Jordan Peterson’s claims about Marxism?

BY: Lowell B. Denny, III| February 22, 2019
Jordan Peterson’s claims about Marxism?
Q"What's the response of CPUSA towards right-wing activist Jordan Peterson's claim that 'Marxism is equal to Nazism' and that, since people are biologically unequal, trying to create equality ends in dictatorship?"                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     "Why do you still hold out for a socialist utopia when every place that has tried communism has utterly destroyed their country? Millions and millions of people have been murdered and disappeared into the night never to be heard from again. Communism is responsible for more death and destruction than Hitler and Nazi Germany. I'm trying to keep an open mind here so tell me something to change my mind if you can."
Lots of misconceptions and assertions I can't concede in these questions, so it's best to address those then get to the heart of what is in these two questions. These questions suppose that the models the West has constructed are successes that we should be happy with.

At least since the dawn of modern government, marginalized populations have struggled to overturn the established system for a better one, utopian or otherwise. Ignoring North America's own non-European history, we reflexively look to Great Britain for these examples. This seems natural, since Canada and the United States are the nation-states formed out of that empire. As far back as the early 1600's, 200 years before Karl Marx, radical insurgencies spread through England and Scotland. These could not be called Marxists, and they did not think of themselves as communists, but with the success of abolishing the English monarchy and executing a king, these republicans and insurgents wanted to further their class war, putting the laboring classes in charge, and being rid of the upper classes and Parliament altogether. This is the standard, "People's History," go-to narrative around the history of early class resistance.

However, that narrative curiously obscures examples much closer to home. The frequent rebellions of the natives communities of North America against European invaders of many nationalities could also answer this question. These native communities had civilizations advanced in ways that threatened the European merchant conquerors. It is worth looking at this threat as well when studying the current imperial interventions against Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba. Like their native antecedents, these newer economic models remain threats to the children of those European merchants and financiers.

It is worth noting these societies existed for centuries and did not do one iota of the damage that capitalism has done in just a few hundred years to air, land, and water. Among the most obvious damages are the passive [disease] and active [massacres] decimations of that native population. The question references, as so many do, body counts. Linguist and scholar Noam Chomsky estimates that 80% of the native population was obliterated by the incursion of Europe into the Americas; I know this percentage is true in Hawaii and the Pacific. So Were the native societies "utterly destroyed" by their social and economic organization or by outside, predatory forces?

The assertion that Soviet Union was full of "death and destruction" and "people … murdered and disappeared into the night" is belied by hard statistics. Majorities of its former citizens want their country back.  Respondents in Pew polls rank the Baltic states the least desirous, but when you look at Russia and the former Asian Soviet republics, the poll responses are far more favorable towards the economic arrangements they lived under during Soviet socialism. So, to the initial question, why would these populations, who have experience both worlds, "hold out" for the one that is purportedly "utterly destroyed"? The very question would seem to demand some investigation of the misconceptions behind it.

I am not an avid Jordan Peterson reader, nor a follower. I did view a debate in Canada where opponent Prof. Michael Eric Dyson called him a "mean, angry white man," and this seems to fit his temperament. If Peterson equated Marxism and Nazism, I would have to wonder if he was really an academic or a spokesperson for the merchant class that subdued the lands that make up his present home, Canada. This equation between Marx and Nazis cannot even be taken seriously. And if he stated that people are not born equally biologically, I would peg him as a monarchist and a relic of the Middle Ages.

Without laboring a dissertation on either philosophy, just look at the societies they inspired. Compare and contrast how the Marx-inspired Bolsheviks expanded their society to include national minorities, lifting the prohibitions on their languages, and modernizing their regions. It even, for a time, extended this support of national minorities to Blacks in the US--a stance that in turn inspired CPUSA member Harry Hay to model his nascent gay liberation movement. Furthermore, compare and contrast how free education, advanced training, free health care, housing for all, the nurturing of workplace democratic structures existed.

The 1917 Bolshevik Revolution even forced democratic change on the West, beginning with women's suffrage. The Western democracies fought tooth and nail against giving women the vote - white women, mind you. Its state police often tortured these women when they were jailed for agitating. The young Soviet Union extending voting rights to women pressured the Western democracies to reverse their intransigence. You can trace similar achievements in the areas of labor and Black civil rights that grew out of Soviet policies that affected the Western policies. The socialist bloc had gotten the upper hand in an ideological war and was drawing disparate peoples from within the US and around the world.

Is this what Nazis do? The comparison, least of all an equation, is absurd on its face. Russian tsarism, which was overturn by the Bolsheviks, is more comparable to Nazism. Again, note the historical records. In the years immediately following the regrettable destruction of the USSR, serious voices proposed the restoration of the Romanovs and monarchies of Eastern Europe. Certain descendants, in line to some relic of a throne, appeared in some Eastern European capitals as if they were the Second Coming.

Frankly, it is hard to take seriously the attacks on the socialist bloc because it had prisons, when not only do prisons exist all over the West, but in particular the United States, the largest prison country in the world. The US set up an expansive prison-plantation system after the Civil War and Reconstruction that replaced the norms of chattel slavery and exist to this hour capturing millions of mostly Black and Brown people.

So the question shouldn't be why anyone holds out for a utopia, socialist or otherwise. Instead, the historical record demands we ask what is wrong with a people who would hold on to this capitalist experiment and drive their civilization like kamikaze pilots into the side of a mountain. The real question isn't why we would aspire to a communist model. We should be asking why anyone would fight to maintain the reactionary status quo.
    Lowell B. Denny, III, has a degree in political science from Washington University. His political education began with his membership in Queer Nation-San Francisco, spending two months of work and study in Cuba in the early 1990s, then three months hitchhiking around Mexico where he got to spend a day in jail, and now living in Hawaii where the sovereignty movement is strong. He has worked in publishing, retail, as a school teacher and restaurant waiter. He is a member of AFGE Local 1234.

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