Siddharth Chatterjee siddhart at mailbox.syr.edu
Fri Apr 12 17:47:42 MDT 1996

On Fri, 12 Apr 1996, Chris M. Sciabarra wrote:

> On Thu, 11 Apr 1996, Rahul Mahajan wrote:
> > Why does Marxism bring out so many totalitarian impulses? With garbage like
> > this, Carrol, it's going to be hard to sell anyone on the idea that
> > socialism means freedom.
> > Rahul
> 	Karl Popper had a very interesting and provocative thesis about
> why this might be so.  He argued, wrongly I think -- but with some
> validity -- that systematic philosophy or totalistic methodologies have a
> tendency to reproduce, on a social and political level, totalitarianism.
> Insofar as Marxism is a totalistic, dialectical theory of social
> processes, it seeks change -- in a totalistic manner.  To the extent that
> this totalism is IMPOSED rather than something that might evolve
> spontaneously (as Marx may have envisioned it), Marxism and other
> "totalistic" approaches, may simply contain the seeds of totalitarianism.
> 	It is my conviction however, that a dialectical approach to
> social theory need NOT entail such reactionary consequences.  I think
> that a properly dialectical approach can and MUST make possible a
> critique of totality that does not spillover into totalitarianism.
> 					- Chris

This is an example of a great "totalistic", "totalitarian" tautological
argument which makes the mind of lesser mortals whirl. The charge of
"totalitarian" against Marxism is frequently made by the right (especially
well-educated Russian emigres).

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