[Marxism] Fwd: Against Manichaeism | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Jan 30 15:08:23 MST 2015

For the past few years, and largely as a result of the wars in the 
Middle East and the Ukraine, there has been a tendency to view everybody 
fighting as proxies of Washington or Moscow. For most of the left, this 
means taking a position on those fighting based on where they stand in 
relationship to the rival powers. Like a chess game in which the black 
pieces are pure evil and the white pure good, geopolitics matters much 
more than the individual pieces. If a pawn is forced to align itself 
with the West, it matters little whether its cause is just.

Ironically, Manichaeism was born in Persia, a country seen by most of 
the left as certainly pale in hue and pure as the driven snow. After 
all, how could a country be bad if it is hated so much by the USA? This, 
of course, is the same logic that drove so many new leftists into Maoist 
sects in the 60s and 70s. If Mao was such a universally despised figure, 
didn’t it make sense to follow Bob Avakian or Mike Klonsky? For some, 
Nixon’s trip to China complicated things to the point that these sects 
began to disintegrate in the 1980s.

Manicheanism got its name from its founder—Mani. Mani is not a name like 
Louis but an honorific like “Sri” or “Bey”. Scholars view the religion 
as an offshoot of Gnosticism, a religion that fascinated me when I was a 
religion major at Bard. For the Gnostics, the world was divided between 
good and evil. You tended to dwell in the evil until you learned the 
truth about the world’s dualism. You can easily understand how 
Gnosticism was traceable back to Neo-Platonism, a philosophical cult and 
semi-religion that was inspired by Plato’s notion that philosophical 
reflections by philosopher-kings was a precondition for understanding 
the world. If you trace back the modern chess game left to its Platonic 
roots, you can see how little has changed. Instead of reading Plato’s 
Republic, the key to enlightenment is Robert Parry’s ConsortiumNews or 

full: http://louisproyect.org/2015/01/30/against-manichaeism/

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