Impossible Dreams: The West’s Undying Love Affair With Marx

Impossible Dreams: The West’s Undying Love Affair With Marx, by Claude Polin.

Marx-inspired communism may very well have been the greatest scourge mankind has ever devised against mankind, and I suspect there are plenty who would agree with such an indictment.

But why then has there never been enough steam anywhere in the West to bring about a public trial of communism, the way Nazism was tried without wasting a minute after World War II? To me this is the real mystery of the West, the surrendering of its soul to the gross attacks of the snake it let grow inside itself. …

Whatever Marxists — or self-proclaimed ones — may have done, there must be something profoundly alluring for Western populations in the Marxist doctrine, so much so that they are spontaneously attracted to it.

Let us return to some fundamentals, which is to say the extraordinary upheaval that permeated the Western world beginning in the 16th century. The feeling and the idea progressively spread and became an accepted truth that mankind had entered an entirely new era of its history, an era pregnant with the promise (declared to be much more reliable than the Christian one) that mankind had finally emerged from a world of suffering, sorrow, and slavery to enter a new one in which each and every human being would be free to fulfill his needs and dreams, particularly material ones — in other words, to achieve happiness. …

Marx has no other goal than that of modernity itself, which is the West’s goal par excellence. Just listen to him: Communism is a system in which it will be possible “for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic.” Communism is a society of utter freedom, where everyone roams at his leisure doing only what he wants to do. Now is that so different from John Locke’s and, behind him, all the liberals’ discourses? …

Marx is not an enemy of the liberals; he is the embodiment of a liberal who has managed to attain the goal he has set himself. …

Now I want to suggest that it must be extremely difficult for anyone who believes in the promises of modernity not to be tempted by Marx’s proposals, so generous at first sight, even though they must have included the elimination of a few kulaks, a few of the old-style owners. But who cares about a few lives, if the happiness of millions is involved? Marx was giving new life to a dying dream. …

How long can the dream linger on? Things will go their natural way, and soon enough the comrade general will become much more of a general than a comrade. Little by little communism will slouch toward its most hateful state, that of a society that has lost all pretence of community. Since everyone is supposed to be a sovereign, each will try to ensure his sovereignty as much as he possibly can, and communism will turn into a jungle in which every man is a law unto himself and no one stoops to obedience unless fear forces him to do so.

This is why the people of the West are having an epiphany of sorts. Suddenly, liberal societies represent, in the very eyes of the communist-inspired citizens themselves, mankind’s best hope for universal happiness, because these societies let every individual pursue his own happiness in his own way, without fear of being sent to the cellars of the Lubyanka. …

The West will rid itself of Marx only if it decides to return to the wisdom of its past, correcting its possible flaws, but preserving its commitment to the fundamental belief that man must understand the world and his place in it, rather than try to recreate a world in which everyone may live according to his impulses.

It must nevertheless be realized what liberal reformers are facing, which is nothing less than the great temptation that has been mankind’s ever since man was created: “Ye shall be like gods.” Marxism is just the umpteenth temptation of the Dark Angel whose names are legion. Of course, the price of yielding to such temptation is Hell, which is why from time to time the walls protecting the unholy dreamers come crumbling down. But the dream marches on and will continue to do so as long as Westerners stick to the infantile wishful thinking that the great Deceiver keeps whispering in their ears and which is rendered periodically irresistible by the patent and unjustifiable inequities of modern Western societies.

hat-tip Stephen Neil