Posted by Jew from Jersey
7 October 2004
How is that racist, sexist, homophobic, reactionary religious fundamentalists and sadistic fascist military dictators are considered progressive? That’s an easy one: they’re violent and they claim to be victims. But how did violence and victimhood come to be progressive, you ask. Wasn’t progressivism supposed to be about the march of history towards peace and cosmic justice? Sit down, my child, and listen to the sad tale of the defenders of communism...
We all have goals in life, and sometimes attainment of these goals requires us to make sacrifices. Sometimes the price we must pay for attaining our goals is so great that we might decide to abandon a goal altogether rather than lose something else. Sometimes, in light of the consequences of pursuing a certain goal, we might want to reconsider whether we want to continue pursuing it, or whether it is attainable at all. These evaluations of means and ends are something we all must confront, all of us, except the defenders of communism.
You may not have heard of communism, it disappeared a long time before you were born. Communism never really existed, actually, as its defenders will be only too happy to tell you. It was a goal, like many goals we still pursue today. But communism was not just the goal of one person, or several, or even of many or most people. Communism was a goal that, when attained, would fulfill all the goals of all people for ever and ever. And so, considerations of costs and benefits and indeed any kind of realistic thinking such as apply to goals we know today never applied to Communism. Communism was special in that its means didn’t have to be justified on a case by case basis, it justified its own means. The reason for this was that, since communism would solve all other problems, any problem it caused would eventually be solved as long as communism was allowed to come to term. Any other goal might cause problems that it couldn’t surmount or that would invalidate the original goal. But communism was bigger than any other issue, and it would validate everything. So it was of no consequence what costs it incurred on the way. The only danger was that communism might be stopped in its tracks, in which case not only would the story of humanity not have a happy ending, but any iniquities exacerbated by communism would remain unabsolved. But the defenders of communism knew this would never happen. No matter how bad things may have gotten, communism was drawing nearer with each day. This is what the defenders of communism called “progress.”
Usually, progress is defined by a direction, and can be measured as incremental movement in this direction, regardless of any particular endpoint. But the progress of the defenders of communism (also known as “progressive progress” or “Progress”) is defined by the end point (communism) independently of what direction may be required to get there.
The importance of Progress can’t be overestimated. Communism is the only thing that can save all humans from sin. It is like the Christian concept of the crucifixion, except that the crucifixion happened in the past, while communism is continually lurking somewhere in the future. Sometimes it may seem imminent and sometimes it may appear to recede indefinitely, but it must be there. When communism comes, the sins of the communists and their defenders will be absolved, and all other people will atone through punishment. Without communism, we are all of us going to hell. Indeed, the world is hell without communism or at least some kind of link to communism. Since the time of the arrival of communism remains unknown, and its nature remains largely undetermined, Progress with a capital “P” is the only direct line that links human beings in the present to the communism of the magical future. Many people were surprised that defenders of communism continued to defend it even after the communist regimes became corrupted and tyrannical. Didn’t the defenders of communism see that the experiment of communism had failed? But to the defenders of communism, communism was never an experiment. Rather, it is the reconciler of man and God, history and the apocalypse, good and evil. For a defender of communism to believe that communism had failed would be like a Christian believing that the Crucifixion had “failed.” Communism can not fail. Anything that fails can not have been communism. If one regime doesn’t provide communism, we will find another. If no regime provides communism, we will seek it outside of regimes. We will try anything and its opposite, if necessary. Something must work, and whatever that is is Progress. Thus Progress may be incremental, discontinuous, or even backward, as long as it brings the endpoint closer.
As the defenders of communism put it: “The ends justify the means.” But once this principle is accepted, the means have a knack for becoming justifications in themselves. If communism had required inordinate amounts of hydroponic gardening, then hydroponic gardening would have been justified in all contexts, regardless of its costs or benefits. It just happened to turn out that the means required most often by communism were random violence. It wasn’t the fault of the defenders of communism. They didn’t like violence. But it wasn’t the bad cooking and drab clothing styles and squalid housing of the communist countries that got the most flak. It was the arbitrary arrests, the secret police, the stage trials, the centralization of power, the cult of personality, the military coups and invasions and killings and hostile takeovers, planned famines and forced transfer of populations. It was these that the defenders were called on most frequently to defend. And defend them they did, not because they liked these things, but because it was their duty to defend anything that might help communism. With time, however, it became their instinctive reaction to defend on sight any arbitrary exercise of violence. And so it was, through no intention of the defenders of communism, that random violence as such became justified, inhabited as it were by the holy spirit itself.
When one communist regime after another was betrayed or abandoned, the earthly abode of these holy ends seemed to go up in a puff of smoke. This meant the severing of the line of Progress from its teleological moorings, or in other words, eternal damnation. How could Progress continue to progress when the end point was no longer in sight? Perhaps all was not lost. Communism had not died, but had simply gone into occultation, like the twelfth Shiite Imam. Furthermore, communism had so loved the world that before it went, it left a sanctified relic in the form of the means that it had justified while it was still extant. Random violence had always been the mean, never the end of communism, but now that communist regimes were no more, the violence was now the last resting place of its vanquished holy essence. And so these communismless orphans set out into a cold and lonely world in search of new non-communist ends. All they had as their guide was the sanctified means of random violence. Those who practiced random violence would now have their ends vicariously sanctified, whatever those ends were. And so the original equation “the end justifies the means” was turned on its head, with the means justifying the ends.
These communismless defenders of communism now have new ends and can continue to progress. But these ends are not holy, now it is the means that are holy. The violent terrorists and insane dictators are not themselves progressive, this the supporters of the former communism know well. They are simply the only political agents today who practice random violence, and random violence was justified by communism, and communism was a holy end. These terrorists and thugs, through no merit of their own, simply happen to be the vessels of the last holy breath of the sacred communist ghost. What choice remains to those who await communism’s return? If they don’t support the terrorists, the last breath of beloved communism might be extinguished forever! It would die and communism could never, never return. This thought is infinitely more mortifying than the temporary inconvenience of having to support a few reactionary mass murderers.
In the absence of communism, the defenders of communism have become simply defenders of random violence. But this is not to say that they are lovers of violence. As a rule, they abhor violence. It’s only random violence that deserves reverential treatment. It is only the violence of unaccountable, unrepresentative, unelected, often intractable organizations, violence without warning, that has no articulated goal, no limit, that seeks to maximize civilian casualties for the sake of maximizing civilian casualties. It is only this kind of violence that is sacred. On the other hand, violence that is carried out by armies, under the command of governments, especially democratic ones, that take votes, that first attempt diplomatic solutions, that have articulated goals, that have announced limits, that have clear targets and seek to minimize harm to civilians, this kind of violence is unforgivable. That’s why terrorism is noble, but resistance to it is despicable. Even a mother who kills her own children is a heroine of sorts, whereas a policeman who shoots an armed robber is a villain.
Calculated violence for limited ends is unjustifiable precisely because it is beheld to the concerns of the here and now. It is not eschatological, therefore its sin can not be redeemed. On the other hand, irrational, random violence has no need for justification, it is not concerned with the here and now. Even if it is not done in the service of communism, it is reminiscent of the holistic, unlimited, unending, scope of communist teleology. It has one foot in the eternal hereafter.
Similarly, the defenders of communism do not love victims per se. The original communist regimes were not victims, they were heroic. There was no need to pity them. It was the capitalist countries that deserved pity, although they would not get any. Victims were not the focus at all. Soon everybody would be free and happy anyway. In the meantime, the joy of the happy liberated workers in communist country after communist country would be enough to keep spirits high. It was only when this happiness was not forthcoming that some other means of raising spirits became necessary. The focus then shifted from the happiness caused by communism to the misery caused by its enemies. Such a negative focus was never the ideal of the defenders of communism, but it had to be done, lest the momentum of communism be lost. It was this dire necessity that made the misery caused by the opponents of communism so important. It became so important that it didn’t matter if some misery was real or not, or whether it was actually caused by the enemies of communism or not. Like random violence, the belief in such misery was a fragile thread on which the future of communism hung.
Now that communism is gone, and only the defense of communism lingers as a messianic religion, the cult of victimhood remains as one of its most sacred rites. In the past, defenders of communism who visited communist countries were shown model villages and model factories, even model prisons full of happy prisoners who never wanted to leave. Today, they are shown misery and suffering, and they lap it up at face value in the same way. This was not one of the original tenets of the faith, but it became one as the importance of victimhood increased in the final days of the communist regimes. This is why it is relatively easy for the defenders of communism to ignore the plights of victims who are not included in their rituals. It is not victims that matter, but the ritual value of victimhood in which the holy spirit resides. Victims are not necessarily those who are attacked or persecuted, but those who act out the drama of persecution. Even better if such persecution, real or imagined, can be linked in some way to those who opposed communism. Even better if such sacred victims resort to random violence. If the holy spirit of communism still resides anywhere on this gray earth, it must be especially present in these violent victims of the enemies of communism. For reasons they themselves no longer remember, it is from these violent victims that the defenders of communism must seek to raise the ghost of their fallen god. Such violent victims must be protected and eventually raised to new heights of power. Now matter how vile they are, no matter how non-communist, in them rests the last shimmer of hope.
The defenders of communism no longer lead the masses. They don’t even follow the masses. They coddle violent victims like hated stepchildren from whom they one day expect to inherit a family fortune. They don’t even know who the heirs actually are or what they look like. Their only guide is the dictum: By their violence and their victimhood ye shall know them.