Our political idols are probably mother or father-substitutes, a stepping stone in the process of breaking ties with our parents and becoming independent adults.
Most of us grow out of the rebellious teenage and young adult phase, however. We become reconciled with our parents, and we come to recognise the flaws in our heroes’ thinking and characters, just as we did with our parents’ (although that original disillusionment felt like a betrayal.)
We can still venerate thinkers, however, because all humans are imperfect and limited but some also come up with good ideas. We can integrate some of their methods, and their insights, into our own way of thinking, and our perspectives on the world.
I still feel respect and admiration, even gratitude, for Karl Marx, and Fredrich Engels. Their theories contained glaring, fatal flaws, and their predictions proved demonstrably wrong. Putative Marxists such as Lenin, Stalin and Mao perpetrated the greatest evils on millions of people, with immensely damaging world-wide consequences that continue to this day. However, Marx and Engels gave me thinking tools, that changed how I was able to understand the world and thus immeasurably enhanced my experience of life. That’s quite a gift to give! I feel the same way about Antonio Gramsci on hegemony, Max Weber on Disenchantment (entzauberung), and Emile Durkheim on anomie.