Tag Archives: communism

Jorge Luis Borges

El más urgente de los problemas de nuestra época (ya denunciado con profética lucidez por el casi olvidado Spencer) es la gradual intromisión del Estado en los actos del individuo; en la lucha con ese mal, cuyos nombres son comunismo y nazismo, el individualismo argentino, acaso inútil o perjudicial hasta ahora, encontrará justificación y deberes.

Jorge Luis Borges, ‘Nuestro pobre individualismo’, in Otras inquisiciones, Buenos Aires, 1952

Leon Louw

There are no irreversible situations or ‘laws’ of history of the kind popularised as mistaken and dangerous old Marxist recipes. The outcomes in human affairs will always depend on what we are capable of doing every day. Paradoxically, communists and socialists who beat the drum of ‘historical determinism’ never thought they could leave history to roll in on the wheels of inevitability. Socialists in general work more diligently at influencing history than the supposed defenders of freedom.

Leon Louw, ‘The War of Ideas: Lessons from South Africa’, in Colleen Dyble & Bridgett Wagner (eds.), Taming Leviathan: Waging the War of Ideas Around the World, London, 2008, p. 159

Bertrand Russell

Bolshevism is not merely a political doctrine; it is also a religion, with elaborate dogmas and inspired scriptures. When Lenin wishes to prove some proposition, he does so, if possible, by quoting texts from Marx and Engels. A full-fledged Communist is not merely a man who believes that land and capital should be held in common, and their produce distributed as nearly equally as possible. He is a man who entertains a number of elaborate and dogmatic beliefs—such as philosophic materialism, for example—which may be true, but are not, to a scientific temper, capable of being known to be true with any certainty. This habit, of militant certainty about objectively doubtful matters, is one from which, since the Renaissance, the world has been gradually emerging, into that temper of constructive and fruitful scepticism which constitutes the scientific outlook. I believe the scientific outlook to be immeasurably important to the human race. If a more just economic system were only attainable by closing men’s minds against free inquiry, and plunging them back into the intellectual prison of the middle ages, I should consider the price too high.

Bertrand Russell, The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism, London, 1920, p. 8

Eduardo Giannetti

O que Marx antecipara era uma revolução internacional nos países capitalistas avançados. O que vingou, porém, foi um putsch isolado num país agrário e semifeudal. A disuntiva era brilhante, inapelável: se o experimento soviético fosse bem-sucedido, o marxismo estaria ustificado pela força esmagadora dos fatos; mas se ele naufragasse, se a revolução fosse traída ou descambasse num mero despotismo asiático, bem, aí era preciso frisar que Marx nunca teria acreditado que o verdadeiro counismo pudesse se tornar realidade ou mostrar a que veio num país tão atrasado como a Rússia czarista.

Eduardo Giannetti, Felicidade: diálogos sobre o bem-estar na civilização, São Paulo, 2002, p. 44

Jon Elster

Because it is often easy to detect the operation of motivated belief formation in others, we tend to disbelieve the conclusions reached in this way, without pausing to see whether the evidence might in fact justify them. Until around 1990 I believed, with most of my friends, that on a scale of evil from 0 to 10 (the worst), Communism scored around 7 or 8. Since the recent revelations I believe that 10 is the appropriate number. The reason for my misperception of the evidence was not an idealistic belief that Communism was a worthy ideal that had been betrayed by actual Communists. In that case, I would simply have been victim of wishful thinking or self-deception. Rather, I was misled by the hysterical character of those who claimed all along that Communism scored 10. My ignorance of their claims was not entirely irrational. On average, it makes sense to discount the claims of the manifestly hysterical. Yet even hysterics can be right, albeit for the wrong reasons. Because I sensed and still believe that many of these fierce anti-Communists would have said the same regardless of the evidence, I could not believe that what they said did in fact correspond to the evidence. I made the mistake of thinking of them as a clock that is always one hour late rather than as a broken clock that shows the right time twice a day.

Jon Elster, Explaining Social Behavior: More Nuts and Bolts for the Social Sciences, Cambridge, 2007, pp. 136-137, n. 16

Alan Carter

Red flags and red guards, professional vanguards,
Stalin and Lenin, and rule from the Kremlin,
The Central Committee has told me to sing:
‘These are a few of my favourite things.’

Strict iron discipline and militarization,
Subject the nation to centralization.
Deep in my conscience I hear someone say:
‘When will the state start to wither away?’

When the Tsar falls,
Commissar calls,
Or I’m feeling sad,
I simply remember from March to September
Freedom was to…
Be had.

Alan Carter, ‘My Favourite Things’, in Marx: A Radical Critique, Brighton, 1988, p. xiv