Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Why Marx Is Not Radical

Finally, I get around to really explaining/justifying the title of my blog.

As I noted in my last post, “radical” is an example of a “loaded word.” It is used specifically to draw associations with historical communism, violence, plots to overthrow governments, anarchism, atheism, and thought that is in some way “nonrational.”

It is true that Marx’s philosophy is a threat to the status quo; and it is true that I have advocated complete systemic transformation in this blog. But when Marx or Marxists are attacked with the label “radical,” it is more than a comment about the social implications of their thought. It is a strategic means of discrediting Marxist thought: implying that it is inherently violent, obviously proven wrong, not worthy of simple consideration. And this is where I disagree and proclaim that Marx is not radical.

If someone professes to be Marxist, it does not mean that they are plotting the violent overthrow of any government. Many, to the contrary, are pacifists. They may think we have a broken and unjust system that needs to be changed, but how many people would truly disagree with that sentiment?

If someone professes to be Marxist, that does not mean they are Leninist, Trotskyist, or Maoist. Some obviously are/were. Some may point out that the Western portrayal of actually existing "communism" is markedly distorted, without trying to redeem all aspects of those regimes. It may bear repeating that many of the things that happened in the Soviet Union, China, and other places deviated quite widely from the actual writings of Marx. Furthermore, it is absolutely not true that the writings of Marx inevitably lead to the events in the USSR and China. It is an absurd argument, but I think I will have to devote an entire post to its refutation, nonetheless.

Finally, if someone professes to be Marxist, that does not mean they have lost their grip on reality, that their arguments are not logical or based on real evidence, or that there is automatically no merit to any of their thoughts. This one really gets me. How can so much well reasoned, well researched thinking be dismissed so quickly because of a label? No one should discount the ideas of any other person without examining what it is they are actually saying and evaluating their thought upon the arguments/evidence themselves.

That is why I hope anyone who happens to find this blog (who is not already Marxist), would at least take the time to look at what I am saying, to critically evaluate my arguments, at the very least to acknowledge that my thinking is in some way reasonable, without rushing to judgment based purely on labels. But I’m probably asking too much.

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