February 1, 2012

"When I was young I had a moment of believing in the Communist doctrine."

"I wanted to save the world through Communism. Quite soon I understood that it doesn’t work, but I’ve never pretended it didn’t happen to me. At the very beginning of my creative life I loved humanity. I wanted to do something good for mankind. Soon I understood that it isn’t possible to save mankind."

Wislawa Szymborska. RIP.


Tim said...

The world seems so small, and then something happens, like someone famous somewhere else dying, and then it seems big again.

And dying without children? It seems hollow.

edutcher said...

Very intelligent and, I don't doubt for a second, gutsy lady.

Surprised the Gray Lady made as much of her death as it did because her message and life's work runs counter to just about everything Pinch believes in.

The Crack Emcee said...

Good for her:

Many never recover,...

ricpic said...

...it isn't possible to save mankind.

Makes my blood boil. The underlying assumption that "mankind" NEEDS saving. Saved from what? Its benighted views no doubt. Its grossness, goes without saying. The driven sensitives, driven to save mankind, what a plague they have been and are and will be more and more as the future unfolds. Leave us alone! Leave mankind alone. Go and tend your fucking gardens and smell each others perfect plants and congratulate each other on their perfume but LEAVE US ALONE.

n.n said...

Communism and similar ideologies are prone to failure because they denigrate individual dignity by design. In order to establish a central authority, it is necessary to marginalize and even eviscerate competing interests. This exacerbates the singular status of authoritarian interests which receive their funding through the involuntary exploitation of individuals in its jurisdiction. It is the combination of this form of exploitation and authority, which predisposes all totalitarian ideologies to the progressive corruption of individuals and society. It is the reduction of competing interests, which ensures that nothing short of a revolution is capable of holding the authority and its supporters accountable for their actions.

While communism is a rational system in theory, it fails because it is incompatible with reality. It denies the dignity of the individuals it purports to rule.

That said, the variation of this totalitarian ideology which has been realized in America has, in many ways, exceeded the perversion under the Soviets. It has not only empowered an elite class and sabotaged the character development of a large minority; perhaps even a majority; but, it has gone a long way to normalize the condition -- the so-called entitlement mindset.

It is possible to save mankind, but not through the denigration of individual dignity, and devaluation of human life. It is impossible when individuals dream of physical, material, and ego instant gratification, especially through redistributive and retributive change, but also through fraudulent exploitation. The only sustainable system is necessarily dynamically stable, which must accommodate and mitigate occurrences of perturbations from dissenting individuals.

We do not all share the same dream, there are individuals who suffer from delusions of grandeur, and others who choose to fail. We cannot all enjoy a beachfront property in paradise, Hawaii.

In order to preserve our liberty, we must acknowledge and establish a reasonable compromise between the natural and enlightened (i.e. conscious) orders. We must be capable of self-moderating behavior that conforms to a common moral code. Communism fails because it replaces voluntary compliance with enforcement through authority. This is a principal cause of progressive corruption, especially generational.

EDH said...

Can't cast aspersions: I was a teenage Marxist.

Introduced to neo-Marxist thought in high school by my social studies teacher who, after obtaining his Harvard Ph.D., went on to become the chairman of an Ivy League sociology department. 'Nuff said.

While it cost me a couple years in the ideological wilderness, it did introduce me to a higher level of theoretical debate than I would have otherwise been exposed before college.

Pogo said...

Man, I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of poems in the Socialist Realist style, in their "Stalinist period".

Makes one's heart flutter with anticipation.

Or maybe it's gas.

edutcher said...

EDH said...

I was a teenage Marxist.

A real horror movie.

(sorry, had to...)

EDH said...

edutcher said...
A real horror movie.

Updated around the right year, too, 1980.

William said...

Communism has reliably produced psycho killers such as Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot. With the exception of Hitler, all the most bloody tyrants of the 20th century were Marxists. For all that, Communism has never wanted for followers and propagandists among artists and intellectuals. When--and a lot of them never do-- they change their mind about Communism, they shrug it off as youthful exuberance or misguided idealism. No harm, no foul. Wasn't that John Reed guy such a romantic, dashing fellow.....I recently read Jung Chan's biography of Mao. Schoolchildren were encouraged to beat their classmates to death if such classmates were the children of landlords and nationalists. What are the odds that, say, Bertolucci will ever make a film detailing such an atrocity. No, the deaths and misery caused by Communism do not excite the artistic imagination.....Slavery was the great crime of the 19th century. It was the Christians, not the artists and intellectuals particularly, who considered it a great crime, but at least they weren't actively pro-slavery. In the 20th century, the great crime has been Communism. It's disturbing to reflect on how many of the "unelected legislature of mankind" were pro Communism and even more disturbing to reflect that none of them feel the need to examine why they were so wrong about such monsters.ege

ic said...

"Soon I understood that it isn’t possible to save mankind."

Arrogant, presumptuous. Mankind never needs to be saved. Mankind was there before dogooders were doing good, will be there after the current crops of dogooders and future dogooders died off.

do gooders = dogooders = dog-ooders = dog odors

David R. Graham said...

"...it isn't possible to save mankind."

For a human or an ideology or a government or an education or a philosophy or a religion, etc., the statement is true.

nina said...

She was a great poet. My all time favorite. Superb in translation, even better in Polish. And, unlike so many of us, she was humble to the core.

Ken said...


The only difference between Hitler and Stalin was one was German the other Georgian. The Nazis were socialist, the same as all Stalin, Pol Pot and all the other horrors in the 20th century. The only real difference was that Naziism was overtly racist, with the rest still being racist, just not as explicit as the Nazis. Hitler was indeed a Marxist, an heir to the terrible ideology brought forth my that angry, bitter man Karl, an ideology that was devoid of individual dignity and subjugated him for the common good.

Carnifex said...

@ Nina

Not knowing her, saying she couldn't save humanity doesn't sound humble to me. She did discover that Marxism is bad so she did have that going for her. That's better than a lot of her contemporaries. And our President.

I agree with N.N., communism sucks.

I'll stick with Kipling.

Alan said...

Communism fails because it is utopian. Since the prerequisite for the perfect society is consensus over what constitutes perfection - a consensus that does not exist in human nature - utopians must either give up their dreams of earthly paradise, or pursue those dreams and coerce society into consensus.

On another note, mankind DOES need saving - from the world's assorted tyrannies and other cultural dysfunctions. Utopians entertain two delusions: a) humanity's ills can eventually be eliminated, and b) central planning can facilitate this task. Realists recognize that only so much of human brokenness can be salvaged, that progress is a series of imperfect tradeoffs.

Robert Cook said...

"The Nazis were socialist, the same as all Stalin, Pol Pot and all the other horrors in the 20th century."

Looks like someone's been reading the kook literature again!

Peter said...

Alan said, "Communism fails because it is utopian."

Alan gets it. After all, the French Revolution was pre-Marx, yet it produced plenty of idealism-fueled butchery.

The problem is, people never behave as the utopians want them to behave. For example, when asked to share all they have with strangers they respond by hiding and hoarding. For some (possibly Darwinian) reason, people care more about feeding their own children than about some stranger's children in some far-away place.

And that can't be permitted. For if it is then the utopian project will fail. And so, when mild punishments just produces craftier evasions, harsher measures are called for, and violence is used as a tool to shock the recalcitrant into obedience.

Sometimes a re-read of Arthur Koestler's "Darkness at Noon" is in order, when considering the merits and probable outcome of utopian schemes.

Yiddishe Bloyger said...

A reasonable percentage of modern conservatives went through much the same illusion. As you get older, you start eating brussel sprouts, and you stop drinking Kool aid.

Alan said...

Looks like someone's been reading the kook literature again!

Darn right. Those horrors weren't all the same - especially when you consider that Nazism isn't Communism. But they do share the common threads of totalitarianism and central economic planning.