I have been a reading a biography of Nikolai Bukharin, probably the second most important Bolshevik theorists after Lenin. You cannot read about old commies without also reading about their ideology. These guys were consumed with politics and the disputes about politics. All of their relationships were through politics, usually along ideological lines. In fact, they never seemed to have genuine friendships, just ideological allies in the many ideological disputes at the time.
The Bolsheviks were a lot like the intensely on-line people of today. The people who make Twitter what it is are 100% committed to both their politics and the life of politics they experience on-line. It is why every minor disagreement becomes a great drama that always ends in tears. Bukharin and Lenin would have big fights over what turned out to be trivial difference in language. Of course, all of the old commies were fond of denouncing one another as deviationists.
Another thing that shines through when reading about the old communists is they had a Calvinist’s faith in their own destiny. The inevitable end of capitalism was as certain to them that the sun would rising in the morning and setting in the evening. Their only concern was in mapping out how it would eventually meet its end. They made some very prudent observations about what they called capitalism. In fact, they gave us the word capitalism as a label for what they observed at the time.
The weird thing about their observations of capitalism is that you get the sense that their good observations were accidents. They were so obsessed with proving the inevitability of communism, they looked past their bets observations about the present. Often, they would focus on the nutty claims about the present, rather than the insightful one, because the nutty claim fit their narrative. The French Revolution reads like a new madness gripping humanity. Communism has the same feel.
The funny thing is though, all political theorists on the Left, I would place libertarians on the Left as well, had this assumption about their politics. Once they arrived at some sort of theoretical framework to explain the world, they started to assume that events would naturally arrive at some determined end point. The superiority of markets would inevitably triumph over central planning. The moral superiority of communism would inevitably lead to revolution and the end of capitalism.
Of course, this determinism is prominent with our rulers. They are always reminding us that they are on the right side of history. That is their get out of jail free card, which allows them to dismiss critics. The communists were like this. The logic errors in Marx were dismissed as technical issues that would work themselves out as capitalism reached its denouement and socialism rose up as the inevitable replacement. It was the source of their fanaticism, this certainty about what was coming next.
Interestingly, this fixation on the inevitable future led them to do no thinking about the details of that future. This is something we see today. On the one hand, their sense of historical inevitability drove them to smash the present, but it prevented them from thinking about the details of that inevitable future. We see this today with the latest spasms of the cultural revolution. They are sure that white people will not be in the glorious future, but how that will work is never considered.
This week I have the usual variety of items in the now standard format. Spreaker has the full show. I am up on Google Play now, so the Android commies can take me along when out disrespecting the country. I am on iTunes, which means the Apple Nazis can listen to me on their Hitler phones. The anarchists can catch me on iHeart Radio. I am now on Deezer, for our European haters and Stitcher for the weirdos. YouTube also has the full podcast. Of course, there is a download link below.
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This Week’s Show
- 00:00: Opening
- 02:00: Marxism
- 17:00: Austrians
- 32:00: Marketism
- 47:00: Dissident Economics
- 57:00: Closing (Be Like Me)
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