Friday, August 24, 2007

Unity and Division

The last line of Marx's Communist Manifesto is "Workers of the world unite."

Since the manifesto calls for people to unify in a struggle, I suspect that many falsely concluded that Communism is an ideology of unity.

The truth, of course, is that Marx was seeking to raise a group of people in rebellion against a defined enemy: the bourgeoisie. The term "bourgeoisie" refers to the middle class. The goal of Marx was to unite the ends against the middle.

I suspect that there is a large number of people who sincerely want to be part of a unified force. The problem, of course, is that all of these unified forces have something that they are against. Political efforts to unify people on an issue almost always creates a reactionary force.

In the rare instances that we do achieve unity on an issue. There is almost always someone wanting to push the unified collective onto a different more divisive issue. For example, we may be unified in thinking that dog fights are barbaric. There will be voices that want to use the unifying issue against hunting, or eating meat.

I find the free market and democracy more compelling than Communism. These systems create a structured mechanism for division.

When coming across calls for unity. One should recognize that almost all calls for unity are seeking to unite people against something. Although such calls use "unity" as part of the rhetoric. It is difficult to say that such efforts really are leading to unity. In most cases they lead to a division at a deeper level.


Scott Hinrichs said...

Freiedrich Hayek excellently captured a very broad examination of this precise topic in his classic book on collectivism, The Road to Serfdom.

Charles D said...

In the United States, we are unified (or could be unified) by our Constitution and its Bill of Rights. While you can never achieve total unity, I would wager than far more than 90% of Americans believe that our form of government (at least in theory) and our freedoms are what make our nation great and what bind us together.

Unfortunately we have lost both. We now have a government dominated by wealth (both corporate and individual) that is almost totally unresponsive to the people. Any number of polls show that the desires of the majority of Americans on the key issues of our day are almost invariably considered beyond the pale by the Congress and the Beltway pundits.

We no longer have even the sham of a justice system that is fair and impartial. We all know that guilt is more related to the accused's inability to pay for powerful legal representation than to the facts, and we have a Justice Department that has been turned into an instrument of political repression.

Under these conditions, unity is not possible. Might we unite people in a call to return to Constitutional government, an end to empire, and the impartial rule of law? Perhaps, were it not for the immense power and wealth of the forces that oppose all three goals.