Nikolaas de Jong, Brussels Journal, 2014-12-24
Looking at the world today, it would seem that Samuel Huntington's thesis of a coming clash of civilizations has been entirely vindicated by the facts. The conflicts that dominate the headlines these days are mostly of an ethnic or cultural nature: the continuing problem of Islamic terrorism and “stealth jihad”, the riots in the United States following the Ferguson incident, and demonstrations in the Netherlands against the custom of “Zwarte Piet”. And in case the reader remarks on the omission of the “new cold war” with Russia, it can also be explained as a revival, not of the ideological confrontation with communism, but of the age-old clash between Western and Orthodox Christianity.
But is Huntington really the key to understanding current developments? Huntington told us the great ideologies (a unique Western phenomenon) have had their day, and that the future will be determined by the ethnic and cultural strife that has in fact characterized most of human history. While we can be sure now that the classical and politically correct objection to Huntington's thesis, namely that cultures have become so interdependent that they have also become practically interchangeable, is entirely wrong, there remains another objection, not voiced by any of the supporters or critics of Huntington. Peoples of other cultures are certainly not Western, and cannot be expected to adapt to Western culture any time soon, especially given the hatred of all things Western now prevalent around the world; but this leaves open the question to what culture or cultural system they do belong. Huntington speaks as if other cultures have basically survived intact in their pre-colonial form, but if we take a closer look, we see that these cultures have been destabilized and demoralized by contact with the West. The crucial point here is that these cultures have lost their legitimacy in the eyes of their own members, but at the same time the mentality of these members is still shaped by the ethical foundations of their culture. The result is, in fact, that the greatest part of humanity today lives in some kind of limbo: touched by modernity, but not in the positive sense, and craving the material wealth of the West, but lacking the mentality or work ethic needed to produce such wealth themselves. And finally, the most problematic aspect of it all is that these masses have a very acute sense of their moral deficiency, as well as their unenviable position in the current world system.
On the other hand, ideologies may not be as dead as Huntington assumed. Certainly, the planned economy (largely) belongs to the past; nobody actually believes that such a scheme will actually deliver the goods. However, what Huntington and many others who triumphantly proclaim communism has been “defeated” with the fall of the Soviet bloc, forget, is that communism is not in the first place an economic system, but an idea, an emotional and moral condition as it were. At school we learn that communism and socialism are simply economic systems like feudalism or capitalism, but on closer investigation crucial differences appear. First of all, unlike the words for these other examples of economic systems, the terms “socialism” and “communism” were coined not to designate an existing situation, but about a hundred years before the first officially “socialist” regime was actually established. In other words, it began as the name of an idea, not of something that had a place in daily reality. And neither would it ever become reality: in the course of the twentieth century, countless “socialist” and “communist” regimes were established, but as soon as it became clear that they failed to deliver on their promises, other socialists were quick to dissociate themselves from these states, and loudly declared that this was, after all, not “real socialism”. And then there is the problem of the European welfare states: compared to a hundred years ago, today's Europe is a socialist continent: all the demands of the socialists of that time have been met. Yet socialist parties still exist, and succeed in convincing us that our current political and economic systems are still “capitalist” and that more state intervention is needed to “curb the excesses” of free enterprise. In other words: for socialists there is never enough socialism. Only when utopia is established, will socialists call the system “socialist”.
Communism has roughly three components or motivations. First, communism is a rebellion against the laws of reality and of human nature itself. Communism is Utopian: it does not accept that man has to make choices and make use of his mind if he is to survive on earth, and that man must work if he is to eat. Communism lures us with the prospect of a return to the garden of Eden, where people survive automatically, like animals, and their livelihood is provided for them by a benevolent God – but where, at the same time, we can experience the uniquely human feeling of happiness and satisfaction which follows from achievement. But achievement is impossible without the risk of failure, and consequently happiness is equally impossible without the possibility of unhappiness.
Second, communism is altruist: it is the eternal revolt of the “have-nots” against the “haves”, of the downtrodden masses versus the rich. Communism advocates a radical and bloody redistribution of wealth to satisfy the envy of the have-nots, and it does not matter if this redistribution is actually beneficial to them or not. What matters, is always the satisfaction of envy. Of course, this is simply a secular version of the Christian altruist ideal.
Finally, on the sociological plane, so to speak, communism is a movement of useless intellectuals who search for an “oppressed” group in society they can “represent”, in order to give them a function and authority to which their real capacities would never have entitled them. The problem with communism is not so much that it is a beautiful idea that has been abused by bloodthirsty dictators, but that it has expressly been invented by such bloodthirsty types to satisfy their craving for power.
Bearing these remarks in mind, it is easy to see that communism can take on practically any shape as times and conditions change, and thus can advocate different visions of society depending on the historical moment. And once one vision has been discredited by experience - like Soviet communism - the Marxists can move on to another scheme that satisfies their power-lust and aligns with their moral premises.
An obvious example is the welfare state. During the Cold War, the world was divided into a “communist” and a “capitalist” camp, but few in the “capitalist” camp seemed to notice that since the second world war, this area had seen state intervention increase dramatically. The reason nobody noticed, was that this process was very gradual, but the fact remained that while the “free world” was fighting communism, its economic and political system was constantly moving closer to that of its enemy. It simply will not do to dismiss concerns about growing state intervention in our economies as alarmist: before the First World War, the state controlled about ten to fifteen per cent of the economy in most Western countries: today the share in many countries is as large as fifty per cent, and it keeps rising. And at every given moment when the state expanded further, people thought this would be a “definite” measure, after which society would be left alone; but some years later, the new level of state intervention has become the norm, and new measures are proposed to remedy the remaining defects of the market, or to satisfy newly invented “basic needs” of some segment of the population. And so on. But even intelligent and perceptive people are not conscious of the changes, because it all happens so gradually.
The logic at work here is the same logic that lies behind communism, but slow-motion. The unspoken principle behind the welfare state is that every human problem can be solved by state intervention. People expect that all unpleasant aspects of human existence will, in time, be eliminated by state action. The main difference is that this Utopian desire remains unconscious with most people, and that Utopia is not to be reached by means of revolutionary action, but by gradualist policies. And we must not forget that the welfare state is developing its own nomenklatura consisting of politicians with less and less accountability towards the public, living off government funds, and corporate interests who use state intervention to nip all competition in the bud. For these reasons, Frank Van Dun once aptly called the welfare state a “neo-totalitarian” system.
Then there is environmentalism. In this case, the natural environment is the “oppressed” group, and politicians and left-wing intellectuals see it as their duty to save it. By now it is obvious that environmentalism is an excuse for socialism: the result is more government control, and, as in communist systems and the welfare state, the gradual subordination of the economy to ideological imperatives, the hallmark of a totalitarian regime. Again, gradualism is the rule: the environmentalist apparatchiks know that what cannot be introduced today because of loud protests of the bourgeoisie and the common man, will be introduced to-morrow or the day after. Like all power-craving intellectuals, they are extremely patient, since they know time is on their side, and their scheme simply cannot fail – barring a moral reawakening of the people. The picture is, naturally, not complete without mentioning the corporate interests who benefit from subsidies for “environment friendly” solutions such as solar panels (a very lucrative industry, although entirely hidden to the broader public).
Although the evolution of the welfare state is very disconcerting, this is not the most dangerous of the forms that communism has taken in the postmodern age. Or rather, the dynamic will not be able to work itself out before other processes have all but destroyed civilization as we know it.
The most destructive postmodern form Marxism had adopted is the doctrine of multiculturalism. Multiculturalism may be called postmodern Bolshevism, to make clear just how bloody the consequences of its implementation will become, and already are. It should be clear by now that the debate about mass immigration is not a debate about the freedom of movement and “human rights” as progressives and many libertarians would have us believe. Freedom of movement is indeed an essential element of a free economy. But subsidizing third world immigrants out of Western taxpayer's money is decidedly not. And this is what the immigration debate is really about; when people, including the libertarians among them, talk about human rights, this is merely code language for global communism: the mass confiscation of the property of the global bourgeoisie, the West, in favor of the third world, the global proletariat. In a totally free market, free movement of people would not be a problem: the cost of traveling on privately owned infrastructure, and the absence of generous welfare provided by the state – not to speak of the complete absence of anti-discrimination laws and government schemes to import third world labor- would make the number of immigrants dwindle quickly. A free society would almost by definition be a culturally homogeneous society. So the logical conclusion would be that, until the welfare state has been radically downsized, we should impose immigration restrictions in order to avoid the disastrous effects of artificially high immigration, namely crime, and in the long term almost certainly ethnic and religious strife. Libertarians should know this, but nonetheless keep pressing the issue of free borders. This is, incidentally, a good example of the rule that it doesn't so much matter which principles people advocate in theory, but especially which stance they adopt on important issues, to see whether they are actually committed to freedom or not. (The invocation of the right of political refugees to asylum is similarly code language. Everyone knows that the conditions for refugee status are so broad that tens of millions of people in third world countries qualify. Moreover, many of the political refugees from Muslim countries turn out to be extremists and hate preachers, something which is also widely known among our liberal elites. And in the case of libertarians, it is very strange to hear people who routinely lash out against the invention of all kinds of rights, support the entirely fictitious “right to asylum”. There is no such right, because if you have a “right” to asylum, this means other people have to pay to take you in, which is a violation of property rights.)
Although the multicultural transformation is proceeding at a faster pace than the expansion of the welfare states, the multicultural agenda is also partly being pressed through gradualist methods. Just as in the case of the welfare state, we are told to ignore the “alarmists”: talk of Islamisation of Europe or Westerners being in a minority in their own country by the middle of the century is waved off as populist propaganda. But the truth is that the situation today would already have been deemed utterly unacceptable and unthinkable to our grandparents fifty years ago; only it has come about through a process of very slow change, so Westerners have had time to get use to the social engineering taking place in their countries. If no significant resistance movement is born, the process of forced adaptation to non-Western cultures will undoubtedly proceed apace, without anyone really noticing the dramatic change.
But like socialism was introduced in Western Europe and America through peaceful transformation, but in other countries through bloody revolutions and their still bloodier consequences, inevitably some countries will also witness their violent multicultural revolutions, in the form of ethnic minorities and Muslims trying to grab power, with equally deadly consequences. Bearing in mind the fact that Muslims regard any non-Muslim as basically subhuman, and the resentment of most third world inhabitants towards the West, the multicultural onslaught in Europe could well be a lot bloodier that the the Bolshevist plague of the first half of the twentieth century. On the other hand, a violent confrontation also presents us with a chance to defeat the forces threatening the West, and to awaken the Western consciousness as a whole.
But all this does not mean that Huntington was entirely wrong. In the case of multiculturalism, the leftists have in all probability misjudged the situation and insufficiently considered the consequences of their policies. Until now, Marxism was always played out within the Western world, with Western “oppressed” groups that had to be rescued, and the human cattle was always indigenous and easy to control. In the postmodern age, this has changed: the proletariat belongs to other cultures, and especially in the case of Islam, the global proletariat forms or will form its own independent power center, ultimately destroying not only the West itself but also the progressive elites leading it. The personification of the merging of these two processes is perhaps the “indigenous” intellectual of the third world, beginning with types like Gandhi and Tagore, but today more ubiquitous than ever – the fulfillment of Lord Salisbury's dystopia of the “tyranny of the baboons”. The behavior of these people follows that of the leftist intellectuals in the West, since they are the self-appointed representatives of an oppressed group; but since this oppressed group is the mass of colored victims of Western imperialism, their ultimate goal is to destroy the West itself and their progressive white teachers with it. It is evident that self-destruction had to be the ultimate outcome of the progressive ideology in power; and when industrial civilization vanishes, so will the problems of industrial civilization which so obsessed the progressives.
To conclude, the postmodern age will witness the combination of the last breath of communism, this time on a global scale, with the Western world as international bourgeoisie, and the third world as international proletariat; and the rise of the uprooted, demoralized remnants of non-Western cultures against Western moral and economic hegemony.
Marxism Is Still Alive (2)