This week we have previewed three stellar reviews from the new (Fall) of the Claremont Review of Books (subscribe here). These outstanding reviews have given us the lowdown on new biographies of Lenin, Stalin, Wilson and de Gaulle. Forgive me for repeating myself: it is an invaluable magazine for those of us who love trustworthy essays on, and reviews of books about, politics, history, literature and culture.
Now think back to the reviews of the biographies of Lenin and Stalin. The reviews themselves teach us something important about the meaning of Marxism. Marxism is going mainstream in the Democratic Party, but in an updated form. In place of the Marxist class categories they substitute racial categories. The late Harry Jaffa outlined the transformation in his invaluable 1991 essay “The long arm of socialism.” There he wrote, for example:
“Diversity” is demanded by those who will tolerate no deviation from the “politically correct.” And what is “political correctness” but another name for “the party line”. It is Leninism/Stalinism without Lenin or Stalin. “Racism” is the generic term for any kind of “false (formerly bourgeois) consciousness,” that is to say, for any opinions not considered politically correct. It has nothing to do with what once was called race prejudice—an unreasonable depreciation of other human beings because of their race, color, or ethnic origin. The charge of “racism” is made by the very people demanding racial quotas, race norming, and segregated racial and ethnic centers. To point out the contradiction in these demands—or indeed of any demands made by the politically correct—is to bring on the accusations of “logism,” which means the use of reason, a vice held characteristic of “Eurocentrism”. The contempt for “Eurocentrism” as an endemic vice corresponds closely to Marx’s contempt for the false consciousness engendered in the ruling classes of all societies founded upon private property. “Racism” itself is then nothing but the endemic quality of human consciousness, prior to the transformation of human egotism into human altruism. “Political correctness” is nothing less than the blind and willful insistence upon the fulfillment of the goals of revolutionary Marxism/Leninism, without any reference to that failed enterprise itself, or to any rational political analysis. Indeed, the new political correctness differs from its predecessor only in its insistence that no reason needs to be given as to why it is correct. It is a synthesis of the goals of Marxism with the philosophical (or anti-philosophical) horizon of nihilism.
We conclude our preview of the new issue of the CRB with Bill Voegeli’s review/essay of three new books on race (including reference to one old one by Martin Luther King, Jr.). The new books elaborate the new teaching that redefines racism in Orwellian terms to comport with identity politics in “Racism, revised” Subhead: “The way we hate now.”