Slain By Isms And The Totalitarian State
The Rise and Decline of Marxism. By Waldemar Gurian. Trans. by E. F. Peeler. (Burns Oates and Washbourne, 7s. 6d.) Reviewed by FR. DAVID QUINLAN This is the first (and revised) English edition of a book issued eighteen months ago. Its thesis is that Marxism is almost dead in Western and Central Europe, while in Northern Europe its death is more lingering but equally certain. A historical review of Marxism proves this together with an exposition of inherent " seeds of death" which are killing the theory as surely as they have killed every heresy.
Marxism aimed at organising in the proletarian mass rapidly forming in the late nineteenth century a consciousness of its rights and its ability to control its destiny. The mass, formed by economic and war disasters, acquired instead a consciousness of the falsity of Marxism, e.g. in Germany it lost faith in Social Democracy and turned to National Socialism. It saw that Marxism failed to answer its own problems of policy and doctrine.
Evolution or revolution? Delay . until Capitalist society collapsed or co-operation with the socialist activities in that society'? God or no God? Patriotic nationalism or class-organised internationalism? In these last two problems, Marxism countered human instincts, a fatal mistake. Between these and other urgent problems, Marxism lost supporters in their flight to a legion other movements which provided an immediate, if false, answer.
Then came Bolshevism, Marxism's greatest defeat, with its open call to worldwide revolution. The supporters it drew from the older theory it lost without giving them back, by revealing its ability to offer for bourgeois tyranny only the bloody imposition of party programme, which is another name for the will of the few. The further disillusionment that the Third International meant only dependance on Moscow is breaking down the movement which shook Marxism, leaving a welter of Socialisms, without policy, political or socialisation plans, unity or leadership.
In other words, Marxism did not grow up; it broke into a thousand fragments in the effort.
From it men have turned to Fascism. Popular Fronts the agglomeration of -isms to oppose Fascism) and the Totalitarian State. In the last, the author sees Marxism's only remaining threat, since its basic doctrines of total politicisation and social constructivism are essentially Marxist. If violence gives it a success which its essential falsity cannot win, Marxism must not be blamed for the evil which will fall upon man any more than the Christian apathy which has been a fellow criminal by its neglect of economic and social wrongs. While we oppose all movements which are false by reason of their finding here the kingdom which is not of this world, we shall he as responsible as them for chaos unless we practically demonstrate Christ's leaching of the worlds of life and eternity, criminals in line with the godless Marxist, the Totalitarian dictator or the tyrannical Stalinist.
Although its order is not easily apparent, this well translated, compact book is Gurian at his best.