Thursday, October 5, 2017

Intellectuals and Thugs: The Russian Revolution

If ideas must be pursued at all costs, then anything standing in their way must be crushed.

By George Friedman Oct. 4, 2017

The 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution is approaching. It was a revolution based not merely on hope but on the certainty that the human condition could be filled with equality, plenty and freedom. It created a regime that was willing and felt compelled to go to any lengths to create that perfection, but that regime ended in 1991, exhausted by the squalor it had created.

The Russian Revolution was inspired by the work of Karl Marx, and that work was the reductio ad absurdum of the French Enlightenment. The Enlightenment had argued that humanity was engaged in progress รข€“ knowledge was constantly accumulating and, with that, the human condition was constantly improving. At the center of this process was reason, which would drive progress. And its main thrust was that the most perfect government was one that promoted the principle of human equality.

The agent of all of this was the intellectual, who placed reason at the center of all things, and therefore was the one who would deliver progress. The intellectual would understand the necessity of improving the human condition and therefore understand that anyone who impeded this was the enemy. The intellectual became a politician seeking power, and then driving the masses toward a transformation of human life.

But the Enlightenment presented a paradox. If human progress was certain, then why should the intellectual have to undertake the effort and risk of driving it forward? But there was another paradox.

The intellectual was also hungry for a significance beyond those with whom he shared his life. He hungered for power and recognition, and therefore the vision of progress being his to deliver to humanity was tremendously seductive. The paradox needed examination by the contemplative. But the contemplative bypassed the paradox and presided over the French Revolution. And those who thwarted progress had to be eliminated. The intellectuals displayed the ruthlessness of pure logic, a logic that saw the people as tools to be shaped........To Read More....

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