Home Living Today Culture Understanding the Cultural Left’s Intolerance By Chris Calton

Understanding the Cultural Left’s Intolerance By Chris Calton

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The Soviet historian Martin Malia showed that Marx advocated opposition against any person possessing the wrong “consciousness.”

When Karl Marx put forth his theory of history, one of the primary characteristics of the mechanical historical actors was their “class consciousness.” In Marxist doctrine, the whole of humanity in a capitalist society can be divided cleanly into two classes: the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. The proletariat was the exploited working class, and their class consciousness would eventually cause them to revolt against the capital-owning bourgeoisie, whose own class consciousness compelled them to exploit the proletariat by “stealing” the product of their labor.

Fallacies abound in Marxist theory, of course, but one of the commonly pointed-out fallacies of the class theory is that the so-called “working class” is impossible to cleanly define. After all, white-collar workers that comprise modern-day middle-class employees seem to have characteristics of both classes, as described by Marx. But this critique, though valid, misses the bigger point of Marxian theory and how it played out in the real world during the twentieth century.

While critics point out the impossibility of clearly defining the two classes, they overlook the very simple method of defining and distinguishing between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie that Vladimir Lenin recognized. Because Marx’s theory deterministically dictated that each class would display its respective “consciousness” – as opposed to simply asserting that they should or might — this absolutist assertion gives a very clear, if circular, means of determining which citizens fall into which class. Thus, Lenin decided simply, and in accordance with Marxist doctrine, that any Russian citizen who agreed with his revolutionary ideals, regardless of station, was a member of the proletariat, and anybody who opposed his revolution was, by default, an enemy bourgeoisie (with all the violent implications included).

This is circular reasoning, of course, but it is consistent with doctrinaire Marxism because if Marx’s class theory is dogmatically interpreted, such logical circularity is valid. This point is worth underscoring because of the swarms of modern defenders of Marx who deny that Lenin was a “true” Marxist.

Regardless, this was the interpretation of Marx’s theories that Lenin adopted and applied prior to the October revolution in 1917, and it had tyrannical implications for how the Soviet Union would be born. As the eminent Soviet historian Martin Malia points out in his great work The Soviet Tragedy:

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