LIVING WITHOUT UTOPIA
Peter Myers, 21 Blair St, Watson ACT 2602 Australia; +61-2- 62475187. March 22, 1994; update September 22, 2002. For the internet edition I have moved the footnotes into the body of the text, at the end.
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This article argues that the Western intellectual tradition has been critically infected with Utopian thinking, in ways it is hardly aware of; that such goals have led to the deaths of millions of people this century, and that they are preventing the West from coming to terms with the societies of East Asia.
With the ascent of the Whitlam Government in 1972 the Mandate of Heaven changed in Australia. In 1973 the Australian Broadcasting Commission published a series of talks called Marx and Beyond, which in effect officially enthroned Marxism as the philosophy and culture of the era. My own training at Sydney University immersed me in that culture; the Little Red Schoolbook, the Thoughts of Chairman Mao, and the heroic stories about the barefoot doctors made a big impression on students like me in the early 1970s. The Cultural Revolution was not unique to China; we are having one too, less intense but lasting longer. The Fraser Government, despite its large electoral majorities, had a taint of illegitimacy about it, so the Whitlam Mandate was unchanged. The Hawke-Keating Government, while letting the Right have its way over the economy, has maintained the Left line on social policy. There is a feeling that the Mandate will change again, but no clear direction is indicated; perhaps the Confucian Right, typified by Lee Kwan Yew, will be the new direction. In this Whitlam era, debate about social issues has mainly occurred within Left parameters and discourses. This paper "deconstructs [footnote 1]" the Marxist and post-Marxist (Marxist-derived) Left, not to endorse the far Right (it is similar to the far Left in many ways) but to support a dynamic centrism.
In the economic debate the dominant Right and the dominant Left affirm Free Trade and Internationalism. While there are dissident views on both sides, they have so far remained powerless. As Tom Fitzgerald noted in his 1990 ABC Boyer Lectures, the normal dialectic between Right and Left over economic policy has virtually ceased, even though there is a strong case against free trade and the free movement of capital (e.g. as put by Daly in The Scientific American, Nov.93). How has this debate been sidelined? The expressions (together comprising a "discourse") have been chosen by one side of the debate: the Right. As Daly points out, "free" implies something-for-nothing, whereas Free Trade actually means Deregulated Trade; the word "internationalism", in Right parlance, also means "Deregulation". Since the Transnationals are the big players, "free" trade is "free" for them but not for governments or people. By having their expressions and meanings adopted as the terms in which debate will be conducted, the Right had it won. The Left was seduced by these expressions into thinking that the Right's goals were its goals too; the differences have not been explicated.
The Right has been captured by the Big Business lobby representing transnational companies; the Left has been captured by the so-called New Class, middle-class people with a Marxist view of history, who became radicalised in a mass change of consciousness during the anti-Vietnam rebellion, and who have now spread into the Black, Green, Feminist and Gay causes. They expect that destroying the Anglo-American empire from the inside, by the Culture of Complaint, infiltration of the bureaucracy, and Legislative Reform, will lead to "the end of empire" once and for all, to one world government, equality and peace - whereas in fact it seems merely to be leading to new empires in the Western Pacific. Paul Kennedy pointed this out in The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, but it has not reached New Class consciousness. The New Class deconstructs cultures it dislikes but overlooks that all cultures can be deconstructed, including its own. As Claude Levi-Strauss said, all ideologies are wrong (in part at least); it is easier to see the defect in the other as object, than in oneself as subject.
The Right by-and-large controls the Means of Production, including ownership and editorial control of the mass media. The Left otherwise controls the Means of the Transmission of Culture (the arts, education, journalism), because "New Class" activists, who were entering the workforce 20 years ago, are now key players in this domain. Both sides, believing that the end justifies the means, use guerilla tactics to maintain their hold and control the limits of discourse in the mass media. Each side admits its own viewpoint only, so that only the correct Left or correct Right line gets a go, unless the author is already famous. People who fall between Left and Right rarely get published, regardless of quality. Both sides prey on the Centre: the Right's Revolt of the Rich has sacrificed the real economy for the financiers' paper economy (J.K. Galbraith, The Culture of Contentment); The Left's Welfare (in place of Keynesian self-sufficiency) now consumes the country's wealth while the foreign debt compounds. The Left protests but does not accept responsibility (Robert Hughes, Culture of Complaint). The sense of belonging to a social whole, cultivated in the Confucian societies, is lacking. We do not say "we".
Each side works to maintain the status quo; as a result, no evidence seems sufficient to elicit a reversal of policy. Each side has "faith", in the religious sense, in its view. Faith is impervious to evidence; converts hold true to their faith more reliably than born believers. This adherence to creeds is far more pervasive in our universities than we would like to think, especially in the humanities but also in the sciences (the entrenched Big Bang theory was invented by a Jesuit and is suspiciously close to Genesis chapter 1). The various schools of thought have their similarities to the priesthoods of ancient Egypt, each dedicated to its own particular god. We are much less "rational" than we acknowlege.
The Left's Internationalism has Marxist roots: it is based on the Marxist schema of History. In Marx's version of history, the millenia-long class-war is about to end with the proletarian revolution, followed by the dictatorship of the proletariat and then the classless society. When there are no social classes, there will be no conflict and everyone will live happily ever after, with communal property and free love - a return to "primitive communism" but in an urban, industrial society.
Common to both moderate and far Left is the notion that their "Internationalism" is pro-peace. However it seeks to replace war between countries with war between classes - in this case, the war of workers against bosses; in the case of the "radical feminist" variant of Marxism, the war of women against men. In other words, the front lines would be within societies rather than between societies: horizontal rather than vertical. Marx used his advocacy of violence in this struggle, as a key difference between his brand of socialism and those he labelled "utopian". The dispute between Trotsky and Stalin over internationalism vs. nationalism split the communist movement. Faced with the Japanese invasion, Mao argued that "a Communist, who is an internationalist", can at the same time be a patriot in the defence of one's country.
How realistic is the Marxist view of history [footnote 2]? Firstly, it is fundamentalist: based on the Christian view of Eden followed by millenia of sin followed by the defeat of Satan and the Second Coming, after which, sinners destroyed, the good would live happily ever after. Marx' version is equally fundamentalist in a secular way [footnote 3].
Secondly, it is utopian. Among the social animals - bees, fowls, whales, apes etc. - there is role division and inequality of power. The same is typically true of hunter-gatherer societies; intra-group class war of the Marxist or Radical Feminist type does not seem to occur naturally. The very thought of a "utopian society" among bees or baboons, with no role division and where every member has equal power, is ludicrous, yet that is what is being proposed for humans [footnote 4]. Such dreams have cost the lives of tens of millions of people this century. Millions died of starvation during Stalin's forced collectivisation in 1929. The forced collectivisation in Mao's Great Leap Forward, 1958-61, led to a famine in which 30 million died; as a result, Liu Shao-chi was made chairman of the Republic. The Cultural Revolution was Mao's attempt to retake control; its terrors caused the final loss of faith in Marxism. The Western media has covered the atrocities of Hitler and Pol Pot, but not those of Mao, hero of the 1970s Western student movement, today's elite.
Thirdly, it is hypocritical. Marxists reject inequality of power, but often seek and occupy positions of power themselves, as the guardians of correctness; dogmatism and intolerance of heresy is quite common amongst them. The anarchist Bakunin pointed out that communism would mean "the rule of the great masses of the people by a privileged minority" (Statism and Anarchy, 1873); Marx chose not to reply. Many socialists, feminists and greens are comfortable middle-class people, who find working-class philistinism and "ockerism" quite distasteful, and do not feel guilty about their relative privileges, or the debt being left to the next generation.
Nearly all of Marx' vast writings are critiques of actual societies; the utopia he envisaged is barely mentioned. Much blood has been expended for such an unexamined and uncertain goal [footnote 5]. The Christian Heaven and the Radical Feminist Lesbian/Separatist Paradise are also vague. When one wishes to create a myth to motivate people, one must leave it vague; exploring the details may lead to disbelief. Marx diagnosed the origins of capitalism as lying beyond (Weber's) Calvinism in Jewish usury. In his writings on the Jews A World Without Jews (Eng. tr. D. Runes [footnote 6], 1959), he says that the Christian capitalists leaned their greed from the Jews, who had made money their god. Engels diagnosed early Christianity as a religion of revenge, with its promise of Hell) against the oppressive Empire [footnote 7], but Marx' Communist movement is equally one of revenge against oppressive Capitalism. "His heart is filled not with love but with rancor", Bakunin wrote (The International and Karl Marx, 1872).
The point is not that the status quo should be preserved, but that there is no utopia; and therefore, we should be careful not to judge social realities with a utopian yardstick. We must often choose between options each of which is imperfect. Further, as Catholic tradition taught, we all have our sins, and deserve some forgiveness; the Marxist and Radical Feminist tradition is more Calvinist, in being hard-hearted, denying its own "sin" while pointing the finger mercilessly at the despised class. Giving up the Marxist view of history means abandoning the notion that it is governed by a law which determines its outcome; and abandoning the notion that there are stages of economic and social development that societies progress through unilinearly, and some sort of culmination: the TELEOLOGY and ESCHATOLOGY of Marxism.
Since the French Revolution, Europeans have been trying to find the PERFECT social structure, as the key to creating a utopia or "heaven on earth". This quest was rooted in the Christian debate over "the Problem of Evil". Given a good omnipotent God, how can evil arise? The Answer was that individual people choose to commit sin, by accepting temptations emanating from Satan, the Devil. The Enlightenment eliminated this Answer, but retained the Question. It answered that Evil arises not from individual persons, who are inherently good, but from an Evil Social Structure. If this can be overthrown and the Right structure imposed, then we can have the Perfect Society.
For Marxists, the Evil Structure is the Class System; for Nazis, the evil Jewish presence [footnote 8]; for Radical Feminists, Patriarchy. In each case, the offending group must be eliminated [footnote 9]. One might argue instead that structure or form, on its own, does not guarantee quality or content. That one might have a good Monarchy or a bad one, a good or bad Republic, a good or bad Communist society [footnote 10]. Revolution-borne experiments to create the perfect society, whether Stalin's, Hitler's, or the push for Matriarchy [footnote 11], are destructive and typically fail.
The Marxist view of history is a blend of Christian Salvation History and Social Evolution. In the Christian version, human history begins with an innocent paradise, descends into sinfulness and the battle between Good and Evil (God and Devil), and ends with the destruction of the evil forces. In the Marxist version, the innocent paradise is the primitive communist society of communal property and communal marriage. This then descends into the era of private property and marriage as a property relationship, with the class war between rulers and ruled. History culminates in our own era with the revolution in which the Proletariat (the Good) destroy the Ruling Class (Evil) and classless equality is restored. The Radical Feminist position saw the two classes of history not as economic classes (owners and workers) but as Male (the Evil oppressor) and Female (the Good and helpless victim). It switched the sexual polarities presented by Christianity, making Male Power and Violence the origin and cause of Evil in the world. As in the other two cases, such a vision prepared the "Good" class for a struggle against the Evil one: Women's Studies Courses train feminist warriors to battle the patriarchy. Camille Paglia shows that the capture of the Women's Movement by authoritarian extremists who fear and despise masculinity has led to a new puritanism, the defeat of 60s/70s libertarian Anarchism.
Since the Enlightenment, a variety of secular fundamentalisms - Marxist, Nazi, Radical Feminist - have preoccupied the European mind, unobserved because fundamentalism was defined as necessarily religious. A fundamentalist world-view is one based on the antagonistic polarity concept: (a) social forces are seen as divided into two sides, one good, one evil (b) the good side is totally good and the other totally evil; there are no "shades of grey" in between. There is a denial that even the good have their faults, and even the evil have their good points. (c) they are at war; each aims for the destruction of the other (d) the goal is a "monopole", self-existent in the sense of not needing the other pole (e) in religious fundamentalism, the goal is an other-worldly utopia (but in Christendom, the Kingdom of God was identified to some extent with the rule of the Church) (f) in secular fundamentalism, the goal is a this-worldly utopia: the Communist Paradise; the 1000-year Reich; the Lesbian community, separate and uncontaminated by men, etc. (g) such this-worldly utopias turn into nightmares, shattering the faith of the adherents (h) once a person learns to think in terms of antagonistic polarities, other oppositions can be slotted in. Thus many Christians have envisaged an opposition (war) between spirit and matter, heaven and earth, male and female (the female seen, in the person of Eve, as introducing Evil into the world, and contaminated by her identification with the powers of Nature) (i) the antagonistic polarity concept is a powerful motivator of mass movements.
In Christianity, the highest ideal has been celibacy (a monopole, not interacting sexually with the other pole, and not needing it). In Communism the highest ideal is the proletarian hero of the Cultural Revolution, a monopole in the sense that he/she appears without connection to Managerial Function, as if self-organising; whereas in any mass society this role must be specialised and concentrated, to avoid chaos. The power and privileges of the managerial elites in China and the USSR were an embarrassment, contradicting the ideal that a society in which all members were equal could spontaneously organise itself. The Western Counterculture student movement (Paris 1968 etc.), partly libertarian Anarchist, partly Trotskyist, and partly inspired by the Marxist Red Guards in Mao's Cultural Revolution (1966-75), suffered from the same contradiction in its "hippy" communes. In Radical Feminism, the ideal is the Lesbian Community [footnote 12], separate from men and uncontaminated by them. Capitalism, Stalinism, Humanism and Applied Science are united in a sense of War against Nature, while Ecofascism is an almost anti-human Crusade against their mechanistic materialism.
The "antagonistic polarity" concepts lead one to project all of one's own "sins" onto the evil "other". On this basis left-wing activists (green, black, gay, women's etc) have felt a need to portray themselves as victims, and maintain a state of innocent victimhood, much as the Pentagon has felt a need to find a "bad guy" against which the U.S. can play the "good guy" in a cosmic battle of righteousness. The cure for such black-and-white polarising is the recognition that the objectified "other" also has some good points, and the "victim" also has its "sins"; both sides are shades of grey. The Complementarity Polarity viewpoint sees the poles as complementary, like the north and south poles of a magnet, neither superior, each necessary to the other, and "harmony" arising from their interaction. Neither tries to destroy the other, each is happy to be itself. Examples are the Daoist (yin/yang) secular philosophy of China, and its religious correlates in India, where an ancient "erotic ascetic" tradition continues, its saints (wrongly labelled "gods" and "goddesses" by European translators) the symbols of human potential and limits. David Maybury-Lewis, in Millenium, showed how traditional societies envisage complementarity: "The ancient Egyptians believed that a totality must consist of the union of opposites. A similar premise ... is at the heart of much Chinese thinking [Daoist etc.] ... Peoples all over the world, in Eurasia, Africa and the Americas, have come to the conclusion that the cosmos is a combining of opposites ...". This is irreconcilable with Radical Feminism, which has been fighting exactly this viewpoint, condemning all those societies.
A third viewpoint, perhaps semi-fundamentalist, separates the poles but does not envisage a war between them. It creates a disjunction between pairs that complement each other. Many academic debates, e.g. that between nature & nurture, swing between extremes when the truth lies in the interaction of both variables: nature expects nurture, anticipates it and is "programmed" to receive its input; this was a key insight in John Bowlby's book Attachment. Thus sexual behaviour in primates is both "instinctual" and "learned", in that the social environment normally provides the opportunities for imitation that the individual organism is programmed to look for. Similarly, leftists who focus on the distribution side of the economy but ignore the production side, undermine the capability of a society to sustain the delivery of goods and services for distribution. Ignoring such factors has contributed to the growing debt the "socially responsible" generation is leaving to next one. In Small is Beautiful, Schumacher speaks of the need for both chaos and order, in accomplishing any venture: chaos for creativity, order for the delivery of outcomes. A balance between the two is the best recipe. Stalinism is too orderly, stifling creativity; Laissez-Faire Capitalism is too chaotic. The Keynesian economy is an attempt at a balance, State Management but Private Ownership. But Keynes pointed out (preface, German edition, General Theory) that it is more easily done in a totalitarian (fascist) state.
The ancestry of this-worldly utopias begins with the Forms (ideal types) of the philosopher Plato, who lived 2400 years ago in Athens during its 30-year war with the rival city-state of Sparta. Athens was a "democracy" (though the slaves did not vote) in which the arts flourished (philosophy, playwrights, mathematics, science, sculpture etc.), whereas Sparta was a "police state". In his writings Plato advocated a system based on that of Sparta, in which the freedom of individuals would be taken from them and given to social engineers. His motive may have been partly vindictive for, after losing the war (it was the end of Athens) the Athenians blamed the destruction to some extent on Plato's hero Socrates, as the instigator of the treason of Alcibiades, the leader who got them into their mess (see A.E. Taylor's book Socrates). They condemned Socrates to death; he died at age 70 or 71, after many years of debunking the experts by his sceptical questioning. An amnesty for participants in the war precluded direct charges against him, so other charges were concocted, in terms of his undermining the traditional religion; and on that account Socrates is one of the "saints" of the humanist worldview, his death still celebrated in the Philosophy Departments of the Western world. The enforcement of political correctness shows that many in today's Left are, like Plato, Athenians who would destroy Athens.
The prominence of deductive thinking in the West, traceable to Pythagoras and Plato, who emphasised it as a method for use by his elite guardians, is good for utopias but may be a hindrance in the West's coming to terms today with the practical peoples of East Asia. Albert Einstein used deductive "thought experiments", premised on his eastern pantheist faith in the order, logic and beauty in the cosmos, to arrive at relativity theory; but his theory was prompted by the experimental failure of the previous theory, and was itself subject to rigorous testing. Like many leading physicists he was a mystic; his Cosmic Religion qualifies him to be a spiritual guide for our time. But inductive thinking may be more important for the development of technology and flexible handling of the practicalities of everyday living. The theories of the "rational" economists, deductively correct but impervious to empirical evidence that they are wrong, illustrate the crisis in Western thought. The error may be, not in the computer programs implementing the deductive reason, but in the assumptions and inputs, the stubborn certainty of the designers of the models, who have been trained not in the school of hard knocks but in an academic cloister; they do not allow for intuition or grass-roots feedback.
We should be wary about adopting the "Social Evolutionist" view of human history, according to which culture is seen as stepped from "less advanced" stages to "more advanced" ones, with progressive forces determining a direction "upwards". It is like prizing a plant or animal which has "evolved late" over one which has "evolved early"; whereas those that evolved early and have lasted longer, might have a counter claim to be "well adapted", not needing to change. Social Evolution is incompatible with our acceptance of the equal validity of indigenous cultures. Contrary to the common Left line, 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".
The "father of Sociology", Auguste Comte, also scoffed at the concept of natural rights. As E.E. Evans-Pritchard puts it in A History of Anthropological Ideas, "His particular dislike of lawyers was, among other things, on account of their constant talk about natural rights, a meaningless concept they got from Roman law", (p. 47, emphasis added here and below). Comte felt that "Even the greatest philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries ... Hobbes, Locke, Voltaire, Helvetius, and Rousseau .. could not understand that the crisis of their time was a moral and spiritual one, so they thought their difficulties could be overcome by legislation. Their mistake was to suppose that intelligence and learning could by themselves do the trick: the worst of all illusions, the Greek utopian illusion" (ibid., p. 47). These are my themes too, echoing through my papers. Evans-Pritchard goes on to quote Comte, 'Then again he tells us, "It is ideas which govern and disturb the world. ... All the social mechanism rests finally on opinions. ... The great political and moral crisis of present-day societies, derives, in the last analysis, from the intellectual anarchy (Cours, I, p.26).' (ibid., p. 51). There is no returning to the pre-Revolutionary Order because "the metaphysical notions which served to undermine its intellectual and moral basis were such rubbish that they could only be transitory, critical, negative, and illusory." (ibid., p. 45). What this means is that the crisis of the Western world is a metaphysical crisis, and it is being exacerbated by the failure of Western intellectuals to find a satisfactory metaphysics to replace the discredited metaphysics of the Old Order; or, as I would prefer, several competing such metaphysics from which we might choose. Further, "absolute knowledge of reality is unachievable" (ibid., p. 54), i.e. all of our concepts contain error: this is not an endorsement of cultural relativism, but an acknowledgement of the limitations of human knowledge, even in areas where scientists seem to be asymptoting into the truth (reality). The problem with Positivism is, I believe, not so much with Comte himself but with those "materialists" who later took it over, including Marx, rejecting the primacy of the mental or spiritual in human life; Compte's themes echo through my papers. Lenin is the perfect example of the materialist who despite that ideology realised the primacy of consciousness, of ideas, and therefore the importance (for his purposes) of propaganda and the elimination of dissent.
"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 Winshuttle 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 Left). Yet the Left presents itself as the protector of indigenous culture. Nothing could be further from the truth; the authority structures of traditional societies are anathema to the Left. Its humanist theory of the rights of individuals was intended to assist the lower strata of highly stratified societies, yet it necessarily rejects all forms of traditional authority as well. 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 is incompatible with cultural variety (p.27).
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 (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. The occasional act of cannibalism or human sacrifice, terrible as it may be, enabled the conquerors to overlook the sins of their own society, justifying the dispossession of whole continents, the death of millions, the disappearance of age-old cultures which had their good points as well as their bad. Not that all practices are equally good (this is cultural relativism); but in criticising the other we may be overlooking "the log in our own eye", the glass house we live in, the fact that we are sinners yet throwing the first stone. The theory of the rights of the individual should be reconsidered to allow non-European peoples to determine their own way of life independently of European legalism. Otherwise, The Left's Internationalism would destroy all tradition and ultimately all cultural variation between societies. It is as much a threat to Cultural Diversity as the Internationalism of Transnational Corporations.
The result of the economic imperialism of the Right (via the Transnational companies plus Free Trade policy) and the cultural imperialism of the Left (via conventions won by middle-class Left movements in the European societies and then proclaimed "international") is a resurgence of religious fundamentalist movements around the world. To imperial strategist Samuel Huntington, writing in Foreign Affairs recently, this is a defeat. Those fundamentalist movements are a defence against, and indirectly caused by, the Right and Left imperialist push from the European world. Only the "Big" societies are able to resist, those which had a complex state structure before European colonisation, from which tradition they can now draw defences against the West. The small ones, like those in Papua New Guinea, have buckled under; in PNG, only about 7% of people adhere to the traditional religion. Modern Japan shows that traditional religion is compatible with industrial prowess, and may even be a basis of its success. Significantly W. E. Deming, the man who taught "quality control" to the captains of Japanese industry, was praised by them as a spiritual man, a man whose motivation was not material gain, was not selfish. This is a key to understanding the strength of Japan: that its current wealth was not sought directly; that it is a byproduct of a more spiritual motivation, the dedication to the community (which itself is seen as historically rooted in nature and its spirits). The West has still not learned this lesson, and its business leaders and "intelligensia" are still looking in the opposite direction.
I am as put off as any Westerner could be, at workers having to sing the company song each morning; it smacks of fascism. Yet our century is seeing the triumph, not of laissez-faire capitalism, not of the international classless society, but of the corporate state. Similar to Stalinism but differing in allowing industry to remain in private hands; similar to Capitalism but differing in subordinating those companies to the national goals, under the guidance of an exceptionally skilled bureaucracy in the best "despotic" tradition of the great, long-enduring empires of Egypt, China etc. Oriental Despotism gave us the beautiful and earthy art and literature of Egypt and Sumeria. According to Maurice Bloch, "The theory of the Asiatic mode of production seemed ... to undermine Marxism on two counts. The central place given to class conflict in history seemed to be negated, since it appeared to be a case of classes without class conflict. Secondly, it also negated or modified the theory of the State as a weapon in this conflict" (Marxism and Anthropology, p.112). Karl Wittfogel showed that unlike ancient Rome, feudal Europe and industrial Capitalism, in Egypt and the Asiatic empires the ruling class was not private-property-based, but was the Bureacracy (Oriental Despotism, pp. 380-1). Chalmers Johnson, Karel van Wolferen and Frank Gibney are finding just such a ruling class today in Japan and the Tigers.
Lee Kwan Yew is the new benevolent despot, and he is proud to say so. How do Western feminists propose that we deal with the rising patriarchial societies of East Asia, except by trying to subvert them? Feminists have made the Government a Substitute Husband; won't the Anglo-Saxon economic decline be the end of their dreams? They place their partisan goals ahead of common issues such as the debt. Complaining that their fathers spent too little time with them (their generation had fathers), they abandon their own babies to child care centres, as prescribed in Plato's "People's Republic". Lee claims that the Confucian ethic is the key to the rise of East Asia, and that the crusade against the family is destroying the West. To Lee, the domestic violence of the West, the rape and suicide, are the result, not of patriarchy but of the breakdown of patriarchy.
With the fall of the Roman Empire, Hellenic culture could have been lost to Europe; but it was preserved in the Eastern (Byzantine) Empire, then the Arab world. Ancient libraries were destroyed at Persepolis, Alexandria and in China. Egypt fell, its ancient language undecipherable for 1500 years; the Indus society fell, depriving India of a literate culture from 1900 BC to 700 BC, when a new script was imported. So much for the "necessity" of "progress". The rising countries of East Asia, having discarded Mao's experiment, have not suffered from the angst troubling us Westerners; our rigid dogmas (religious and secular, monastic and academic) conflict with the reality around us. With their Confucian/Daoist/Shinto background, they have accepted this world as it is. Dogmas, Forms (ideal types), Fundamentalisms and Utopias, whether other-worldly or this-worldly, have just not seemed worth the effort to them. Perhaps this is what we need to learn from them.
1 Deconstruction is demythologising; this is the primary task of the philosopher, according to Karl Popper. Just as Christian mythology can be deconstructed, so can the mythology of the Left, although as the Left is now socially dominant, that deconstruction is resisted, even in our universities. The deconstruction of myths is a never-ending process, because new ones are always being invented. On no account, however, should this process degenerate into a nihilist throwing-out of the old ideas, the Killing of History as Keith Windschuttle puts it in his latest book, of that title; this is the equivalent to the book-burnings of Christendom and the Nazis, the burning of religious icons by the Bolsheviks, and the destruction of temples by Mao's Red Guards. Unfortunately, something of this spirit has been active in our universities recently. The past may be wrong, but it is not totally wrong: it is important not to discard the baby with the bathwater. The deconstructionists in our universities have themselves constructed the biggest "essence" of them all, Patriarchy. In this light their campaign against other people's "abstractions" can be seen as an "attack is the best defence" strategy to avert attention from their own creation: to protect it from being deconstructed.
2 Since writing this article I have come across the studies of this "three phase" view of history (original paradise, battle of good and evil, utopia as recovery of the paradise) in Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Eric Voegelin, The New Science of Politics and subsequent works, and Norman Cohn, The Pursuit of the Millenium.
Cohn argues that the Jews of Jesus' time had seen history as divided into two eras, one preceding and the other following the triumphant advent of the Messiah (p. 23), but when the Garden of Eden is added to the front, the eras become three. This threefold view of history is central to Marxism and Radical Feminism, and also to Nazism, the "third" reich being the third era.
Such a threefold directed view of history was presented by Turgot: "anticipating Compte - perhaps following Vico - he divided the history of the human mind into three stages: theological, metaphysical, and scientific" (Will and Ariel Durant, The Story of Civilization, Vol. X, p. 77). Marx provided a more millenial version (primitive communism, class society, future communism) for the socialist movement, combined with a dualist (antagonistic polarity) metaphysics.
The threefold "progressive" view of history combined with dualism is the hallmark of fundamentalism, in the style of the Essenes, many Christians, and the Manichees; Marx thereby imbuedthe socialist movement with the deep mythology of the West, in its fundamentalist form, suitable for sustained mobilisation of a large portion of the population.
The revolution of 1917, despite its similarities with 1789 in the minds of the Bolshevik leaders, is millenial and totalitarian in the manner of 1933, and 1933 should be seen as counterpoint to 1917: German nationalism would not have adopted this millenial clothing but for the rival Communist millenial movement. The millenial nature of the Nazi movement is thoroughly presented by James Rhodes in The Hitler Movement: a Modern Millenarian Revolution.
Millenarianism, combining fundamentalism, utopianism and totalitarianism, should be seen not as intrinsic to a movement, but as one form or mutation it may take under certain dire circumstances, for example to effect a revolution, after which the millenial aspects may fade away. For Christianity, this fading was articulated by St. Augustine in The City of God, in that he there told Christians that they would have to put up with Christendom (the Rule of the Church) rather than the Kingdom of God, on this earth, the full utopia being relegated to the other world of Heaven.
Voegelin and Cohn argue that this contentment with Christendom was mainly upset by Joachim of Fiore in the thirteenth century; like the Trotskyist dissatisfied with Stalinism, he urged the faithful to begin the struggle anew for a new eschatology, in effect relegating Christendom to the middle period rather than the final period (when Eden is added, Joachim's scheme becomes fourfold, but in effect he is amalgamating the Old Testament period with Christendom, although he could not do this openly, in view of the Church's political correctness).
The original insight into the significance of Joachim, and the prevalence of the threefold Western conception of history (ancient, medieval, modern; savagery, barbarism, civilisation; magic, religion, science; communism, class struggle, socialism; matriarchy, patriarchy, femocracy; etc.) is Spengler's (The Decline of the West, I, p.19): the other analysts are in effect footnotes to him. This threefold view of history was obviously used by Hegel in formulating his threefold dialectic of the means by which progress occurs: thesis, antithesis, synthesis.
Geo Widengren, in Mani and Manichaeism, shows the presence of the threefold concept of time in the teachings of Mani: "The First Epoch embraced the state of the universe prior to the blending of light and darkness; the Second Epoch was concerned with the period of that blending; the Third Epoch signified the sundering of the blended elements. This doctrine of the Three Epochs is together with the Two Principles Manichaeism's main dogma. The tripartite division of time is met in the Zoroastrian Pahlavi texts. They have the formula, 'That which is, was, and will be', ke hast, but ut bavet. But the pattern is much older and, already to be found in the Indian Upanishad records, is of Indo-Iranian origin" (p. 68).
3 Engels explicitly acknowledged its millenial nature. In a review of Marx' book Capital he wrote, "This book will disappoint many a reader. In certain circles its appearance had been anticipated for years. Here the true secret socialist teaching and panacea was at last to be revealed, and many may have imagined, when at last they saw it announced, that they would now learn what the communist Millenium would actually be like. Anyone who had keenly awaited this pleasure made a great mistake. Indeed, he learns here how things should not be" in CW, Vol. XX, p. 216, emphasis added.
4 Marx wrote, "the communist revolution, which removes the division of labour, ultimately abolishes political institutions" in The German Ideology, CW, Vol. V, p. 380, emphasis added. How a modern society might operate without the division of labour is not explained. Such notions also underlie the Radical Feminists' objection to the sexual division of labour.
5 James Rhodes, in The Hitler Movement: a Modern Millenarian Revolution, points out that Hitler, also, gave very few details of what the 1000-year Reich would be like (p. 191).
6 The title of this book was created by Runes, although he does not say so. This is a collection of Marx' criticisms of Jewish practices, including On the Jewish Question. Marx on occasion defended the Jews against discrimination, and on no account would have approved Hitler's holocaust. For Marx, it was Jewish culture that was wrong, and that culture was changeable (just as he felt that he himself had abandoned that ancestral culture); one's descent, on the other hand, is not, although most "peoples" are not "pure" genetically, having admixtures through intermarriage, adoption, conversion, conquest etc. In The Thirteenth Tribe, Arthur Koestler shows that the bulk of East European Jews were the descendants of Kazar converts to Judaism, many centuries ago.
7 'So here it is not yet a question of a "religion of love", of "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you,", etc. Here undiluted revenge is preached, sound, honest revenge on the presecutors of the Christians." Engels in his paper On the History of Early Christianity, 1894-5.
8 Marx had drawn attention to Jewish financial power in his paper On the Jewish Question and other articles; Disraeli had done much the same in his pseudonovel Coningsby (a nonfiction work disguised as a novel). Various nineteenth century writers, as well as numerous medieval churchmen, had identified the Jews as social subversives. But the Nazi horror of the Jews went beyond financial manipulation and cultural subversion; in each of these cases, reform is possible, and anyway only a minute fraction of Jews were wealthy financiers, and many were Tories rather than revolutionaries, as Disraeli pointed out in Coningsby. It is important then not to accuse Karl Marx of anti-Judaism in the manner of the Nazis.
For the Nazis, there was an extra element, beyond the financial or the cultural, in their depiction of the Jews: the metaphysical. The Jews were seen as the metaphysical embodiment of evil; contamination with this evil creates a state of ritual impurity such as Mary Douglas identified in Purity and Danger. On that account no change was possible, no reform was possible, they were all the same.
Ironically, it must also be stated that many "Histories of the Jews" written with a Zionist flavour, beginning with the Bible itself, tend to depict the Gentiles in that same way, as the metaphysical embodiment of evil, the inducers of ritual impurity, in large part through their ceaseless and universal infliction of the Jews, depicted as the Eternal Victim; the invasions, famines etc. suffered by the numerous non-Jewish (Gentile) peoples being comparatively ignored (the Great Leap Forward being the extreme example of this: the worst famine in history, in which 30 million people starved, is barely known, though it occurred less than 30 years ago), and the comparative privileges of the Jews, e.g. as a minority in the Roman Empire with rights enjoyed by no other minority, also being somewhat passed over.
As Robert Hughes pointed out in Culture of Complaint, Victimhood is Powerful: there is a veritable battle among competing social groups to be the Underdog. Although some groups may have a strong case for the remedy of injustices, the situation is rarely so black-and-white (goodie-vs-baddie) that a complete reversal of positions is warranted. Consequently one might be wary about groups presenting themselves as Victims, because this presentation of reality may be a prelude to a mobilisation of some sort, a motivator for a movement from one extreme to the other. I am going to great pains to take a balanced attitude towards the Jews, in the sense of treating them as just another ethnic group, but no group can reasonably expect to be immune from criticism; to attempt to portray all criticism as genocidal is a fundamentalist position and unworthy of scholarship.
9 Not content with mere control, Lenin instituted a Terror under the Cheka (KGB) which together with the Civil War liquidated the ruling classes of the Tsarist system, the aristocracy, the priesthood, the bureaucracy and the kulaks (more successful peasants/farmers). This should be considered a form of genocide comparable to Hitler's holocaust, in particular because of its metaphysical nature: these elements were eliminated because they were seen as the metaphysical embodiment of evil. On the same basis, Stalin and Mao should also be convicted of Genocide - in Mao's case because of his attempt to wipe out the old ruling class, after 1949 and during the Cultural Revolution; and because of the mass famine during the Great Leap Forward. It was as a result of the totalitarian system Mao had installed, that news of the 30+million deaths did not reach the leadership. Amazingly, the Subject headings of the National Library of Australia (searched on 4/1/95) contain 145 entries under Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945), but not one under Great Leap Forward: there is no such Subject. A title search for titles containing the words "great", "leap" and "forward" disclosed 7 titles, of which 5 dealt with Mao's GLF; a title search of the word "holocaust" disclosed 285 titles. Is not one Chinese life equal to one Westerner? Is this not Racism? It is perpetuated throughout our universities.
10 A good communist society would be very different from Lenin's. It would tolerate freedom of religion, and not attempt to wipe out the old ruling class. It could not be fundamentalist or utopian. Perhaps some of the states of India, and some of the reformed communist governments of Eastern Europe, qualify.
11 For example as expressed in Elizabeth Nickles and Laura Ashcraft, The Coming Matriarchy: How Women Will Gain the Balance of Power. Feminist comics are now presenting this same dominance-behaviour in sadistic "humour", for example Karen Salmansohn, How To Make Your Man Behave In 21 Days Or Less, Using the Secrets Of Professional Dog Trainers. It sounds funny, but it is sadistic humour in the Nazi style. Another is Scott Wilson, Things You Can Do With A Useless Man. Although written by a male, it is sadistic in its portrayal of men, and it is oriented to Radical Feminist "misandry" market.
12 The Radical Feminists (Separatists) have recently lost ground to more moderate feminists who nevertheless aim at dominance over men. This was not a characteristic of First Wave Feminism, and Third Wave Feminism is more interested in forming a united front with men to avert the collapse of Western society. However, they may be too late.
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