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György Lukács

Gyorgy Lukacs was a Hungarian philosopher, Marxist. He was a Hungarian aristocrat, son of one of the Habsburg Empire's leading bankers.

Born: 13 April 1885;  Budapest, Austria-Hungary
Died: 4 June 1971 (aged 86); Budapest, Hungary

Gyorgy Lukacs was the founder of Western Marxism. He developed the theory of reification, and contributed to Marxist theory with developments of the class consciousness theory by Karl Marx.

Lukacs was the Hungarian Minister of Culture of the government of the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic (March–August 1919).

Bringing Bolshevism to the West would have to be "demonic"

Lukacs identified that any political movement capable of bringing Bolshevism to the West would have to be, in his words, "demonic"; it would have to "possess the religious power which is capable of filling the entire soul; a power that characterized primitive Christianity." However, Lukacs suggested, such a "messianic" political movement could only succeed when the individual believes that his or her actions are determined by "not a personal destiny, but the destiny of the community" in a world "that has been abandoned by God."

Bolshevism worked in Russia because that nation was dominated by a peculiar gnostic form of Christianty typified by the writings of Fyodor Dostoevsky. "The model for the new man is Alyosha Karamazov," said Lukacs, referring to the Dostoevsky character who willingly gave over his personal identity to a holy man, and thus ceased to be "unique, pure, and therefore abstract."

This abandonment of the soul's uniqueness also solves the problem of "the diabolic forces lurking in all violence" which must be unleashed in order to create a revolution. In this context, Lukacs cited the Grand Inquisitor section of Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, noting that the Inquisitor who is interrogating Jesus, has resolved the issue of good and evil: once man has understood his alienation from God, then any act in the service of the "destiny of the community" is justified; such an act can be "neither crime nor madness…. For crime and madness are objectifications of transcendental homelessness."

According to an eyewitness, during meetings of the Hungarian Soviet leadership in 1919 to draw up lists for the firing squad, Lukacs would often quote the Grand Inquisitor: "And we who, for their happiness, have taken their sins upon ourselves, we stand before you and say, 'Judge us if you can and if you dare.'"

Michael Minnicino
The New Dark Age: The Frankfurt School and ‘Political Correctness’

What differentiated the West from Russia

What differentiated the West from Russia, Lukacs identified, was a Judeo-Christian cultural matrix which emphasized exactly the uniqueness and sacredness of the individual which Lukacs abjured. At its core, the dominant Western ideology maintained that the individual, through the exercise of his or her reason, could discern the Divine Will in an unmediated relationship. What was worse, from Lukacs' standpoint: this reasonable relationship necessarily implied that the individual could and should change the physical universe in pursuit of the Good; that Man should have dominion over Nature, as stated in the Biblical injunction in Genesis. The problem was, that as long as the individual had the belief — or even the hope of the belief — that his or her divine spark of reason could solve the problems facing society, then that society would never reach the state of hopelessness and alienation which Lukacs recognized as the necessary prerequisite for socialist revolution.

The task of the Frankfurt School, then, was first, to undermine the Judeo-Christian legacy through an "abolition of culture" (Aufhebung der Kultur in Lukacs' German); and, second, to determine new cultural forms which would increase the alienation of the population, thus creating a "new barbarism."

Michael Minnicino
The New Dark Age: The Frankfurt School and ‘Political Correctness’

The essence of revolution is totality, entireness

According to György Lukács, for the Bolsheviks the revolution was a religion and a philosophy, and not just a struggle.

Lukatch, whom we have already quoted, a Hungarian, and the most interesting and philosophically cultured of communist writers, who writes in German and displays great acuteness of mind, makes an original, and, in my opinion, a true judgment about revolution. Revolution is certainly not determined by the radical nature of its objects nor even by the character of the means employed in the struggle. The essence of revolution is totality, entireness, in relation to every act of life. The revolutionary is one who in every act he performs relates it to the community as a whole, and subordinates it to the central and complete idea. For the revolutionary there are no separate spheres; he tolerates no division of life into parts, nor will he admit any autonomy of thought in relation to action or autonomy of action in relation to thought. The revolutionary has an integrated world-view in which theory and practice organically coalesce. Entirety in everything — that is the basic principle of the revolutionary attitude to life. Critical Marxism might have the same ultimate ideals as the Marxism which was revolutionary, and consider itself orthodox, but it recognized separate autonomous spheres in life; it did not affirm totalitarian entirety. One might, for instance, be a Marxist in the social sphere, but not a materialist; one might be even an idealist. One might criticize this or that side of the Marxist worldview. Marxism in that case ceased to be an entire totalitarian doctrine; it became a method of cognition in social matters and of carrying on the social conflict. This is the opposite of revolutionary totalitarianism. Russian revolutionaries in the past, also, had always been totalitarian. To them revolution was a religion and a philosophy, not merely a conflict concerned with the social and political side of life. And Russian Marxism had to work itself out, to fit in with that revolutionary type and that revolutionary totalitarian instinct. That is the meaning of Lenin and bolshevism. Bolshevism also defined itself as the only orthodox, i.e. totalitarian integral Marxism, which refused to tolerate the breaking up of the Marxist worldview into fragments and the adoption only of separate parts of it.

Nikolai Berdyaev
The Origin of Russian Communism [pdf]

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