Heightening the Contradictions

Much conservative writing about communism being published today amounts to little more than nostalgia reading. It seems that every year we see yet another of the endless line of books dealing with either the Red Era in Hollywood or the glories of Joe McCarthy. The purpose of these appears to be to generate feeling of comfort on looking back at an era in which men were men, commies were commies, and J. Edgar… Well, we’ll overlook what he was doing.

The problem is that this stuff, pleasant though it may be, tends to push out work that deals with aspects of communist theory and practice that have an actual impact on the current situation. Too few conservatives are adequately informed about these matters. Not many could define the Iron Law of Wages, surplus value, or, in particular, “heightening the contradictions.”

Heightening the contradictions… that sounds pretty harmless. But in fact, it is the most important element of Marxist thinking as applies to things as they are in the opening decades of the third millennium. Heightening, or enhancing, or exploiting the contradictions is the concept used to push every last political and social program of the modern Left.

How often does the Left come up with ideas that, on the face of it, appear absurd, irrational, or utterly insane? The answer, is, of course, all the time. The general response is bewilderment or incomprehension – a shrug and an assertion that “those lefties are crazy.”

But in truth, they’re no such thing. There’s nothing irrational about it. It’s all part of the program.

The concept comes directly out of Marx. Capitalism, according to Marx, is filled with contradictions, all of which guarantee its eventual failure. One example is the belief that capitalists, seeking every greater profits, will increase the “immiseration” of the working class, which will in turn encourage “revolutionary consciousness,” leading to the downfall of the capitalist system. This leads to the idea of “heightening he contradictions” – encouraging matters so as to bring about the emergence of the glorious worker’s paradise even sooner. This involves activities – both propaganda and direct action – that increase anxiety and dissatisfaction among the workers while generating isolation, fear, and doubt in the targeted classes.

This concept has been dealt with in detail by numerous Marxists, including Lenin, Mao, and Rosa Luxemburg, to mention just a few. Following the master, communist-era Marxists largely confined the concept to economic matters. Expanding it to the social sphere was an American contribution. Appealing to American workers on an economic basis was hopeless – they were the best-paid laboring class in the world, largely content with things as they were. But there were other apparent schisms in the American social structure that might be open to exploitation.

  • Drugs – Widespread drug use became politicized in the late 1960s. It wasn’t just a matter of waving your freak flag high – it was also a means of putting it to the Man. Drugs, whether pot, acid, heroin, what have you, immediately turned America’s youth into an oppressed minority. Arrests of drug users created cynicism and bitterness. The Hard Left valorized users and addicts. Heroin use became endemic in the 1970s, leading to increased crime and destroying entire neighborhoods, particularly in the inner cities. Not a single policy created to “control” drugs accomplished anything other than increasing drug use and further damaging society. But that was the point.
  • Race – The American racial problem was essentially solved in the mid-60s. But the Left, sensing a dramatic opportunity, leapt in, raising marginal racial crackpots such as Huey Newton, Stokely Carmichael, and H. Rap Brown to the status of racial spokesmen, deliberately antagonizing working-class whites through bussing and legal block-busting, and constructing elaborate theoretical (Black Liberation Theory), and legal (affirmative action) systems designed to institutionalize  racial hostility.  
  • Abortion – The two decisions (Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton) written by the incompetent Harry Blackmun were so incoherent that they could tolerate virtually any interpretation whatsoever. The left took advantage of them to attack religious belief, increase tensions between the sexes, and degrade the very definitions of life and personhood.
  • Immigration – in 1967, a perfectly worthwhile and well-managed system of overseeing Mexican migrant labor (the Bracero program) was eliminated by liberal bureaucrats. Desperate workers began sneaking across the border to find work, often remaining rather than returning and risking another cross-border passage. Leftists seized on the resulting illegal “community” as an oppressed proletariat deserving protection along with privileges largely denied the native-born.
  • LGBTHX1138 – During the 60s, homosexuals, understandably tired of persecution and second-class citizenship, began agitating for a new social status. This unfortunately became melded with leftism, resulting in the “gay” concept, which can be defined as homosexuality plus new leftism. This pitted gays, lesbians and those associated with them such as cross-dressers as a sexual proletariat against the straight majority. As with blacks and immigrants, the gays constituted a “new proletariat” that could be exploited to undermine the status quo.

The list is effectively endless. To go from general to particular, consider the Obama/Holder “Fast and Furious” program. In this puzzling scheme, powerful firearms were deliberately sold to border drug cartels on the promise that they would be “tracked,” even though there was no means of doing so. But puzzlement vanishes once we apply the “contradictions” paradigm. Clearly, the intent was to increase border violence, inflict terror on the public, and utilize that to curtail Second Amendment rights.

The same is true of any other “senseless” or “irrational” leftist program. None of them, whether they involve introducing transsexualism to schools or placing jihadis in Congress, occurred by accident. They were meant to happen exactly the way they did, to heighten the contradictions.

How has conservatism responded? It hasn’t. In fact, there’s no sign that conservatives, mired in the Cold War interpretation of communism, have any idea that the concept exists. The contradictions tactic is next to universal and ever-present in any leftist effort or scheme, but far from having workable countermeasures, traditional American conservatives have been utterly oblivious.

Open any conservative magazine, access any website, go through the archives of any conservative think tank, and you will find myriads of articles, blogs, and papers dealing with the issues mentioned above. All of them contain precise, carefully researched information, well-crafted arguments, all bulge with quotes from Tocqueville, Chesterton, and Russell Kirk. All of it is excellent of its kind, and all of it is utterly useless.  Because that’s not where the battle is being fought. The Left isn’t interested in rational arguments, but in bringing the temple down.

What’s the solution? The answer is simplicity itself -- argue the strategy. Instead of constructing lapidary responses, start out by stating bluntly and straightforwardly that this isn’t about transsexuals, or immigrants, or race, or whatever. What it’s about, first and foremost, is a method of attacking this country and its people, an effort to make an end run around the rules without admitting they’re doing any such thing. The record is clear that the Left doesn’t actually give a damn about blacks, or women, or anybody else. The record is clear that the left is not interested in solutions. Once that is made evident, the battle will be half won. You will immediately throw leftists on the defensive, forcing them into a position of having to prove their bona fides – which they will not be able to do. It will also open up the debate to past efforts of a similar type. The ball will be in their court, and they will fumble it, as they always do.

Chances are that there will be no necessity for fancy, filigreed arguments – with leftists on the defensive, it will never reach that point.

Conservatives have been neglecting an effective weapon. It’s time to start heightening their contradictions.

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