Wednesday, March 14, 2018


I am surprised and a bit disappointed that the podcast “Best of the Left” which I frequently listen to broadcasted an interview with academic Timothy Snyder (Council on Foreign Relations member) in their program titled “Understanding the Rise of the Right.” Snyder lumps Lenin and the left in general in the same bag with the right saying that the modus operandi of both ‘extremes’ is to focus on a utopian vision while ignoring the real issues. Snyder says: “Lenin said look, it’s not so much the actual facts that matter what really matters is the deeper truth that in the future there’s going to be a socialist utopia and if we have to bend the truth or even completely destroy the truth to get there that’s worth it…  because there’s a better world out there and that’s the deep truth.” (Lenin as a precursor of post-truth, anyone?)

That is to say, according to Snyder (and Karl Popper) the alleged deceptiveness of leftists (Lenin and before him Marx) stems from their imposition of a preconceived notion of change, if not dreams, and with no regard for reality. The narrative is reminiscent of Karl Popper’s condemnation of historicism and the association of Marx with Hegel, as if there were no difference between the two. The narrative is completely fallacious. It not only ignores Marx’s polemics with the Utopian Socialists (a movement which he never belonged to) but also the fact that he broke with the Young Hegelians, who he had been closely associated with (particularly Bruno Bauer). Although the young Hegelians rejected Hegel’s idealism and considered themselves materialists, nevertheless they failed to ground their thinking in the real structural basis of society – economy and class and not religious ideas which concerned Bauer and Feuerbach (in an attempt to undermine Prussian rule). Snyder would do well to read “The Holy Family” in which Marx and Engels critique the young Hegelians who (inspired by the early Hegel) felt that utopia was yet to be achieved. For those who are interested in the topic, I would highly recommend the fascinating movie on the young Marx (in German with English subtitles) (see photo above) which can be watched on YouTube at: 


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