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Roger Scruton on Newspeak and the manipulation of language

Most leftist activists aligned themselves with different interpretations of Marxism (Trotskyist, Maoism among others). By the 1960s, after the Russians crushed the Hungarian uprising in 1956, New Left ideas began to modify their Marxist vision. For an explanation of the fundamentals of New Left thinking, so important to the growing hegemony of the left, I will draw on philosopher Roger Scruton’s work. Before doing so, I want to cover the basics of classical Marxism to put the developments into context.

The core of Marxist theory is that any society is made up of an economic base (the forces of production and production relations) and a superstructure of laws, government, conventions, customs, art and so on. The base determines the superstructure of government. The economic base is not static. According to Marx’s key concept of dialectical materialism, a society will experience a clash of classes between those in power and those exploited. The clash will result in a new economic order and a new superstructure determined by that order. This is the working out of the dialectic process. The clash of classes will go onto until classes cease to exist, and people live in a socialist paradise where the alienation of the worker from his essence as a human person will dissolve. Marx claimed we are at this time in the final phase of the clash of classes: capitalists (the exploiters) with the proletariat or workers (the exploited).

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