Leftism: From de Sade and Marx to Hitler and Marcuse, by Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn (EvKL)
EvKL offers an examination of three thinkers (well, two thinkers and one movement) that continued and accelerated the move toward radical thought during the nineteenth century, Pierre Joseph Proudhon, Karl Marx, and the Fabian Society. Following is a brief examination of each.
Pierre Joseph Proudhon
Proudhon was certainly an enemy of the omnipotent state, but he was an enemy of many other ideas and realities: some for the good, some not so much.
First, for the good: he certainly made an enemy of Karl Marx. While both had similar ends in mind – the withering away of the state, the end of a concentration of wealth, etc. – they had different means. For Proudhon the means was to be through evolutionary change, where the proper end was discovered. For Marx it was the other way – we saw this way in Lenin and Stalin.
Now for the not so much: Proudhon, while not collectivist was a socialist favoring distribution of income – a mutualist.
He was strongly opposed to economic liberalism because he feared bigness, the concentration of wealth, mammoth enterprises, yet he was equally an enemy of the omnipotent centralized state which figures as the keystone in all leftist thinking.
His ideas were bound to come into conflict with the later socialist ideas of dictatorial and centralizing power.
While EvKL believes that had Proudhon’s methods prevailed, the West might have coped with socialism better, I am not so sure. Ultimately socialism destroys: destroys wealth, destroys community, destroys culture, destroys property, destroys tradition. No society can survive this.
[Marx] wrote a dissertation on Epicurus, whose philosophy has a decidedly materialistic flavor, for the University of Jena which gave him a Ph.D. In Berlin young Marx became strongly influenced by Hegel and his school.
Epicureanism offers gods, but gods that do not in any way concern themselves with the goings-on of this world. What good are irrelevant gods? Yes, I guess that is the point.
…one does not find any preoccupation with ethics in Marx's thinking or writing.
If the gods don’t care, why would Marx? Better yet, if Marx can find gods who do not care, all the better.
Morality, Feuerbach insisted, will never be sustained by religion, but only by an improvement in living conditions-in other words, by "social betterment." This of course is a notion which not only became typically Marxist but which is shared by the American moderate left, if not by American folklore.
Who is this Feuerbach?
Ludwig Andreas von Feuerbach (28 July 1804 – 13 September 1872) was a German philosopher and anthropologist best known for his book The Essence of Christianity, which provided a critique of Christianity which strongly influenced generations of later thinkers, including Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Richard Wagner, and Friedrich Nietzsche.