The Ideological Roots of Modern Socialists

More often than not, socialism is associated with Marxism.  But this is a misconception, as Marxism is an ideology of communism, an extreme and exceptional current of socialism.  Marxism left a significant ideological imprint in socialist doctrines; nevertheless, it did not constitute a mass movement of the Left.

The reality is trivial: Marxism belongs to the Left, but the mainstream of the Left's ideologies is not Marxian.

Ironically, the main currents of socialism emerged as a reformation, a revision of Marxian thoughts.  Those revisionists can be divided into two groups: conformists and non-conformists.  To the latter group belong, for example, revolutionary syndicalists and Bolsheviks who emancipated themselves from the determinism of Marxian materialist conception of history and saw a violent revolution as the only means to overthrown capitalism.  The former group — Social Democrats — constitutes the majority of the socialist movement in Europe then and now.

Social Democrats representing the flavor of the evolutionary socialism have been incorporated in the framework of the democratic state and sought to undermine capitalism from within.  In the beginning, they symbolized labor and fought for improving laborers' welfare on the sites of parliament by securing wealth redistribution in the laws of the land.  At some point, an erroneous division of society into two classes — the proletariat and bourgeoisie — had vividly manifested itself as an emerging middle class, becoming a dominant stratum in the contemporary industrial countries.

It became inconvenient to represent a proletariat, as it made sense only in the framework of the Marxian theory of class struggle.  Therefore, modern social Democrats are on a constant search for a suitable electorate they would fight for.  At present, they have managed to be representatives of amorphous strata of the "unfortunate," "unprivileged," "chronically oppressed," and "minorities" organized as an underclass.  They stopped representing genuine and original labor in the way it was understood at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.

The vast majority of the socialist literature of the past was devoted to the resolution of the conflict between labor and capital.  Socialist intellectuals produced an enormous pile of ideas on how to achieve a fair and just society.  As good students of an old-school system, they are eager to base their propositions on broad philosophical concepts; they tried to build their reasoning on the first axiomatic notions and infer logical conclusions, as practiced in any viable scientific theory.  Modern leftists pale in comparison to their predecessors.  For the most part, they are mediocre and have not produced any sophisticated or novel philosophical and socio-economic analyses; they operate mostly by recycling old socialist ideas and slogans.

The modern left in the United States managed to penetrate mainstream politics through the Democratic Party.  Like their counterparts in Europe, Democrats stopped representing labor a long time ago.  They do not possess a coherent ideology based on fundamental views about the universe, humans, and society.  Democrats are in a perpetual struggle to formulate issues they could run on and to find people who support their agenda.  They need a constituency to vote them into the corridors of power, thus they lured in a motley conglomerate of people who believe in the issues Democrats are supposed to defend.

Every election cycle, Democrats bring to the surface a different set of issues that is supposed to usher in electoral success.  At present, Democrats are concerned with promoting a global warming hoax, free education, free health care, the redefinition of marriage, late-term abortions, the rights of illegal aliens, and the immorality of closed borders.  Contrary to the notion of the proletariat that was designated to be an agent of the socialist revolution, Democrats assigned a class of victims they rally to gain power.

The modern left did not create any significant theoretical breakthrough in the field of socialism that would overshadow the works of their predecessors.  They are reduced to cherry-picking ideas, methods, and slogans from old socialist textbooks.  The modern left in the United States entertains ideas predominantly taken from the archives of European Social-Democracy, Italian Fascism, and French Syndicalism.  It is difficult to say if leftists borrowed those ideas purposefully or arrived at them by chance.  Nevertheless, here they are:

  1. The modern left subscribes to the Bernsteinian idea of evolutionary socialism.  Most likely, leftists have no idea about the origin of this particular current of socialism and simply adhere to its provisions.  Evolutionary socialists work within the framework of the democratic state and seek to chop off pieces of capitalism through legislation undermining a free market and entrepreneurial initiatives.  The main effort is concentrated on wealth redistribution by all means and the promotion of a broad variety of social programs and state regulations.  Bernstein emphasizes a tendency to increase the role of ethics in the political struggle in modern society.  The Left has capitalized on this idea and portrayed itself continuously as the moral authority of humanity.  Its modus operandi is to politicize and moralize about any issues facing society.
  2. The Left understands and appreciates the power of the state.  Leftists seek to solve all problems through state interventions.  Democrats support the growth of the state's influence, regulations, public property, and state generosity.  The Left either consciously or casually subscribed to the provisions of the theory of the totalitarian state developed by Italian fascists.  Modern leftists are, as a rule, atheists, yet they religiously believe in the power of the omnipresent and omnipotent state.  Intolerance of the Left to the opinions of its opponents is evidence of the adherence to the totalitarian state of mind, as well.
  3. The Left creatively adopted the theory of the political myth developed by the French revolutionary Georges Sorel.  He was a theoretician of revolutionary syndicalism and national syndicalism and a progenitor of Italian fascism.  Moreover, again, it is doubtful that the majority of the Left has ever heard about Sorel's work.  However, Sorel's idea of myths as mobilizing and politicizing factors got transmitted from generation to generation of revolutionaries and reformers.  The vast majority of issues submitted for public discussion by the Left are political myths.  Some myths used to be a real thing, such as racial segregation, but in the modern setting, continuously playing a racial card is undoubtedly a political myth.  Evidently, the essential type of myths developed by the Left is the victimhood of the different strata of the population.  The leftist elites encourage the captivity of the people in the aureole of victimhood and link them to the wealth redistribution engine of the government.  Thereby, the elites generate a cohort of obedient electors, the whole purpose of whom is to guarantee the elites' coming to power.

Capitalism was overthrown in dozens of countries, and something that was called "socialism" by revolutionaries was tried there with great failure.  All known socialist regimes failed to exceed the prosperity of capitalism and committed an assault on individual rights as well as freedoms.  The modern left is employing an approach of partial socialization of property and partial collectivization of consciousness, at least in the beginning.  It is evident, as leftists are promoting policies of over-taxation, over-regulation, wealth redistribution, government spending, the creation of a nanny state, the indoctrination of the youth in schools and colleges with leftist ideology, and outright rejection as well as ridicule of other points of view.

Socialism happens to be a political myth itself.  It is used by the modern left as a vehicle to gain political power and exploit the state as a money-making machine for the enrichment of the chosen elites.  Meanwhile, their voters continue to be in a state of perpetual victimhood and are forgotten until the next election.

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