This is the fifth chapter of the audiobook version of Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault.
Chapter Five: The Crisis of Socialism [mp3] [YouTube] [74 minutes total]
Marx and waiting for Godot [mp3] [YouTube]
Three failed predictions [mp3] [YouTube]
Socialism needs an aristocracy: Lenin, Mao, and the lesson of the German Social Democrats [mp3] [YouTube]
Good news for socialism: depression and war [mp3] [YouTube]
Bad news: liberal capitalism rebounds [mp3] [YouTube]
Worse news: Khrushchev’s revelations and Hungary [mp3] [YouTube]
Responding to the crisis: change socialism’s ethical standard [mp3] [YouTube]
From need to equality [mp3] [YouTube]
From Wealth is good to Wealth is bad [mp3] [YouTube]
Responding to the crisis: change socialism’s epistemology [mp3] [YouTube]
Marcuse and the Frankfurt School: Marx plus Freud, or oppression plus repression [mp3] [YouTube]
The rise and fall of Left terrorism [mp3] [YouTube]
From the collapse of the New Left to postmodernism [mp3] [YouTube]
Chapter One: What Postmodernism Is [mp3] [YouTube] [38 minutes]
Chapter Two: The Counter-Enlightenment Attack on Reason [mp3] [YouTube] [72 minutes]
Chapter Three: The Twentieth-Century Collapse of Reason [mp3] [YouTube] [50 minutes]
Chapter Four: The Climate of Collectivism [mp3] [YouTube] [102 minutes]
Chapter Six: Postmodern Strategy [mp3] [YouTube]
The Explaining Postmodernism page.
Posted 6 months, 4 weeks ago at 9:31 am. 1 comment
Mao Zedong on the ethical requirements of communism:
“A Communist should have largeness of mind and he should be staunch and active, looking upon the interests of the revolution as his very life and subordinating his personal interests to those of the revolution; always and everywhere he should adhere to principle and wage a tireless struggle against all incorrect ideas and actions, so as to consolidate the collective life of the Party and strengthen the ties between the Party and the masses; he should be more concerned about the Party and the masses than about any private person, and more concerned about others than about himself. Only thus can he be considered a Communist.”
Selflessness: “subordinating his personal interests to those of the revolution.”
Altruism: “more concerned about others than about himself.”
Collectivism: “struggle … so as to consolidate the collective life of the Party.”
Socialists of all stripes become so and remain so not because they believe that socialism is practical but because they believe it is moral. And their moral theory is anti-egoist and anti-individualist, which is why socialists have so comfortable with squashing egos and sacrificing individuals.
The socialist ethical theory is is why, for example, Friedrich Engels will grant that liberal capitalism has good practical consequences but he will never grant that it is moral.
And this is why apologists such as Eric Hobsbawm can recognize the horrible practical consequences of socialism but still justify it as an ideal.
It’s socialism’s ethic that has to be rooted out. Socialism is not an impractical ideal — it’s an impractical immorality.
 Mao Zedong, “Combat Liberalism” (September 7, 1937), Selected Works, Vol. II, p. 33. Online here.
Friedrich Engels against liberal peace.
Eric Hobsbawm is dead.
“The Crisis of Socialism” [pdf]. Chapter 5 of Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault.
Jane Addams and the progressive mindset.
Posted 1 year, 2 months ago at 12:14 pm. Add a comment
The Nazis were evil, killing millions of human beings, and they have universally and properly properly condemned for their horrors.
The Soviets were also evil, killing more millions than the Nazis did, yet they have not been universally condemned. The Soviets have been attacked by libertarians, conservatives, and moderates as a great lesson in evil — but not by the political left. (Alan Kors here takes them to task for this abdication of moral responsibility.)
In part this makes sense: When socialism was in power in Russia, China, and many other places, leftists were widely admiring of those regimes. So it’s understandable that after-the-fact shame would lead them to denial and avoidance. And younger leftists are likely to believe that socialism is moral in theory despite its practical failings, so they will want to cut Stalin and Mao some slack.
But Sidney Hook offers a philosophical explanation — that by egalitarian standards the communists were more moral than the fascists even though the communists killed more people:
“When I confronted them with the evidence that Stalin had unjustly killed more Jews than Hitler, which was true at the time, they retorted that he was killing them not as Jews but as dissenters. Since in this respect the Jews were being treated equally with others, that was more important in their eyes than the alleged injustices of their executions” (Out of Step, p. 353).
So a thought experiment. Which of the following regimes is worse?
* Regime A kills 5 Jews, but it doesn’t kill non-Jews.
* Regime B kills 6 Jews, but it also kills 6 non-Jews.
By the principle of individual rights, both are evil and Regime B is worse.
By the principle of equality, Regime B is better.
Question: Is Hook right that this is actually how leftist egalitarians think, or are the leftists in his anecdote engaged in bad-faith avoidance?
Update: I just came across this post by Professor Lester Hunt: “Nazism or Communism: Which is More Evil?”
Marxism = Nazism (another datum).
Heidegger, anti-humanism, and the Left.
Chipotle Mexican Grill versus egalitarianism.
18th-century Russia as egalitarian paradise.
[Chart image source: R. J. Rummel's Democide site.]
Posted 1 year, 9 months ago at 8:56 am. 8 comments
[This is Section 3 of Nietzsche and the Nazis.]
Part 2. Explaining Nazism Philosophically
3. How could Nazism happen?
How could Nazism happen? This is an important question: professors and teachers the world over use the Nazis as a prime example of evil and rightly so. The Nazis were enormously destructive, killing 20 million people during their twelve-year reign. They were not the most destructive regime of the twentieth century: Josef Stalin and the other Communist dictators of the Soviet Union killed sixty-two million people. Mao Zedong and the Communists in China killed thirty-five million. The Nazis killed over twenty million and no doubt would have killed millions more had they not been defeated.
So it is important to learn the lesson and to get it right.
After coming to power by democratic and constitutional means in 1933, the Nazis quickly turned Germany into a dictatorship. For six years they devoted their energies to preparing for war, which began in 1939. During the war in which every human and economic resource was needed for military purposes, the Nazis devoted huge amounts of resources in an attempt to exterminate Jews, gypsies, Slavs, and others.
Domestic dictatorship, international war, the Holocaust. All are terrible. But what exactly is the lesson of history here? How could a civilized European nation plunge itself and the world into such a horror?
 See Courtois 1999, pp. x, 4: contributors to that volume variously estimate the Communist death toll to be from 85 million to 100 million. See also Rummel 1997, Section II. Rummel’s site has updated numbers. For example, new data on deliberately caused famines in the People’s Republic of China under Mao led Rummel to revise the death toll for communist China upwards to 76,702,000.
[Return to the Nietzsche and the Nazis page. Go to the StephenHicks.org main page.]
Posted 4 years ago at 12:09 pm. 2 comments
Or: “From Marx to the Neo-Rousseauians.”
The flowchart is from the end of Chapter 5 of my Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault, summarizing the argument developed in that chapter.
Click the image to enlarge.
More excerpts are available at the Explaining Postmodernism page.
[This is an excerpt from Stephen Hicks's Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault (Scholargy Publishing, 2004, 2011). The full book is available in hardcover or e-book at Amazon.com. See also the Explaining Postmodernism page.]
Posted 4 years ago at 9:04 pm. 9 comments