Source: WordNet (r) 1.7
n 1: an orientation that characterizes the thinking of a group or nation [syn: political orientation, political theory]
2: imaginary or visionary theorization
Source: WordNet (r) 1.7
n : the branch of theology that is concerned with such final things as death and judgment; heaven and hell; the end of the world
The modern day Left started with an ideological framework that arose out of the works of Karl Marx and then added to via the International meetings on Marxism and then put through the lenses of Progressivism, Soviet Communism, socialists like Friedrich Engels who had impact on US Socialism via his works with Marx, European Anarcho-Syndicalist movements, the works of Antonio Gramsci and cultural hegemony as seen in the Frankfort School of cultural Marxism, then onto National Socialism and Nazi Fascism. Taken as a whole, starting with Marx, the ideology derived from this school of thought is one that is based on an end of economic systems and the final removal of the capitalist or owning class of society and the rule of the Proletariat. As an ideology it has its roots in the post-Classical period coming after John Locke, Adam Smith, and Immanuel Kant, and as a form of response to Utilitarianism.
I have gone over the ground of Marxism multiple times, most recently in What is the value of... anything? and review some of the highlights and problems of Marxism from the time of Marx. Economically Marxism's problems with defining value, exactly who is being exploited, explaining what alienation of labor is and why its abolition is seen as a historical imperative does not address a part of Marxism that keeps it alive, and that is its sociology. Within the Old Left (Communists, National Socialists, Anarcho-Syndicalists, American Progressivists) there was a requirement of scholarship for those on the 'inside' of the movements. You had to know Marx and Engels, at the very least, be able to go through the rhetoric of Marxism via Hegel's Dialectical Materialism and then continue on with how bad those owning businesses were in their exploitation of labor. Even given misplaced basis for arguments, there had to be a rational structure of argumentation on those points and defense of the critical starting points to assert the end points of the ideology.
This formed a sociological structure within Marxists circles that I got to witness first hand growing up in a family of socialist sympathizers. It was an old First International sort of adherence, however, and had nothing to do with the Second or Third Congresses dominated by the (so-called as they put it) Communists. Thus the first divisions were International Congress divisions and they would break out to the 'true believers, the rest of you are wrong' First Congress types and then those seen as corrupt: Communists (Soviet sort), National Socialists (all stripes), Progressives, social hegemonists... basically anyone save the strongly influenced Anarch-Syndicalists who cribbed a lot from US First International followers who themselves cribbed from Engels. As you can tell by the long list of Marxist derivatives, there was a lot of in-fighting, factionalism and otherwise fierce boundary disputes within Marxists circles based on who you followed and what their form of argumentation was. This could get broken down inside factions via different argument strains and who followed which form of their own particular brand of Marxism.
What this strongly looks like is a religious movement, and that is due to the fact that human nature (which Marx criticized the Utilitarians for not understanding) is seen as something that will go through a sudden, global transformation amongst the Proletariat. Basically from nowhere, although the Marxists will point to the evils of capitalist exploitation, etc. but the actual gripes that the actual proletarians had (versus the idealized ones of the Marxists) had more to do with banal things like pay, working conditions, bad bosses and then, lo and behold, abusive Union bosses. Labor Unions, seen as a first step towards Socialism and this grand uplifting of proletarian thought, turned out to be just another human made and manned system with all the faults of all such systems that man makes. Instead of uplifting worker education they served to line the pockets of Union Bosses with worker funds and then walk away richer for it and cut deals with the very people they were supposed to protect the workers from. The First Congress types saw Trade Unions as just another corrupt system and lumped them in the 'everybody else' category of 'not true socialists' right next to the National Socialists.
A strange thing happened from the days of the Old Marxist Left (roughly up to the mid-1970's encompassing the 'New Left' which was just warmed-over Old Left) and today: the grandiose vision of Marx was retained but the rhetoric, the internal logic, the ability to argue based on it all disappeared. Lock, stock and barrel the current Authoritarian Left no longer has intellectual roots in Marx, Marxism or even logic. Meet up with a Leftists today and they couldn't even attempt to give a good description of the Labor Theory of Value or to even explain what Alienation of Labor is. Handwave as much as you like at the Frankfurt School, but they sought a domination through culture and have, instead, reinvented nihilism.
Source: WordNet (r) 1.7
n 1: a revolutionary doctrine that advocates destruction of the social system for its own sake
2: the delusion that things (or everything, including the self) do not exist; a sense that everything is unreal [syn: nihilistic delusion]
3: complete denial of all established authority and institutions
Given that Marx gave us an Eschatology of end-times, it is little wonder that those seeking a cultural domination would come up with nihilism. Trying to unmoor past and present, seek to remove objective reasoning and, instead, personalize all political and economic points of view and then enforce those on everyone from some intellectual elite that doesn't have rational thinking as its basis, is it any wonder that you come to nihilism?
The feel-good and warm-fuzzies of Marxism are retained, that workers paradise and everyone getting goodies for nothing and their chicks for free remains to this day the heart of the Left and, in fact, dominates it. If the Frankfurt School is to blame for its institutional marching to the point where politicians no longer believe in balancing a check book for THEMSELVES not to speak of the governments they seek to run, is it any wonder the rest of us are left scratching our heads asking: just how the hell is THIS supposed to work?
If there is no inherent difference between work and non-work, then why work?
If you hand out a dole to everyone for just existing, then who grows the food and why? To what end?
Being generous with tax revenue and then some, means that you are taking economic vitality and encouraging non-vitality and asking our children to pay for it. And if you don't teach them the value of actually earning a living, and they don't repay the debts, then who is going to grow the food?
Mao had the lovely idea of whipping the intellectuals into line, even a good amount of his supporters, by putting them to grow food for others and starve as they did so. Radical material simplification, as one professor puts it about the Dark Ages: you are poor, hungry and have a short life deprived of the benefits of a civilization that once flourished.
Marxism has always had an eschatological view of the human race: it was always an end time religion because it never got the basics of human nature right and assumed a massive change intellectually that would free the working class and remove alienation of labor. That's right, everyone would get to do the entire job for themselves! You would be a fisher, raise wheat and corn, have chickens, read and print books, go hunting, and have the satisfaction of knowing that your labor was no longer alienated!
Unfortunately fishing is not catching.
Unfortunately hunting is not always successful.
Unfortunately chickens get sick, as do pigs, cattle, and you have to care for them as well as yourself.
To keep warm you must chop your own wood, mine your own coal or make your own nuclear reactor.
And then you would have to find the time to write about how grand your life was and how good it was to have unalienated labor.
Because all of it, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, you are going to do it all and even when you do it with your fellow liberated proletarians, you dare NOT divide up labor into different parts because that will alienate your labor from the entire affair.
To support unalienated labor is impossible, but the Left has decided to support the unemployed who should be seeking a job but now get supported for nearly two years and are taught how to live off the money taken by government for them. Their labor is lacking. Your labor's wages are stolen via government and given to those who have decided that living on what government gives them from you is better than working for a living and supporting themselves. This isn't labor that is no longer alienated as their labor is no longer done: that which is not done cannot be alienated as it is never present.
What drives this is no longer an ideology but the belief in the end state of an ideology: the ideology, itself, is no longer discussed or thought about as a thing in and of itself. At this point there is a belief in Marx that is no longer intellectual and not even rooted in his texts or the body of work of those closely associated with him. Leftists are atheists because they want to be in the belief that Marx is right, not through reading Marx and understanding Marx, but just believing in him. Their attacks on those who read religious texts is thus an anti-intellectual attack, no matter how dressed up and how many degrees are held by those going after religion, their own belief structure is based on unread texts and only on assumptions.
The devolution of Marxism from rhetorical premise and argumentative structure that requires thought has been slow, but has become greatly accelerated as the 'March through the institutions' is no longer based on something that has definition, but on the belief that the end result is 'good'. Yet what is 'good' is never defined in a hard, fast and discernable way: good has no end state to it of limits to how much good any bureaucratic organization can do. In fact the growth of bureaucracy is an in-bred 'good' in the belief that more of it and more power to it will get 'good' results. And because human nature is no longer studied, nor the very impacts of it upon prior Marxist ideology and its factionation, it is not understood that a bureaucracy has no intellect, has no fast goal, cannot become an 'expert' no matter how many it hires, and that the Iron Law of bureaucracy is that those that further the ends of the bureaucracy get rewarded as the bureaucracy expands. Thus the end goal a bureaucracy, any bureaucracy, is the expansion of bureaucracy by the bureaucracy for the bureaucracy. Other goals become secondary to that quest for greater power.
Marxist ideology is not, of necessity, nihilistic and was, in fact, seen as something a bit more humanized than Utilitarianism. Yet the very problems of Utilitarianism are seen in Marxism in its later stages of demeaning the individual, of not understanding the human nature of the individual and not addressing that there is more to the individual than, in the case of Marx, labor not utility. Yet the very way labor is posited makes it utilitarian, thus the premise of Marx is eschatology within an ideology based on a belief and criticism that is has scant difference from the ones Marx leveled at Utilitarianism.
This cannot be argued to those who follow only the nihilistic eschatology of modern Marxism/Leftism because those inside the belief system don't bother to read and grapple with Marx. It is always about doing 'good' through government, growing government and never asking if this is good for all the individuals in society. Yet they speak of the 'collective' but then only want to do better for parts of it, not the whole thing, and thus they even miscomprehend what collectivism is and sacrifice it on the alter of special preferences.
I never thought I would wish for the day of actual, intellectual Marxists arguing the rhetoric of Marx for policy, but they are not to be found. The Marxism in the halls of power today, under a Progressivist/Liberal/Left guise is one that is rudely divorced from the ideology of Marx and connected to the end state eschatology of Marx. Even that doesn't follow Marx as they screw up the Marxist notion of collectivism and replace it with special privileges for a few. That is a National Socialist conception from Fascism as gone through the form of its German descendent, and this one isn't the one at Frankfurt but the one that got tried at Nuremburg. It, too, had an end state eschatology that it elevated above ideology, and it was hard to find parsers of Marx amongst the National Socialists who started out as off-shoots of the International Socialist schools. Gramsci would have his ideas picked up the the West but his body would be killed by Italian Fascists, which demonstrates the allure of special privilege nihilistic eschatology based roughly on Marx.
Too bad those followers of this anti-human form of Marxism don't bother to read history, either, because it is littered with such examples and death tolls attributable to it. Better to go on pushing 'forward' never looking at where the path gets you and never asking 'just where in the hell are we going?' The moment you do that you are decried as being against this or that special privileged group, or as someone who is an anarchist, which is strange because that is just another nihilistic eschatology. Thus point out the bad ends of the road and you are said to be using a nihilistic eschatology by those who are using a nihilistic eschatology and don't want it mentioned that this is what they are doing. And if you ask where they get these ideas from they just say its because it 'feels good' to do these things and have government do it for them with other people's money.
Lately, though, they are finding out they have to pay for their good ideas by finding out that their health insurance policy has been canceled and that they will have to get a much more costly one that does less for them. Only once they start to get mugged by their own creation do they realize that there is pain involved to the many for the few with their 'good feeling' policies. Better that it be a lot of pain, swiftly and deep today, so that more will see this is not good at all so that we can start requiring that people think and work for themselves and help the collective to get out of the mess the privileged got us into with their strange religion based only on good feelings and an nihilistic eschatology. Ideologues you can at least argue with on the basis of something. Those with a worldview religion based on someone they never read have belief in nothing and no idea what they are actually arguing about, just that they are always right. Religious zealots who are unlearned and don't bother to ever think about what they say, you only can argue with and never, ever get anywhere. I'll take the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Mormons, or any other religious sect that at least honestly reads about itself than this strange sect on the Left that just believes it is right because it said so.