Why Cruz Mentioning “Bolsheviks and Mensheviks” Is Relevant
In the third presidential debate in Bolder, Colorado, Sen. Ted Cruz compared Hillary Clinton to Bolsheviks. Bolsheviks (Russian: “bolshoi” = “of the majority”) were the mainstream communists who arose as the Social Democratic Party of Russia at the turn of the 20th century. Subsequently, when the inner party struggle began about how to change the system, whether by a violent revolution or a natural transition, the Bolsheviks changed their name to the Communist Party (of Soviet Union), because their end was immediate socialism (ultimately communism) achieved by a revolution (October 1917).
Mensheviks, although Orthodox Marxists, were a minority (Russian: “menshoi” = “smaller”).
Sen. Cruz compared Sanders to Mensheviks because 1) Sanders is more orthodox than Clinton, and 2) Sanders believes in a gradual change from within (Alinsky’s strategy). Mensheviks believed that socialism could not be achieved in Russia due to its economic backwardness and that Russia would first have to go through a “capitalist stage” of development.
During my junior high school years, we were indoctrinated into the idea of communism as the final, most wonderful stage of social development: Lenin was a genius because he made it happen! Marx was a genius because he materialized Hegel’s theoretical dialectic and phenomenology, or knowledge of the “spirit/idea” rather than simply material conditions. Hegel had revolted against Descartes, Hume, Locke, Kant – the philosophers of epistemological approach, who are indirect authors of our Bill of Rights (they preceded Hegel and our Founding Fathers built on them). They also follow the line of strict moral education and family values based on duty, obligation, and punishment for failure. As a result of Hegelian-Marxist influence and political correctness, this moral credo has become increasing blurred in our society.
Hegel, however, did not discard it or oppose it without justification. In fact, he built his philosophy on it. Hegel’s “historical materialism” consists of the interpretation of the “historical materialist struggle” as the projection of the master-slave mentality, which is to say the mentality of the feudal lords and their vassals (by close analogy also applicable to the system of American slave labor). To see it as a struggle of the “haves” against the “have-nots” (as Alinsky did a century later) is a gross simplification of what Hegel had in mind.
Hegel’s philosophical breakthrough is sometimes referred to as a “mythical encounter” of two conscious beings who, in order to absorb the other’s consciousness, must be self-conscious first. The ultimate goal here is that of merging conscious beings. Modern-day socialists translated this into the sphere of community organizing, seeing that even the self-conscious Bolsheviks had to merge with the Mensheviks in order to achieve their common ultimate goal. In Hegelian language, this goal would be defined as uniting individuals into a crowd of followers of a certain idea (“phenomenon”). This is what Sanders did when he passed the torch to Clinton in the last Democrat debate, thus uniting the two factions of the Party.
The problem of factions is a perennial problem of every political system. It is unfortunate when the factions are destructive of the system itself, if they want to overthrow the “regime” or cause a “revolution.” Revolution is not a good thing because life does not develop in sudden changes. We survive because we adapt. To adapt, we need time.
Nevertheless, there will always be uprisings. Our country was born in the wake of one: Shay’s rebellion in 1787 was a revolt against centralized power as well as cronyism and politicians’ inattentiveness to the needs of their people. It called for change in the Articles of Confederation and significantly affected the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia that year.
Uprisings and rebellions flourish in the environment of dissatisfaction, poverty and poor economic conditions – which is to say, after wars. Every revolution is also followed by a short period of euphoria after which the “low” sets in–aha, life is life and grass is always greener on the other side. Uprisings are created by factions, people united behind a common purpose, adverse to the currently prevailing system.
Madison (in Federalist 10) based his argument on the fact that the United States will be a large country governed by representative democracy. Only in the direct democracy can factions prevail, says Madison. Our political system has thus built-in precautions against being overtaken by a faction. A combination of direct and representative vote (Congress is voted directly, Presidential elections consist of popular and electorate votes), the system of checks and balances (adopted from Montesquieu) and Constitutional emphasis on the rights for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (taken from Locke, who emphasizes that happiness is derived from property acquired by labor).
Clearly, the change from “property” to “happiness” is not insignificant, in particular in view of the fact that factions are product of economic inequality. The aim, however, is not equality but justice. Justice, equality, and fairness are completely different notions and must never be equated. What is identical is the ultimate goal – envisioned by Madison, adopted by Locke, based on the philosophers of Scottish Enlightenment, mainly Shaftesbury and Hutcheson (Chair of Moral Philosophy at the University of Glasgow during Ben Franklin’s formative years) – which is the goal of achieving the maximum general welfare.
It is no secret that Hutcheson foreshadowed Jeremy Bentham and J.S. Mill and that the argument of general welfare forms an indelible part of our legal system today, only we call it “public policy.” In law school, students are told: always argue public policy. A faction revolting against the system would have them argue “politics” instead, because once the faction is formed, the individual value (the value of each individual in the crowd) dissipates and their self-identity vanishes, is given over to the ideal of the faction, be it a symbol, icon, ultimate goal in the form of revolt or revolution.
The problem with factions is fundamentally ethical and moral. All our actions are based on self-interest and self-love. Without self-interest and self-love we can neither interest the others nor love another, because we are emotionally empty. Only an emotionally fulfilled person can be moral. When an individual gives away his or her identity, passes it onto a crowd, their individual self-consciousness is minimized, negated, abolished. Their self-love is taken away along with their self-consciousness, which becomes (in Hegelian terms) a mere “phenomenon” – a “geist” or spirit used by Marxists to further the interests of the crowd.
It is not coincidental that Sanders broils against capitalist evils, mentioning the “ethical and moral immorality” of gains of the “one percent” where 99% are suffering. He chose the symbol of Wall Street as the enemy and rallied his faction behind it. The shield has been passed on to Mrs. Clinton in the last Democrat debate. Thus, as of today, the Hillary and the Sanders factions stand united to take down the enemy.
In 1969, Hillary Rodham spent one year interviewing Saul Alinsky and wrote a 92-page senior thesis on him. In 1993, White House requested that the thesis be sealed. Only a few facts are available, indicating that she was not in full agreement with Alinsky at the time it was written because Alinsky’s “power/conflict model” was “inapplicable” and “anachronistic.” She must have conducted serious Marxist-Leninist research into the subject to receive an “A” and be widely praised for the thesis by her professors. Nonetheless, we may only surmise at what she thinks about the subject now. Cruz’s remark about Bolsheviks and Mensheviks may have rung a bell…
For us, it is important to realize that this fairly innocuous “by the way” allusion has historical implications which date back almost exactly 100 years. Only now, it is the United States, not Soviet Union, which faces the dangers of factions. I have no doubt that our system, the strongest in the world, built on minds that preceded and still overshadow such great philosophers as Hegel, Husserl, and Marx, will only become stronger by going through a crisis. Let us not forget that Russia was a feudal country ruled by a Czar, drowning in corruption, without any Bill of Rights or written Constitution at the time of its collapse… Nonetheless, thank you, Senator Cruz, for reminding us of history. It is never too late to learn more and become better!