Macrohistory, Marxism, modernity and the coming crisis
Date: Sun, Sep 12, 2021 8:29 am
I apologize for any confusion. I had no idea that ‘ageism’ was such a touchy issue. But let me get to the point which is the need for the left to find an exit path into a new and extended paradigm that can deal with the real complexity of world history and in that context a path beyond capitalism. World history hides a deep structure that can help to make that possible, but it is a vast subject and invokes an immensity of study. But the pattern itself provides a partial simplification. But its study could help to expand Marxism into a more general secular humanism that can lead the way beyond capitalism. The classic Marxist formulation is problematical because economic issues are secondary to a deeper dynamic, one that is light years beyond the kind of study we find in physics of the Newtonian era. Quantum realms, who knows: the subject is so fluid and hard to fathom that we hardly know where we stand any more. The old fashioned materialism is out the window and the battle of materialism and idealism is old-fashioned. The mathematics of physics deals with material objects now in the ‘idealist’ context of mathematics. But reinventing materialism is easy and is always a useful but no longer absolute given.
Look at the discussion of the birth of capitalism, so-called, the era of Adam Smith, the French and American Revolutions, and then in short order the onset of the modern left. This historical pattern is immensely significant but it is a drop in the bucket in the far larger pattern of the rise of the modern: the interval from 1500 to 1800, the latter date what I call a ‘divide’: the shift from a larger historical dynamic to a new kind of man-made history. The modern transition is so vast we can hardly take it in, but we can start by seeing that it integrates all categories of culture. Economics is almost sideshow, but then comes to the fore in the expansion of capitalism. But the modern transition requires beyond economic categories, narrative historical, ethical, aesthetic, philosophical, political, religious, literary, teleological and evolutionary, and last but not least musical along with finally capitalist and socialist categories, a study field comprising tens of thousands of books, and then more. But the simplification of the so-called ‘modern transition’ is one way to start, and that in the context of a larger pattern clearly visible. We live insider a hypercomplex evolutionary machine that we are just beginning to detect.
The subject is a strange teleology of starting points. We think of goal directed actions moving toward an endpoint. But history shows a teleology of starting points, and a good example is the modern transition: historical dynamism leads us not to end in the fashion of the now older ‘end of history’ confusion, but to a starting point. A good example of a teleology of starting points is a mother around September taking here child to school, a goal directed (educate child) starting point in a new year. The modern transition changes the game of civilization completely as that is a new starting point from a position of high potential that then changes gears and becomes a field of free agents. A momentous moment. We are two centuries past the start of a new era after a transition which means the passage from a creative foundation to what you make of that, you are alone now and history will no longer guide you after the teleology of starting points. If we study antiquity in the occident we can see how the immense transition in early Greece, just like the modern, produced hundreds of new innovations, plus democracy as a first, and then slowly but surely fell away from its starting point as free agency, moving out of its starting point. We can see the hopeless failure that occurred as the glory of early Greece (and there are a whole spectrum of parallel transitions: Israel, Persia, India, China) passed slowly but surely into barbarism and the desperation resolution of the Roman Empire. The whole thing went into a decline that wouldn’t stop and finally we have the world of the Roman games, a far cry from the brilliant invention of the tragic genre in Greek drama.
A way to start here is to try and get a grip on this implication of a new historical model. It is actually easy to start, with a survey of the pattern of transitions in world history, starting with Sumer, but alternately starting in the Neolithic and before. We can also just start with the modern period, its transition, the rapid shift to globalization, and the careers in parallel of democracy, socialism (communism) and its classic incidents in the early modern and everything else including the troubled legacy of slavery and the sudden apparition of abolition, just near the starting point, sowing the seeds of what will be in America, the Civil War.
We should note that the ominous character of our present: we have the immense gift of the early modern, but now we are on our own, and while the first two centuries show many fine advances we see the bad omens starting: two world wars, for example. And now in our current present the sudden and unexpected beginning of the great nosedive. The era of Trump is almost a parody and not exactly a further step in modern Progress. The first two centuries after 600 BCE went well and then fell apart. We are two centuries now past 1800 and with uncanny precision things in the US at least are starting to fall apart. Powerful forces wish to destroy democracy, for starters.
Enough. Here the socialist and communist worlds emerged and they can now possibly enter as rescue vehicles in the future. That was always the destiny of the early challenges to capitalism. But can they do this in reality? I suggest that entities like marxism reformulate their premises, create a new form of historical study in the context of socialist futurism and offer a reasonable path to ‘real democracy’, post capitalist economy, ecological sanity, etc…After the fiasco of bolshevism the left has to hope it will get a second chance. But a recasting of the Marx legacy might help, but it needs to die and be reborn somehow. There is no automatic path to postcapitalism. The idea that communism is historically inevitable is a myth, but ironically, if we can proceed to a socialist future we prove Marx right in practice, if not theory.
Again, I recommend a new approach to history, a judicious study of the non-theory parts of Marx, but also a larger historical study of culture in the light of the macro-historical evolutionary machine we are beginning to detect. In a funny way Marx was right, but quite in the fashion of his theories: confronted by capitalism going haywire and becoming malevolent on its way to planetary destruction we confront logically the obvious axioms of socialism to compensate. It is logically a deduction from the facts at hand, emerging chaos and the sudden rise of a new barbarism and fascism. Item in that regard: the 9/11 false flag op. The powers of fascism are gaining ground and a quick costume change by among others marxists might be in order.
The issues of macrohistory (sometimes called by me the ‘eonic effect’, perhaps not a good terminology) and theories of evolution are controversial but our approach is empirical and uses periodization and chronologies. The results are remarkable and I recommend a leftist version of all that.
Again, there is ample material here. The issue is how to find a way to assimilate the huge amount of historical data into a usable form. Our macrohistorical model shows one way to do that. Marxists issues are easy to fit in here.
Decoding World History
Last and First Men
The Last Revolution
a series of archives as book: e.g. Postcapitalism Futures, etc…