This essay gives a clearer picture of the stance of this critique discussed in the previous post. It confirms my own suspicions about the legacy of Marxism which instead of a realistic and practical analysis involved itself in confused versions of Hegel’s dialectic, became entangled in naive histories of philosophy. The charge is laid against Western Marxists who are a somewhat different strain of Marxism and whose legacy at this point is open to question, but not the kind of blanket dismissal we see here. The creation of a straw man in ‘Western Marxism’ distracts attention away from the core problems of Marxism itself.
Lost to all parties is the irrelevance of philosophy to the practical definitions and constructions of socialism. We don’t need to get over Heraclitus versus whomever for gosh sakes. It is a muddle of Marxist rank amateurs whose basic starting point is an egregious set of complications that can be set aside.
If there is one thing capitalists didn’t do is speculate about the basics of a philosophy, or of capitalism. Well, perhaps not quite true: they muddled economic theory, and prostituted the ‘theory’ of economics with bogus mathematics. But they didn’t get in arguments over the history of philosophy or the nature of dialectic. The dynamics of capital, markets, and profit were the core issues, the rest was mostly window dressing. Detecting the problems was not a task of ‘dialectic’, save to be sure the generalized meaning of dialectic as debate.The question of Hegel’s dialectic is one of the legacy of mysticism and in the end of the philosophies and meditative practices of non-dual and/or Samkhya spiritual traditions. The dialectic of Hegel which was so influenced by western mystical thinkers like Boehme is ultimately a descendant of these Indic philosophies (if that they are), a point clearer if we examine their source in the early history of Christian theology as the doctrines of the Trinity arose in the diffusion of Indic mysticism into the Roman Empire. We have lost this connection, but to a close look the connection is there. And those traditions ultimately said, don’t speculate, meditate. Resolving the ‘trinities’ of dialectic is not a philosophical task so much as an exploration of human consciousness. People impinge on this all time by ‘using’ dialectic’, but the result if almost always a muddle.
The burden of confusion here is astonishing but it entered early on in the preposterous (if only because forgotten) conceptions of Trinitarian philosophy/theology. That mystics like Boehme (and perhaps Hegel) had deep intuitions along these lines but the mainline of Christianity was subjected to an impossible mental puzzle, one that almost absurdly passed into Marxism via Marx’s muddle over hegelian dialectic (not that anyone else is less confused). If a car mechanic said he was going to repair your car with dialectic you would be rightly alarmed. So with socialism. The correct understanding of dialectic is probably beyond the current left. But so what? Who needs this fetishism of the dialectic. Creating a postcapitalist system needs a closer understanding of markets, planning, forms of the Commons, along with the issues of rights and liberties, liberal democracies and their limits, etc…Those obsessed with dialectics should be packed off to Zen monastries, and throw the key away. In the case of non-dual emergencies the Zen master beat the student over the head with a stick.
Western Marxism suffers largely from the same symptom as Scott Fitzgerald’s Jay Gatsby – each’s fixation on perfection and purity leaves perpetually unfulfilled all that it claims to desire.
Source: A Critique of Western Marxism’s Purity Fetish – Arkansas Worker