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Mastering Marxism with Rhonda, Lisa, and David, Part 2: Putting the Horse Before the Cart

Posted on July 8 2010 9:00 pm
Lisa Graas has covered politics and religion at her blog since 2008. She has served as a crisis pregnancy counselor, youth speaker, mental health advocate and legislative consultant.
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Dear Rhonda and David,

Today I received my copy of Main Currents of Marxism and look forward to participating in the online discussion of this historical analysis. I come at this from the perspective of a practicing Catholic and while I pledge no attempts to convert readers to the Catholic view of things, I do have a responsibility to remain consistent with my understanding of my faith tradition, so bear with me in that regard. As it stands, I have completed the two prefaces and the introduction, so I’d like to share some initial thoughts.

First, I’d like to offer a note on why I chose to participate. This book and its author Leszek Kołakowski are completely new to me. The first I had heard of either came in Dave Swindle’s post inviting bloggers to participate in an online discussion. I personally come into the discussion as someone who seeks to advance the cause of human dignity with the meager intellectual means at my disposal. As someone who carries that desire, I’ve studied a great deal about the history of the evils of certain movements, but particularly Nazism. It is through the study of Nazism that I’ve learned what I know about the evils of Stalinism because one cannot fully study Nazism without picking up information about Stalinism along the way. Stalinism and Nazism were contemporary ideologies pitted on some level against one another, but also sharing some important similarities. It’s always been on my ‘to do’ list to learn more about Stalinism and how it came to be in order to better understand my responsibilities in helping to prevent a repeat, which is also why I’ve studied Nazism. When David suggested this book, it occurred to me that participating in a study of Marxism, which inspired Stalinism, might serve as putting the horse before the cart. Kołakowski’s book, I’ve found, is highly acclaimed, and so, here I am.

Already I am fascinated, primarily by Kołakowski’s obvious awareness that reason and logic must prevail in a critical analysis such as this. Catholic readers will very much appreciate Kołakowski’s understanding that it is a difficult but important task to bring objectivity to any such work and his use of logical questioning actually brought the Summa Theologica to mind. We Catholics would join in finding problematic his view that no ‘truth’ is free from error of interpretation, particularly over the passage of the ages, but it is not at all problematic to meet Kołakowski where he is and to appreciate his commitment to providing an accurate accounting of Marxism for readers in the world at large who possess innumerable views and experiences. It seems clear to me, and refreshingly so, that Kołakowski’s aim is not to prove a pre-existing subjective viewpoint but rather to analyze, using reason, the Marxist philosophy for what it truly is, its root origins and what it ultimately leads to in practice.

I look forward to reading more from Main Currents of Marxism and to hearing what others bring to the discussion.



Editor’s Note: If anyone else would like to join the discussion of Main Currents with Marxism then please use the contact form.

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