Marxism through the Eyes of Gide

The word Marxism seem to be batted around a lot these days. I guess the word is in vogue with folks of a particular political predisposition. So I was a bit intrigued when I came a cross this snippet about French author and Nobel Prize winner André Gide:
During the 1930s, he briefly became a communist, or more precisely, a fellow traveler (he never formally joined the Communist Party). As a distinguished writer sympathizing with the cause of communism, he was invited to tour the Soviet Union as a guest of the Soviet Union of Writers. The tour disillusioned him and he subsequently became quite critical of Soviet Communism. This criticism of Communism caused him to lose socialist friends, especially when he made a clean break with it in Retour de L'U.R.S.S. in 1936.
He is quoted this way before his visit..
My faith in communism is like my faith in religion: it is a promise of salvation for mankind. If I have to lay my life down that it may succeed, I would do so without hesitation
..and this what he said after his visit to the Soviet Union:
It is impermissible under any circumstances for morals to sink as low as communism has done. No one can begin to imagine the tragedy of humanity, of morality, of religion and of freedoms in the land of communism, where man has been debased beyond belief.
It struck me how Gide embraced an ideology before he really understood it. Also struck me how he was disillusioned when he saw how that that ideology affected humanity.

I wonder how many people who, like Gide did, speak about Marxism without really understanding what it means to live in a Marxist country. I wonder if those folks would use Marxism the way that they do if they saw Marxism through the eyes of Gide after he visited the Soviet Union? Would they be quick to use the word if they were transported in time from Communist Russia in the 1930s to present day America?

I guess it might just be a matter of perspective? What do you think?


  1. I think we are seeing millions of Gide's right now ready to express themselves on 11/2. I think Orwell had a similar experience.

  2. Is Marxism and Communism the same? I always thought Marxism was a theory of economics and Communism one application of the theory? I'm not well versed though, just started becoming interested in it.

  3. @jrchaard - Doubt that many are seeing what Gide saw but I do understand what you are saying. I think that 11/2 will be more of an expression of frustration than one experienced by Gide.

    @Missy - I think that you are right. Communism is probably Marxism taken to an extreme. Some feel that social programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the new healthcare program are tamer forms of Marxism. They may be but I think that to call them such is to unfairly equate them to the extremes of Marxism. I do not see our country embracing Marxism.

  4. Our government now consists void of God. The bigger it is, the more oppressive it is. It is every bit as much as marxism, aside from its totality. If we think of it lesser, we are libel to wake up one day in a prison.

  5. @jrchaard - At what point do you feel that our government became "every bit as much as marxism"? If I am understanding you correctly, you might say that Marxism in America started almost 100 years ago when the federal income tax was enacted. If that is the case why are people using it these days and not in the past? Is it simply political rhetoric used by people who do not like the current administration? Do you think that people will be using the term if a conservative gets elected in a few years? It seems that the term Marxist could have been used when Reagan was the prez but it was not. Wonder why?


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