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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Romanticism Cuts Across Ideologies

While GoodSearching for "African People's Socialist party" plus "cult" (the group is attempting to organize in my neighborhood), I encountered a post titled "Godard's Judgment" on David R. Adler's blog. In the course of reviewing the Godard film Weekend, he quotes another blogger about what he calls

...the extraordinary romantic hostility to 'bourgeois' society that Marxism projects. Hatred of 'bourgeois' rights, 'bourgeois' democracy, 'bourgeois' morality, 'bourgeois' art, the 'bourgeois' family (and on and on), has fuelled hatred toward decent if prosaic societies and institutions and indulgence or worse toward appalling societies and institutions. And all in the name and the spirit of being 'anti-capitalist' or 'anti-bourgeois'.

I responded with this comment:

I haven't seen the film, but I think the quote from "Why I Am Not a Marxist" makes an incorrect imputation. Marx himself never advocated totalitarianism, while many non-Marxists (e.g., some liberals and anarchists) have apologized for it.

Some professed Marxists have also done so, but others have unambiguously denounced it. The real problem here is not Marxism but romanticism, fueled by a longing for something in the real world that one can support uncritically. Unfortunately many people are socialized with this desire, starting with religious indoctrination about an all-powerful, all-loving being. When such people rebel against a conservative upbringing, without having received any training in critical thinking, they are likely to fall into this trap. (The Sixties counterculture was replete with examples, not only romanticizing Maoism but also psychedelics and gurus.)

And of course, in many cases it's mainly about wanting to shock society, starting with one's parents.
You can read the original post at

Eric Hamell

1 comment:

stripey7 said...

I should have mentioned that people on the Right have also advocated or apologized for totalitarianism.

You can read another comment on Alan Johnson's post (quoted by David Adler) at