Marxism or Decadence? The Cause of Western Weakness
by Baron Bodissey
The noted blogger Fjordman is filing this report via Gates of Vienna.
For a complete Fjordman blogography, see The Fjordman Files. There is also a multi-index listing here.
I sometimes am criticized for being too focused on the left-wing of the political spectrum and ignoring the problems caused by right-wing parties. First of all, the line of separation between what constitutes “Left” and “Right” in politics now tends to become blurred. And second of all, only a fool believes that everybody on one side is always right, and everybody on the other side is always wrong. I have been consistent in pointing out that the European Union, which I loathe, cannot be explained simply as a one-sided Leftist endeavor. It also contains elements of Big Business interests, political corruption and the general desire of politicians and bureaucrats to rid themselves of the restrictions imposed on them by a democratic society.
At the time I write this, the conservative German chancellor Angela Merkel continues to push for the implementation of the awful EU Constitution, and I just read a column by a free-market activist who champions continued mass-immigration, including from Muslim countries, because his ideological convictions lead him to conclude that free migration is always good and beneficial.
It is also true that not all those who undermine Western civilization through support for Multiculturalism and mass immigration do so out of a hidden political agenda. Some do it out of plain stupidity and vanity. “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s most open-minded of them all?” It’s a beauty contest for bored, Western intellectuals who use immigrants as a mirror to reflect their own inflated egos, a sport where they can nurse their vanity in the mistaken belief that denigrating your own cultural heritage is a sign of goodness and lack of prejudice.
I suspect that part of the craziness on display now stems from feelings of guilt because of affluence. I hear so many of these open border activists talk about “solidarity,” but in reality it’s all about me, me, me. They don’t show much solidarity with their own children and grandchildren who are going to inherit the Balkanized nightmare they leave behind. It’s all about making them feel good about themselves right now, without regard for future consequences of their actions. So their “solidarity” is really an extreme form of egotism and holier-than-thou self-exaltation. Besides, many of them have lived sheltered lives for so long that they honestly don’t understand that something bad can ever happen to them. They’ve never had to fight for their freedom or their prosperity, which had been ensured by others.
So yes, there is a component of decadence, materialism, hedonism and nihilism without any specific ideological agenda at work here. But still, even if I try to be as objective as possible, it is difficult to avoid seeing that a disproportionate amount of our problems come from political left-wingers and that elements of it are indeed ideological. Besides, it is sometimes difficult to define where decadence ends and cultural Marxism begins. The Marxist-inspired “revolution” of the 1960s and 70s, which both at the time and in hindsight has been viewed as a watershed in Western history, was staged by people who had enjoyed unprecedented economic growth throughout their entire lives.
I can see no connection between Islamic terrorism and poverty, but maybe there is a connection between wealth and politically correct nonsense. Western Europe has enjoyed decades of affluence and welfare state boredom, and is crazier than any civilization before it in history, even paying its own enemies to colonize it and thinking happy thoughts about cultural diversity as it is being wiped out. Is cultural Marxism caused by boredom, which is again caused by affluence created by capitalism? It would be sort of ironic if that is the case.
To quote The True Believer by Eric Hoffer:
“The poor on the borderline of starvation live purposeful lives. To be engaged in a desperate struggle for food and shelter is to be wholly free from a sense of futility. The goals are concrete and immediate. Every meal is a fulfillment; to go to sleep on a full stomach is a triumph; and every windfall a miracle. What need could they have for ‘an inspiring super individual goal which could give meaning and dignity to their lives?’ They are immune to the appeal of a mass movement.”
And later Hoffer points out that “There is perhaps no more reliable indicator of a society’s ripeness for a mass movement than the prevalence of unrelieved boredom. In almost all the descriptions of the periods preceding the rise of mass movements there is reference to vast ennui; and in their earliest stages mass movements are more likely to find sympathizers and support among the bored than among the exploited and oppressed.”
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In The Weekly Standard, Michel Gurfinkiel notes that indeed, there are intellectuals “who relish the prospect of a new French Revolution, and welcome the suburban rioters as its spearhead. Nothing is more revealing, in this respect, than the success of a feverish political novel, Supplément au Roman National (A Sequel to the National Narrative), by 28-year-old author Jean-ric Boulin. Published two months ago, it forecasts a ‘social and racial’ revolution in France in 2007. First a wave of suicide bombings in Paris. Then martial law. Then, finally, the great rebellion of the French poor: the native underclass, the Arabs, and the blacks, who unite under the green flag of Islam and the tricolor of France and march on Paris — as a sort of Commune in reverse. Boulin gallantly supports such an outcome.”
There is, admittedly, something special about France and their love of revolts and mayhem. The French still haven’t recovered from their great Revolution of 1789. It is strange that a modern nation can celebrate as their national day the birth of a bloody upheaval which paved the way for mass-murder and authoritarian rule. But the fascination with Islamic movements is far from limited to France. It is partly based on hatred of the West and a belief that the world must be “liberated” from Western civilization, which is the cause of global injustice.
Norwegian author Elin Brodin wrote an essay entitled “Western values are the worst.” According to her, “Modern Westerners are the most bigoted, self-righteous and deaf-blind creatures that have ever walked the earth’s crust. This goes for the left-wing and the feminists just as much as for everybody else. We really have to change our attitudes, not just our clothes, because now the question is whether this civilization should be transformed or fall. Because the West neither can nor should endure in its present form.”
If you want to see a really nasty example of the hatred against Western civilization on display, here’s a link from Danish blog Uriasposten. Thyra Hilden and Pio Diaz projected video images of flames onto 1,000 square-metre glass screens in a museum in the central Danish town of Aarhus. The “art” exhibition was called “City on Fire – Burning the roots of western culture.” The artists assured us that “It is not actual fire that destroys actual buildings – but the idea of fire that destroys the historical and ideological roots of Western culture.” Part of their vision was “to create an aesthetic image of the deconstruction of the cultural roots of the Western world,” because as they said, Western culture was “very aggressive,” while Islamic culture has been far less so.
Bruce Thornton writes about Robert Conquest’s book Reflections on a Ravaged Century. especially his chapter on Soviet Myths and the Western Mind:
“As Conquest documents, many Western intellectuals and academics were delusional about the reality of the communist threat. For a host of reasons — a quasi-religious faith in utopian socialism, neurotic hatred of their own culture, vulnerability to an ideology that dressed itself in scientific garb, an adolescent romance with revolution, and sheer ignorance of the facts — many professors, pundits, politicians, and religious leaders refused to believe that Soviet leaders meant what they said about revolution and subversion.” Because of this, “throughout the Cold War, the Western resolve to resist Soviet expansionism was undercut by ‘peace’ movements, nuclear disarmament movements, calls for détente and ‘dialogue,’ and claims of moral equivalence between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.”
According to Thornton, other parallels between Cold War Sovietophiles and today’s rationalizers for Jihad present themselves. The academic establishment for most of the Cold War “was predisposed to leftist ideology.”
Unfortunately, the Soviet-appeasers never had to endure the consequences of their actions. In Norway, I heard recently several left-wingers state that Arne Treholt, a senior diplomat who was convicted of high treason in the 1980s for spying for the Soviet Union, was actually a misunderstood hero who wanted “dialogue” with the Communists. A former member of the Labor Party, he was reprieved by the Labor government in 1992. He has always claimed his innocence, but admitted later that he was both careless and negligent and “drifted into some questionable areas” when he turned over confidential state documents to Soviet representatives and accepted money for them in return.
When US President Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980, after Jimmy Carter had made a mockery out of the presidency and his inaction contributed to the success of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, the massive Soviet military machinery placed medium-range SS-20 nuclear missiles to intimidate Western Europe and split NATO. They also encouraged massive demonstrations and campaigns within the West for unilateral Western disarmament. Yet Reagan chose to up the ante by deploying new U.S. nuclear missiles in Europe. He denounced the Soviet Union as the “Evil Empire” and engaged the Soviets in a military build-up that bankrupted their fragile economy. Reagan, who dared to challenge blackmail from one of the most brutal regimes in human history, was reviled and ridiculed by the leftist intelligentsia, and is still hated even a generation after the Cold War ended. Yet a man such as Mr. Treholt, who appeased the same regime, is viewed in positive terms.
Sadly, conservatives demsontrated negligence after the Cold War. We never properly denounced Marxism as an ideology as well as discredited those individuals who had supported it, the way it was done with Fascism after WW2. That was a mistake. We had a massive fifth column of left-wingers during the Cold War who sapped our strength and appeased our enemies. These very same groups have been allowed to continue their work uninterrupted, and went straight from appeasing Soviet Communism to appeasing Islamic Jihad.
The book The Seventh War, by Israeli journalists Avi Yisacharov and Amos Harel, is based on interviews with Hamas Islamic terrorist leaders in Gaza and Israeli prisons. Hamas leaders told them clearly: “It was the Israeli left and your peace camp that ultimately encouraged us to continue with our suicide attacks. We tried, through our attacks, to create fragmentation and dissention within Israeli society, and the left-wing’s reaction was proof that this was indeed the right approach.”
The West and Westerners in general are treated as the “global oppressive class” by our Marxist-inspired academic elites. From historical experience, in Socialist societies, those deemed a part of the “oppressive class” have at best been deprived of their property, at worst been physically eliminated. Western Leftists really believe their own rhetoric about the West being the cause of most of the problems of the world, and want to “liberate” the planet by bringing down the oppressive class, aka the West.
We could go into long debates as to whether this is compatible with the doctrines of classical Marxism, since most Islamic and Third World nations are far from industrialized. It is true that Karl Marx initially stated that capitalism was a necessary transitional stage for Socialism. Most Socialists before WW1 believed that the Marxist revolution would start in Germany, precisely because it was a more advanced capitalist and industrialized economy. But Lenin decided to start in Russia after the opportunity provided by the first revolution in 1917, despite the fact that it was far from a developed capitalist economy at that point. Marxist strategies have thus changed considerably during the past century. By far the one element that has remained most consistent is the tendency to view society primarily in economic terms, through the prism of groups exploiting other groups. In general, Marxist tools for analysis have survived far better than their practical solutions and are still influential.
It is, in my view, impossible to understand Multiculturalism without taking into account this profound influence of Marxist thinking. Marxism states that culture is only of minor or secondary importance, while the primary moving factor is the struggle between the oppressed and the oppressors. This leads to treating cultural differences as insignificant, and thus the conclusion that major differences in performance between groups are caused by poverty and exploitation. This is exactly the picture we are presented by our media as the source of the difficulties in the Islamic world.
Moreover, the very idea that it is ok to stage massive and risky social experiments involving millions of people is one that was passed on from Marxism to Multiculturalism. As Friedrich von Hayek warned: “We must shed the illusion that we can deliberately ‘create the future of mankind.’ This is the final conclusion of the forty years which I have now devoted to the study of these problems.”
The Frankfurt school of cultural Marxism, with such thinkers as Antonio Gramsci and Georg Lukacs, aimed at overthrowing capitalist rule by undermining the hegemonic culture. According to Gramsci, the Socialist revolution, which failed to spread following the Russian Revolution in 1917, could never take place until people were liberated from Western culture, and particularly from their “Christian soul.” As Lukacs said in 1919, “Who will save us from Western Civilization?” This could be done through breaking down traditional Judeo-Christian morality and family patterns and undermining the established institutions from within. In 2007, we can see clearly that this strategy has been quite successful in Western media and academia, which are not only neutral or lukewarm in defending our civilization, but are in many cases actively aiding our enemies. The irony is that most Westerners have never heard of Gramsci, yet ideas similar to his have had a huge impact on their lives.
In Scandinavia, it is a well-documented fact that journalists are much more left-leaning than the general populace. In France during the Muslim riots in 2005, several journalists stated openly that they downplayed the problems caused by immigrants in order not to boost the support for “right-wing parties,” and in Britain, leading figures from the BBC readily admitted that they actively champion Multiculturalism in their coverage. Even British Prime Minister Tony Blair, himself from the Labour Party, complained in the January 2007 issue of Foreign Affairs magazine about relations with Muslims that “many in Western countries listen to the propaganda of the extremists and accept it. (And to give credit where it is due, the extremists play our own media with a shrewdness that would be the envy of many a political party.)”
Daniel Pipes notes that “Significant elements in several Western countries – especially the United States, Great Britain, and Israel – believe their own governments to be repositories of evil, and see terrorism as just punishment for past sins. This ‘we have met the enemy and he is us’ attitude replaces an effective response with appeasement, including a readiness to give up traditions and achievements. Osama bin Laden celebrates by name such leftists as Robert Fisk and William Blum. Self-hating Westerners have an out-sized importance due to their prominent role as shapers of opinion in universities, the media, religious institutions, and the arts. They serve as the Islamists’ auxiliary mujahideen.”
Pipes warns that “Pacifism, self-hatred and complacency are lengthening the war against radical Islam and causing undue casualties. Only after absorbing catastrophic human and property losses will left-leaning Westerners likely overcome this triple affliction and confront the true scope of the threat. The civilized world will likely then prevail, but belatedly and at a higher cost than need have been. Should Islamists get smart and avoid mass destruction, but instead stick to the lawful, political, non-violent route, and should their movement remain vital, it is difficult to see what will stop them.”
In short: You know you live in a Western country when the media is cheering for your enemies, when your schools and universities teach your children that your civilization is evil and when your politicians think it’s a sign of “extremism” if you want to protect your nation’s borders.
Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir once said that “Peace will come when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us.” Perhaps we will win this struggle for liberty only when Western left-wingers decide that love their children more than they hate Western civilization. If they have children in the first place, that is.