Toward a new leftist perspective on history
April 30th, 2016 ·
The first iteration this morning is flawed and the correction will come online this weekend, but the basic point (you can also use the full online edition) is to offer marxists something better than historical materialism as an historical theory. A lot of people are hoping this book will disappear, but with Kindle a book is probably in existence for good, famous last words…
Marxists are confused about history and hopelessly stubborn here, but the issue is simple. As a theory histomat fails, despite its rough cogency. That means that if you pitch historical materialism as a critique of capitalism, the critique is false, as even second rate sociologists can quite easily point out. How did marxism get stuck here? Again, rough cogency would have been enough. But the purpose of theory was to attempt, in nineteenth century naivete, to force the issue with skeptics: this is science, so you have
no choice, etc…
It isn’t true because base and superstructure don’t connect in the way claimed. A much simpler and more practical view is much more useful: societies are complex wholes and economies are only one aspect of their function.
Let me repeat that: if you propose marxist core thinking, capitalist critics will simply say the theory is false. Period. Ditch the theory and focus on the empirical descriptive approach of exposing class, ideology, and economic theoretical illusion. Leave the burden of false theories on the capitalists, and they are vulnerable.
We cannot solve the problem of theoretical history so easily, and WHEE shows why, and offers a simpler approach, although the book is a bit daunting and tackles darwinism which will make it out of the question for the secular crowd which has been so brainwashed by darwinism even marxists are cripples here. Five minutes with an ID critic might help to get squared away here, but they are beyond the pale, even if we set aside their ‘design’ logic. It has nothing to do with religion. Or something like Soren Lovtrup (many selections on this blog) who protested the fraud of darwinism decades ago, along with many others. But we are stuck in a strange situation, where established brainies like physicists either lie or are confused about evolution. Marxists aren’t far behind.
Checkmate for marxists: they assume a theory of evolution that is easily shown to be false, and game over.
WHEE offers a way to hedge out of this morass: an empirical study of a system of evidence with many suggestive properties. We don’t have to adopt either its full perspective or its incipient ‘non theory’ to have a rough outline that shows a clear dynamic taken as a rough bird’s eye view. It is enough to rewrite the basic thrust of Marx/Engels without the positivist quicksand they fell into. And you must include free agency in the account. And stay away from dialectic. Dialectic is used to create a theory of revolution. False. Checkmate. Game over.
Here the construct is meta-economic. That means people create economies and people can unmake them. No economic determination is needed as theory.
WHEE is unfortunately too exotic for most in the science field, but their failure is clear here. It cannot be used to ‘refute’ such a simple approach (which rapidly gets a little complicated with some conjectures in the form of a model. It contains its own definition of ‘evolution’ with a simple and elegant deduction of
a basic model. Because the model is a glove over a data set its value and limitations are apparent.
The value here is not the model necessarily, but a rough outline of world history, a way to point to a possible dynamic without a theory, a place for free agency, a much better approach to economics/revolutions, and a larger humanistic perspective. Marxists have forgotten the earlier attempts by Kantian ethical socialists at the end of the nineteenth century to rescue marxism from its core idiocy. Instead we got a whole crowd of knuckleheads like Plekhanov and the endless muddle of classic marxism with its full complement of dialectical moonshine.
There is a simple way out of this mess, and a rough subset of the too vast WHEE could make a good way to do historical ‘theory’ without theory. WHEE is a little outlandish, but its basic framework is simply a description, not a causal theory.
As for darwinism, why not just be agnostic? Over and out. We see evolution as a fact in deep time, but
we don’t really see its mechanisms.
Let me repeat my basic point: marxists come on as, we are profound, and smart, look at this theory called historical materialism, the result of someone very smart working for years.
Make your pitch, and anyone with a freshman level of theory can simply call your main spiel false.
Period. And Marx suffered writer’s block for fifteen years because he couldn’t get the theory to work. He
finished grew exhausted and gave up, and left the pile of papers to Engels to sort out.
The earlier era of the 40’s and the humanistic Marx/Engels is more useful and a good legacy (although the German Ideology began the confusion of historical materialist theory).