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The nature of Marxism*

By Olavo de Carvalho

London 04.02.06 | Yesterday commentary about the ludicrous 'Muslim outrage' have caused interesting responses from readers of this site. It has been suggested that extremism is what makes a religious individual to feel it is acceptable and condonable to carry out violent acts against others, in order to defend whatever creed or system of beliefs it espouses. That is, a slight modification of Weinberg's premise "Good people will do good things, and bad people will do bad things. But for good people to do bad things -- that takes extremism." Again I think this is a simplistic and irresponsible view. Rather it takes a combination of factors, among which religion, but above all, ignorance and intellectual servility is key. Rational Muslims are meant to be concerned about the stigma that has befallen the Nation of Islam since 9/11. It is argued that not all Muslims are suicide bombers, but all suicide bombers happen to be Muslim. Ergo there's an element of fanatism and extremism among suicide bombers and the common denominator is the shared faith. Is that a coincidence? I think not. Members of certain political movements, albeit less dangerous, also exhibit the irrationality of the brotherhood of martyrs that seek entrance to the heavens -and financial support for their families, by blowing themselves, and innocent people, up. I am of the opinion that the Left and its isms (Marxism, Communism, Socialism, Environmentalism, etc) are good enough examples of the threat that fanatic zealots represent, for the driving force of such movements is nothing but variants of profound resentment. I also believe that the Left is not a political ideology but an attitude, a behavioural phenomena; manifestation of untreated psychological traumas that, inevitably, lead to neurosis. The two, fundamentalism (religious extremism) and leftism (political extremism), I would put in the same compartment, equally pernicious, demonstrably irrational human conducts. In sharing these thoughts with Olavo, he kindly sent an article, that I took the liberty of translating, for it describes brilliantly my position vis-a-vis fundamentalism in its religious or political forms, although I would have used Leftism instead of Marxism.

*A natureza do marxismo

By Olavo de Carvalho | Translated by A. Boyd

Investigating for decades the nature of Marxism, I ended up concluding that it is not a theory, an ideology or a political movement. It is a culture, in the anthropological sense, a whole universe of beliefs, symbols, values, institutions, formal and informal powers, conduct norms, speech patterns, conscious and subconscious habits, etc. It follows that it is self creating and self referencing, uncapable of any understanding except in its own terms, it does not admit a reality distant from its own horizon within a veracity criteria above its self proclaimed goals. As any culture, its subsistence depends, above morality and reality exigencies, on defending at all costs its values, for these constitute the totality of which reality or morality are partial elements, which explains that, the pretense of refuting it is, to its ears, an intolerable and absurd revolt of the parts against the whole, a nonsensical violation of ontological hierarchy.

The constitution of its identity includes self-defence methods that impose severe limits to rational criticism, recurring, when threatened real or imaginarily, to mithological excuses, to collective delusion, to outright lying, to exclusion and liquidation mechanisms for inconveniences and to the sacrificial rite of scapegoats.

Those who think possible to "contest" Marxism by means of well founded attacks to its "principles" are fooling themselves. Unity and culture preservation is, for a Marxist, above all intellectual and cognitive considerations, and for that reason explicit principles of its theory are not "the" foundation of Marxist culture, but only a verbal, imperfect and provisional, translation of a much deeper foundation that is not cognitive but existential, which identifies itself with the sacredness of its culture that must remain untouchable. This foundation can be "felt" or "experienced" by members of the culture via participation in the collective atmosphere, through common undertakings, by sharing memories of past glories and the hope for future victories, but can not be reduced in particular to any verbal formulation regardless of how elaborated and prestigious it may be. Hence it is possible to be Marxist without accepting any former Marxist dogmas, including those of Marx. Equally it is possible to take part in the Marxist movement without knowing its theory, and it is also feasible to critically reject its theory without ceasing to collaborate with the movement in practice.

Invested criticism against theoretical formulations leaves intact the existential foundation that, when attacked, retreats to the inexpugnable shelter of muted certainties or, simply, produces new substitutive formulations that, if incoherent as the first set, it would not prove, to the Marxist, but the infinite wealth of unutterable foundations, capable of conserving its identity and force upon a variety of contradictory predicaments that Marxism transcends infinitely.

Marxism does not have principles but unspeakable impressions in constant metamorphosis. Since human reality can't but be experienced as a number of tensions that modify through time without ever being resolved, contradictions among various Marxist formulations make a perfect microcosmic imitation of real existence, within which a Marxist can spend its entire life immune to tensions outside the system, with the additional advantage that within (the system) the said tensions are somewhat "under control", attenuated by the movement's internal solidarity and by the shared hopes.

Should Marxism be a "second reality," as accepted by Robert Musil and Eric Voegelin, it is not only in the cognitive sense of fake idealistic representations, but in the existential sense of active and practical falsifications of life experiences. It follows that any people subjected to the dominating influence of Marxism begin to live in a closed mental space, alien to realities of the external world.

In the next article I shall detail these explanations, a summary of what I have said in a recent debate with a professor of the Law Faculty of USP (University of Sao Paulo) to which my interlocutor replied, stating that I thought thusly due to "grave emotional problems," not realizing that, with such argument, he gave the best exemplification of my theory.

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