Much conservative writing about communism being published today amounts to little more than nostalgia reading. It seems that every year we see yet another of the endless line of books dealing with either the Red Era in Hollywood or the glories of Joe McCarthy. The purpose of these appears to be to generate feeling of comfort on looking back at an era in which men were men, commies were commies, and J. Edgar… Well, we’ll overlook what he was doing.
The problem is that this stuff, pleasant though it may be, tends to push out work that deals with aspects of communist theory and practice that have an actual impact on the current situation. Too few conservatives are adequately informed about these matters. Not many could define the Iron Law of Wages, surplus value, or, in particular, “heightening the contradictions.”
Heightening the contradictions… that sounds pretty harmless. But in fact, it is the most important element of Marxist thinking as applies to things as they are in the opening decades of the third millennium. Heightening, or enhancing, or exploiting the contradictions is the concept used to push every last political and social program of the modern Left.
How often does the Left come up with ideas that, on the face of it, appear absurd, irrational, or utterly insane? The answer, is, of course, all the time. The general response is bewilderment or incomprehension – a shrug and an assertion that “those lefties are crazy.”
But in truth, they’re no such thing. There’s nothing irrational about it. It’s all part of the program.
The concept comes directly out of Marx. Capitalism, according to Marx, is filled with contradictions, all of which guarantee its eventual failure. One example is the belief that capitalists, seeking every greater profits, will increase the “immiseration” of the working class, which will in turn encourage “revolutionary consciousness,” leading to the downfall of the capitalist system. This leads to the idea of “heightening he contradictions” – encouraging matters so as to bring about the emergence of the glorious worker’s paradise even sooner. This involves activities – both propaganda and direct action – that increase anxiety and dissatisfaction among the workers while generating isolation, fear, and doubt in the targeted classes.
This concept has been dealt with in detail by numerous Marxists, including Lenin, Mao, and Rosa Luxemburg, to mention just a few. Following the master, communist-era Marxists largely confined the concept to economic matters. Expanding it to the social sphere was an American contribution. Appealing to American workers on an economic basis was hopeless – they were the best-paid laboring class in the world, largely content with things as they were. But there were other apparent schisms in the American social structure that might be open to exploitation.