Blending Kierkegaard with Hegel and Marx, Martin Hägglund’s This Life offers a new generation of socialists a guide to living a life of radical political commitment.
Source: How to Be a Marxist
We suggested yesterday the need to dissolve and reformulate the marxist perspective. This book takes a related idea in its own direction with an interesting but skewed balance of issues and conceptual sources.
The generation of Hegel and after has confused the whole marxist legacy. Spirit was banished and a historical materialism that was too reductionist took its place but now the impulse to revise marxism reintroduces ‘spirit’ and ‘enter Kierkegaard’ to ensure a Trojan horse for Jesus Christ, theology and finally the pope will demand a piece of the action.
Marxists miscast their attempt to rescue socialism from religion. We have discussed this issue many times, and also in relation to the sufi J.G.Bennett who used the universal materialism of Samkhya to create an extended materialist cosmology that is universal and able to dispense with the Hegelian mysticism, and its marxist counterscientism. Neither Hegel nor Marx was able to produce a true human psychology. Schopenhauer next to Kant comes close in the way he introduces the factor of will in nature as a construct that resembles Kant’s noumenon, phenomenon. The later shows the escape from false dualities of the spiritual and the material. He is close to Bennett who considers a triad of ‘being, function, will’ that resolves most of the dualistic confusions that haunt most philosophy. These people weren’t radicals and we can see that Marx ended up negating a vast realm of philosophy to fight rightist perspectives. It didn’t work and yielded the right virtually the whole of philosophy while the left ended up with materialist saltine crackers.
The point here is that the radical Samkhya shows in principle the solution to the marxist problematic and it would be easy to create a postmarxist version, and since this was ‘left’ in the primordial world of Indian yoga the ripoff from the right can be disregarded and returned to its rightful context. The issue of Hegel is easily solved: he is like chocolate cake in a side dish. Or else, in another metaphor, his construct is a kind of philosophic disneyland with some cogent insights. Enter and explore but be wary of pilfering. Marx tried to pilfer the ‘dialectic’ with disastrous results. We can appreciate Hegel’s unique place, but need to include his background in Kant and Plato. Hegel is so elusive he confused a whole generation and figures like Marx finally said, enough. But complete reversals often fail. In another metaphor Hegel is some kind of bald eagle on a mountain crag. Admire from afar but don’t try a hand shake.
As for materialism in Samkhya, if you use the term ‘god’ he can be weighed and measured. Seven levels of material/triadic reality cascade in a series of complexifications of 1, 3, 6, 12, 24, 48, 96 ‘cosmic laws’ or dialectical triads. We don’t have to believe in such a scheme but as a theoretical mock up it liberates from the hopeless muddle of materialism competing with ‘spiritual’ fictions.
In any case Marx liberated, almost, marxism from Hegel once: there is no need to go backwards. But reductionist scientism, darwnism, and psychological behaviorism next to economic theories of stages of history is hardly an advance over anything.
Notes, the original post here: To me after studying the eonic effect the question of Hegel and Kierkegaard in relation to Marx is simply one more gust in the storm of philosophy at the end of the eighteenth century and the massive complex constellations of culture/philosophy that confront the left and its cadres misfocused on a too narrow range of subjects. Why be an existentialist if you can be also an essentialist for twice the payoff? For some reason marxists reject Hegel but can never get past him, never read Plato, Kant, Schopenhauer, waste their own everyone’s time with a useless war of materialism against idealism, and end up in the realm of historical materialism’s sterile dead end. Trying to find some way past this deadlock is the understandable strategy of this interesting book, but the task is hopeless in the way and means sought to resolve the problem. Confronting Hegel with Kierkegaard invokes a classic quarrel and the result cancels out with the question of christianity lurking in the background (next to a similar quarrel between Schopenhauer and Hegel).
Not a single marxist has ever really understood Hegel, so why not set him aside into a larger field of study. A study of the eonic effect suddenly forces confrontation with a stupendous vastness in world history of entities requiring study:
the basic field consists to start of the cultural/literature context of Sumer, Egypt, the the parallel fields of the Axial Age: classical Greece, Israel/Persia, India/China, then the whole field of modernity from 1500 to 1800+. That’s already hundreds of study entities where the typical leftist thin soup is quotes from Marx, some economic non-sequiturs, and among the brave a tiptoe into Hegel, there to be scalped in the contradictions of nature and spirit, and/or nature and no spirit.
We can’t repair marxism with a little Hegel and Kierkegaard. And we don’t need a new philosophic dogma to proceed.
Our larger project solves the problem at once and enforces a robust balance of contradictions.
We can resolve the problems with marxism by moving past its abstractions into the practical task of creating a postcapitalist social system. We have issued our ‘democratic market neo-communism’ as a model for achieving this: it is designed in a way that will simply realize Marx’s vision in its own way without Marx/s crippled system and its fringe swamp, e.g. Hegel.