25 July 2010

MARX, MANTICORES AND A SARDINIAN








-----------------Eeeeeeewwwwwww. Sardines are yucky.

---------------------------- TH2's niece, 18 July 2010





TH2 was perusing his folio Monster Manual (part of the Dungeons & Dragons role playing game; yes, I confess to being a squid as a youth), and came across a drawing/description of a beast called a Manticore.

"Zoinks," this blogger exclaimed, "the head of that creature looks like Karl Marx!"

Now this game, so you know, does not endorse Marxism. Nor does D&D, as some Christian groups contend, purposefully or covertly endorse Satanism, necromancy, in the manner they presume.[1] True, the game's popularity has arisen in a religion-denying, secularized world, and it does have that pagan berserker aspect about it. Yes, it is another one of those pseudo-sublime-post-religious-vacuum-fillers, attempting, but always in the end failing, to satiate man's unquenchable propensity for that transcendent X. Nonetheless, I was surprised by the description of the beast and its noticeable resemblance, albeit metaphorical, to the Marxist world view and that of the Vulgar Left in general (here in socialist Canada that distinction no longer exists). The descriptor is as follows:
Manticores prefer dismal lairs, so they are typically found in caves or underground. They ranges in all climes, although they enjoy warm places more than cold. The favorite prey of manticores is man, and they are usually encountered outside their lairs hunting for human victims.[2]
Additionally, the Manticore's "alignment" is classified as "lawful evil"; its intelligence is designated as "low". So, then, for the sake of simplicity let's break it down. The main traits of Manticores (or Marxists and their variants) are:
----------------------------"typically found in caves or underground"
----------------------------"enjoy warm places more than cold"
----------------------------"Alignment = lawful evil"
----------------------------"Intelligence = low"

"But why, for the sake of Thor," one might query, "doth TH2 speaketh about this cerebral barbarianism?"

A good question.

The Manticore is analogized with Marxism because, as the contemporary political landscape explains (except the MSM), Marxism in the West is not "dead". It has merely taken on a new and subdued forms.[3] Decades of this contagion still affect us today. The Marxist thinker, academic or not, cannot be too stentorian in his proclamations or else he brings immediate suspicion upon himself. Thus he must be more astute and work below the surface as it were, silently, under concealment, working in the populist guise. He cannot be a rambunctious social engineer rallying the masses. Marxists in the West have not so much rejected their ideology since the fall of the Soviet Union. They just shifted focus of how revolution is to occur and have had to be more hushed about it.

One example would be the "global warming" movement. It does not work to "save the climate" (a stupid, meaningless phrase; how can incessantly changing atmospheric conditions be "saved"?). Rather, the underlying purpose is to inhibit economic growth and energy usage (i.e. "emission reductions"), condemn land and resource usage/exploration (i.e. quash property rights) while heightening state monopolies with bogus policies (i.e. "carbon tax", Kyoto Protocol). As early as the 1990s it was recognized that implementation of the Kyoto Protocol "implies international transfers of wealth on a scale well beyond anything in recorded history."[4] Spread the wealth.

Another example is Multiculturalism, where the "class struggle" has been transposed over to other areas: between heterosexuals and sodomites/lesbians (sexuality), men versus women (feminism), race (white versus "persons of colour") and so forth.[5] John' O Sullivan argued that "Multiculturalism has not yet found its Marx; its main doctrines are scattered in speeches, curricula, law school journals and textbooks."[6] The second half of that statement is correct, although I would argue that Multiculturalism does indeed have its Marx, but it is just that many on the Vulgar Left do not even realize that they've been utilizing his ideas for quite some time.

But who is the mystery man behind door Number 1?

Although long dead, he remains an elusive fellow, in an ideational way that is to say. Every once in a while his name pops up in the public square amidst that barrage of leftist rhetoric now squelching rationality from civic discourse. He has many internet web sites devoted to him. An "International Society" worships him, promulgating his ideas on society. He writings have been translated into many languages. There is a film about his life. His theories have influenced many contemporary leftist intellectuals. He was a European Marxist but his name was not Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Marcuse, Adorno, Horkheimer or Alinsky. Have you figured out the person to whom I refer? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?

No? Alas, the nature of the beast. But I've been unfair in not providing enough clues.

Capitalist society, he averred, would not be smashed by the giant hammer of a Marxist Thor. Rather, private and public institutions of the democratic/parliamentary State were to be seduced by a more charming Voluptuous Venus. He called it a "passive revolution":
One may apply the concept of passive revolution... the interpenetrative criterion of molecular changes which in fact progressively modify the pre-existing composition of forces, and hence become the matrix of new changes... [a] struggle, up to the point where it absorbs even the so-called representatives of the anti-thesis [opposing party ideas]: it is precisely in this that the passive revolution... consists... [It would] be preceded by long ideological and political preparation, organically devised in advance to reawaken popular passions and enable them to be concentrated and brought simultaneously to detonation point.[7]

These words come from the pen of the Sardinian Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937), written while imprisoned by Mussolini’s Fascist regime. And it was what he wrote during his incarceration (1926-1937), not before, that distinguishes him from the remainder of popular Marxist intellectuals. True, the goal was the same: the triumph of international socialism. However, the method of obtaining that utopian goal was totally different from his contemporaries. Gramsci was no ordinary Marxist. He had set down a new idea of social rebellion, while in an extremely agitated mental state, in his famous Prison Notebooks (now compiled, along with his pre-prison writings, into 10+ volumes). He argued that social transformation would come not by an immediate and violent overthrow of existing norms and authority, as many of his fellow Marxists hoped or presupposed.

A disciple of Gramsci explained the tactics involved:
...an enlarged intellectual formation might struggle to change its own ensemble of relations and... merge with kindred forces at the workplace and in daily life to form a new kind of subversive movement... it becomes part of the general struggle for democratization and social equality... the translation of economic crises into a generalized crisis of legitimization [and]... this integrative process can be seen within the new social context as a fusion of disparate local struggles rather than the imposition of elite subcultures.[8]
In other words, the revolution would occur via the unhurried emplacement of disruptive and divisive notions into an already established social-political framework. Anarchic principles would quietly trickle their way into institutions of learning, government, the judiciary, and so forth. Unbrazenly, radicals should firstly confederate with organizations that work for a wide latitude of causes so as to gain acceptance and trust. Gradually, revolutionary ideas would be introduced until their adversaries, now aware of the manipulation (some would say conspiracy), are unable to counteract a process of subversion which has already torn apart a significant part of the socio-political and moral fabrics. To be sure, one whiffs an Orwellian smoke. Resultantly, there's been much confusion in the interpretation of Gramsci’s ideas, from both his supporters and detractors. Gramsci's unsystematic and abstruse writing style have not helped the matter. His writings are full of double meanings and unanswered questions. Thus Gramscism should properly be dubbed the gnostic sect of Marxism or, let us say, Manticorism.

Now in Canada the Gramscian mode of interpenetration has been ongoing for years. For example, Eric Shragge, a radical at Concordia University (Montreal), wrote:
The practice of CED [Community Economic Development] has to be situated within the traditions of community organization practice. A social process has to be included along with the establishment of economic programmes. In this process, both mobilization and education of citizens and the creation of new programmes is essential if a process of empowerment and new locally controlled economic initiatives are to be put in place.[9] (TH2 italics)
There is also the stealth anarchist Irshad Manji, who penned (years prior to her current popularity as Beatnik Redeemer of the Mohammedans) that "radicalism in democracy exists not on the outskirts, but at the bustling centre of public discourse."[10] No less notable is Stephen Gill at York University (Toronto), well known in intellectual circles for the dissemination of Gramsci's ideas, particularly within the context of international relations.[11]

What about the influence of Gramsci in the US? [12] Simple. All we need to do is to recall the aforelisted traits of Manticores and perform some visual juxtapositioning:


------"typically found in caves or underground"---------------"enjoy warm places more than cold"


------------------------"Alignment = lawful evil"------------------"Intelligence = low"

Want more proof? Look closely at this Maoist propaganda poster.


Hey, I'm just saying...
Boy, I sure do miss the good ole days...


NOTES / REFERENCES

1. Even though Dungeons & Dragons creator Gary Gygax diminished the influence of The Lord of the Rings trilogy on the game, the idea of an medieval-like adventure party traversing through surreal hinterlands laden with monsters and mystery is without question Tolkien in origin (with Christian themes). Cf. G. Gygax, "On the influence of J.R.R. Tolkien on the D&D and AD&D games", Dragon, 1985, no. 95, pp. 12-13.


2. G. Gygax, Monster Manual, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Special Reference Work (Lake Geneva, WI: TSR Games, 1979), p. 65.

3. For the cultural entrenchment of Marxism see D. Horowitz, The Politics of Bad Faith: The Radical Assault on America’s Future (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1998).

4. H.D. Jacoby, R.G. Prinn, and R. Schmalensee, "Kyoto’s Unfinished Business", Foreign Affairs, July/August 1998, vol. 77, no. 4, pp. 54-66.

5. See my post Cultural Tribalism Unleashed here.

6.
J. O'Sullivan, Conservatism, Democracy and National Identity (London: Centre for Policy Studies, 1999), The Third Keith Memorial Lecture, p. 22.


7. Selections from the Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci, ed./trans. Q. Hoare and G.N. Smith (New York: International Publishers, 1971), pp. 109-110. The "official" Gramsci website can be found here. Click here for the "International Gramsci Society". Link to the International Gramsci Journal can be found here, based (out of all places) at the University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia.

8. C. Boggs, The Two Revolutions, Gramsci and the Dilemmas of Western Marxism (Boston: South End Press, 1984), pp. 288-289.

9. E. Shragge, Community Economic Development: In Search of Empowerment and Alternatives (Montréal: Black Rose Books, 1993), p. 10.

10. I. Manji, Risking Utopia, On the Edge of a New Democracy (Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1997). See also my post Berserkers Rage here.

11. See, for example, S. Gill, Gramsci, Historical Materialism and International Relations (Cambridge University Press, 1993). Subnote that Gill is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

12. H. London, "Obama's Ideological Father", Human Events, March 9, 2009.

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28 comments:

Old Bob said...

Thanks for this, TH2. Marxism is sort of like a bush I have in my yard that propagates by sending underground runners, and you can never be sure where it's going to pop up. By the way, when I was a kid we just called them "The Commies."

TH2 said...

"The Commies" sounds much better. Blunt and hard hitting.

LarryD said...

I play D&D Online. That doesn't make me an infantile barbarian, though. More like a level 7 Paladin.

Try it! It's free!

TH2 said...

"Infantile" was said in an endearing way. My buds and I play once in a while.

P. Button said...

Nerdyness+Philosophy=Awesome!

TH2 said...

P.B. - Thanks for dropping by again. Yours truly is a big time nerd. I am being totally honest when I say that, in high school (and later), I regularly wore a pocket protector. I am proud that I did.

TH2 said...

Larry: I reconsidered your comment and (as usual) your are correct. On second thought, there is bit of condescension in my use of the word "infantile", though it was not meant to be (as I stated in the comment above, I am a proud nerd). I have substituted it with (I hope) is a better word.

LarryD said...

TH2 - no worries. I wasn't offended by the word. The way I see it, it's nothing that a +2 Sword of Righteous Gluteus Maximus Sundering can't cure. ;-)

If you're an on-line player, email me.

Al said...

Antonio Gramsci, now there is a name I haven't heard in a long time. But remember 1 bad sardine doesn't spoil the whole tin*. Unfortunately 1 bad Sardinian is another matter.

PS Your niece's view on sardines shows a profound depth of wisdom.

* This is operating under the assumption that there is such a creature as a good sardine, which, IMHO, does not exist.

Mary said...

I crave sardines about twice a year. Can't say why. Drives the family nuts.

TH2 said...

Al: You are correct. My niece is a genius.

Mary: Sardines with mustard... deeelicious!

Mary said...

And scooped up with pita. Oh yeah, baby.

duncancromb said...

Can I quote that phrase "post-religious vacuum-filler"? It's a good one. BTW, great blog.

TH2 said...

Feel free to do so, Duncan. Thanks for dropping in.

Anita Moore said...

Well, the guy with the stupid coif turned out to be right: the slow-boil method for cooking frogs has been a great success.

I would add the following Fr.-Z.-style commentary to the this paragraph:

One example would be the "global warming" movement. It does not work to "save the climate" (a stupid, meaningless phrase; how can incessantly changing atmospheric conditions be "saved"?)[Excellent point. Too often we grant their fallacious premises.]. Rather, the underlying purpose is to inhibit economic growth and energy usage (i.e. "emission reductions")[except that of the socialists], condemn land and resource usage/exploration (i.e. quash property rights) [except that of the socialists] while heightening state monopolies with bogus policies (i.e. "carbon tax", Kyoto Protocol). As early as the 1990s it was recognized that implementation of the Kyoto Protocol "implies international transfers of wealth on a scale well beyond anything in recorded history."[4] Spread the wealth [into the coffers of the socialists].

By the way, on an unrelated note: I was just noticing Fr. Grisar's pic in your sidebar. I have his excellent biography of Martin Luther (unfortunately, an abridged version, but still good).

TH2 said...

Many people think its the Frankfurt School that is primarily responsible for this subtle, Marxist interpenetration; but their predecessor and the most influential of them is, in my view, Gramsci.

Thanks for the fisk Anita Z.

Fr. Grisar: His writings first opened up my eyes to the implications of Luther`s revolt - which echoes to this day (as I think we commented upon briefly in a previous exchange). It was a meta-historical event and, after Grisar, all other questions I had were answered one by one, the pieces of the puzzle settled into their correct places.

Justhearmebaby said...

There's nothing wrong or pagan about D&D.

Jon said...

It's like LOTR in principle. It's not pagan.

TH2 said...

I would say it's pagan in the sense that, most players today (especially D&D inspired video games), have no idea of the LOTR influence and its Catholic undercurrent. However, like you, I agree it's "like LOTR in principle". See note 1 of my article.

Mark Antony said...

so lemme get this straight .. you think manticores in the old AD+D MM are an intentional cypher for Marxism because Marxists are

-"typically found in caves or underground"
----------------------------"enjoy warm places more than cold"
----------------------------"Alignment = lawful evil"
----------------------------"Intelligence = low"

is this site a joke site? Im truely uncertain, american humour is sometimes too self culturally referring for foreigners to get the jokes maybe?

TH2 said...

Not "intentional cypher". Just amusing connections, analogies to illustrate a point.

This is a Canadian site.

Check your psionics. Perhaps you are under the influence of a "Mind Thrust" (PHB, 1e, p. 110)...............just joking :)

Good to see a AD&D fan out there. I'm looking forward to 5e, due out this summer.

Mark Antony said...

ahah i see .. myself Im a new fan of the Pathfinder rules .. D+D writ by old grognards that WONT get re writ every 4 years, just to sell the same books to the same suckers :) .. its mainly based on 3.5 .. I herd as soon as it was published around 50% of the WotC customers switched immediately lol

TH2 said...

Have many of the hardcover Pathfinder books myself. Really like The Inner Sea World Guide. Brimming with ideas, hooks and campaign arcs.


In some ways I can understand the schism after 4e was released, the mass defection to Pathfinder, but in other ways not. Have not really played 4e, but I have a fair number of the books and I think they are quite good.


My view: enjoyment of RPGs is more so of a function of the players and GM. They make the game, the story. Kind of partial to occasional meta-gaming myself as well, so it can be argued that I'm biased in that sense.

Mark Antony said...

Agree .. with the right group, a 50/50 coin flip mechanic is sufficient for everything :)

Mark Antony said...

I actually found this site because Im drawing monsters for a 'retro clone' and I wanted to base pics off the very first iteration in D+D

Mark Antony said...

its more the idea of itentionally empowering some aspects and de powering others, changing the balance just so you HAFTA buy the new rules .. its like a games Workshop tactic .. Im pathfinder for good (unless it gets killed or I find something better lol) .. mind you, Id jump on a good 'basic' emulator, its my fave type D+D :)

snetvky said...

Repeat after me. Its just a fucking game. To waste time trying to overlay one's personal political proclivities just proves you have no life

TH2 said...

Let me guess: you're unemployed, live in your parents basement, your diet consists of hot pockets and diet coke, 18 hours a day spent on the XBox, and your girlfriend is an anime sex doll.

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