Sunday, July 23, 2006

Folk Marxism

A member of a maillist to which I subscribe posted these thoughts on "folk Marxism", which I've received permission to repost here. Much is explained and is now clear.


The problem is that there are a lot of people in this country who are devotees of Folk Marxism. What is Folk Marxism? It's a mindset that sees all human interaction (whether economic, political, academic, or even social) as a conflict between oppressed and oppressor. The oppressors are the ones with the power (or, I should say *perceived* power), and the oppressed are the ones regarded as less powerful. Therefore, in interactions between blacks and whites, the whites are the oppressors, the blacks the oppressed. Israel, being more powerful, is the oppressor, Hezbollah the oppressed; large corporations the oppressor, consumers the oppressed; and so on. It doesn't matter if any actual coercion or oppression takes place, to the folk marxist, the perceived power imbalance is evidence of oppression and prevents any truly voluntary actions on the part of the oppressed. Hence the idea advanced by some radical feminists that all sex is rape, since the oppressed woman cannot give any meaningful consent. Now I'm not saying that all folk marxists take the ideas to that extreme, but they do look at things through oppressor/oppressed glasses.

In the spirit of America's love for the Underdog, folk marxists make moral judgements based on the oppressor/oppressed category. Oppressors are morally wrong, and anything the oppressed do to an oppressor is morally justified. Hence support for Palestinian suicide bombing of Israeli restaurants and weddings. But realize that the most powerful country in the world is the US. Therefore, to folk marxists, we are also the ultimate oppressor. In any conflict with another country, we must be morally wrong, and the other side is right. Why? Because we have power.

So the knee-jerk reaction probably doesn't spring from a hatred of the US, but rather a simplistic world view that shows why we must always be wrong. Heck, the folk marxists may indeed love the US, but the very prosperity, standard of living, and degree of liberty that makes this country so great also makes it (in the FM view) morally corrupt. I'm sure there are some amongst the folk marxist who get a great deal of self-righteous satisfaction that they are so morally pure that they would condemn even the country they love so well. However, I suspect most are disturbed that they live in a country that (to them) always seems lost in a moral swamp. Probably explains a lot of bitterness on the left.

9 comments:

David said...

Note that "power" is evaluated using only certain criteria. For example, Israel is considered powerful because of its technology; the population balance is not considered in the equatio.

Elaine S. said...

The scary part is... this is pretty much true. Just look in a college education department, for the living, breathing examples!

This describes my Content Literacy teacher last semester... (who, incidently, worships at the altar of Finn and Frere.) It turned a class I was kinda looking forward to into very nearly pure hell - because I am a libertarian, and VERY tired of having to spout the liberal point of view to get decent grades.

Darren said...

That's part of the reason I don't pursue a masters degree--although I admit that during my 30 units of credentialing courses and 12 units of "cross-cultural, language, and academic development" courses, I never spouted the liberal line and was able to hold my own.

allen said...

Ya know, treating the Folk Marxists, or any Marxists, as if they're objective observers of the passing scene buys into their view of the world as a dichotomy. So which one's that make the Marxists? Oppressors or oppressed?

Obviously, they aren't oppressors. Otherwise they wouldn't be sufficiently elevated morally to overthrow the ruling elites who exploit the honest working class. But they're also not the oppressed. Otherwise they wouldn't be sufficiently educated and intelligent to understand the exploitation of the working class and, in terms simple enough for their dull minds, explain it to them.

So it isn't really a dichotomy, the oppressors and the oppressed. It's a trichotomy; the oppressors, the oppressed and, peaking over the railing running around the edge of Mount Olympus, the Folk Marxists.

To get back to the thread, the hatred of Marxists for all things American springs in part from the oppressor/oppressed prism through which they view the world but it also comes from a hatred for nation that puts the lie to their presumptions of superiority and the natural role of the Marxists to overthrow the oppressors and lead the adoring "masses" from whom, you will note, they implicitily differentiate themselves. That's also why the Constitution has to be a "living document".

Since the Constitution is the meat on the bones of the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, it stands as a repudiation of the Marxist assumption that all men are not created equal and makes it damned difficult to establish a people's republic, the headway they've made in the last hundred or so years not withstanding.

David said...

A serious Marxist analysis (not folk Marxism) of academia and related industries could be very interesting, demonstrating how the leftist beliefs of many professors are actually nothing more than ways of advancing their own class interests...

SLM said...

For these people (the folk marxists), only the right kind of people qualify for oppressed status. Poor white southern baptists wouldn't qualify. Pretty much anyone who shops at Walmart wouldn't qualify either, though Walmart employees certainly do.

allen said...

A serious Marxist analysis? Are you sure that isn't a contradiction in terms?

Analysis suggests a theoretical understanding of the phenomenon being analyzed. Since Marxism hasn't been able to predict or explain much of anything then doing a Marxist analysis, serious or otherwise, is a worthless exercise.

You might as well try to understand a chemical reaction by determining the interaction of phlogiston.

Dave said...

Except that in real life the Israelis hate Americans as much as anyone else. Only in the minds of conservative bloggers do they love us.

Darren said...

Dave,

What your comment has to do with this post is far beyond me. I think it speaks much about you, though.