Deconstructing the "Human Rights" Ideology
Peter Myers, 17 Nov. 95.; Update 15 Dec 95.
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The great irony of "Human Rights" discourse, is that the self-appointed arbiters of Human Rights are the descendants of Conquistadores, and those they preach to, and accuse, are the newly liberated countries. Europeans, whatever their religion and flag, from Catholicism (Spain) to Protestantism (England) to Marxism (the USSR) to Human Rights (the USA), occupy the high moral ground and missionise the unwashed heathen, hiding the blood on their own hands. During the "Renaissance/Humanist/Enlightenment" period of the last 500 years, the conquistadores invaded nearly all other countries and tribes, eliminating many cultures for ever. Only Japan successfully resisted and turned the tide, and that at the cost of adopting much Western culture itself. The Japanese survival facilitated the current Confucian Renaissance of East Asia. Many centuries earlier, Japan had narrowly escaped the Mongol invasion. Europe also survived it, on account of divisions among the Mongols themselves (upon the death of the Khan). Now the rest of the world has survived the European subjugation, owing to the three great European civil wars of this century: WWI, WWII and the Cold War. The current "Human Rights" ideology is the last remant of European hegemony.
2. A Saint with Clay Feet
The architect of the "Human Rights" ideology is Jean-Jacques Rousseau, "father" of the French Revolution and patron of the "new" methods of education, or rather de-education, in our schools in recent years. It is his ideas that Article 1 of the UN's Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man is based on.
To undermine the Old World Order, the Revolution chose to use the same dirty tricks that the Old Order used to maintain itself, which Machiavelli had described in The Prince. That is, it adopted the ethic that the end justifies the means. This is clearly stated by Rousseau in The Social Contract: "Machiavelli's Prince is a handbook for Republicans" (Penguin edition, p.118). Even Babeuf appealed to Machiavelli, in his defence during the French Revolution.
Rousseau explictly endorses violent means: "In ancient times, Greece flourished at the height of the cruellest wars; blood flowed in torrents, but the whole country was thickly populated. 'It appeared,' says Machiavelli, 'that in the midst of murder, proscription and civil wars, our republic became stronger than ever; the civil virtue of the citizens, their morals, and their independence, served more effectively to strengthen it than all their dissensions may have done to weaken it.' A little disturbance gives vigour to the soul, and what really makes the species prosper is not peace but freedom" (Social Contract, note on p.131; emphasis added).
Writers like Voltaire were de-legitimating the Old Order, the Inquisition having been unable to dam the dissent; but Rousseau was the one who drew the blueprint for the New. He had used the concept of "natural man", inspired by idyllic reports of the life of the native peoples of North America, to argue that all of Europe's institutions were wrong. The European invasion of America thus boomeranged upon Europe. Europe colonised and destroyed the native peoples, but the knowledge of those cultures, and perhaps the guilt of the destruction, undermined the Old Order in Europe. The modern communist movement began with Thomas More's book Utopia, written in 1515, just after Columbus' discovery of America in 1492; in her book Utopia fact or fiction?, Loraine Stobbart argues that More's book, far from mere fiction, was based on reports of actual Maya communities. Rousseau used "natural man" to de-legitimate the Governments, Religions and Institutions of Europe: they were all wrong. Marx and Engels drew attention to the revolutionary impact of the New World upon the Old, in The Communist Manifesto. Yet Rousseau scarcely used "natural man" as a model for his new society; for that he turned instead to Plato's Republic. The Social Contract is peppered with references to Sparta, and draws on Plato's Republic rather than American Indian society, to design the New Order, like yesterday's Socialists and today's Radical Feminists. Voltaire attacked Rousseau for abandoning his five children; in reply, he set down his life-story in his autobiography, The Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
Karl Marx is well known for the saying, "Workers of the World Unite. You Have Nothing To Lose But your Chains." Less well known is that Marx' word chains refers to a key sentence at the start of The Social Contract: "Main Is Born Free, But Is Everywhere In Chains". Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man, made by the United Nations in December 1948, comes straight from Rousseau: it begins, "All human beings are born free". Yet in his Confessions, Rousseau admits that he placed all five of his children (born to his defacto wife Therese, whem he married later in life), into an orphanage, one by one at birth, without even giving them a name, and never saw any of them again. So much for them being "born free". In fact, nobody is born free: everybody is born into particular circumstances he/she does not choose. Rousseau justifies his action as follows: "in handing my children over for the State to educate ... I thought I was acting as a citizen and a father, and looked upon myself as a member of Plato's Republic." Confessions, Penguin edition, pages 322, 333, 334, 385-7. There can be no greater indictment of Plato's Republic.
Our "liberated" society is following Plato rather than Darwin, in determining early childhood policy. The Darwinian perspective (which, in rejecting both teleology and the tabula rasa, is hardly compatible with Humanism) is today articulated by ethologist Desmond Morris, but he is a lone voice; the whole feminist movement has followed Plato's path instead. In his book The Subversive Family, Ferdinand Mount points out that the attack on the family, begun by Plato, was continued by the Church, which for 1500 years disparaged family life as inferior to celibacy. Luther liberated Christianity from monasticism, by making the home a monastery, i.e. by making "conscience" a puritannical tyrant. As Marx put it, Luther "freed man from outward religiosity while he made religiosity the innerness of the heart. He emancipated the body from its chains while he put chains on the heart" (emphasis added; note that word "chains" again). Marx saw himself as completing the attack on authority Luther had begun: "As the revolution then began in the brain of the monk, so now it begins in the brain of the philosopher"; in The Criticism of Religion is the Presupposition of All Criticism, Karl Marx Library, Vol. 5, pp. 35-37. Like the Church, the Marxist movement regarded the family as a threat, a rival source of loyalty and sustenance to the all-powerful state it sought, and which Rousseau had designed in accordance with Machiavellian principles. Ironically, though, Marx himself was married to a one-man woman who disapproved of Engels' living in sin with two women he was not married to. Marx was not exactly a one-woman man himself, so he was able to have his cake and eat it too. He was a devoted father.
Although Rousseau did not rear even one child, of his own or anyone else, his book Emile has been acclaimed by Left educators and many of its precepts (e.g. against rote learning) are followed in our schools today. The guru of the "new" education methods in our schools is a man who reared no children himself. Similarly, Plato, the originator of the idea that parents should not rear their own children, but that they should be communally reared by the State (in creches, daycare centres etc), was himself a bachelor. Similarly, for centuries celibate Catholic priests were the arbiters of family policy. Similarly, childless Radical Feminists such as Germaine Greer are the self-appointed arbiters today. The point is that the West prizes theory-builders in ivory towers over experience and trust in "Mother Nature".
The current Bishops of the Human Rights Ideology mostly consider themselves politically "Left", i.e. in the ideological stream emanating from Rousseau and the French Revolution. Yet they overlook the killing of a million people by the Jacobins etc. during the Revolution. It was the chaos of that New Order which paved the way for Napoleon, who thought nothing of killing five million in his wars of conquest. Yet Robespierre and Napoleon are often considered heroes. Where is the consistency in the "Human Rights" Ideology?
3. Avoided - the Embarrassing Questions
The West's discourse about human rights studiously avoids the big questions: (i) Where do Rights come from - God? Evolution? The generosity of a Ruler? Decision by "experts"? Decision by plebiscite? How could Darwinian evolution lead to Rights? Why is a social contract "implicit" in human but not in animal communities - baboons, kangaroos, seals? Can parties have a contract without knowing it? (iii) If rights are not "natural" but "positive", then who decides them? A U.N. Committee? If so, on what basis? Perhaps by reference to some other U.N. document akin to a secular Bible? This kind of thinking was prominent in the draft document put to the 1994 Cairo Conference - although a U.N. document, it is similar in style to the documents of the Second Vatican Council. Having abandoned Religious Authority, we are now asked to accept Secular Authority . What has happened to democracy - the right of people to make their own mistakes? The more democracy, the smaller the constitution and the fewer the laws, because decisions can be made by plebiscite; the size and complexity of our current law attests to the absence of democracy. (iv) Do rights belong primarily to the individual or to the community (tribe, family, province etc.)? If to the individual, then they cut across all communities and threaten all traditions. Rousseau eulogised the noble savage, but the "Left" movement in the Anglo-Saxon countries regards the individual as primary, whereas all traditional societies are based on the primacy of the group - the individual must fit in, the Common Good takes precedence. The ascription of human rights primarily to the individual rather than to the community, a strong feature of the draft document of the 1994 UN Cairo Conference, is visibly associated with the decline of the American Empire, the hypocritical preacher. What other countries, then, would want to be tainted with it? It will fall with the United States. The Left tries to ride a razor's edge between Individualism and Collectivism, a contradiction expressed in Rousseau's assertion on the one hand of natural human rights (i.e. by birth), and on the other of the primacy of the General Will over individual choice.
This contradiction, according to Lee Kwan Yew (interviewed in Foreign Affairs), brought down the USSR (and by implication may yet bring down the West), but is lacking in the Confucian countries. While the primacy of Community Rights is, as a kneejerk reaction, anathema to the Left, it is widely held in East Asia and in the more traditional societies of the world, including the Islamic ones. The Left own philosophy of Multiculturalism obliges it to respect this view - but Political Correctness triumphs over Multiculturalism. The American Right, looking to restore Order in the face of the present Chaos, is regrouping around Christianity, but the Australian Right will fail in its attempts to regroup around either Christianity or the Monarchy, and will in time regroup, instead, about the Confucian Right, thus being the first European society to move philosophically from the West to East Asia. As bankruptcy contributed to the fall of the USSR, so financial collapse will force our hand: each month for the last 10 years, our current account deficit has exceeded $1 billion, often been $1.5 billion. Each month, $1 billion or more of that is is the "net income deficit", i.e. interest payments due on our foreign debt, or dividends due to foreign investors. However we have been borrowing more to make those payments each month, like a person making his mortgage payments by borrowing more - when one day the lenders say "sorry, no more", suddenly we will have to do what the Philippines did after Marcos: pay our debts without borrowing further. Just as foreign imperialists kept Marcos in power, so with Hawke and Keating. Then our Current Account will be in balance or surplus, because we will be forced to curb imports, diverting money from them to debt and dividend payments. Most of the finance writers in our media are, like the politicians who pushed financial deregulation, traitors to the Australian people; but the interests they work for control the media, and thus public discourse: they actively guard against the true story being put. See The Philippines: Debt and Poverty by Rosalinda Pineda-Ofreneo; throughout the third world the same story is repeated. The reason that we do not feel the pain, is that it is being deferred; but it is not avoidable.
4. Sham Multiculturalism
Individual Human Rights are incompatible with indigenous authority structures. Every initiation ceremony, the basis of traditional authority and discipline, involving the endurance of pain, fear and bodily mutilation, infringes the initiates' "rights". "Progressive Left" thinking treats the family as "the locus of oppression", and therefore tries to destroy it, wrongly harming the main source of nurturance and protection in a harsh world, as Keith Windshuttle pointed out in his book Unemployment. A letter in the Canberra Times of 3/2/94 from a descendant of the Wiradjuri people pointed out the importance of respect to elders in their tradition, compared to the irreverence and discourtesy cultivated today (by the New Left, e.g. in The Little Red Schoolbook, widely influential on teachers trained in the 1970s). When Marx pointed out how capitalism destroys all traditional practices and structures that get in its way, he approved of this because he, like the capitalists, saw them as impediments to modernity. In his 1986 ABC Boyer Lectures, Aboriginal Eric Willmot warned that a world culture - a single Universal standard - is incompatible with cultural variety (p.27).
The Left pressed the Australian Parliament in 1993 to recognise the gay family but not the polygamous family; yet polygamy is universal in aboriginal and traditional cultures, while the "gay family" was not known to anthropology before 1970. The Left's Multiculturalism is a sham, mainly diversity of food and dancing. The Left's Social Evolutionism, with its belief in Progress, implies a rejection of the Past, except insofar as it can be used to create an "Origin" myth; other than that, the Past is a museum of privations and errors, not to be allowed today, forbidden by "standards", "consumer protection" or ÒwelfareÓ laws. Even today, Aboriginal marriage practices such as marriage below the "age of consent", a European convention pronounced "Universal", are not recognised by our so-called "Multicultural" society. Nor are aboriginal punishments such as a-spear-through-the-leg, a punishment distasteful to Europeans because it is physical, while long prison terms, which emotionally harm the prisoner and nurture further crime, are deemed "Universally" acceptable. Smacking a child is an abuse because it is physical, but emotional deprivation by the withholding of affection, or by having 3-month-old babies reared by 9-to-5 "professionals" in day-care centres while mother looks after her "career", is OK. Was any churchman more hypocritical than the new Bishops of Human Rights?
5. Humanism as the Divinisation of Man
The ideology of Human Rights is a form of Humanism; but in the Green philosophy of Peter Singer, Human Rights are no longer inviolate over Nature, especially animals (mainly the "higher" cuddly ones favoured by TV watchers in cities - cockroaches and blowflies receive less empathy). Singer attacks Humanism, the notion that the more people there are, the more dominant over Nature, and the longer they live, the better; that "what's good-for-Humanity is Good". Other attacks on Humanism include John Carroll, Humanism: the Wreck of Western Culture, John Ralston Saul,Voltaire's Bastards, and Rupert Sheldrake, The Rebirth of Nature.
In place of Christianity, Rousseau felt that a Civil Religion was required, as a belief-system (ideology) and also as a form of devotion. He advocated Deism, reminiscent of the impersonal God of Plato, an impersonal concept of divinity comparable to the Brahman of Hinduism, the Karma of Buddhism, and the Heaven or Tao of China. Accordingly, the French Revolution descecrated churches, installed a prostitute as Goddess, and held a "feast of the Supreme Being". The Humanism in the present Postmodernist ideology, however, is based on Atheism, asserted as a dogmatic principle. This is not just a denial of the Old-Man-in-the-Sky of Genesis 1, or the Anthropomorphic God of Genesis 2, gods which, as Karl Marx argued, are fashioned in the image of man. Rather, it is a denial that there is anything greater than Man. It is a denial that there is any Human Nature, which might constrain human individuals or human societies. It is a statement that Man Makes Himself, unconstrained. That Mankind is the Measure of All Things. That humanity is the centre of the universe. That Man is God. God cannot exist, there is no place for God, because otherwise Man's Freedom would be constrained. (In contrast, the Left ideology of Bakunin combines Liberation with Submission to Nature. His view of Nature is almost Taoist; Confucianism is a Humanism in which the individual is subordinate to the Common Good).
"Postmodern" is just another word for "Atheist Existentialist". This world view was out-of-date in the 1970s; but the Gay and Radical Feminist movements latched on to it, renamed it, and extended its life. They assert that the Gay Family is as natural as the Heterosexual Family. They are engaged in a calculated attempt to see how far they can go in defying Nature. So much for Charles Darwin: this philosophy, emphasising the unlimited freedom of the human will, the human Will Over Nature, is pre-Darwinian. The accusation levelled at all opponents, that they create "Essences" (reifications) is the trademark of Existentialists, and suggests an extreme Nominalism. However, they have created their own "essence", namely Patriarchy. Ecofeminism is a form of Radical Feminism that equates Men with the destruction of Nature. Yet even though it identifies with Nature, it repudiates Human Nature. It asserts that the Gay Family is as natural as the Heterosexual Family, and supports Institutionalised Childcare a-la-Plato rather the more natural childcare by the family, such as one finds in tribal societies. This shows the same Resistance Against Nature, that Patriarchy is accused of. In Aquinas' threefold dialectic (affirmation, negation, analogy), Postmodernism is a Negation, pointing out that the grand theories are only partial truths. Averroes pointed to the danger of mistaking a partial truth for the whole truth. Kung Fuzi (Confucius) said that one of the first tasks of the wise ruler is the correction of Names (Essences). The Tao Te Ching says that names are always inadequate to express the things they represent. That is why the Tao can never be adequately expressed; humanity is engaged in an endless struggle to understand, by negating the imperfections or overstatements in previouis formulations. The Hindu warning about mistaking the elephant's trunk (or tail) for the whole elephant, is similar. The Confucianism and Taoism of China were secularised (demythologised) so long ago that they no longer even have an Origin Myth (creation story), an advantage today when origin myths are routinely deconstructed.
6. Tolerance and Terrorism
It is commonly thought that a society based on "Human Rights" would be Tolerant. Yet although Rousseau on the one hand declares the natural rights and freedoms of all citizens of the state, on the other hand he idolises Sparta under the tyranny of Lycurgus, and recommends the use of Machiavellian methods once the New Order is in power. Towards the end of The Social Contract, he explains that the state he proposes would have a 'Civil Religion', with secular dogmas obliging sociability: "Without being able to oblige anyone to believe these articles, the sovereign can banish from the state anyone who does not believe them; banish him not for impiety but as an antisocial being ... ". Thus the Enlightenment, the culmination of a centuries-long struggle for freedom from the Inquisition of the Church, ends up by endorsing an Inquisition of its own: firstly on paper, in The Social Contract, and later in the flesh, in Russia and China. The unity-of-thought-and-action, called "praxis" in Marxist jargon, requires that incorrect thought cannot be tolerated, it is a threat to the New Order.
In Rousseau's Civil Religion the one thing that would not be tolerated is intolerance! Anyone who proclaims "outside THIS church (religion) there is no salvation" would be expelled from the state: minorities would have to fit in - no "chosen people" would be allowed, except in their own state, i.e. "where the state is the church and the prince the pontiff" (Social Contract, Penguin, p.187, emphasis added). This is the self-justifying morality of the totalitarian state, the same amorality we find in the Communist Manifesto and in Trotsky's justification of Terror: that morality is simply whatever is in the class interest of the Good class, for Trotsky (himself an intellectual, like Lenin) the Proletariat; for Germaine Greer, Women, the True Proletariat; or however the Good class is defined. If we do not tolerate the intolerant, are we ourselves not intolerant? Such are the contradictions of creating "heaven on earth". In a one-world-society constructed along Rousseau's lines, the dissidents could not be exiled - they would have nowhere to go!
Among the proponents of the "Human Rights" Ideology today are many who are or have been admirers of Lenin. Lenin's Revolution followed the Jacobin style and even gave Jacobin names to streets in Russia. Stalin is often made the scapegoat for the atrocities of the USSR, as if to exonerate Lenin, but Dmitri Volkoganov, a Colonel-General in the USSR, later Director of the Institute of Military History, in 1991 Defence Adviser to Yeltsin, writes in his book Lenin that it was Lenin, not Hitler or Stalin, who invented the term "concentration camp" (p. 234). As Volkoganov searched the Lenin archives, "gradually the creator and prophet was edged out by the Russian Jacobin. I realised that none of us knew Lenin; he had always stood before us in the death-mask of the earthly god he had never been" (p. xxx); "The idea of the concentration camp system - the State Camp Administration, or GULAG - and the appalling purges of the 1930s are commonly associated with the name of Stalin, but the true father of the Bolshevik concentration camps, the executions, the mass terror and the 'organs' which stood above the state, was Lenin. Against the background of Lenin's terror, it becomes easier to understand the methods of Stalin's inquisition, which was capable of executing someone solely on the grounds of suspicion" (p. 235).
Defenders of Lenin often claim that the Terror he instituted (via the Cheka) soon after the Revolution was necessitated by the Civil War, but this is not so. The Terror involved an ongoing brutal repression quite beyond the mere securing of control. It was an instrument of cultural revolution and an attempt to liquidate the old ruling class. Lenin was the inventor of the term "concentration camp", using it in a letter of 9 August 1918: "It is essential to organise a reinforced guard of reliable persons to carry out mass terror against kulaks [rich peasants], priests and White Guardists; unreliable elements should be locked up in a concentration camp outside the town" (Geoffrey Hosking, A History of the Soviet Union, 1992, p. 71). A Cheka official told his officers in November 1918, "We are not waging war against individual persons. We are exterminating the bourgeoisie as a class. During the investigation, do not look for evidence that the accused acted in deed or word against soviet power. The first questions that you ought to put are: To what class does he belong? What is his origin? What is his education or profession? And it is these questions that ought to determine the fate of the accused. In this lies the significance and essence of the Red Terror" (ibid., p. 70).
That Marx and Engels themselves espoused revolutionary terrorism is shown by A. James Gregor in his article Fascism's Philosophy of Violence and the Concept of Terror, in David C. Rapoport and Yonah Alexander (eds.), The Morality of Terrorism: Religious and Secular Justifications. Volkoganov however has more sympathy for Marx: "not that Marx, to give him his due, was much taken with the idea of dictatorship. Lenin, however, regarded it as Marxism's chief contribution on the question of the state" (op. cit., p. xxxi).
Many of the most ardent advocates of Human Rights are Trotskyists, members of the International Socialist Organisation or the Democratic Socialist Party. Their hero Leon Trotsky orchestrated the Kronstadt massacre, which was not just a minor mistake, as portrayed by some Trotskyist writers; on the contrary it was the crucial way of impressing on the whole country that, although the local soviets (workers' councils) had been used to seize power, henceforth power would not belong to the soviets, that it would instead be wielded by the centre: the "democratic" centre; it meant that the union of Soviet socialist republics was a myth right from the start. In his espousal of Terror, Trotsky showed that he was as coldblooded as Stalin, even if his early expulsion gave him less opportunities for killing. Stalin's forced collectivisation was an implementation of Trotsky's policy.
In his essay Terrorism and Communism of 1920, a reply to Karl Kautsky, Trotsky wrote, "But terror can be very efficient against a reactionary class which does not want to leave the scene of operations. Intimidation is a powerful weapon of policy, both internationally and internally. War, like revolution, is founded upon intimidation. A victorious war, generally speaking, destroys only an insignificant part of the conquered army, intimidating the remainder and breaking their will. The revolution works in the same way: it kills individuals and intimidates thousands. In this sense, the Red Terror is not distinguishable from the armed insurrection of which it is the direct continuation ... The terror of Tsardom was directed against the proletariat. The gendarmerie of Tsardom throttled the workers who were fighting for the Socialist order. Our Extraordinary Commissions shoot landlords, capitalists, and generals who are striving to restore the capitalist order. Do you grasp this ... distinction? Yes? For us communists it is quite sufficient." How many Western academics, nonviolent in their own lives, have supported such bloodshed? Seen people like Mao as "reformers"? Not for Trotsky, turning the other cheek, the forgiveness of enemies of Nelson Mandela.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, a key member of the American establishment but nonetheless an important writer, wrote that this century's wars have killed 87 million people (soldiers and civilian casualties). In addition to these numbers, Hitler killed over 5 million Jews, 800,000 Gypsies, 2 million Poles, 6 million USSR civilians and prisoners of war, and another 2-3 million in Yugoslavia and elsewhere in Europe: about 17 million. Lenin caused the deaths of 6-8 million people: one million in the civil war, the rest in the Terror and the famine caused by the first Great Leap into socialism: the appropriation of the property of the kulaks (peasant farmers) and their destruction as a class, from which Russian agriculture never recovered. Stalin, inheriting Lenin's method of disposing of dissent, had 20-25 million killed (not counting war deaths). Brzezinski attributes 27 million deaths to Mao in the Great Leap Forward, 1-2 million during the Cultural Revolution. Pol Pot had about 1 million victims. Adding the total for all the communist countries, "the failed effort to build communism in the twentieth century consumed the lives of almost 60,000,000 human beings, making communism the most costly failure in all of history" (Out of Control, pp. 16-17). Yet "not a single Stalinist secret police functionary, concentration camp commander, torturer, or executioner has been placed on trial for Stalinist crimes" (p.15). Nor, might one add, have Lenin, Stalin or Mao been convicted of genocide. The loudest voices championing Human Rights seem strangely silent over these matters.
7. Conspiracy of Silence: The Greatest Human Rights Disaster in World History
About 30 million people starved to death in the Great Leap Forward of 1958-60, mainly in remote parts of China. Internal border guards prevented them from crossing into other parts of China. Mao was so confident that forced collectivisation would increase production, that he encouraged the people, "eat until the skin of your belly is tight"; they did - they even ate the seed grain. This was the time of the "backyard blast furnace", for which China's hills were denuded of trees. Of all the disasters of our century, the Great Leap Forward is the one least covered by the media, least known by the public outside China. There appears to be a conspiracy of silence about it, as if one must not bring this "god of the Left" down to human proportions. When the leadership of China could avoid it no longer, Mao admitted to them that he "knew nothing about economics". The running of the country was removed from him and given to Liu Shao-chi; the Cultural Revolution was Mao's comeback, his way of regaining control; for this purpose he used the young people of China, in an orgy of destruction. In the late 60s and early 70s, radical students of the West, knowing nothing of the Great Leap Forward, made Mao into a hero; all the more reason to expose him now.
The political correctness we now find in Australia has excellect pedigree: "Not to have a correct political point of view is like having no soul" (Mao Zedong, On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People, 1957); "... the Communist Party has always advocated a firm and correct political orientation. ... This orientation is inseparable from a style of hard struggle. Without a firm and correct political orientation, it is impossible to promote a style of hard struggle. Without the style of hard struggle, it is impossible to maintain a firm and correct political orientation." (Little Red Book, Quotations From Chairman Mao, p.147). Mao is here expressing the Marxist concept "Praxis", the unity-of-thought-and-action. You must stifle diversity of opinion, because that inhibits struggle.
8. Heaven On Earth
Germaine Greer wrote, in The Female Eunuch, "Hopefully, this book is subversive ... the oppression of women is necessary to the maintenance of the economy ... If the present economic structure can change only by collapsing, then it had better collapse as soon as possible. ... The most telling criticisms will come from my sisters of the Left, the Maoists, the Trots, the I.S., the S.D.S., because of my fantasy that it might be possible to leap the steps of revolution and arrive somehow at liberty and communism without strategy or revolutionary discipline. But if women are the true proletariat, the truly oppressed majority, the revolution can only be drawn nearer by their withdrawal of support for the capitalist system. The weapon I suggest is that most honoured of the proletariat, withdrawal of labour" (Paladin, p.21, emphasis added; the I.S. are the International Socialists, a Trotskyist group; the other Trots may have been the Democratic Socialists).
Greer was calling on women to destroy the Family; but for what? In 1920, Alexandra Kollontai, a close associate of Lenin, published a pamphlet called Communism and the Family, republished in Sydney in 1971, in which she uses the expression "heaven on earth", in describing the Bokshevik strategy: "The red flag of the social revolution which will shelter, after Russia, other countries of the world also, already proclaims to us the approach of the heaven on earth to which humanity has been aspiring for centuries" (emphasis added).
Marx himself used the expression "heaven on earth", in describing his goal, at the First International: "Someday the worker must seize political power in order to build up the new organization of labor; he must overthrow the old politics which sustain the old institutions, if he is not to lose heaven on earth, like the old Christians who neglected and despised politics"; from Qualifying Violent Revolution (speech on 8/9/1872), in Karl Marx Library, McGraw-Hill, 1971, Vol. 1, p.64 (emphasis added).
Engels explained the socialist heaven thus: "The history of early Christianity has notable points of resemblance with the modern working-class movement. Like the latter, Christianity was originally a movement of oppressed people: it first appeared as the religion of slaves and emancipated slaves, of poor peope deprived of all rights, of peoples subjugated or dispersed by Rome. Both Christianity and the workers' socialism preach forthcoming salvation from bondage and misery; Christianity places this salvation in a life beyond, after death, in heaven; socialism places it in this world, in a transformation of society; from On the History of Early Christianity, in Collected Works of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Progress Publishers, Moscow 1975, Volume 27 (emphasis added).
Marx' expression "lose heaven on earth" is elucidated by Engels a little further on, as follows: 'If, therefore, Professor Anton Menger wonders ... why ... "socialism did not follow the overthrow of the Roman Empire in the West", it is because he cannot see that this "socialism" did in fact, as far as it was possible at the time, exist and even became dominant - in Christianity. Only this Christianity ... did not want to accomplish the social transformation in this world, but beyond it, in heaven ..."
But if there is no utopia, change will not necessarily bring improvement, and we must be careful not to judge social realities with a utopian yardstick: we must often choose between options each of which is imperfect. In both the USSR and China, the utopia turned bad. However the intellectuals in charge did relatively well - they may not have realised the extent of suffering among other classes. The approved intellectuals were called the Nomenklatura. That is, because intellectuals are a potent force for or against a political system, there had to be some way of weeding out the dissenters. The method was to create a "List" of "Approved" intellectuals suitable for positions of power. Similar "Lists" of "Approved Women" are a feature of Feminist Australia of the 1990s. The intelligensia of Brezhnev's time was riding high, not realising that the country as a whole was going to ruin. Nugget Coombs has warned of a similar situation in Australia today (Australian Business Monthly, March 1992; ANU Reporter, 9/12/92; National Graduate, Autumn 1993).
9. The Last Word
Europeans of both Right and Left have too much blood on their own hands to dictate to others, even in the name of saving them, whether from the devil, savagery or patriarchy. Yet, mutating our ideology, we dissociate ourselves from the wrongs of the past and continue our missionising from a clean slate. It is appropriate to leave the last word on the "Human Rights" ideology to Rousseau. In The Social Contract he says that the new revolutionary society will need "a Civil Religion". That is what it is.
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