Leftists unfamiliar with the history of nineteenth century thought often take historical materialism at face value, and the history of Marx’s thinking here is complicated. But that intellectual milieu was immensely complicated and very diverse. Yet in the end the marxists took up the most narrow, reductionist form of scientism and castigated all else as class ideology. The early modern from the Reformation to the Enlightenment virtually disappered into the canon of mentally challenged marxist cultists.
In many ways we should simply free ourselves from the whole legacy and try to construct our own formulation. Marxists are adamant in trying to convert the world to the contracted sphere of historical materialism, fanatical anti-idealism and a philosophy made of ‘stages of production’ theory which is wretched theory based on an emprical history that is totally amateurish for a man of Marx’s acumen. The whole canon has been rendered useless in the way it would impose its peculiarities of theory on a now indifferent public.
The question of socialism is far broader than the dogmatic narrowness that Marx brought to the subject. Marx made a kind of intellectual monopoly of the subject and all other candidates are heretics in the new religious cult.
The work of Marx had its own brilliance but in the end it was too narrow and too bound up in the sudden crystallization of scientism. The common view of Marx’s era was peculiar in the sense that the immense feat of the early modern yielding to both the Enlightenment and the Romantic movement, next to the industrial revolution and a new versioning of capitalism, ended up in a set of brittle belief systems of no use to anyone and conducive to the kind of one-dimensional thinking of Marx’s obsession with economic issues. The latter was its own blessing but in the end the issue of socialism must encompass the whole of culture beyond economics.
Marx’s views reveal a man concerned to be of his time in the tide of modern science and his peculiar output speaks to that situation at once in the way his materialism is to banish the subjectivity of consciousness, free will and reduce history to a confused sequence of epochs beyond human volition or freedom.
The historical moment of Marx remains significant for the left but that left must haste to move on and restate what they are doing and not get confused by the legacy of bad cultural discourse bequeathed by marxists bound in a narrow canon, quite unnecessarily.
I have often recommended replacing historical materialism with something simpler and less reductionist. To make that theory a requirement to create socialism was a mistake. It antagonizes almost th…