Monday, January 30, 2012
I stumbled upon this quote in Snow this afternoon:
There are two kinds of Communists: the arrogant ones, who enter the fray hoping to make men out of the people and bring progress to the nation; and the innocent ones, who get involved because they believe in equality and justice. The arrogant ones are obsessed with power; they presume to think for everyone; only bad can come of them. But the innocents? The only harm they do is to themselves. But that's all they ever wanted in the first place. They feel so guilty about the suffering of the poor , and are so keen to share it, that they make their lives miserable on purpose.
What an accurate quote.
Or is it?
The complete dichotomization of the two types is revealed well in history. We see the arrogant Communist leaders bent on progress to the point where the people become exploited and oppressed. We see the innocent Communist dreamers who believe in the words and ideas, and still defend Marx's ideas as unrealized in our history.
However, the quote leaves me wanting more. More substance, more nuance. It states that only arrogant Communists, who do not uphold, or even believe in, equality and justice, are the only ones who bring progress to their nations. This is problematic because innocent idealists can also bring progress to their nation - after all, Hoover lead the U.S. through World War I - and because in this quote, that the arrogant power-hungry men are Communists. These men are not Communists at all.
There is a line drawn here which connects the innocent and the masochistic. Innocence is equated with an inherent desire to live in suffering. I think the innocent yearn to empathize with the suffering - not to suffer to a point beyond hope themselves. People who believe in equality and justice above all do not want to bring themselves down to the level of the most impoverished sufferers, they want to bring those who are suffering out of their depravity and into some sort of harmony.
Or is the hope of true equality naïve to the fact that the only way humanity will ever be equal is in its ability to sin and its ability to suffer?
I like to believe that we are capable of bringing a morale and hope-filled equality that is based on Reason, Rights, and Righteousness. Does that make me an innocent Communist?
Which is my final problem with this excellent, thought-provoking quote. Both types of Communists defined here are capable of bringing nothing but pain to the world.
Let's remove the label Communists.
It's quite understandable that arrogant men who want nothing more than power will not bring good to their constituents, or the world. But to declare that innocent men who believe in equality and justice are only capable of bringing harm to themselves and creating suffering? I have a hard time buying that.
Maybe that makes me an innocent who believes in equality and justice.
But what does that make me?