Simon Duffy

Thoughts, Bemusements & Arguments

Date: 7th July 2012

You Can’t Overcome Ethics

In what sense do we repudiate ethics and morality? In the sense that it is preached by the bourgeoise, who derived ethics from God’s commandments. […] We repudiate all morality derived from non-human and non-class concepts. […] We say that our morality is entirely subordinated to the interests of the class struggle of the proletariat. Our morality is derived from the interests of the class struggle of the proletariat […] for the Communist, morality lies entirely in this compact, united discipline and conscious mass struggle against all exploiters. We do not believe in an eternal morality, and we expose all the fables about morality.

Lenin

And the perfect response to this powerful and emotional nonsense is given by Shostakovich:

Don’t believe humanists, citizens, don’t believe prophets, don’t believe luminaries – they’ll fool you for a penny. Do your own work, don’t hurt people, try to help them. Don’t try to save humanity all at once, try saving one person first. It’s a lot harder. To help one person without harming another is very difficult. It’s unbelievably difficult. That’s where the temptation to save all of humanity comes from. And then, inevitably, along the way, you discover that all humanity’s happiness hinges on the destruction of a few hundred million people, that’s all. A trifle. Nothing but nonsense in the world, Nikolai Vasilyevich Gogol once said. It’s that nonsense I try to depict.

From Testimony

Lenin follows the logic of Marxism. The underlying logic of all Marx’s writings is a powerful moral revulsion at crime, injustice and oppression. But he allows himself to be lost in imagined historical forces, necessities and mass movements. In the end his moral vision is fatally corrupted and becomes a tool for the worst of dictators, for the worst elements in all of us.

We must never lose a sense of our own individual moral responsibility – if we do we stop being human.

The Paradoxical Commandments

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

[© Copyright Kent M. Keith 1968, renewed 2001]

I came across these words in the brilliant song “Anyway” by Maggie and Suzzy Roche – although they don’t credit the author who (with a little investigation) turns out to be Dr Keith M Keith. I find them inspiring and helpful – especially on those days when you are feeling a little ‘misunderstood’ or hurt.

The song “Anyway” does not use the words of all of the Paradoxical Commandments – but it contains an additional and lovely final verse:

You see, in the final analysis,
it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway

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