Antonio Gramsci: the master intellectual behind post-socialist Marxism.
With no God everything is permitted … even capitalism.
If, during this Eastertide 2017, you want to understand where Australia is headed culturally and politically, you could not do better than read Paul Kelly’s “New progressive morality rapidly taking over from Christian beliefs” published in The Weekend Australian of 15 – 16 April.
Some lines from this article astonished me to read: things I have long believed but never seen published so prominently:
“Sociologists describe this phenomenon in terms of diversity and inclusion but miss its ideological essence - the crusade to liberate the individual from the Western tradition with its Christian moral straitjacket [my emphasis].”
“The scope of the new morality extends … into how children should be raised, the structure of family life and [my emphasis] the deployment of multiculturalism to weaken Christian symbols.”
“… ideological movements never settle for compromise; they understand only total victory. For example, the triumph of marriage equality will never be complete [my emphasis] as long as the church is allowed to deny same-sex marriage in its own domain. Laws that authorize same-sex marriage will not end this struggle; they will merely take the struggle to a another plateau.”
Kelly rounds off his piece with what, on the face of it, seems a fair enough observation:
“History tells us the new morality is merely the latest in the periodic and messianic quests to remake society, an ingrained feature of the human condition. It is a function [my emphasis] of the post-ideological age andacts as a replacement for the demise of Marxism and widely assumed failure of socialism.”
And, yet, I can’t help wondering: about “ … post-ideological …
demise … and widely assumed failure …” Really?
Revolution and atheism
The more one looks into revolutionary movements from the French Revolution onward, particularly Marxism and the way revolutionary thought worked itself out in Russia during the 19th Century, the more it appears that the idée fixe of the “Revolution” has been upon destroying the Christian religion, its moral teaching and, indeed, any belief in God and a transcendent order of values.
That these were the heated, dominating pre-occupations of Marxists and Russian revolutionists was the great insight of that master diagnostician of modernity, Fyodor Dostoevsky. (I recently wrote about him, his penetration into the revolutionary soul and contemporary atheist tactics here.)
Whether in fact atheism — and hatred of Christianity, in particular — provided the animating spirit of the Revolution within western society, or whether they were engaged by the practical necessity of sweeping away ideological and cultural obstacles to it, remains a big question.
A brilliant (albeit indirect) answer to it was proposed recently in the Claremont Review of Books by Angelo M. Codevilla. In an essay entitled “The Rise of Political Correctness,” Codevilla argued that the formal objectives of revolutionary-progressive movements were always superseded by the necessities of seizing and holding power and, once attained, by the burning desire of the revolutionists not merely to enjoy that power but to exalt in it.
It’s a powerful and illuminating piece of work and, if one wants to understand the latest stage of the Revolution which has taken the form of “political correctness”, it’s a must read. You can find it here. There is something I’d like to add, however, to Codevilla’s picture.
Revolutionary action is morally normative in itself. It liberates the revolutionary from all restraint.
Revolution and method
Prompted by Dostoevsky, I incline more and more to the view that creating an atheist society, rather than a socialist — or any subsequently conceived — ‘new order’, was what stirred the revolutionary movement into life and has sustained it until now. All derivative forms of secular progressivism share the same energizing power.
Because, without regard to objectives, revolutionary action is morally normative in itself. It liberates the revolutionary from all restraint lest tug of conscience, or pull of code and custom, should inhibit revolutionary deeds. When undertaking great things for a movement whose right to power is (supposedly) absolute and self-evident, the highest law is “whatever it takes.” To follow this turns revolutionaries into arbiters of good and evil: in short, into gods. This is how the Revolution sets itself up over and against the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Peter and Paul and that is precisely what constitutes atheism. It also explains why, when Marxism failed of its nominal socialist purpose, what remained was its hard and all the more alluring core of atheism and a moral purpose at war with natural goods and virtues.
The point is this: where the Revolution is concerned, the revolutionary method is everything. The method sets up the enduring objectives of the Revolution.
For the Communists, then, building a socialist society seems, in hindsight, to have been less the end in view and more the shape which society necessarily had to take — or so Marxists then believed — once revolution had excised God from the social order.
But need an atheistic society necessarily take a socialist form? Why not a laissez faire capitalist form or a welfare statist form? So long as “God is dead” in the heart of a nation or people, then let “a hundred flowers bloom and a hundred schools of thought contend …” Or, to come back to Dostoevsky,
“With no God … everything is permitted.”
If “everything is permitted” then, of course, atheist capitalism and atheist welfarism are also permitted.
The failure of socialism demonstrated dramatically by the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the subsequent flourishing within western societies of various forms of left-progressivism, has vindicated the direction taken by the Frankfurt School of Marxists and Antonio Gramsci, the leading intellectual behind post-socialist Marxism.
Stalin’s policy of “Socialism in one country” now seems blinkered and pusillanimous. Freed from misconceptions about the inevitability of the socialist form of society, the cultural Marxists have made a rapid, and still sustained, advance toward accomplishing a western world International Atheism without starting new wars or igniting further political revolutions.
It is a remarkable achievement, except for the deep flaw that International Atheism shares with Soviet Communism: the inability to close the gap between propaganda and (politically correct) language, on one side, and reality, on the other.
As Codevilla points out, when the PC revolutionists expect you to call a boy a girl — when the little lad has been induced into doubting his sex — then you know that the new progressivism has a Soviet-sized reality problem.
Our problem is how long will this reality gap will endure. The Bolshevik reality gap lasted 74 years. Unless history is speeding up and the present phase of the Revolution proves short, that’s ample time in which to perfect our universities, schools and those unrecognised “non-state actors” of our time, the giant business corporations, as a gulag archipelago to dwarf that of the old Soviet Union.
 Angelo M Codevilla, “‘The Rise of Political Correctness“ in Claremont Review of Books: posted November 8, 2016; Volume XVI, Number 4, Fall 2016.
 See The Karamazov clue, Scarra Blog, October 27, 2016.
 Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Karamazov Brothers, translated by Ignat Avsey , Oxford World Classics, 2008, p.739.
“With no God … everything is permitted” is an accurate translation of the original Russian “Без бога .. всё позволено.” Incredibly, there are people who claim that Dostoevsky never wrote or meant what he actually penned and saw published. I am grateful to a neat little essay by Andrei I. Volkov — Dosstoevsky Did Say It: A Response to David E. Cortesi (2011): The Secular Web – for helping me to nail this issue.