Update: Marx’s insights were monumental and yet he shot himself in the foot by proposing to create some kind of master theory, in the early age of scientism emerging in the context of positivism. Marx exposed the way ‘theories’ were really ideology in disguise and then turned around and made the same mistake with his theory of the stages of production. But that theory of economic stages was simply another ideology in disguise: a form of socialist propaganda. One might think: fight back, use the weapon of the enemy. And that worked, for a while. In the nineteenth century the aura of science was still mesmerizing and Marx’s claims were taken at face value in the surge of the first/second International. But almost at once critics emerged and exposed the theory for what it was. You might think, hold fast, damn the torpedoes and bullshit the bullshitters. Again that got the left up to the Bolshevik era. And that was the endgame finale, not a new starting point. The critics were confirmed in their critiques and it was clear that something was underway that had no connection to the theory, and it was clear the theory, in any case, was not correct. The moral here is clear: you can’t propose a theory that is really propaganda. No matter how hard you try, Marxists will blink and not get the point.
The solution is simple: drop theories, propose a revolutionary/reformist platform in recipe form based an a recommendation of something better, and carefully defined. Utterly obvious. But so far the obvious has mostly been ignored. Note the point: Marx refused to define communism to come, but then proposed a theory that said it was inevitable as the next stage of history. So a void was proclaimed and the result is like a bad computer program where a key variable is undefined: the result is that something else will happen depending on garbage in/out (like a bad pointer in c programming). The result is like a computer crash, save that real life doesn’t quite crash, instead goes GIGO, and that meant Stalin entered as the definition and the definer of last resort.
Stages of production theory is a strange mistake for a man as smart as Marx. But hypnotic lure of science beckoned at the dawn of positivism. You can see the problem in the fascinating movie about Marx/Engels: Marx’s treatment of poor old Weitling was always a strangely cruel moment, but Marx’s point was that leftist idiots needed theory, his theory. He stance was arrogant, and on the way to value-free tragedy. Marx and Weitling were both idiots.
Sociology and history don’t yield to theory and in reality they theories aren’t needed. A simple chronology of world history is simple:
early evolution of man (and before that organisms)
Dawn of ‘higher civilization’ ca. 3000 BCE
a mysterious middle era of global advance in parallel, ca. 600 BCE
the rise of the modern era, ca 1800 (with a transition from ca. 1500 to 1800)
This scheme can easily replace theory and become a source of rich empirical studies
in this context we see that democracy has a strange trend and that it is joined by socialism
in the modern transition. That simple observation is a good replacement for ‘end of history’ nonsense
not laws of history, but the projected resolution of democratic modernity via socialism as a buttress of freedom and equality,
this to be carried out not as teleological history but as the agency of free men seeing the limits of capitalism, etc…
The objective must be defined, specifies to the public, and if revolution arrives it must be failsafed against the inherent
violence of the theoretical approach where violence is quite OK since science is beyond fact/value ideas, etc…
The terms like ‘socialism’ and ‘communism’ are still necessary but they must be defined carefully if they want a new future.
Our DMNC model is at least a gesture in that direction. But it is clear that the marxist outcome is likely to be stalinist.
At a time of crisis, the marxist perspective dominates thinking but is incapable of creating a new movement Continue reading “Marxism: capitalism’s ace in the hole?”