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Zbigniew Brzezinski

Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzezinski is a Polish-American political scientist and geostrategist, who served as a counselor to President Lyndon B. Johnson from 1966–68 and was President Jimmy Carter's National Security Advisor from 1977–81. Brzezinski belongs to the realist school of international relations, standing in the geopolitical tradition of Halford Mackinder and Nicholas J. Spykman.

Born: March 28, 1928; Warsaw, Poland
Died: May 26, 2017; Falls Church, Virginia, U.S.

About Marxism

Marxism is a victory of reason over belief.

Ideological Universalism.

That is why Marxism represents a further vital and creative stage in the maturing of man's universal vision. Marxism is simultaneously a victory of the external, active man over the inner, passive man and a victory of reason over belief: it stresses man's capacity to shape his material destiny — finite and defined as man's only reality — and it postulates the absolute capacity of man to truly understand his reality as a point of departure for his active endeavors to shape it. To a greater extent than any previous mode of political thinking, Marxism puts a premium on the systematic and rigorous examination of material reality and on guides to action derived from that examination.

Though it may be argued that this intellectually rigorous method was eventually subverted by its strong component of dogmatic belief, Marxism did expand popular self-awareness by awakening the masses to an intense preoccupation with social equality and by providing them with both a historical and a moral justification for insisting upon it. More than that, Marxism represented in its time the most advanced and systematic method for analyzing the dynamic of social development, for categorizing it, and for extrapolating from it certain principles concerning social behavior. It did so in a manner that lent itself to translation into highly simplified principles that provided even the relatively uneducated with the feeling that their understanding of phenomena had been basically sharpened and that their resentments, frustrations, and vague aspirations could be channelled into historically meaningful actions.

Because of this, Marxism appealed simultaneously to man's ethical, rational, and Promethean instincts. The ethical component, sustained by man's emotions, drew on the Judaeo-Christian heritage; the rational responded to man's increased desire to comprehend the dynamic of his material environment more systematically; and the Promethean stood for "man's faith in his powers, for the notion that history is made by the people and that nothing can hem in their advance to perfection."[8]

In this sense, Marxism has served as a mechanism of human "progress," even if its practice has often fallen short of its ideals. Teilhard de Chardin notes at one point that "monstrous as it is, is not modern totalitarianism really the distortion of something magnificent, and thus quite near to the truth?"[9] Elsewhere he observes that "all the peoples, to remain human or to become more so, are inexorably led to formulate the hopes and problems of the modern earth in the very same terms in which the West has formulated them."[10] What he does not say is that for many outside the immediate influence of the West and its Christian tradition it has been Marxism that has served to stir the mind and to mobilize human energies purposefully.

Moreover, Marxism has decisively contributed to the political institutionalization and systematization of the deliberate effort to define the nature of our era and of man's relationship to history at any given stage in that history. Emphasis on this question has compelled reflection on the relative importance of different forces of change, the weighing of alternative historical interpretations, and at least the attempt at tentative judgment. Moreover, it has provoked a series of subordinate questions, all helpful in forcing recognition of change and in compelling adjustments to it: Within the given era, what particular phases can be deciphered? Is any-given phase one of international tension, of greater stability, of shifting locale of conflict, of a new set of alliances? Who are our present principal foes — subjectively and objectively? Who are now our allies? What are the sources of principal, secondary, and tertiary dangers?

Periodic, formal, purposeful examination of such questions compels systematic probing of the international scene. This is not to say that contemporary communists have always been successful in accurately perceiving the meaning of new international phenomena. Indeed, their conviction that their analytical tools provide a faultless guide to the inner meaning of things has often led them astray. Unwilling to accept the notion of the relativity and elusiveness of truth, they have elevated their inescapably partial insights into absolute dogmas and reduced complex issues to gross oversimplifications.

Nonetheless, to define communism — the institutionalized expression of Marxism — primarily as "a disease of the transition from traditional to modern status,"[11] or to assert that "Marxism is, in fact, nothing but an epiphenomenon of technical development, a phase of the painful marriage of man and technique,"[12] is to neglect what will probably remain the major contribution of Marxism: its revolutionary and broadening influence, which opened man's mind to previously ignored perspectives and dramatized previously neglected concerns. To say as much is not to ignore the subsequently enslaving effect of institutionalized Marxism — especially when in power — or its analytical inability to cope with the problems of the advanced twentieth-century world; it is to assert that in the gradual evolution of man's universal vision Marxism represents as important and progressive a stage as the appearance of nationalism and of the great religions.

[8] Kh. Momjan, The Dynamic Twentieth Century, Moscow, 1968, p. 21.
[9] Teilhard de Chardin, p. 257.
[10] Ibid, p. 211.
[11] Rostow, The Stages of Economic Growth, pp. 162-63; see also p. 158, where Marxism is described as "a system full of flaws but full also of legitimate partial insights, a great formal contribution to social science, a monstrous guide to public policy."
[12] Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society, New York, 1965, p. 290.
Zbigniew Brzezinski
Between Two Ages.
America's Role in the Technotronic Era
New York, 1971

See also



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