They believe in capitalism and private ownership, but it became only one facet of something far deeper, and, if I'm being honest, much more psychologically complete than our myths11. Most of Europe has embraced our myth in kind of a skewed, skeptical way. Like a child being forced to eat stinky vegetables. Yes, they're capitalist, but they try to defend their culture by being intensely critical of foreign influence. It's why anti-americanism is so popular in Europe. They're the far older culture, achievements in the arts and sciences going back at least a couple of centuries. How can they hold their heads high if they just let some upstart upstage them? I think it's totally unnecessary, a wholesome synthesis could be conceived, but their motivation is more towards resentment of the US's power than any sincere wish to preserve their own identity. They don't even have to love the USA or any obnoxious shit like that-- they just have to conceive of themselves as something other than the counterpoint to our influence. If they could do that... well, at least postmodernism wouldn't have such a stranglehold on them, I can say that much. ↩
Japan has a long tradition of incorporating foreign gods into their canon, while still maintaining what they believed before. They get the benefits of the new religion without throwing away what has worked for them up to now. That's probably why Christianity didn't catch on there-- Buddhism didn't deny them reverence of the myriad Kami, but YHWH demands worship to the exclusion of everything else. Exclusion seems to grind against their core ethos. Behold, Billiken-- the God of Things as they Ought to Be. A kitschy mascot designed for American souvenir shops turned into a local deity. And no, this is not a symptom of our "utter domination" of the Japanese after WWII. That isn't even what really happened in the aftermath of the war anyway-- I think it's something deeper in their psychology that I don't understand. A true-and-not-true(and false-and-not-false-and-everything-in-between-and-null-and-nothing-and-undefined)-ness. A fundamental non-judgement. Reverence for Billiken predates the war by a decade or more. Think about it-- they were appropriating our deities back when they still thought they were going to whip us in a fight! ↩