January 23, 2004

Communist Memes

One of the big problems of communists is that they just won't stop. When you have a normal idea, you try it, you experiment with it in a few variations, and if it repeatedly fails, you stop trying it. You accept that the idea, no matter how noble sounding no matter how good it sounds, simply does not work.

The communists do not accept this basic proposition. One of the fundamental features of communism, one of its component memes is the idea that logic has its own class consciousness. This marxist idea of proletarian and bourgeoisie logic is a class of polylogism and while totally useless as a means of helping explain the world makes it ultimately very difficult to win an argument with marxists and creates a plethora of marxist variants, many of which do not formally recognize that they are marxist. In fact, class polylogism is probably one of the few essential memes of marxism.

When a marxist experiment fails, it is always the fault of the implementation. A priori, marxism is held to be blameless. It just needs to be tweaked better, adjusted and morphed into new forms, take on new labels, and be tried in a more conducive atmosphere. If it is in a theoretical discussion, the marxist's argumentation is at fault, he is not sufficiently class conscious, or alternatively the logical argument is simply dismissed as coming from an unhealthy social origin.

What's the point of all this hoary history? The fact is that, even today, old, thoroughly discredit marxist ideas are being recycled by virtue of an application of polylogism. Post-marxist movements of political economy still have to be examined, at least lightly, for signs that they are infected with this logic bomb.

Sasha Volokh's recent note on the inapplicability of marxist failure to an analysis of liberal economics rang alarm bells for exactly this reason. Liberalism, the modern variant anyway, shares some features with fabian socialism. Except in its third way variants of Clintonism and Blairism, liberalism borrows extensively from the socialists and can be taken as part of the same family.

But Clintonism itself seems severely wounded if not quite dead in the Democrat party of today. Old style appeals to greater government control, reregulation, and raising taxes were not greeted with horror when Gov. Dean proposed them. Deans troubles, rather are ones of personal character and a worry that he is too angry a messenger to sell the old time conventional message.

The closest adherent of Clintonism in the current group of presidential candidates is Joe Lieberman and he's on the right wing of the current crop of candidates. His DLC approach renders him likely unelectable in the Democrat primary.

Now fabian socialism is an odd bird. Many people on the right have misunderstood its timeline. Winston Churchill badly lost his reelection effort because of his insistence that you cannot have socialism without a gestapo. It wasn't until 30 years later that the signs of incipient tyranny seriously showed up with Arthur Scargill's proposal to institute limits on emigration in order to combat the UK's brain drain. And such proposals were rightly tossed overboard with the rise of Thatcherism.

But even though fabianism is extremely slow and gradual in its approach to implementing socialism, it merely delays the onset of economic collapse. It is just as unsustainable as more severe forms of this politico/economic idea.

I can't agree with the idea that liberalism has little to learn from the collapse of communism. To the extent that it continues to resist accountability and discarding failed ideas, it follows the marxian model to a T.

Posted by TMLutas at January 23, 2004 09:47 AM