James Scott’s “Seeing Like a State” indicts the Bolsheviks as premier examples of “authoritarian high-modernism”. As an anarchist, I thought he might have cited as counter-examples Bakunin, Kropotkin or (more relevant for the time period) Emma Goldman. Instead he chose the Marxists Rosa Luxembourg* and Alexandra Kollontai as the Jane Jacobses of communism. The former has her minor celebrity, but I had never heard of the latter before and didn’t give it a second thought until Ilya Somin indirectly led me to wikipedia’s page on left-wing uprisings against the Bolsheviks. It is ironic that the “Workers Opposition” is included there as they not only did not participate in any uprising, but encouraged the crushing of infantile left-deviationist rebels and took official positions in the Soviet government. A rather round about way of getting to the title of this post. Kollontai is apparently the source for the famous quote “the satisfaction of one’s sexual desires should be as simple as getting a glass of water”, but what she actually said was “sexuality is a human instinct as natural as hunger or thirst”. The former is the sort of insane New Soviet Man ravings that righties are apt to swallow whole, the latter is sensible enough that even St. Augustine may have agreed. I’ll leave aside her other beliefs, but that is quite the misquote.
*Bryan Caplan thinks Rosa Luxembourg has an undeservedly high reputation among historians. I’m sure Keith Preston disagrees with his view of Gustav Landauer.

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