Sunday, April 10, 2011
Marxism as Satanism
Contemporary Marxist academics often position the Christian right as Nazis. Here's Richard Rorty:
"I see the "orthodox" (the people who think hounding gays out of the military promotes traditional family values) as the same honest, blinkered, disastrous people who voted for Hitler in 1933. I see the "progressivists" as defining the only America I care about" (Philosophy and Social Hope, 17).
He finishes his autobiographical sketch, "Trotsky and the Wild Orchids," by wishing for a "fully secular community" (20).
Using Westboro Baptists (this is about 200 people?) as a metonymic symbol for the 1200 denominations of Protestants (200 million people) strikes me as simplistic and even slightly unfair. But this is more or less what Rorty has done in his equation above.
Let's look at Rorty from the Christian perspective and ask: does he come off as a Satanist? How well do Marxists keep the Ten Commandments? The first commandment is to put God above all else. Marxists want instead to secularize communities, and make their leaders (Obama, or Kim Jong-Il) into deities that can do no wrong, and cannot be criticized. The commandment to obey and honor parents is also nullified (Rorty feels that as a professor his job is to undo a family's spiritual care of their child, and instead make them into Trotskyites). Marxism goes so far as to openly stump for genocide, on the basis of class, gender, and race, and to openly ask us to covet the neighbor's things, and to seek out the things of the flesh (Foucault's entire work -- so popular now -- the most frequently cited theorist in the humanities -- is based on this).
But let's let Rorty speak for himself:
"It seems to me that the regulative idea that we heirs of the Enlightenment, we Socratists, most frequently use to criticize the conduct of various conversational partners is that of ‘needing education in order to outgrow their primitive fear, hatreds, and superstitions’ ... It is a concept which I, like most Americans who teach humanities or social science in colleges and universities, invoke when we try to arrange things so that students who enter as bigoted, homophobic, religious fundamentalists will leave college with views more like our own ... The fundamentalist parents of our fundamentalist students think that the entire ‘American liberal establishment’ is engaged in a conspiracy. The parents have a point. Their point is that we liberal teachers no more feel in a symmetrical communication situation when we talk with bigots than do kindergarten teachers talking with their students ... When we American college teachers encounter religious fundamentalists, we do not consider the possibility of reformulating our own practices of justification so as to give more weight to the authority of the Christian scriptures. Instead, we do our best to convince these students of the benefits of secularization. We assign first-person accounts of growing up homosexual to our homophobic students for the same reasons that German schoolteachers in the postwar period assigned The Diary of Anne Frank... ‘Universality and Truth,’ in Robert B. Brandom (ed.), Rorty and his Critics (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000), pp. 21-2.
It couldn't be more clear that he considers his Christian students to be Nazis who need to be swiftly cult-cracked for his vision of a fully secular utopia to come to fruition.
But who really fought the Nazis? And who fought the Confederates? And who fought Stalin? Wasn't it in many cases the Christians? Lincoln drew on the Christian heritage to argue for the humanity of slaves. When Julia Ward Howe wrote The Battle Hymn of the Republic, she argued that in fighting for the slaves we would be more like Christ. While Hitler tried to murder the Jews, or enslave them, it was Christians who went to their rescue. It was a Christian family that tried to save Anne Frank. Rorty wipes this all out, setting the stage for murderous Trotsky, and the murderous Trotskyites, who helped Stalin to destroy Christian Russia. It was the Christians of Russia (Solzhenitsyn) who stood up to the communists. It was the Christians of Eastern Europe who rose up in Christmas 1989 to overturn the Satanism of the Marxists. Rorty has a bulldozing quality in which he seeks to raze western history and all of America in the name of Marxism, a thoroughly discredited ideology outside of American academia.
Rorty's parents were old Trotskyites, and he was raised among such people. His apple didn't fall too far from the tree.
American Christians are an enormous heterogeneous group with 1200 denominations and lots of variance even within any given denomination. Breaking all Christians, and destroying all their faith, knocking down the Ten Commandments, must have some other agenda behind it. What is it? When asked about his politics, he says,
"...my politics were pretty much those of Hubert Humphrey" (18).
Insofar as I know, Humphrey was the only Lutheran to ever hold the office of president or vice-president.
Rorty's excessively sloppy self-righteous narrative is far from coherent or accurate, even on its own terms. After making the case that all Christians are Nazis because they are "orthodox," he goes on to claim "my politics were pretty much those of Hubert Humphrey" (18). Doesn't he know that Humphrey was a Lutheran -- which makes him on his own terms -- Rorty's terms -- a Nazi?
Flying by the seat of his pants, Rorty's reasonableness just strikes one as unsubstantial and Philistine. And yet he is one of the supposed intellectual giants of the left. When his logic isn't circular it's incoherent.
If he defines Christians as Nazis, and then defines his own politics as that of Humphrey, isn't he saying his own politics are that of the Nazis? Are even Nazis really Nazis in Rorty's terms? Not when they are Martin Heidegger. Heidegger was only a Nazi by chance, Rorty argues on p. 196. He could have been one of us. Therefore, he is one of us. Same goes for Paul DeMan (18). It might be just as reasonable to argue that Rorty could have been a Lutheran, and really was a Lutheran. He himself gives as his sole exemplar of his politics -- Hubert Humphrey -- a Lutheran.
If we want a reasonable, strong, sense of human rights, we should not let go of the Christian tradition. We should in fact turn to it. In almost every case, what the left themselves see as good (Humphrey, or the Scandinavian Lutheran states) are in fact Christian states, which they are just too bigoted to realize are Christian.
The bigotry of Rorty is intense and unthinking and unfounded. Rorty is convinced of his truth, and he still has many readers, each one dumber and more convinced than the next. It will take a miracle to keep them from wrecking the west, but we have seen such miracles before: like the night in December of 1989 when Ceausescu's empire fell, and monks ran through the streets of Bucharest, singing, "God Exists!"
Every day I pray that such a miracle will take place, and that once again, witnesses to the Lutheran tradition will fill our streets, and our institutions. But then again maybe they already do, and just don't realize it yet.