Engels and human control of history…6.5.2 Theory and Ideology: Out of Revolution
December 29, 2018
A passage from World History and the Eonic Effect with a classic statement from Engels about man taking control of his own history. Unfortunately the marxist corpus taken as science is not sufficient for the task! The problem is immense! And economic history is only a subsidiary stream inside a larger dynamic.
A close look at the eonic effect will give us a hint of the nature of the problem. Something almost intangible lurks in the background and this both resembles a mechanical dynamism yet also encompasses the realm of ideas. What to do if the ‘eonic system’ processes ideologies? Marx very rightly castigated theories that are really ideologies, in the realm of economics, but his own theory suffered the problem for the obvious reason that his claim is that history will process the ideologies of capitalism/communism. As we examine the eonic effect over world history we see that associated with the eonic dynamism are every ideological process under the sun: philosophies, art, religion, even on the development of science…The search for a value
free science is thus vexed. The scale of the problem pointed to by Engels is so vast that we land in the realm of terraforming, it seems. We must envision a new form of science that far outstrips the mechanical lawfulness resolved in physics.
6.5.2 Theory and Ideology: Out of Revolution
It is ironic that we only begin to observe the eonic effect as we exit its period of action, and as we pull away from the modern transition we are left to wonder if we are at the end of a major evolutionary interval, or whether once again we will fall into the confusions of the post-Axial period with its decline from creativity and advance. It seems that our observation of the phenomenon signals the end of its returns and that we are left to the realization of our evolved freedom in a future of our own creation.
We are left with a sense of wonder, and the realization of the operation of a larger dynamic, even as we witness a rebirth of freedom in its wake. This double birth of democracy in an exact timing is eerie in its strange precision in the silence of the ages, and a clue to the reality of directional evolution. And, having evolved toward freedom, we must wonder if we will witness once again the cycles of decline and fall, as if in a
recurrence of Roman libertas proceeding to Roman imperium. In fact, the ironic aspect of our eonic pattern is that we become aware of it only as its action concludes, and we enter
a new future where our evolving freedom passes into our own potential, and we are left with the existential sense of our aloneness as we grapple with a mystery that is incompletely known to us.
As we contemplate the future of our own freedom we are left with the paradoxes of slow and fast evolution, and of revolutionary action, whose basic question is, how do we bring about historical change. This is a moment worthy of the comment of Engels, stripped of its capitalist versus socialist trappings:
The objective, external forces which have hitherto dominated history will then
pass under control of men themselves. It is only from this point that men, with full consciousness, will fashion their own history; it is only at this point that the social causes set in motion by men will have, predominantly and in constantly
increasing measure, the effects willed by men. It is humanity’s leap from the realm of necessity to the realm of freedom.
Engels’ language on paper is perfect, in light of our thesis, but the reality that we observe in the progression of civilizations is something vastly more complex than historical materialism can explain. And the attempt by Marx to create a theory of revolutions after the example of the French Revolution and Hegelian dialectic is unsound. The importance of their commentary lies in the way they pointed out the contraction of meaning in the idea of freedom around economic freedom, in the sense of the elite manipulation of economies. It is remarkable this ‘second opinion’ rushed into the fray, but unfortunately the critique was flawed.
The ambiguity of ‘revolution’ We can see that as we exit the eonic sequence we will be driven to either go into decline or conceive some substitute for the eonic transitions visible behind us. The concoctions of spurious revolutionary theory in Marx and Engels are the perfect example. With a better sense of the vastness of the eonic dynamic we can remain less naïve about the transformation of whole civilization. The eonic effect shows us ‘revolutions’ done right!