“Marx said some very harmful things and some very good things. The good things had nearly all been said before by more ethical people than him, the harmful ones seem to have typically been his own inventions.” Anonymous
“The theory of Class War is as grotesque and false an explanation of the history of society as a history of marriage would be that was built up from the records of Divorce Courts, which carefully took note of all the unhappy marriages and denied the existence of the happy ones because they were not supported by the documentary evidence. There heresies of Marx stand on precisely such a footing. They are false, not because of what they say, but because of what they leave unsaid. Such theories gain credence to-day because capitalism has undermined all the great traditions of the past, and this emptied life of its contents.” Arthur J Penty
“If a man believes that society in the past was based upon class tyranny he will see everything in an inverted perspective, he will be predisposed to support all the forces of social disintegration which masquerade under the name of “progress” because he will view with suspicion all traditions which have survived from the past and have prejudice against all normal forms of social organisation.” Arthur J Penty
“Egalitarian meritocratic society – a very good idea… but anti-religious secular fundamentalism, class war and abolition of private property – a set of very, very bad ideas ideas – and most people who imagine themselves Marxists would really, at the end of the day, agree.” Unknown
“In a time in which Communist regimes have been rightfully discredited and yet alternatives to neoliberal capitalist societies are unwisely dismissed, I defend the fundamental claim of Marxist theory: there must be countervailing forces that defend people’s needs against the brutality of profit driven capitalism.” Cornell West
“Once abolish the God, and the government becomes the God.” GK Chesterton
“To wipe humanity’s slate clean and begin again – to abolish the past – has always been the greatest of temptations. Thus did Mephistopheles whisper to Faustus. Thus did republican virtue seduce Robespierre. Thus did dialectic corrupt Lenin and Stalin – and Trotsky, too… For what all the fine phrases came down to in the end were a windowless basement cell and a pair of bloodstained bootcaps. Or a to a hastily dug trench in a silent forest at dawn. Or to a nameless grave in the featureless tundra beyond the perimeter wire of the gulag. As that stubborn old social democrat Karl Kautsky warned Lenin at the very beginning of the Soviet Experiment: ends do not justify means – means become ends… And so, at least for me, it could only ever be the Labour Party. Better by far to accept responsibility for the tawdry misdemeanours of social democracy, than to spend the rest of my life excusing the huge historical crimes of Marxism-Leninism.” Chris Trotter
“The man who is not permitted to own is owned.” George Santayana
“(Marxism will) in a generation or so (go) into the limbo of most heresies, but meanwhile it will have poisoned the Russian Revolution.” GK Chesterton
“A pickpocket is obviously a champion of private enterprise. But it would perhaps be an exaggeration to say that a pickpocket is a champion of private property….The point about Communism is that it only reforms the pickpocket by forbidding pockets.” GK Chesterton
“It’s not that Marx didn’t have some very good ideas, its just that he also had some really bad ideas” Unknown Commenter
“Progress is Providence without God. That is, it is a theory that everything has always perpetually gone right by accident. It is a sort of atheistic optimism, based on an everlasting coincidence far more miraculous than a miracle.” GK Chesterton
“They refused to listen to Ruskin; they are having to listen to Marx. If Ruskin chastised them with whips, Marx chastises them with scorpions…Ruskin appealed to the compassion of the governing class; Marx realised that they hadn’t got any…” AJ Penty
““An interesting essay might be written on the possession of an atheistic literary style. There is such a thing. The mark of it is that wherever anything is named or described, such words are chosen as suggest that the thing has not got a soul in it. Thus they will not talk of love or passion, which imply a purpose and a desire. They talk of the “relations” of the sexes, as if they were simply related to each other in a certain way, like a chair and a table. Thus they will not talk of the waging of war (which implies a will), but of the outbreak of war – as if it were a sort of boil. Thus they will not talk of masters paying more or less wages, which faintly suggests some moral responsibility in the masters: they will talk of the rise and fall of wages, as if the thing were automatic, like the tides of the sea. Thus they will not call progress an attempt to improve, but a tendency to improve. And thus, above all, they will not call the sympathy between oppressed nations sympathy; they will call it solidarity. For that suggests brick and coke, and clay and mud, and all the things they are fond of.” GK Chesterton
“There is no bigot like the atheist.” GK Chesterton
“Bolshevism was socialism in arms. Socialism stripped of its warmth and its joy, and its boundless, reckless optimism.” Chris Trotter
“A queer and almost mad notion seems to have got into the modern head that, if you mix up everybody and everything more or less anyhow, the mixture may be called unity, and the unity may be called peace. It is supposed that, if you break down all doors and walls so that there is no domesticity, there will then be nothing but friendship. Surely somebody must have noticed by this time that the men living in a hotel quarrel at least as often as the men living in a street.” GK Chesterton
“A strange fanaticism fills our time: the fanatical hatred of morality..” GK Chesterton
“After Napoleon’s 1815 defeat at Waterloo, Europeans had created nation-states in the image and likeness of Napoleon. The new states became the foci of popular affection, even worship. All organized themselves as Napoleon had France, and as Hegel had prescribed, with every house numbered so that bureaucratic government could pass its science to and collect sustenance from each. The states became the purveyors of education and sources of authority. … All partook of Charles Darwin’s ideology that life is an evolutionary struggle in which the fittest survive.” Angelo M. Codevilla
“There cannot be a nation of millionaires, and there never has been a nation of Utopian comrades; but there have been any number of nations of tolerably contented peasants.” GK Chesterton
“… globalization … wipes out entire economic systems and in doing so wipes out the accompanying culture.” Peter L Berger
“Imperialism or globalization – I don’t have to care what it’s called to hate it.” Bill Ayers
“.. we see an increasingly weaker labor movement as a result of the overall assault on the labor movement and as a result of the globalization of capital. Angela Davis
“Globalization has created this interlocking fragility. At no time in the history of the universe has the cancellation of a Christmas order in New York meant layoffs in China.” Nassim Nicholas Taleb
“The standardization of world culture, with local popular or traditional forms driven out or dumbed down to make way for American television, American music, food, clothes and films, has been seen by many as the very heart of globalization.” Fredric Jameson
“I see three forces militating in favor of growing inequality: increasing measurement of worker value added, automation through smart software, and globalization.” Tyler Cowen
“Globalization and the neoliberal economic model have already been rejected in Latin America; it simply hasn’t been a solution for our people. At the same time, Latin countries like Venezuela and Argentina are anti-imperialist and anti-globalization, and yet their economies are growing again.” Evo Morales
Globalization creates economic policies where the transnationals lord over us, and the result is misery and unemployment. Evo Morales
“The bottom line is there are lots of problems that were not created by government. The biggest one is loss of middle class incomes, loss of good-paying jobs which was created by technology and globalization. Above all, when you can move a job to China or India, it reduces wages.” Chuck Schumer
“Contagion has become very much a phenomenon, and it’s a phenomenon of globalization.” Lawrence Summers
I first remember hearing the word Jacobin long ago in the classic British costume drama Poldark. “Jacobins?” I thought, “what are they? something to do with the inspirationally romantic Jacobites?” I soon learned that they couldn’t have been philosophocally further from their namealikes. So who were they?
Quite simply Jacobins are radically anti-traditional, anti-religious, centralizing, power hungry modernists whose “solutions” have always created more problems than they solved. They were and are the people who wanted to wipe away all traditions and to build the world anew.
They were the murderous radicals behind the bloody secular-fundamentalist French Revolution, but their work has not stopped there. When the French Republic gradually took at turn towards a type of conservatism the Marxists became the new Jacobin flag bearers. Taking their turn they inflicted Jacobin madness on half of the world, killed the traditionalist rulers and robbed the people of the ways of life that had long served their ancestors well. When the Marxists got into power they replaced smoothly functioning ways life which had developed over many millennia with superficial policies that had been thought up by self inflated “problem solvers” – people who cared not a jot for the people they claimed to be saving.
Not surprisingly the arrival of Marxism in countries such as Russia lead to chaos and mass starvation. The survivors had many decades of political oppression and the ever present threat of the gulag to look forwards too.
Nor should it be forgotten that Mussolini and Hitler were quite clearly Jacobins in their radical “making the world afresh philosophy”. They may have held some ‘reactionary’ views and an admiration for some parts of the past, but they could not have been further from being ‘reactionaries’ or ‘traditionalists’ – what they brought was something new and horrible. Like all Jacobin their goals were futuristic, utopian and quite detached from actual human realities.
The Jacobins have never gone away. In fact there are more of them alive today than every before. They have infiltrated ever country, they influence every major organization and their number includes the hordes anti-religious, anti-monarchical, anti-traditionalist “people” who dominate the media and political classes in nearly every society on the face of the earth.
Indeed the irreligious half of the modern left often reaches into Jacobinism. Calling themselves “progressives”, hostility to tradition and religion is often their trademark, as is a streak of authoritarian intolerance (the highly illiberal fascism of the people who consider themselves to be liberals). Their religion of “rationalism” springs forth from the European “Enlightenment” and like all Jacobins they see wiping away the old as the key to building a perfected new world.
Thankfully in Britain the left did not have their main roots with the Jacobins. From the Chartists, Owenites and early Trades Unions onwards the British Labour Movement avoided the Jacobin extremism of Continental Socialism. The mainstream British left which developed into the Labour party was established by non-conformist Christians and Anglicans with traditional morality. Indeed it wasn’t until the second half of the 20th century that the Jacobins within the Labour party managed to sow their anti-traditional seeds effectively (sadly all three major British political parties are home to a fair – more accurately foul – percentage of Jacobins, Europe is dominated by them and they are a growing force in America).
Some modern Jacobins are reconstructed and somewhat civilized to the point of liberality, but many are not. Indeed many Jacobins are alive today who would mix happily and comfortably with Robespierre and Pol Pot given half a chance (only God knows what we will see from this type of person in the future). Indeed at one time to call someone a Jacobin was an insult, but today we see American Marxists proudly publishing Jacobin Magazine.
So who are the Jacobins of today? Their group is so prolific and diverse that they have many leaders in many lands. Indeed they are a quite divided group (united only in their anti-traditionalism) but if someone says that they believe in a French style Republic, that they are a Marxist, or if someone tells you that someone is a Cultural Marxist or a Neo-Conservative then the person so described is very likely to be a Jacobin (or a semi-Jacobin), whether they know it or not.
Lao Tzu, a man from the past with insights that make sense in the present.
“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled they will say ‘we did it ourselves’.”
A reality that has definitely bypassed the common Western mind.
“The gentle and soft overcomes the hard and aggressive.”
Another reality that has generally bypassed the Western mind.
“The more regulations there are,
The poorer people become.”
Bureaucracy, Kafka’s nightmare coming true in modern Britain, brought closer and closer by the dictatorial European Union. How complicated can they make every area of life?
“The more picky the laws are,
The more thieves and gangsters there are.”
Modern Britain = too many laws and too many lawyers. Too many people go to prison each year for silly, unnatural, made up laws.
“Accomplish but don’t boast
Accomplish without show
Accomplish without arrogance
Accomplish without grabbing
Accomplish without forcing.
When things flourish they decline.”
Every Camelot falls, Rome fell, Baghdad was wiped out by the Mongols. Every economic boom in history has been followed by a slump. The bigger they are the harder they fall. As for success Thatcher’s own people stabbed her in the back, Churchill was booted out of office, Hitler ended up dead in a scruffy bunker, Ceaser’s best friends killed him, Gadaffi’s last moments of freedom were spent hiding in a drain. Excessive forceful success breeds envy, every office and classroom attests to this. Our forceful petrochemical pinnacle society – often looking like a war against nature – will almost certainly topple one day – leaving our descendants to pick up the pieces. Nobody every fell off a mountain who didn’t first go up one. Sensible goals are stability and sustainable goals.
“If you do not adulate the worthy, you will make others non-contentious.
If you do not value rare treasures, you will stop others from stealing.
If people do not see riches, they will not be agitated.
Therefore, when the sage governs,
He clears people’s minds,
Fills their bellies,
Weakens their ambition and
Strengthens their bones.
If the people are kept without cleverness and desire
It will make the intellectuals not dare to meddle.”
This is the total antithesis to our modern, consumerist-materialistic, growth-based society.
“Victory is never sweet.
Those for whom victory is sweet
Are those who enjoy killing.
If you enjoy killing, you cannot gain the trust of the people.”
If only you had understood this Tony Blair.
“The country’s potent weapons
Should not be shown to its people.”
Because they will demand their use?
“When the Tao prevails in the land
The horses leisurely graze and fertilize the ground.
When the Tao is lacking in the land
War horses are bred outside the city.”
Updated this saying would probably be in reference to the use of factories, not horses.
“You can possess the world by never manipulating it.
No matter how much you manipulate
You can never possess the world.”
Its just like chasing a rainbow.
“The court is immaculate,
While the fields are overgrown with weeds,
And the granaries are empty.
They wear silk finery..
Sate themselves on food and drink
Having wealth in excess.
They are called thieving braggarts.
This is definitely not the Way.”
Lenin in his golden train, Thatcher on her gilded sofa, Nicolae Ceaușescu in his palace, Imelda Marcos with her shoes, even the capitalist elites celebrating their bargain purchases with champagne as millions lose their jobs and are thrust into a world of benefits or even worse of food stamps and handouts queues…
“When the government is laid back
The people are relaxed.
When the government is nitpicking
The people have anxiety.”
Will someone please explain this to each and every incoming British government.
“Deal with difficulties while they are still easy.
Handle the great while it is still small”
Or ‘a stitch in time saves nine’ as we say in English.
“Let there be a small country with few people,
Who, even having much machinery, don’t use it.
Who take death seriously and don’t wander far away.
Even though they have boats and carriages, they never ride in them.
Having armor and weapons, they never go to war.
Let them return to measurement by tying knots in rope.
Sweeten their food, give them nice clothes, a peaceful abode and a relaxed life.
Even though the next country can be seen and its dogs and chickens can be heard,
The people will grow old and die without visiting each others land.”
This is the antithesis to the modern growth based economy. It is an understanding of society being promoted by many free thinking environmentalists, permaculturists and others who have understood the insights of E.F. Schumacher’s ‘Small is Beautiful’.
“The reason the river and sea can be regarded as
The rulers of all the valley streams
Is because of their being below them.
Therefore they can be their rulers.
So if you want to be over people
You must speak humbly to them.
If you want to lead them
You must place yourself behind them.
Thus the sage is positioned above
And the people do not feel oppressed.
He is in front and they feel nothing wrong.
Therefore they like to push him front and never resent him.
Since he does not contend
No one can contend with him.”
“If you are courageous in daring you will die.
If you are courageous in not-daring you will live.
Among these two, one is beneficial and the other is harmful.”
“Nothing in the world is softer than water,
Yet nothing is better at overcoming the hard and strong.
This is because nothing can alter it.
That the soft overcomes the hard
And the gentle overcomes the aggressive
Is something that everybody knows
But none can do themselves.
Therefore the sages say:
The one who accepts the dirt of the state
Becomes its master.
The one who accepts its calamity
Becomes king of the world.
Truth seems contradictory. “
When we look at the competition between China and America it is clear that America could learn a lot from Lao Tzu. They suffer from (in late 2014) an extremely active-yang approach to the world which is causing their overstretch, unpopularity, danger of war with Russia and other problems. China on the other hand is apparently showing a much more patient and balanced growth, leaning towards a more passive-yin approach.
“True words are not fancy.
Fancy words are not true.”
Most people seem to instinctively know this when it comes to politicians…
This is also the antithesis to our specialistic culture’s excessive use of necessary jargon (by nearly every type of “expert”). Jargon which is often completely unnecessary as the same concepts can nearly always be expressed quite sufficiently in plain, mainstream English.
“The good do not debate.
Debaters are not good.”
I wonder what would Lao Tzu have thought of our ingrained culture of debating in Britain?
“The one who really knows is not broadly learned,
The extensively learned do not really know.”
In English we say someone ‘can’t see the wood for the trees’ to describe this reality.
Quotes in italics all by Lao Tzu, Chinese Philosopher
“Left wing” and “right wing” – two quite silly terms with their origins in the French revolutionary period. They are named after the seating arrangements in the French National Assembly – just before the terrible regicide and revolutionary terror (in which around 400,000 people were slaughtered) that was to follow.
Those on the left wing (Cote Gauche) were revolutionaries, “progressives”, liberals and radicals, whilst those on the right wing (Cote Droit) were supporters of the Ancien Regime: monarchists, social hierarchists, conservatives, reactionaries and traditionalists.
Today the idea of left and right have grown into a vast compendium of political opinions. A whole host of ideas are classed as “left wing” and an alternative nexus of ideas are classed as “right wing” – and people are classed as right or left wing based upon which views they hold.
When people are young and/or stupid enough (if they take any interest in politics at all they) will probably squeeze themselves neatly into this bipolar world. If they support the welfare state, the national health service and the minimum wage then they will convince themselves that they also support everything else lumped into the definition of “left wing”. If they are socially conservative they will probably convince themselves that they also support free market economics and everything else that gets lumped into the definition of “right wing”. The force that causes this is tribalism and wanting to fit in with the group.
However in reality individuals, who are not dominated by political tribalism, look each separate area of political thought on an individual basis and as a result develop a mixture of views, some of which may be classed as “left wing” and some of which may be “right wing”. Yet it seems the whole society is addicted to irrationally straitjacketing politics into to only essential types based upon French political seating arrangements – centuries ago. *
One example of how this over-simplistic straight jacket can skew understandings is how ever since the libertines of the “new left” subverted the left in the last third of the 20th century and introduced particular social views as being essential left wing qualities many natural “left wingers” have been alienated from the left. It became the case that to be ‘left wing’ you had to support ‘sexual liberation’, ‘gay rights’ and abortion.
If you didn’t then you were now a “reactionary” not a “left winger” – despite the fact that the non-Marxist left had never held these views prior to this time. Indeed several British Labour governments had presided at a time when Britain was a Christian traditionalist country with an Empire and the death penalty and where abortion was a crime. Thus according to the later definition of ‘left wing’ every British Labour government until that of Harold Wilson was in fact very “right wing” – of course in reality this was not the case.
People need to get beyond this silly ‘left-right’ dichotomy. It makes simple things seem complicated and does a great job of hiding reality. Getting beyond silly ‘left-right’ over simplifications we may get quite a good description of someones political views using a similar system to the following 3 key variant descriptors.
Indeed just by moving from an over-simplistic binary method of describing political views to a still somewhat simplified 3 leanings model makes it possible to convey a much more complex and accurate level of information. Obviously 5 or 7 descriptors would make the system more accurate, but simplicity is key for any such model to be widely useful. For example…
- Are they “C” Socially Conservative and a Traditionalist or “L” Socially Liberal and a “Progressive”?
- Are they “C” Pro-Capitalism, Free Trade and Growth or “P” Pro-Protectionism, Social Democracy (or Socialism) and Sustainability?
- Are they “N” Anti-immigration & Nationalist or “I” Pro-Immigration & Internationalist?
So a person who is a social conservative, who believes in protectionism, social democracy and sustainability, who is anti-immigration may be be described as an CPN, or a person who is a capitalist, who supports free trade and growth, is internationalist and pro-immigration and is socially liberal and “progressive” may be ever so simply described as an LCI etc and practically any arrangement of these key political viewpoints is possible.
Now of course I am not suggesting that everyone should use this particular example, rather the idea is to show how easy it is to develop a more helpful system that gets beyond the over simplistic and outdated binary political classification of ‘left wing’ or “right wing”.