Category Archives: utopian totalitarians

A crashing bore actuated by burning hatred

Dalrymple writes that on the whole, the commentary evoked by the bicentenary of Karl Marx’s birth

obeyed the injunction not to speak ill of the dead, as if the passage of time and the deaths of millions in the name of the birthday boy did not somewhat attenuate the social imperative to mute one’s words.

Marx

believed that crises were inevitable until the advent of his utopia, in which such phenomena as private property, banks, and the bourgeoisie would cease to exist. In Marx’s vision, the ant would lie down with the anteater.

The combination, says Dalrymple,

of scathing criticism of the present and adolescent daydreaming is irresistible to quite a lot of people.

Dalrymple notes that Marx

was one of those people who love humanity and hate men. He was in most respects an unattractive figure, cocksure, domineering, intolerant, and hypocritical—though he had an undoubted charm in the domestic circle and was both very clever and intensely cultivated.

In his writing he was

a crashing bore with a brilliant turn of phrase. Burning hatred is never far from his prose, and gives it its spice. Nowhere is it clearer that hatred is by far the strongest of political emotions.

The anteater shall lie down with the ant

An eschatological philosophy in a post-religious world

Marxism, writes Dalrymple,

served more than one psychological purpose.

It gave those who adhered to it

the comforting feeling that they understood the inner or hidden workings of the world; that they were far superior in this understanding to those who did not adhere to it; and that they were participating in something far bigger than themselves. It gave them an illusion of transcendence.

Dalrymple points out that although many Marxists claimed that communist Russia’s downfall did not affect their faith in the truth of their secular religion,

Marxism as an intellectual system was deeply discredited by the now-undeniable failure of the Soviet Union to deliver on any of its utopian promises.

On the contrary, Marxism

provided the pretext for the murder, as well as causing the miserable living conditions, of many millions of people; and it was as implausible to deny the connection of these with Marxism as it is now to deny the connection of terrorism with Islam.

A culture of dependence, entitlement and irresponsibility

Dalrymple notes that the thesis of False Black Power? (2017; in the New Threats to Freedom series) by Jason Riley (author of Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed of 2014) is that

America’s black political leaders, and their white liberal allies, have hindered rather than advanced the progress of the black population. Initially well-meaning policies have undermined the self-help ethos that was a characteristic of black culture in the century between the end of the Civil War and the beginning of the Great Society.

These policies, says Dalrymple,

caused a culture of dependence, entitlement and irresponsibility that did not exist before, and is inimical to progress, to put it mildly.

Yet

black political leadership and their white political allies persist in believing, or at least in pretending they believe, that this disastrous culture is the direct and inevitable consequence of an apostolic succession, so to speak, of slavery, Jim Crow policies, and racial prejudice. Their prescription has been political action to destroy not only the practical effects of prejudice (for example, through positive discrimination and quotas) but prejudice itself, through a reform of language and thought. A New Man, long the dream of utopian totalitarians, will have to be created.

Dalrymple points out that

the culture that has emerged, grown up, and been encouraged in the black ares of cities such as Chicago, Baltimore, Washington and Philadelphia, is inimical to progress of any kind.

Of course, efforts

to conjure progress or improvement by bureaucratic, administrative, or redistributionist fiat are doomed to time-wasting and expensive failure. In raising expectations that cannot be met, these efforts stoke the fires of conflict.

Dalrymple likens the liberal political establishment to

a stuck record. It cannot change without having to admit that its prescriptions were mistaken, for to do so would destroy its raison d’être and outlook. What started as a desire to do good has ended as a desire to feel good.