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Marxism and Nihilism

August 2, 2020

There is an important connection between Marxism and Nihilism that is underplayed and not without good reason. For it exposes some of the true desires of its followers. In the modern times, one of the primary motivating factors that draws someone towards Marxist views is a fear of an encroaching Nihilism. The Marxist has accepted as his basic ontological premise the materialistic understanding of human beings provided for him by a science that reduces humans to a materialistic nature of pursuing impulses, desires and wanting economic material gains for themselves. He accepts this premise and it is his first and most critical blunder. For he has fallen into the trap of envy of presuming that better material conditions of life brings greater happiness and meaning in life.

Yes, we all feel this envy at times. The neighbour with a bigger, flashier car, the person with multiple cars, a bigger house, a bigger television etc.. The problem is when this envy is projected on to the object of that envy as somehow having some sort of happier or more “privileged” life. It is a problem, because it is simply not true. More wealth does not bring more happiness in these kinds of circumstance, and it certainly does not bring more sense of meaning to ones life. Witness the growing suicide rates in more advanced countries to realise this immediately.

So, why do followers of Marxist style societal views fall into this trap? The trap comes because they have assumed an ontological view of reality as a flattened out, neutral arena. The secular, nihilistic malaise with no higher meaning in it. As a result, the only source of meaning to be found is in materialistic things. And so the only meaningful life to live is to indulge in one’s envy of the rich, covet their wealth and to pursue it as a moral mission.

It is not for nothing that envy is seen as a sin, and it is the thing that ties together an ontological nihilism followed by an adoption of marxism in a vicious circle of envy, hatred and covetousness and in a spiral expanding out of control, or burning itself out in repetitious mundanity and redundancy. The Marxist fears nihilism precisely because he has accepted it as his one true ontological premise, and the Marxism is a distraction from this fear.

If he could face the fear of nihilism head on, he may take a braver and more honourable course through life, or he may commit suicide or crimes in an ultimately self destroying process trying with futility to fill that emptiness within. Facing nihilism is a risky proposition, and Marxism is the opium for those who accept somewhere in the core of their being, the nihilist, materialist ontology, but refuse to face it down with their minds.

In this sense, the appeal and the serious dangers of this movement are brought to light. Because there is no end goal of satisfaction of meaning to be found for the Marxist. There is only a perpetual cyclical process of indulging in the sin of envy to create an illusion of some holy grail of meaning possessed by some more privileged group of people. The Marxist, for all his rhetoric, does not want to defeat the “bourgouise” or the privileged class, he wants to become one of them, only failing to realise that his displacement of his fear of nihilism will only become rekindled as soon as he does become one of them. As a result, he will look for some other perceived oppressed group to be his source of hope for an ever elusive sense of meaning.

Needless to say, meaning is never discovered, because from the beginning their ontological foundation of presumed nihilism and materialism was inherently meaningless. The only escape is a personal, spiritual struggle against the ontological premise of nihilism head on. Through this journey, the most difficult one to travel along, the limitations, and cracks in this initially fearsome looking leviathan of nihilistic despair can be seen. And glimpses of a different world can be perceived. Not a utopia, neither a dystopia, but a place where one can find joy, simply in Being.


  1. Cartman permalink

    Hi Jonathan, I used this short piece in my review of Comedians by Trevor Griffiths. You managed to hit the nail on the head regarding left wing intellectuals in a way I have never been able to. Much appreciated.

    Cartman (non de plume)

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