Sunday, April 6, 2008

Marxism and intelligence

Further to Cheeta's comment on my previous blog "Communists and freedom", about the distinction between communists and Communists, I was reminded of the late D.D. Kosambi (a colourful personality who was a TIFR mathematics professor as well as a historian). He is said to have opened a book review with the eloquent phrase: "Marxism is not a substitute for intelligence". Indeed he was a remarkably intelligent man and also a Marxist - and I didn't find anything in his writings that suggested he supports tyranny. So presumably he was a good example of a lower-case "communist".

It's depressing when people pervert the spirit and sense of the teachings they claim to follow, but Communists would hardly be the first ones to do so. Hindutva-vadis, Christian fundamentalists and Islamists frequently pervert the meaning of their religions. As a Hindu myself, I'm happy to say that I admire many of the concepts of my religion but would not like to be associated in any way with the bunch of loonies who currently claim to follow or interpret it.

This leads me to a direction that I've wanted to write (and think) about for a long time. Why are we so centred on people and their statements instead of going directly to issues? Journalists will keep writing about what this or that preacher says, but will rarely bother to ask what is the essence of the corresponding religion. As a much better example, consider how much has been written about Einstein and how few people have made the tiniest effort to understand anything at all about the special theory of relativity!

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