Wednesday, 25 April 2012

The Zen Marxism Proposal

The Zen Marxist thesis, adequately expressed in an article, was originally conceived as a book. This was a proposal to publishers.

Many people in Western countries seek an alternative to established ideas and life-styles. Two main alternatives considered are:

(1) Eastern spirituality, yoga and meditation;
radical political ideas, especially those associated with Karl Marx.

It is widely thought, first, that these Eastern and Marxist alternatives are mutually incompatible and, secondly, that Marxism has been refuted by recent events in Eastern Europe. I argue against both these assumptions and for the following propositions:

(1) Zen meditation is psychologically or “spiritually” beneficial and need not presuppose supernaturalist beliefs;
Marxism is a culmination of European science and philosophy although it is not usually recognized as such because it challenges present social arrangements;
Marxist practice offers a way of resolving current social inequities and conflicts;
it is not only logically coherent but also positively beneficial for any individuals who want to do so to practice both Zen meditation and Marxist politics although it is neither necessary nor appropriate to launch a new organization on this basis – I advocate involvement in already existing Zen groups and Socialist organizations;
such “Zen Marxist” practice would constitute a genuine, concrete East-West synthesis as opposed to more abstract aspirations towards a meeting of the minds of East and West.

A book on this theme might appeal to:

(1) the “left”, in its widest sense, many of whom would probably want to refute it though for different reasons;
the public that reads about and/or practices forms of meditation;
those who feel that human problems demand some kind of new or alternative response;
anyone interested in considering a specific and concrete proposal for East-West synthesis;
those in academic institutions or elsewhere who value summaries and attempted clarifications of specifically philosophical issues.

Since, as far as I know, nothing else has been published on precisely this theme, I feel that Zen Marxism meets a need, addresses a major issue and could, possibly, initiate an important debate.

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