The Graveyard of Ideologies Past

marxgrave.jpg

At the half-way mark of the Twentieth Century, in 1950, the French Annales historian Fernand Braudel wrote, “what an endless century it has been, indeed, leaving its bloody mark on Europe and on the whole world”. Eric Hobsbawm describes this murderous century now past into history as “The Short Twentieth Century”, beginning when a secular peace in Europe was shattered by an assassin’s bullet in Sarajevo and a declaration of war from the aged Emperor Franz Josef, and ending in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Marx, the theorist of commodification, perhaps, would not have been surprised that capitalism has turned the symbols of Leninist revolution into brand marketing. Marx also wrote in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte:

Hegel remarks somewhere that all facts and personages of great importance in world history occur, as it were, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.

Andrew Norton at Catallaxy agreed with Louis Nowra writing in the SMH that Che Guevera t-shirts, for instance, are distasteful. This sparked off a lively debate at both Catallaxy and John Quiggin’s place over the relative evils of fascism and communism, and on whether fascism is a political philosophy. John later put up a specific post on ‘The Stalinist Delusion’.

I recently read Robert O. Paxton’s new book The Anatomy of Fascism. Paxton argues that unlike conservatism, socialism and liberalism, fascism is not a political philosophy – it has no articulated body of thought and no coherent answer to political questions. He points to the contradictions and unacknowledged massive revisions in what passed for Mussolini and Hitler’s political programmes. There was certainly a climate of ideas which gave rise to fascism, but this isn’t quite the same thing. Paxton also contends that fascism’s grounding in fear and hatred leads inevitably to genocide in the period of its ‘radicalisation’ under conditions of war.

To debate this question in a spirit of partisanship is unhelpful. Understanding the causes of genocide and mass death is necessary and urgent. But it’s also important to be clear about history. David McKnight has it right in his reply to Nowra in the SMH:

The claim that Stalin and Hitler were equals is part of an argument which tries to prove that Marxism, as an intellectual framework, was akin to fascism. Marxism, now largely defunct, was very unlike fascism. Marxism was very much part of the Enlightenment heritage of the West. It was an ideology based on rationalism, science and progress. As such it influenced social science and the humanities. Its critique of economic power has become part of the common sense of our era. It was the militant wing of the Enlightenment. By contrast, fascism was a product of the counter-Enlightenment. Its call to blood, race and nation was utterly different to Marxism. Both produced dystopias but for different reasons. Marxism’s fatal flaw was precisely its utopianism, based on a literal implementation of its Enlightenment values of equality and rationality. It took little account of the nature of human beings, and did not have a functional and elaborate moral sense. (A similar critique can be made of current ideologies of free-trade globalisation.)

About Mark Bahnisch

Mark Bahnisch is a sociologist and is the founder of this blog. He has an undergraduate degree in history and politics from UQ, and postgraduate qualifications in sociology, industrial relations and political economy from Griffith and QUT. He has recently been awarded his PhD through the Humanities Program at QUT. Mark's full bio is on this page.
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James Farrell
James Farrell
2022 years ago

Very well put.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

Good reply from David McK. This topic has sparked an interesting series of posts, here and at JQ’s and Catallaxy. I’ve only skimmed, but haven’t noticed anyone pick up on Nowra’s obvious silence, i.e. the underlying truth that there are a lot of Che t-shirts because manufacturers have identified a market. Dissent sells; ipso facto dissent is commodified and sold. The market responds to the sovereign taste of the consumer. The commercialisation of dissent is all around us, being perennially tut-tutted about by people like Nowra for being about as subversive as deoderant.

If Nowra was seriously upset and had a skerrick of follow-through on his supposed convictions, he would identify the clothing manufacturers and encourage protests, and perhaps even seek to have a boycott, and generally get active … in the way that you do if it matters. But no, the split between attitudinising and taking action is all important on the loony right these days. So much better to keep the source of production (or destruction) completely out of the picture, and just strike a vacuous moral pose. The beauty of merely posing without being serious is that pugnacious posturing stirs debate but safely achieves nothing, and so you can do it again, and again, and again, and again …

wen
wen
2022 years ago

Chris,

are you suggesting that louis Nowra is part of the loony right? (cough, splutter)

Rafe
2022 years ago

Nowra’s point had nothing to do with people making a dollar out of tacky T shirts, it was about people who enjoyed the benefits of living in a relatively free country while working to destroy those freedoms.

On the topic of the loony right, is that a reference to free traders and libertarians who are in favour of freedoms, or people who believe in the centralisation of power and the general restriction of freedoms?

Andrew Norton
Andrew Norton
2022 years ago

As a matter of intellectual history McKnight has a point. But any good political scientist looks at institutions as well as ideologies, and at an institutional level the fascist and communist tyrannies had much in common with each other. The youthful McKnight, and many others, ought to have understood this and had nothing to do with the Communist Party.

As for CS’s comments, surely the problem with us right-wingers is that we don’t just sit around writing critiques, we actually have coherent policies we try to implement (I have never heard of Nowra as a right-winger; opposing communism merely requires decency, though right-wing ideology presumably helps highlight the problems). But since communism is no longer a threat, except to the hapless citizens of North Korea and Cuba, communist kitsch is distasteful rather than a huge issue.

I did not do anything about the hammer and sickle t-shirt I saw, because the lad wearing it probably did not even know what it meant, much less have plans to hurt anyone.

Rafe
2022 years ago

Surely it is time for David McKnight to reconsider views like this in the light of other developments in economics and the social sciences.

‘Marxism was very much part of the Enlightenment heritage of the West. It was an ideology based on rationalism, science and progress. As such it influenced social science and the humanities. Its critique of economic power has become part of the common sense of our era. It was the militant wing of the Enlightenment.’

In particular, the Marxist critique of economic power was based on a serious false assumption, that the masses were being disadvantaged and exploited by laissez faire. That has indeed become part of the common sense of our era, in the same way that the belief that the earth was the centre of the solar system was the commonsense of the pre-Copernican era. Each of those views are false and the really interesting question is to work out how such ideas managed to persist for so long. I will be interested to see how many Marxists and admirers of Marxism are prepared to adopt the scientific and rational approach and subject their basic ideas to searching criticism.

TimT
2022 years ago

“If Nowra was seriously upset and had a skerrick of follow-through on his supposed convictions, he would identify the clothing manufacturers and encourage protests, and perhaps even seek to have a boycott, and generally get active…”

Maybe Louis believes that the best way to oppose these things, in the long run, is not by forcing the manufacturers out of business, but by intelligent criticism and informed debate? Individuals like Nowra can make a difference without becoming part of the latest boycott/protest/rent-a-mob that comes along.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

“Maybe Louis believes that the best way to oppose these things, in the long run, is not by forcing the manufacturers out of business, but by intelligent criticism and informed debate? Individuals like Nowra can make a difference without becoming part of the latest boycott/protest/rent-a-mob that comes along.”

I love that TimT. Why not “intelligent criticism and informed debate” about the manufacturers? No? Hey! teacher, leave our markets alone. Far better to be part of the latest conspicuous indignation mob.

As for the ‘long run’, the commodification of 60s dissent is, like, already a couple of decades old. What’s he aiming for? Victory by 3000?

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

Marx’s grave is a communist plot!

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
2022 years ago

homer – someone has to package all your bad puns and publish them in a book

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

James, thanks.

Chris – excellent point.

Andrew – “But any good political scientist looks at institutions as well as ideologies, and at an institutional level the fascist and communist tyrannies had much in common with each other.”

The main difference was that fascism maintained much more of the state apparatus (judiciary, bureaucracy, military etc) – particularly in Italy where the role of the monarchy was central – and set up a number of parallel institutions (ie the SS) while Soviet Marxism subordinated the state to the party (hence the emptiness of institutions such as the Soviets themselves). Leninist parties also had some rationale for “democratic centralism” while fascist parties were true to the “leader principle”.

Rafe – “I will be interested to see how many Marxists and admirers of Marxism are prepared to adopt the scientific and rational approach and subject their basic ideas to searching criticism.”

Marxism always asserted that it was a scientific and rational approach, as a child of the Enlightenment. Problems like the immiseration of the proletariat and the labour theory of value were often elided or jettisoned from Marxist economics in the West. More recently, analytic Marxism in the UK and the US has harnessed Marxist thought to analytic philosophy and rational choice theory.

Marx’ insights about distributive justice and economic power hold true regardless of whether his particular ‘laws’ such as the tendency of the rate of profit to fall do. A number of writers have observed that Marx’ critique of political economy and his analysis of capitalist economics have much analytical purchase.

spats
spats
2022 years ago

McKnight’s article is titled ‘Socialism not Stalinism’. Is it therefore equally valid to argue for ‘Fascism not Hitlerism’? Mussolini’s brand of fascism was considerably more benign than Hitler’s (not even notably anti-Semitic) and had a predeliction for the Futurist movement, some of the motifs of which still look pretty cool if you are ideologically detached about it. As I see it, however, the Communist movement and its fellow travellers in the West were ultimately every bit as enthusiastic for tyranny, autocracy and the physical destruction of their opponents as the fascists were and should stand equally condemned. An autocrat is an autocrat, a murderer is a murderer and Che was both.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

The differences between Mussolini’s regime and Hitler’s regime can be overstated, spats. 1938 saw the introduction of anti-Semitic laws in Italy and the way that Ethiopia was governed under occupation was horrendous. What went on in the Republic of Salo right at the end wasn’t pretty either.

As to Australian communists, the key date is probably 1956 when Kruschev’s destalinisation speech became public. A lot of people left the party around that time. Paradoxically, it gave others an out – the Soviet Union had “changed its ways”. The broader question as to why people could associate with a party linked to Stalin’s crimes is very complex, and the psychology of Soviet Marxism is well discussed in two contemporary publications: Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s ‘Humanism and Terror’ and Herbert Marcuse’s ‘Soviet Marxism’. As I said at Catallaxy and Quiggin, I’m unsatisfied with the Mark Lilla version of the attractions of fascism and communism in the West and I may have something to say about this at some point.

I’m not as sanguine about the CPA as McKnight. The CPA’s role in the downfall of the Chifley government, as Chris would no doubt agree, was reprehensible.

James Hamilton
James Hamilton
2022 years ago

“But no, the split between attitudinising and taking action is all important on the loony right these days. So much better to keep the source of production (or destruction) completely out of the picture, and just strike a vacuous moral pose. The beauty of merely posing without being serious is that pugnacious posturing stirs debate but safely achieves nothing, and so you can do it again, and again, and again, and again …”

Holy Cow, Chris (and Happy New Year) you’re not seriously suggesting that if this is true we didn’t steal it from you guys!

It must be really amusing to the cynics to see how things turn and yet remain the same. We RWDBs are the new PC police, the new wankers claiming the moral high ground, the new poseurs. Frankly I don’t mind a nice chardie. As for changing the ABC and the assorted Luvvies, victory by 3000 would be a big ask.

David Tiley
2022 years ago

In the light of Jame’s remarks about flip flopping, it would be interesting to see what the various positions are on “changing the ABC”. Not now, because it is a diversion, but in a later post.

We would have to leave out the obvious abolitionist position because that level of debate leads to nothing new.

It would expose something which is badly missing from the blogosphere and irritates me a lot – the functionaries in the various institutions mounting some kind of defence.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

spats, on Futurism – it was appropriated in both directions – also by some very interesting artists in the initial post-revolutionary phase in Russia before socialist realism was imposed on everyone.

yellowvinyl
2022 years ago

just like Lenin ignored the politics of production and appropriated Taylorism from the Capitalist West – Stakhanovites all!

the cultural flowering in the early years of the Soviet Union is very interesting. not to mention feminists and advocates of free love like Alexandra Kollontai.

what would Soviet Russia have looked like if the forces for democracy and free expression within the revolution had triumphed? it’s an interesting question!

cs
cs
2022 years ago

Happy New Year James!

Yeah, conspicuous indignation has become a kind of right-wing performance art. Loved the flamboyant little gig your crowd played over the disco-anthem in the run-up to New Year! Gave me a good belly laugh every day. An empty-headed outrage that achieved the usual zilch and is now well forgotten of course, but that’s not the point. Posturing as ordinary, patriotic, virtuous, down-trodden victims of traitorous, biased, hectoring, arrogant, sanctimonious, tree-hugging, big word-using, chards-guzzling, latte-mainlining, inner-city liberal elites is the whole performance art of the thing.

As you say, the ABC is the RWDB’s most favoured source of getting all conspicuously indignant, although silly old Prof Bunners never runs short of fuel from the Fairfax press and Tim B will always be glad to have Margo to stoke his virtuous fire. Your lot have been fulminating over the ABC since the dawn of time, or however long it has been since Howard was first elected. But it gets nowhere of course, for that would close the theatre, and then you’d have to find something else to act powerless over and get all furious about being betrayed by. One of the tricks is to get indignant over a cause you can never win. Meanwhile, back in the shadows, your government moves to further concentrate the already concentrated ownership of commercial media, but no-one is allowed to worry about that in the new PC.

Perhaps Nowra’s onto something. If you ever get sick of uselessly complaining about the ABC and academics and journos that don’t toe your line, maybe the right could have a full-scale indignant re-run of the cold war now that its long over – a sort of post-modern McCarthyism. Can you imagine anything more pointless? Perfect! Might even further boost sales for the Che t-shirt, coffee mug, poster production line. That should keep the corporations happy while also safely maintaining the flow of fuel. Way to fulminate! Must be off – the chards will be cold by now.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Drink some more chards, Chris – that’s my entry in best comment of 2005 by a long shot!

Rafe
2022 years ago

Hope the chard is going down well Chris! Make mine a ‘two dogs’ from the fresh cool waters of the Cascades in Hobart.

As you sip, think about a more helpful response than your previous contribution. Think about the challenge posed by Nowra and the moral and intellectual failure of communism. As the old saying goes, if we do not learn from history we may be doomed to repeat it.

The ex-communists of the 1950s apparently failed in their duty to warn young people of the disasters of communism. Consequently there was a fresh wave of recruitment to Marxism, Maoism and revolutionary socialism during the 1960s and 1970s. How did this happen? That is the question underlying Nowra’s complaint.

This is not about conspicuous indignation, it is about learning the lessons of history and coming to grips with the classical liberal agenda of free trade under the rule of law in a scientific and rational manner. Maybe we can all learn something from the ensuing discussion.

Michael Carden
Michael Carden
2022 years ago

Rafe: “In particular, the Marxist critique of economic power was based on a serious false assumption, that the masses were being disadvantaged and exploited by laissez faire.”

I’m curious as to why you say this is a seriously false assumption.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

Cascade eh Rafe? Prefer Boags myself, when I’m not busy with the femi-nazis and all my other fellow elites lording it over the persecuted common man by sanctimoniously guzzling chards and arrogantly slapping down the lattes, of course.

C.L.
2022 years ago

Speaking of RWDB-like concentration on particular columnists for sport, Chris founded the ‘Shorter Hendo’ which was then continued by Mark B. Robert C has flirted with it and it’s now been reduced to the ‘Really Really Shorter Hendo’ by Tim D.

And I would have thought the obvious rejoinder to Chris would be to point out that every cause the right has taken on for the past quarter century has been won. The taking on of causes that can’t possibly bear fruit just for the sanctimonious hell of it is actually a working definition of the modern left. See everything from Wapping and economic rationalism (opposed for twenty years) right through to Michael Moore, John Kerry and Medicare Gold.

Most recently, Tony Abbott raised the question of abortion and managed to change the whole nature of the debate. Critics started off calling him a loon, then began arguing abortion numbers in Australia were dropping – which, without realising it, they’d been paradigm-shifted into acknowledging as a social and medical good.

John Howard has done the same thing with respect to welfare and Aboriginal policy. And nobody on the left even bothers to challenge the application of his ‘national interest first’ foreign policy to tsunami relief in Indonesia. He marginalised the UN and still the left’s congratulations have willingly been forthcoming.

For the right, winning is now bordering on ho-hum. As for Marx, no-one seriously interested in history or economics should ignore him. I think the big lion-headed Hun was one of the most impressive theorists ever. Sure, in its totality his vision can never work but nor could a purely libertarian political economy. (Which is why it’s never been tried, thank God).

Che? He was a handsome man and that was a great snapshot. The wearing of t-shirts bearing his image is no more worrying than was the wearing of bobbie-sox back in Sinatra’s salad days. Che didn’t like his country being a brothel and roulette-haven run by the American mob so he did something about it. I think that’s admirable. Tragedy is neither he nor his boss had a freaking clue about building a democratic, prosperous and modern society. They both deserve to be condemned for the deaths and misery they caused and for blowing a great opportunity for change.

PS: Rev Tim C’s influence grows too – ‘casin0’ has just been adjudged ‘questionable content’ by Troppo’s spam filter.

James Hamilton
James Hamilton
2022 years ago

Have my vote for best comment of 2005 too, Chris.

“An empty-headed outrage that achieved the usual zilch and is now well forgotten of course, but that’s not the point. Posturing as ordinary, patriotic, virtuous, down-trodden victims of traitorous, biased, hectoring, arrogant, sanctimonious, tree-hugging, big word-using, chards-guzzling, latte-mainlining, inner-city liberal elites is the whole performance art of the thing”

Sounds like I missed something special when i missed the disco-anthem thing but I reckon I miss Back Pages more.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

C.L., you can say “Casin0” now in this time of dire emergency…

James Hamilton
James Hamilton
2022 years ago

First CS and now we have CL wafting through the corridors of Troppo; an ether seance.

Rafe: “In particular, the Marxist critique of economic power was based on a serious false assumption, that the masses were being disadvantaged and exploited by laissez faire.”

Michael:”I’m curious as to why you say this is a seriously false assumption.”

I’m not Rafe but I’ve been to the January sales and it wasn’t Chris Shiel and his femo -nazi back up singers walking out the door with trolley loads of plasma TVs and home theatre gizmos, Dyson vacuum cleaners, espresso makers, they looked like dare I say it like Howard’s “battlers” to me and to quote Debbie & Tim “they looked pretty happy to me”

Rafe
2022 years ago

Strike one Chris (or out of bounds on the full).

Would you like to have another go at addressing the issues rather than evading them?

cs
cs
2022 years ago

I wish I could revive Back Pages James – maybe in a few more months, or at least after a few more chapters.

How are you Currency? But you lost the disco-anthem war!

I’m with you Rafe. I reckon we should constitute the Committee on Kids Consuming UnAustralian Dissent, and have a trial for everyone of the wilfully consuming little bastards. If we don’t fight them over the t-shirt, next thing you know Che will be on baseball caps, and who knows what else … domino-like, he’ll be on jackets, watches, and, heaven-forbid, even kids’ underpants! Where will we be then, I ask you that? The mind boggles, for alas with heavy hearts we must face the possibility that it may already be too late. Perhaps Che is already out there being used to flog other products in the marketplace that we don’t already know about! The world might have already gone all to hell in a t-shirt and we just don’t know it yet. Hurry! Check under your bed! It’s five minutes to midnight! Kids are buying those very t-shirts as we blog!

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

“Chris Shiel and his femo -nazi back up singers” – playing the Annandale next Saturday night – influences, Dylan, The Band, Stones…

Nabakov
Nabakov
2022 years ago

This whole “what’s on who’s T-shirt” debate really is a low pressure system in a mug, stirred up by mugs. As far as I can see, all it does is give certain people an opportunity to strike self-righteous poses.

Speaking of which…

“And I would have thought the obvious rejoinder to Chris would be to point out that every cause the right has taken on for the past quarter century has been won.”

AlanDownunder
AlanDownunder
2022 years ago

Rafe:

“The ex-communists of the 1950s apparently failed in their duty to warn young people of the disasters of communism. Consequently there was a fresh wave of recruitment to Marxism, Maoism and revolutionary socialism during the 1960s and 1970s. How did this happen? That is the question underlying Nowra’s complaint.”

Che is only cool is because Dubya ain’t — even if his aspirational peons are selling shirts.

Nabakov
Nabakov
2022 years ago

“scholl vaccinations” – which is a good idea too.

Nic White
2022 years ago

The thing is that communism and facism absolutely polarised by definition. Marx’s communism, as I understand it, was focused on having everyone, no matter what their station, entirely equal and all working toward the greater good of mankind. A fanciful utopian desire if there ever was one, but good in theory.

The reason the communism has been equated with facism is that it leaves itself open the to “Animal Farm” complex, where one leader takes power and decides that yes, all men are equal, except me and everyone I like, we are better. Such as was the the Romanian dictator who had his marble staircase ripped up for being slightly off on his desired dimentions. It leaves itself open to such totalitarianism because it is so easy to exploit.

Human nature is inherently selfish, and in an environment where everyone is trying to think that they are equal to everyone else, it is easy for one person who refuses to fight their fundamental human nature, to rise to the top and exploit the rest before they can say “pigs”.

That is why communism is thought of as akin to facism by many, because so many communist states succumed to the inevitable.

Marx would be turning in his grave.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

I love the way you take these things seriously Nabby, and still win.

Also gotta love Currency’s reference to abortion. Anti-abortion is the sine qua non of the performance art of conspicuous indignation. Both here and in the US, anti-abortion crusaders have been striking strikingly conspicuous moral indignation over abortion ever since it became legal. Guess what? It’s still legal! This is the perfect losing cause; the ideal issue for this marvellous new form of right-wing art, which is of course why the hellishly ambitious Tone Abbott has recently taken it to the Australian political stage. Go Tone! You can’t get more conspicuously indignant without ever achieving anything than on this act. Bravo! You’ll show those femo-nazi, tree-hugging, inner city, aboriginal industry, grant sucking, latte-lapping, chardo-swilling, abortioning heathens yet – or not, which is the idea, really! Be conspicuously indignant, achieve nothing, become a right-wing moral martyr, get elected, make lots of money, give rich folks a tax cut on behalf of honest, decent, down-trodden Aussie plasma-purchasing battlers, die a happy conservative complaining about t-shirts! Way to go!

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Nic, Marx argued that human nature was not inherently selfish but that our “species being” – that is to say our creative and intersubjective collective relation to each other and to nature was fundamentally deformed by class based social relations.

C.L.
2022 years ago

Nab instances “Abolition of slavery and child labour…etc”

I think you’re right that these are victories of the left. The demolition of racism as an acceptable behaviour also belongs in the list. So, yes, I suppose we could say both sides of the spectrum have had their victories in the last, say, half century.

Granted.

On environmentalism, while I have problems with oppose-everythingism, NIMBYism and greenie extremism, I still regard myself as an environmentalist in the preservationist TR tradition. I don’t want to live in an Australia where all the wonderful coastal villages and townships become pissant Gold Coasts and I believe the federal government should use its power to steamroller state governments if they don’t do something about water management in this country.

We do agree on a lot Nab, despite your assumptions – we always end up arguing, though.

Occasionally, this is because I’m disagreeable.

Chris, this ‘conspicuous indignation’ theory of yours is interesting. I knew there was something deeply theoretically interesting going on last year vis-a-vis Abu Ghraib, Mike Scrafton, Fahrenheit 9/11 etc. Just couldn’t put a label to all of that pathology. Now I can! Conspicuous indignation.

Yes.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

Yo Currency. This is like an early ’05 reunion! Good to see you’re still wrong of course, and remember, you can’t drive that concept without a licence!!

Nabakov
Nabakov
2022 years ago

“I love the way you take these things seriously Nabby, ”

Oh but I don’t. I like to think of my comments as urbane remarks tossed off (yeah, I’m aware of the inherent innuendo) between very dry martinis.

But it if comes across as drunkenly earnest chest jabbing, then I plead the po-mo defence ( I’m quoting your intepretation of myself). Besides what other people think of me is none of my business.

But wait, I had a real point to make. Ah, here it is. Funny how all the conservative “self-interest drives everything”, “you bleeding heart lefties” etc, keep pointing to private sector tsunami donations as an example of why we should get rid of Government and multilateral bodies.

Mmm, just picked up most of the Led Zep catalogue on CD at a post Xmas sale and am now listening to albums in their entirety that I haven’t heard in 20 years. Right now it’s “Four Sticks” which I’d completely forgotten about and which could be easily and interestingly lend itself to a good mashup now.

Hmm. time now I think for “Trampled Underfoot” and “Boogie With Stu”.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

Sorry Nabs, I really knew you knew you were joking by appearing to be serious. Gees I miss blogging, but that’s enough discipline slippage. today’s indulgence was Mark’s fault, quoting from the magnificent Brumaire. Being one of the last of the great classical (as distinct from neoclassical) economists, old Fatty may have blundered a little here and there on his economics, as all the classicists did, but he was one hellofahistorian. Cheers Mark!

Nic White
2022 years ago

Mark, I know Marx did not argue that – I am the one who is arguing it. Im arguing that the reason communism is accused of being closely linked to facism is that it is easy for facists to take advantage of – Marx never intended this.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

“The social revolution of the nineteenth century cannot draw its poetry from the past, but only from the future. It cannot begin with itself before it has stripped off all superstition in regard to the past. Earlier revolutions required recollections of past history in order to drug themselves concerning their own content. In order to arrive at its own content, the revolution of the nineteenth century must let the dead bury their dead. There the phrase went beyond the content; here the content goes beyond the phrase.”

A pleasure, Chris! And may I add Marx is a fabulous writer and a joy to read.

Discipline is a good thing but we’re missing BackPages – I’d love to read a full length cs post on conspicuous indignation. But in the meantime, it’s a hell of a lot of fun having you on this thread.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Nic, thanks for clarifying that – I’m sorry if I misread your comment. I disagree with your contention. The anthropological evidence points otherwise. It’s an old work now but it has the merit of being clearly written and freely available on the web – I’d recommend you have a look at Kropotkin’s ‘Mutual Aid’ – http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_Archives/kropotkin/mutaidcontents.html

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

On conspicuous indignation – Chris is dead right. Reagan made it an art form with his stories of “welfare mothers on crack” etc. And the odd wink to the Christian right about school prayer without ever doing anything. The right needs cultural targets to keep their disparate constituencies on side. It’s far better if the target doesn’t really exist (eg militant secular humanists spoiling Christmas or latte-sipping elites despising battlers), or is a beat-up (PC Police) or is something that they have no intention of actually changing (eg abortion law). Thus the crusade can go on and on and on. The lack of action, as well as exhalting symbol over substance, helps preserve the illusion of powerful elites who stop these crusaders from implementing their battler-friendly and divinely inspired plans. And that nasty all dominant liberal media, of course.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

Nice to pop in today for a few laughs Mark, but I gotta be off. A conspicuous manuscript on the corner of my desk beckons, bloody indignantly! See you in a chapter or so.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Cheers, Chris – all the best!

Nabakov
Nabakov
2022 years ago

“Marx is a fabulous writer and a joy to read.”

Well he was a freelance journalist, living off his wits for many years. That really sharpens yer prose style and teaches you to punch the story in from the first para, so as to first get the commissioning editor’s attention.

If he was around now, he’d have taken to blogging like it was historical determinism or something.

Rafe
2022 years ago

I’m with you Rafe. I reckon we should constitute the Committee on Kids Consuming UnAustralian Dissent, and have a trial for everyone of the wilfully consuming little bastards….etc

Strike two Chris!

Try having a swing at the question instead of evading it. If you keep this up people will begin to suspect that you don’t have an answer.

Rafe
2022 years ago

Nabakov listed a number of things that are supposed to represent a rejoinder to free traders in favour of socialism.

“Abolition of slavery and child labour, universal suffrage, food and drug regulations, the right to organized labour, the eight hour day, publicly supported healthcare and education, occupational health and safety, banking and building codes, legal abortion, civil rights, scholl vaccinations, consumer power, pollution control measures, etc, etc, etc.”

The list is a mix of non sequitors and falsehoods.

Slavery was virtually eliminated by the dreaded supporters of laissez faire (and others), child labour was a beat-up, labour always had the right to organise but not to engage in restrictive trade practices, etc etc.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

OK, one more comment Rafe, seeing you apparently fail to grasp my answers and have gravely threatened me with perpetual reminders. The question, I take it, is here somewhere:

“The ex-communists of the 1950s apparently failed in their duty to warn young people of the disasters of communism. Consequently there was a fresh wave of recruitment to Marxism, Maoism and revolutionary socialism during the 1960s and 1970s. How did this happen? That is the question underlying Nowra’s complaint.”

So is the question your question, or Nowra’s question, or what the hell are you talking about? Bit hard to follow, but fwiw, as I’ve said, I reckon Nowra is really on the money here, and I’m with you ol’ son. I have no doubts that his conspicuous 500 or so words of tighteous indignation in the SMH is sure to achieve what the collapse of the Soviet Union and – say, 200 billion – anticommunist books around the world haven’t. It’s green fields!! Take a bow Nowra, you’re saving the world single-handedly. Today it’s t-shirt consumers, tomorrow the world! Go forth and fulminate my brave warrior! Your time has arrived.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Rafe, two points.

First, the “laissez-faire” Liberals were themselves the Left in the early 19th century.

Secondly, “child labour was a beat-up, labour always had the right to organise but not to engage in restrictive trade practices, etc etc.”

This is incredible. You might like to contemplate child labour today in Pakistan and India. As to labour having the right to organise, you might like to study the Combination Acts introduced in the late 18th and early 19th century. Not to mention the solution to labour organisation of shooting people which is still quite popular in some parts of the world.