Thursday, December 17, 2015

Socialism: Opium of the Intellectuals

12/17/15. Socialism = heaven on earth. Good Luck.
From the Nobel Prize lec-
ture by Svetlana Alexievich,
recipient of the 2015 award in
literature, in Stockholm Dec. 7:

[Soviet-era Russian author]
Varlam Shalamov once wrote:
"I was a participant in the
colossal battle, a battle that
was lost, for the genuine re-
newal of humanity." I recon-
struct the history of that bat-
tle, its victories and its
defeats. The history of how
people wanted to build the
Heavenly Kingdom on earth.
Paradise! The City of the Sun!
In the end, all that remained
was a sea of blood, millions
of ruined human lives. There
was a time, however, when no

political idea of the 20th cen-
tury was comparable to com-
munism (or the October
Revolution as its symbol), a
time when nothing attracted
Western intellectuals and
people all around the world
more powerfully or emotion-
ally. Raymond Aron called the
Russian Revolution the
"opium of intellectuals." But
the idea of communism is at
least two thousand years old.
We can find it in Plato's
teachings about an ideal, cor-
rect state; in Aristophanes'
dreams about a time when
"everything will belong to
everyone." . . . In Thomas
More and Tommaso Campan-
ella ... Later in Saint-Simon,

Fourier and Robert Owen.
There is something in the
Russian spirit that compels it
to try to turn these dreams
into reality.
Twenty years ago, we bid
farewell to the "Red Empire"
of the Soviets with curses
and tears. We can now look
at that past more calmly, as
an historical experiment.
This is
important, because
arguments about : socialism
have not died down. A new
generation has grown up
with a different picture of
the world, but many young
people are reading Marx and
Lenin again. In Russian
towns there are new muse-
ums dedicated to Stalin, and

new monuments have been
erected to him.
The "Red Empire" is gone,
but the "Red Man," homo
sovieticus, remains. He endures.
My father died recently.
He believed in communism to
the end. He kept his party
membership card. I can't
bring myself to use the word
"sovok," that derogatory epi-
thet for the Soviet mentality,
because then I would have to
apply it my father and others
close to me, my friends. They
all come from the same
place-socialism. There are
many idealists among them.
Romantics. Today they are
sometimes called slavery ro-
mantics. Slaves of utopia.



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