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Mastering Marxism with Rhonda and David, Part 1: The Farcical Aspect of Human Bondage

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Posted on July 5 2010 10:00 pm
David Swindle is the Managing Editor of NewsReal Blog and the Associate Editor of FrontPage Magazine. Follow him on Twitter here

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Dear Rhonda,

I’m so glad that you’ve decided to join me in reading Leszek Kolakowski’s Main Currents of Marxism. I think by reading it together and having a public correspondence about its themes as we plow through it we’re more likely to actually finish it and understand it better. In other words, we have a better chance of “Mastering Marxism” as our series title proclaims.

I wanted to read Main Currents because David Horowitz told me that it was “the best book that will ever be written about Marxism.” I also knew that it was a key influence for him on his own critique of Marxism, as most clearly expressed in my favorite of his books, The Politics of Bad Faith.

The other day David came into my office at the Freedom Center. He saw the thick copy of Main Currents on my desk and picked it up, marveling at how all three volumes were now compiled into one brick of a book. (It’s 1281 pages including the index!) He flipped to the last page and insisted that I read it, claiming it to be the perfect summary of Marxism:

“The self-deification of mankind, to which Marxism gave philosophical expression, has ended in the same way as all such attempts, whether individual or collective: it has revealed itself as the farcical aspect of human bondage.”

The obvious question many people probably have is why it’s valuable to read a 1200 page book on Marxism. What’s to be gained from it when Marxism is allegedly so “marginal” in our society?

The reality that I’ve come to understand is that Marxism isn’t dead. It’s only evolved. Today you have people who are basically Marxists and don’t even realize it (and others who are good at hiding it.) I’ve had so many discussions with “liberals” in which I realize that all they’ve done is adopt a Marxist framework but put on “progressive” skin. Their way of seeing the world is based on class warfare. Instead of saying “bourgeoisie” and “proletariat” they’ve merely updated the terms to be “corporate fat cats” and “average joes.” But the breakdown is still the same. Rich people are bad — they stole their wealth instead of creating it. And poor people are continually being beaten down and exploited by them. And government is capable of correcting this. (There’s that self-deification of mankind.) All of this goes back to Marxism.

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