facing reality: Marxism is beyond repair…//G. A. Cohen Showed Why We Should All Be Socialists

Again Jacobing cites G A Cohen o socialism, fair enough, but they sound worried, they are clearly afraid of my new approachi, perhaps at my critique of Marx: bring in the later geniuses to try and save the day. But it won’t work. We have already discussed Cohen in another post:
https://redfortyeight.com/2022/04/11/if-you-want-to-understand-marxism-read-g-a-cohen/
Marxism had a whole group of apologists, brilliant in their own way, from the western Marxists to Cohen’s analytical marxism. I have read most of these works more than once, a while back, and I can’t remember anything they said. Attempts to rescue Marxism seem understandable if you are Marxist, but it won’t work anymore. Noone notices the incoherence and obscurity in Marx. No matter how hard you try to fix Marx, the effort fails. The reason is the unreasonable choice of starting point made by Marx, among other issues. Was Marx so bemused by Hegel that he never recovered? The emphasis on materialism versus idealism was a poor strategy. Let us grant that Hegel is a reactionary but that is nothing to do with idealism which is Janus faced with materialism and has a real breakthrough in Kant’s very different version which tries to show the way space-time are embedded in mind (??). It is not helpful to destroy this legacy in the name of Newton. and in any case, Marx doesn’t even follow ‘materialism’ but an ironically ‘idealistic’ economic version of his own. Why inflict this debate on socialists?
So with these later apologists, the defense always fails because the overall tenor of Marxism is off the mark.

We are running out of time. We need to ditch this morass of Marxism that almost no Marxists understand and find a simple recipe approach for the construction of a postcapitalist socialism that is not burdened with a materialist metaphysics. Further the Stalinist outcome of Marxism, however unfairly ascribed to Marx (I however have to wonder), leaves all who pursue socialism at risk of the exploitation of idealistic socialists used as fronts for the legacy Leviathan of Bolshevism-style dictatorship. Marxists can’t even yet grasp the swindle inflicted on the ‘proletariat’ in the name of a ‘Marxist bourgeoisie’ seizing control of capital for their own power system.

And speaking of socialism in isolation is problematical: we have shown how the term in isolation risks confusion: we must define the term in relation to democracy and the power of a revolutionary cadre that will be tempted to eliminate it, some clarity on markets and planning, some system of check and balances, a Commons, on issues of state ‘ownership, and much else. And some procedure for carrying out revolutions, if reform fails, we must ensure the prevention of monopoly of power by an ideological power core.

The resolution would seem to be a complex hybrid of systems: a neo-communism rewritten from a liberalism which rights that are also economic rights and it which large-scale capital comes under the rubric of expropriation, without trying to destroy democracy in the process.

Right before he died, Marxist philosopher G. A. Cohen wrote a short book called Why Not Socialism? It’s a perfect introduction to the case for moving beyond a capitalist economy.

Source: G. A. Cohen Showed Why We Should All Be Socialists

Falsifying historical materialism

One has to wonder, why did Marx base his work on this idea. It is abstruse, hard to reify and probably wrong. The specific implication that in fact productive forces drive history is demonstrably wrong. And ‘materialism’ is hardly defined in economic terms. There are many forms of materialism, even religious versions, such as the classic Samkhya. Materialism is a bit shaky now in the era of quantum sciences, viz. quantum field theory.
We have looked at the eonic effect: it hardly proves that ideas drive history but it does show that ideas are crucial in the development of history. The eonic model shows the way religions, art, politics are driven by maacro forces of an evolutionary nature, although it is very hard to fully develop the argument because the mechanisms of evolution are not visible to the naked eye. Marxists have devoted endless energy to trying to vindicate Marx, in vain. They would do better to simply start over and stop blocking socialist evolution with their obsessive errors. The eonic model falsifies historical materialism, and it is equally different on ‘evolution’ from Darwinism
The endless and dreary repetition over and over again of Marx’s confusions has crippled the left.

Marx’s theory is “materialist” in a very specific sense. Marx didn’t just reject the notion that the ideas in people’s heads are the primary driver of history. He didn’t even simply emphasize that humans are driven by material needs. He thought the capacity of any given society to meet those needs (its “forces of production”) and the way it organized itself to do so (its “relations of production”) were the primary factors that explained why and how different forms of society rose, fell, and replaced each other in different historical epochs.

from yesterday:

futile efforts to revive the dead horse of Marxism…//If You Want to Understand Marxism, Read G. A. Cohen
Bringing in Cohen is a clever strategy, in vain, I fear. I have repeatedly suggested a look at The Last Revolution to Jacobin, to no avail. I have been canceled and won’t get a hearing. Lots of other places to get such a hearing. Clearly however, as I suspect, the ranks of Marxism are becoming aware of my critique. But does Jacobin seriously think that Cohen, analytical Marxism and/or the Western Marxists, despite impressive and intelligent work can really salvage Marxism as a theory of history? We are running out of time, we need a minimal package to construct socialism and postcapitalism. Surprisingly Marx eliminated himself and his many followers from being able to do that. Continue reading “Falsifying historical materialism”