Why did the conservative and traditionalist anti-Communists share this firm conviction on the inevitability of Marxism’s failure? For most, Marxism is a materialist political philosophy championing socialism and egalitarianism. For many conservatives, however, Catholics in particular, Marxism is simply an avatar of the Gnostic heresy. There are a number of interpretations of what transpired. The conservatives stress the role of the Holy Alliance of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Saint John Paul II The Great. Some liberals, such as Strobe Talbot, take all the credit for themselves. Other leftists hold that the Fatherland of the International Proletariat collapsed because first secretary Mikhail Gorbachev was such a socialist humanitarian and had no stomach for killing.
By Marek Jan Chodakiewicz l November 20, 2017
If materialism is all that matters why would anyone pay attention to Marx’s thought which is immaterial? In other words, why should we care about any of this? It is because the Gnostic heresy has transformed itself once again. It is back in a new, exciting guise. It replaced Marx with the marquis de Sade, but as soon as the latter triumphs in fostering the extremes of social anomie, the former will be back for sure.
Let’s ponder cause and effect.
Marxism, a theory, is lethally flawed. A Marxist state in practice was bound to fall, and thus the USSR imploded. We knew it eventually would, as everything human does. We just did not know when and how it would happen. Yet, we did everything humanly possible to expedite the felicitous outcome.
Why did the conservative and traditionalist anti-Communists share this firm conviction on the inevitability of Marxism’s failure? It stemmed from the very nature of the beast. For most, Marxism is a materialist political philosophy championing socialism and egalitarianism, which obtain teleologically from an allegedly scientific dialectic of history. For many conservatives, however, Catholics in particular, Marxism is simply an avatar of the Gnostic heresy, as explicated by Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn.
In Gnosticism, the elect, or saints, as they sometimes refer to themselves, possess secret knowledge of an esoteric truth, a secret to the unfolding of history along a predictable path. That sets them apart from the uninitiated whom they, thus, have a mandate to enlighten and lead on a lightning path, or Via Lucis, as the anti-trinitarian Jan Amos Komensky dubbed it in the 17th century, which, not co-incidentally, inspired Profesor Abimael Guzman to brand his Peruvian democidal Maoist outfit likewise: Sendero Luminoso or Shining Path. The Leninist vanguard party is an ideological heir to the elect or saints, and so is the Communist Politburo.
Further, many of the Gnostic sects are antinomian. They hold that all matter is evil, hence their great animus against private property and postulates to confiscate it under the supervision, of course, of the elect. Marxism inherited the prejudice. Its hallmarks are collectivization and expropriation of private property, while masking its agenda under the guise of dialectical materialism.
Incidentally, in parallel to Gnostic postulates to confiscate and share the wives and boys of the rich, for example among the Zoroastrians, some Bolsheviks initially argued for the collectivization of women and embraced free love.
Antinomianism tended to manifest itself either in extreme puritanism or extreme libertinism.
For some of the elect, since all mater was evil, humans should refrain from sex as to die off and, thus, bring about the Second Coming and the paradise on earth. Other saints preached that promiscuity, along with other transgressions and crimes, were desirable sins because they offended Jesus and, thus, also facilitated the Second Coming.
For all sects, according to Norman Cohen, the objective was paradise on earth, a second Jerusalem. Humans would be perfectly equal and free there, including free from wont. Communism likewise was supposed to liberate everyone from labor. In worker’s paradise no one would have to strain oneself. “From each according to his abilities; to each according to his needs.” Everyone would be equal. And this fabulous utopia persists.
While showing no need for the Lord’s return anymore, cultural Marxists have nonetheless incorporated such fantasies into their scary tale of overpopulation, on the one hand, and their unholy gospel of permissiveness, which, on the other hand, fosters social disintegration by undermining traditional families. Demonstrations of Bolshevik nudists in Moscow and St. Petersburg, breaking bourgeois norms, find their echo in the protests of the naked people in San Francisco in contemporary times.
Aside from gradually offending Jesus, some Gnostics found other ways and means to obtain paradise on earth. Namely, they adopted the Apocalyptic scenarios of the Maccabees.
In the wake of the Roman victory, the destruction of the Temple, and the deportation of the Jewish people, the Jewish insurgents indulged in violent fantasies of the day of chastisement for the victors. The Messiah would come at the end of days, punish the Romans, by exterminating their elites, and restore his Hebrew children to the Promised Land.
In other words, the Gnostics appropriated a revolutionary narrative. It is enough to kill kings, princes, aristocrats, knights, priests, and patricians, to welcome an Apocalypse, a new beginning. In time, some of the medieval antinomian sects, in Hungary and Bavaria in particular, added “the Jews” to their extermination lists. And so, the Apocalyptic horror crept first into international socialism and national socialism.
Thus, we knew that Marxism would fail, and the Soviet Union would collapse, but we did not know when and how. There are two ways to end a heresy. First, it is through a crusade. Second, it is via self-destruction. In the long run, heresies are unsustainable. They burn themselves out. And then they reinvent themselves under a different guise, for instance as the Sorosian “Open Society” with its Antifa storm troopers.
At any rate, we crusaded against it but, ultimately, the Soviet Union committed suicide.
There are a number of interpretations of what transpired. The conservatives stress the role of the Holy Alliance of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Saint John Paul II The Great. Some liberals, such as Strobe Talbot, take all the credit for themselves. They petted the USSR to death, you see. The nicer the liberal West was to the Soviet Union, the more relaxed the Kremlin became and, eventually, poof – it imploded through Western liberal kindness. Other leftists hold that the Fatherland of the International Proletariat collapsed because first secretary Mikhail Gorbachev was such a socialist humanitarian and had no stomach for killing. Yet, Gorbachev did kill a number of people; he just couldn’t hack mass murdering millions. Without the terror his realm disintegrated.
Initially at least, many Western observers credited (or blamed) nationalism of the captive nations with the demise of the USSR. Russian nationalism was definitely crucial, but the nationalisms of others played an important role as well. There is no consensus who mattered most. Was it the Afghans? They certainly contributed to Moscow’s malaise. Ada Bozeman claims it was the East Germans who launched the process because they destroyed the Berlin Wall. The Poles beg to differ. They argue that their long struggle under the banner of “Solidarity” triggered a domino effect that resulted in the destruction of the entire socialist bloc.
Ultimately, there were many impulses that led to the desired outcome. First, there was the unrest on the peripheries of the red empire. Second, the anti-Communist offensive from the West put the Kremlin in a stranglehold. Third, Gorbachev arose to respond to the challenges, but he proved to be a Marxist-Leninist sorcerer’s inept apprentice who released the genie of reform out of the Stalinist bottle and failed to put it back in, thus unleashing the forces that destroyed the USSR. After all, his strategic objective had been to save socialism. Mercifully, he failed. Instead, we witnessed a transformation: Communism failed to transform into freedom and democracy; it transformed into post-Communism instead. But that’s another story.
Marek Jan Chodakiewicz is a Professor of History at the Institute of World Politics, A Graduate School of National Security and International Affairs in Washington, DC, where he holds the Kościuszko Chair in Polish Studies. Professor Chodakiewicz is author of Intermarium: The Land between the Black and Baltic Seas and teaches a seminar on the history of the Muslim world at Patrick Henry College. He is also a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis of the Online-Conservative-Journalism Center at the Washington-based Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research.