Sunday, August 16, 2015

Egalitarianism and Mass Murder

Somehow, perhaps because of the constant finger-pointing by the side that commits mass murder, we forget the connection.

This is a 1994 cry of the heart by Marxist historian Eugene Genovese, who realized that all of his lying, disinformation, dissembling and hypocrisy as a Communist fellow-traveler had been meaningless in the long run.

//Our whole project of "human liberation" has rested on a series of gigantic illusions. The catastrophic consequences of our failure during this century—not merely the body count but the monotonous recurrence of despotism and wanton cruelty—cannot be dismissed as aberrations.Slimmed down to a technologically
appropriate scale, they have followed in the wake of victories by radical egalitarian movements throughout history. We have yet to
answer our right-wing critics' claims, which are regrettably well documented, that throughout history, from ancient times to the peasant wars of the sixteenth century to the Reign of Terror and beyond, social movements that have espoused radical egalitarianism and participatory democracy have begun with mass murder and ended in despotism.

Let us grant, arguendo, that the ruling classes have done worse. Whatever solace that thought may give us, our own problem remains: what kind of society could we build on a worldview marred by flagrant irrationalities paraded as self-evident truths, even if reinforced by sandbox cries of "You're another"?

The allegedly high ideals we placed at the center of our ideology and politics are precisely what need to be reexamined, but they can no longer even be made a subject for discussion in the mass media and our universities, to say nothing of the left itself. They are givens: an unattainable equality of condition; a radical democracy that has always ended in the tyranny it is supposed to overcome; a celebration of human goodness or malleability, accompanied by the daily announcement of newly discovered "inalienable rights" to personal self-expression; destruction of all hierarchy and elites, as if ideological repudiation has ever prevented or ever could prevent the formation and reformation of hierarchies and elites; condemnation of "illegitimate" authority in the absence of any notion of what might constitute legitimate authority; and, at the root of all, a thorough secularization of society, bolstered by the monstrous lie that the constitutional separation of church and state was meant to separate religion from society. And we have yet to reassess the anti-Americanism—the self-hatred implicit in the attitude we have generally affected toward our country—that has led us into countless stupidities and worse. Let us give ourselves some credit: through it all we have preserved a rich sense of humor. The destruction of hierarchies, elites, and authority is to be effected through the concentration of power in a Leviathan state miraculously free of all such reactionary encumbrances.//

But isn't that the way of any movement that stakes its legitimacy on the building of a paradise in this world through human action?

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