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November 27, 2005

Marxist guilt

Filed under: Terminology — Admin @ 11:08 am

Marxist guilt is the feeling of remorse, sin, or wrongdoing that relates to one’s acquisition or management of wealth; particularly when this capital-formation has occurred at the expense of others. It typically refers to the feeling of “sin” that some “haves” may feel when they compare themselves to the “have-nots”.

The “haves” atone for this Marxist guilt by contributing towards the welfare of the “have-nots”, adopting the role of “benevolent givers”. The benevolence of Alfred Nobel, Henry Ford, Bill Gates and many others, can be viewed from this angle. However, such benevolence may also have another motive, such as the desire to be perceived as “benevolent givers”. It may be an attempt to manipulate public opinion in their favour. Tax-saving can be another purpose behind some philanthropic ventures. However, the possibility of impression management and other motives does not entirely rule out the element of Marxist guilt as a variable.

Marxist guilt may be considered to operate in at least a part of our national psyche particularly in the psyche of the “haves”. One does not wish to trivialise in any manner whatsoever, the noble gestures of individuals and organisations in this context, nor to belittle the sacrifices involved. The “haves” are under no obligation to contribute towards the welfare of the victims of earthquake and their doing so reflects the nobility of the intention. These gestures need to be lauded and emulated.

The Marxist guilt model is invoked as a possible explanation of some financial contributions. It does not belittle or trivialise these contributions in any way whatsoever.

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