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The Radical Left

 The Ends Justify the Means (Any Leftist)

Summary: There's a thread of violence and war which has been, and remains, at the core of the revolutionary political Left. Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany and the Communist USSR were all socialist tyrannies driven by messianic individuals ostensibly committed to birthing some form of idealized human existence. Even now Leftist "protest" demonstrations are often violent, censorius and destructive. It's suggested here that this nihilism is a manifestation of psychosexual neurosis. Oedipal rage, misandry or a generalized patriphobia are possibilities. (1300 words)


If a certain neurological asymmetry in the pre-frontal cortex lies at the heart of Liberal-Conservative political differences something else must account for the displays of anger and violence (“street theatre”) that characterizes Leftist political activity. Seated well to the left of welfare-state Liberalism are its radically ideological cousins Socialism, Communism and Fascism. These “ism’s” constitute the “coercive utopians” of the Radical Left dedicated to supplanting capitalism and Christianity with some form of secular collectivism.

Examples of this violence comes from the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) which uses arson (pyrolagnia) as the preferred form of protest More common are protest marches, sit-ins, shouting-down and physically assaulting speakers and other more violent demonstrations that are staples of the radical Left but are essentually absent from the more individualistic and rule-bound political Right.

Much of this political activism is directed in one way or another at “The Man” - a street euphemism for any authority however vaguely defined. For the Left, “The Man” is America’s established paternalistic capitalist system in general and its derivative elements in particular. Such Leftist-reviled entities include:

                    Entity                    Radical Phobia           Radical Alternative

                      God                The Ultimate Patriarch       Atheism, Anti-Theism

                   Patriotism                   Fatherland                Mother Earth, Gaia

                   Nationalism                Imperialism                U.N., Open Borders

                   Capitalism     Competition, Wealth Disparities    Socialism, Marxism

                   The Military            White Male Force         Appeasement, Capitulation

                    The Police                  "     "    "                         Judicial Lieniency


The destructive, angry nature of much of radical protest is suggestive of infantile tantrum-throwing with the implication of neurotic origins. Father-hatred (patriphobia); male-hatred (misandry) resulting from an abusive, domineering, and/or absent father during infancy are possibilities along with unresolved Oedipal rage. Atheism, common within the Left, has been attributed to such a pathology. Otherwise the nihilistic nature of the political Left seems to have been ignored by social scientists who uniformly seem to be focused solely on diagnosing the pathologies of the political Right

So the “Rage-Against-the-Machine” hostility that characterizes the radical Left may be less about the noble causes (“social justice“) it purports to champion and more about a neurotic lust for power and revenge. The family histories of some of the twentieth-century’s most brutal tyrants fit into such a pattern.

Marx himself was steadfastly committed to instigating revolutionary violence and was contemptuous of the working-class socialists who sought incremental improvements in their working conditions. Marx expected workers to leave their jobs, wages and dependent families to riot in the streets. It seems Marx was fixated more on generating violence than in achieving the imagined benefits it might produce or the devastation to the workers if it failed:

The…facts which did not interest Marx were the facts to be discovered by examining the world and the people who live in it with his own eyes and ears. He was totally and incorrigibly deskbound. [1]

As the atheistic son of an apostate Jewish father; grandson and great-grandson of rabbis, Marx was a relatively well-born member of the bourgeoisie who rarely worked for wages himself. He lived off the largesse of his family and others (notably his colleague Engels) for most of his adult life. He was a stranger to the working class that he used as a means of exorcising his own rabid anti-Semitic demons and “so far as we know Marx never set foot in a mill, factory, mine or other industrial workplace in the whole of his life”. [1]

Marx was a theoretician dealing with the world in the abstract and was noted for an anger that seethed just below the surface and erupted with little provocation:

The undertone of violence aalways present in Marxism...was a projection of the man himself. Marx lived his life in an atmosphere of extreme verbal violence, periodically exploding into violent rows and sometimes physical assault.[2]

Marx’s heir Lenin (nee: Vladimir Ulyanov) was similarly well-born into the Russian aristocracy as the son of a doting mother and a demanding, autocratic, often-absent father. Lenin became an impassioned disciple of Marx and echoed the fury of his mentor and his lust for violent revolution. One biographer [3] has written that “[Lenin’s] intellectual influences thrust him towards Revolution and his inner rage made this impulse frenetic. Lenin had greater passion for destruction than love for the proletariat.” Indeed, Muravchik [4] has noted that:

For neither Lenin nor Marx was the revolution the answer to the question: what can be done for the proletariat? Rather the proletariat was the answer to the question: what can be done for the revolution?

What fueled Lenin's lifelong rage is uncertain but he shared his regicidal older brother Alexander's hatred of the monarchy. Lenin

detested the…aristocracy, the clergy, the police and the high command. He hated the mercantile middle class and the rising industrial and financial middle class.[5]

Such all-encompassing anger in the well-born, aristocratic Lenin almost certainly came more from psychological than sociological motivations.

Lenin’s vicious, genocidal successor Stalin (nee: Joseph Vissarionovich Dzhughashvili) suffered at the hands of a drunken father “… who was notorious for his bad temper and violence”.[6] Suspicions existed that Stalin’s true paternity was the result of an extramarital affair involving his allegedly promiscuous mother and another man. If true, this knowledge may have fueled the hostility of Stalin’s putative father toward the son that he raised. In any case, Stalin “…was mistreated by his father and detested him.”[6] Indeed, “Once [Stalin’s father] threw Stalin to the floor so hard that there was blood in his urine for days.”[7] It’s certainly reasonable to conclude that the violence and hatred experienced by Stalin in his formative years, found vengeful expression in the brutality which characterized him as an adult.

The Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937), like Lenin, was “deeply attached to his mother and greatly admired her [but] …hardly ever mentioned his father, rejected his values completely, and broke entirely with the conservatism of his background”. More significantly Gramsci “blamed [his father] for his own afflictions (*) and condemned him for lack of care”.[8] Possibly another case of father-hatred transferred to the authoritarian Fascist government under Benito Mussolini.

[(*) Gramsci was barely five feet tall; hunch-backed; frail and sickly most of his life]

Unlike Marx, Lenin got the revolution he wanted and established what became a brutally repressive, murderous Communist regime later inherited and amplified by Stalin. Many millions were murdered, executed, starved or worked to death under Lenin and Stalin to sustain the fundamentally flawed collectivist enterprise. Similar deadly scenarios have since transpired under Mao et al. in China and Pol Pot in Cambodia. Gramsci’s ongoing stealth revolution currently thrives in America as Cultural Marxism.

All this would seem to be manifestations of what Horowitz, [9] in a more contemporary setting, has termed “ the dark center of the radical heart:

not compassion, but resentment… not the longing for justice, but the desire for revenge; not a quest for peace, but a call to arms. It is war that feeds the true radical passions, which are not altruism and love, but nihilism and hate.

The potential source of that “dark center of the radical heart” and why it is possibly what animates the radical Left is discussed elsewhere in this site

Tags: Politics, History, Psychology                                                                           Home

 End Notes

1. Johnson, Paul, Intellectuals, Harper Perennial, N.Y. 1988, 60

2. Johnson, 69-70

3. Service, Robert, Lenin: A Biography, Belknap Press, Harvard Univ. Press, 2000, 8

4. Muravchik, Joshua, Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism, Encounter Books, San Francisco, 2002, 114

5. Service, 98

6. Service, Robert, Stalin: A Biography, Belknap Press, Cambridge, 2004, 15-17.

7. Montefiore, Simon Sebag, Young Stalin, Vintage Books, N.Y., 2007, 29

8. Davidson, Alastair, Antonio Gramsci Towards an Intellectual Biography, Merlin Press, London 1977, 22




Posted on Sunday, April 12, 2009 at 12:51PM by Registered CommenterMaxEntropy | CommentsPost a Comment

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