The Joys of Being a Marxist: Pissing off your Parents

Another recap: 

Many politically active, vocal people, especially the young, are attracted to more extreme revolutionary theories that promise to do violence on the polity. These theories make sense of the world, articulate and focus the general sense of grievance felt by the dominated, and, at the same time, upset their elders very much. What’s not to like?

The more outraged your parents’ generation are, the more independent-minded you feel.  To hold such views is declamatory, emphatic. It causes a stir. You appear admirably defiant, passionate; it establishes your identity in an uncompromising, and thus secure, way. Fixing your identity is an urgent need for the post-familial young adult. 

Marxism remains a good source of such dogma, especially Marxism-Leninism. Like all socio-political philosophies, it simplifies and regularises the complexity and plurality of human experience to the point of falsity. However, these simplicities make gratifying sense and seem to provide genuine and illuminating insights into some aspects of how society functions. Personally, I love later Marxist ideas on hegemony and false-consciousness and how culture is both founded in, and reinforces, prevailing social prejudices and assumptions. Applying these ideas to art and literature is loads of fun. 

Marxism-Leninism also has the advantage of absolutely infuriating young people’s parents and grandparents. They abhor its careless cruelty and acceptance of wholesale violence and destruction as useful instruments of change. They were brought up, during the latter days of the cold war, on tales of monstruous, genocidal tyranny perpetrated in this philosophy’s name, by The USSR and Maoist China. They lived in mortal terror of world-ending nuclear holocaust, and were taught to blame this wholly on the USSR’s baselessly evil intentions. 

So claiming to be a Marxist is sure to be rewarded with some pleasing histrionics!

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