[Video] Is history bunk? Historical materialism on trial

Two ManifestosDecoding World History_ED1

We have repeatedly critiqued historical materialism here from the left, from a socialist point of view. Marx’s views are dated now and don’t serve the left anymore. The term ‘material laws and forces’ is ambiguous and can apply to many perspectives. That apparently means ‘economic’ processes. But world history is much more than the economic.
We have shown how world history shows an evolutionary driver in the strange pattern of eras and epochs visible in the eonic effect. We can call this also ‘material’ in the sense that it is not a theistic or supernatural force. Historical materialism is far too narrow and has turned the question of ‘socialism’ into a reductionist scientism that makes capitalism into an epoch of history and the drive to postcapitalism a future hope.

The left needs a new view of history beyond Darwinism, beyond histomat, beyond the materialism of the early positivists…The Marxist perspective is holding the left back.

Bourgeois, liberal and postmodern historians alike tend to reject the Marxist view that history is driven by material laws and processes. Some also reject the idea of progress, saying this is merely a point of view.

Source: [Video] Is history bunk? Historical materialism on trial

General Relativity versus Marxism versus boojois economics

Marxism is too complicated and in the end incoherent. I remember years ago in the seventies (!) living in the East Village, I had a lot of time on my hands and walked to the 42 street library annex every day to use their superb collections. I decided to teach myself General Relativity and Marxism: the library had really good midrange collections on such subjects: myou have you choice of the best textbooks in the world, and the whole literature of Marxism, and you can borrow them and read in the park. I have a fair degree of math: vectors, advanced calculus, sort of, abstract algebra, etc.. I started studying Einstein’s theory, said to be super hard, and Marxism at the same time. Einstein’s theory is supposed to be super hard but with a set of sharp #2 pencils and some large sheets of paper the subject of GR’s tensors falls into place, more or less. At the same time I read maybe fifty books on Marxism.
Buess what: in three weeks I had a rough idea of General Relativity and its tensors, but fifty years later I still can’t make sense out of Marxism. That should tell you something. There is no real way to figure out Marxism because the whole Marx’s theory is a mess. Marx struggled for years and then gave up. A good example is the labor theory of value. I recall the debates in the books I read, of fifty years ago. And then having checked back I see the same debates going on all over again. Absolutely nothing is settled. The theory makes no real sense beyond saying that capitalists don’t pay good enough wages. I also tried the same thing with Samuelson’s text on economics. That case is a little different, but I had the same problem: maginalism and infinitesimal, bull shit. Economics in fragments can be useful no doubt, like the supply and demand curve, but overall the subject is not a science, and defies comprehension even if college students seem to be learning a subject. Maybe, but it is not science. A degree in neoclassical parrot squawk, perhaps.

The moral here is that no one can really figure out Marx, Marx included.
One reason we can’t reach socialism is none know what they are talking about.
The whole field is too complicated. Bourgeois economics I will skip because it sometimes works, sort of.
But Marxists are too confused to move us to socialism.
Over and out

World history beyond theory via periodization

The world desperately needs a new formulation or framework for the left: a modified Marxist plus reformist package, would be useful, but one suspects that the reputation of Marxist ideology has been crippled by its legacy. And also by its confusions of theory.
The historical periodization of epochs in Marx is useless now, and seems like an ideological fix.
Feudalism is not a stage of history nor is capitalism.

We suggest below a much simpler periodization, one that could lead to a whole new set of studies of actual economies in world history, starting in the Paleolithic/Neolithic.

The point here is that socialism/communism need to be constructed. They can’t be prophesied by a theory without specifics.

Although theories of world history usually fail, our periodization as below suggests there is a hidden dynamic but it is not a set of economic epochs.

The ‘end of history’ argument is fallacious: socialism (communism) and democracy emerge in parallel in the modern period and ask for a hybrid blend of the two.
Marx beyond his theories saw the dilemma of liberalism, but the attempt to pitch democracy against communism failed disastrously.
We need to create a new kind of political system and we can’t screw it up as did the Bolsheviks….

————archive post…
A system of epochs done right….
August 30th, 2018 ·

The eonic effect shows the very simple (and still mysterious) solution to the question of historical epochs: Continue reading “World history beyond theory via periodization”

On the Stalin Question

The left as we have noted is still mired in the failed legacy of Bolshevism/Stalinism. Beyond that, the legacy of Marxism is the ultimate source of that derailment. Stalinism shows almost every way the transition to communism can go wrong. This situation has left the current Marxist brand beyond salvage. And that could be good at a time when the onset of postcapitalism emerges on its own with the left mostly turning in circles.s
It is a bit late in the day to be still mucking about in Stalinism. Time to leave it all behind. Socialist need to defy the Marxist monopoly that his usurped the path to a sne postcapitalism.

Source: On the Stalin Question – Cosmonaut

Is 20th Century Social Democracy Really the Best we Can Do? 

The issue of capitalism and its critique and the potential of postcapitalism is conditioned by its own history of bad theories, false models, confusion over economics and the mystification of neo-classical models, with a cult-like domination of Marxist thinking which has severe flaws. As much as one might admire Marx’s efforts, his theories are very flawed and thus the whole basis of a socialist/communist left has all along been based on theoretical confusions. Marx’s ‘stages of production’ theory has surely helped to derail thinking and activism on the left. Any capitalist can safely denounce Marxism as crackpot theory and score a one-up that most cadre cultists can’t answer.
Marx condemned us to an epoch of capitalism that had to exhaust its potential before turning into something else. A disastrous perspective. Capitalism is not an epoch of world history but a process that should have been balanced from the start as Marx/Engels seemed to have understood early on in the 1848 period. The later Marx seems to have changed. Capitalism is strangely fomenting its own demise. Its destruction of the Amazon Basin is surely a turning point. Capitalism is taken as an autonomous system, but should be seen as a process inside a large system. Instead its match with a socialist wrapper never happened. The result is a kind of aborted modernity that never emerged in proper fashion. One problem is the jackknifed opposition of socialism/capitalism where the two might have led to a construct like our ‘democratic market neo-communism’. The latter takes a liberal system and asks, can we make one change: expropriation of capital to a Commons, maintaining the rest, more or less? Why not. Attempts to construct a whole society from scratch is a form of complexity that can lead to Stalinism in the confusion of categories. This approach is not social democracy, as such, but that category done right.
The system of capitalism has become so complex no one can quite visualize its structure.
Try googling “#number of small businesses, US’
The result is a staggering 30.2 million small businesses. The system has expanded to a point where it is a labyrinth. It is not easy to consider changing such a system.

Our model allows an indifference level below which the larger system allows let-go. And the issue of markets has been botched. There is a possibility as many socialists later realized of markets inside a socialist system.
It is no mystery that capitalism is so hard to reckon. The left in fact has no accurate theory or model and the domination of marxism drives out any new paradigms.
So it is not surprising that the left makes little progress. The Second International shows a global movement ruined by the legacy of Bolsheviam, and marxism.

The left rarely disowns this legacy and suffers cognitive dissonance in the usage of its own terminology: does socialism refer to North Korea/ Yes, No. but leftists remain in confusion. You MUST start over with new terminology.
A whole new terminology is needed and a new start. Marx is not a prophet of a world religion, but his thinking is almost impossible to critique. The same mess of pottage is recycled over and over again.

So, there is hardly any mystery to the failures of the left here. Leftists don’t know what they are talking about, apply bad theories to hypercomplex systems, and never learn from their mistakes.
Let us note that social democracy is not good enough. But if revolutions are off the table, then all discussion is on false premises. A century of social democratic efforts seemed to have succeeded but the capitalists dismantled almost all of it.
But we cannot be dogmatic and should take reformism/revolution as an inevitable duality.

But the climate question is going to give the left another chance, and it may be a case of stepping backwards into still more confusion. I would say start over with a simple model of socialism or our toy model of ‘democratic market neo-communism’.
Our approach takes a liberal system and remorphs it into a neo-communism. The two Janus-faced so-called opposites begin to meld into each other. It is easy to critique Bolshevism, but its example is misleading even as it gives a warning; if revolution is essential its execution is perilous. Reformist just might come to cusp where the expropriation of capital could be legislated.

Two Manifestos

Whether yes, no, maybe or let’s wait and see, an examination of why predictions of capitalism’s demise are thus far off the mark is a healthy exercise. I thus was interested in a new book wrestling with these issues, Foretelling the End of Capitalism: Intellectual Misadventures since Karl Marx by Francesco Boldizzoni. Foretelling is a curious hybrid as the author is quite critical of capitalism but also has a pessimistic outlook regarding its replacement; it is rare for a book to receive praise from a Wall Street Journal reviewer and New Left Review contributor Wolfgang Streeck. Foretelling provides a strong challenge to the thinking of critics of capitalism and those who subscribe to leading theories, particularly Marxist, of the end of capitalism.

Source: Is 20th Century Social Democracy Really the Best we Can Do? – CounterPunch.org

From rubbish 1.0 to rubbish 2.0…rescuing socialism from Marx idiots//In Defense of Slavoj Žižek

Source: In Defense of Slavoj Žižek
Update: We have a short booklet on all this: Samkya_ancient_modern2ax(1) which outlines the histories of the predecessors of the elusive and invariably botched attempts at ‘dialectic’.
Dialectical materialism, before or after Zizek, is useless rubbish for the left now. Wake up. Hegel’s view of history is compelling but doesn’t work, and Marx’s rewrite via economics is very bad science, as was obvious already at the end of the nineteenth century. The canon coasted on its momentum into the era of the Second International until the reality of Stalinism sank in and the whole mystique was shattered. The dialectic has never found a decent defining standard, and doesn’t work as a dynamic in history, although ‘dialectical’ oppositions do appear, obviously. The dynamic of world history is almost impossible to decipher and one can only recommend at the eonic effect, not as a theory, but a periodization to see the mysterious evolutionary fragment that is clearly behind the ‘evolution’ of civilizations.
That attempt by Marx to create a system of economic epochs is so amateurish it is almost embarrassing. And Marx was hardly yet aware of the immense archaeology revolution underway: the world of Sumer, early Egypt, the Neolithic, the Descent of Man, the mysterious ‘Axial age’, the time was not ripe for a foundation of worlld history.
Economics does not drive the evolution of civilization. Historical materialism completely eliminates values, ideal aspects, free will, etc, etc…It is a grotesque and archaic period piece of early scientism when thinkers thought the example of Newton could be applied to all subjects. The results always failed because the higher levels of knowledge don’t fit into the classic canon.
Marxists are hopelessly stuck in this obsolete mess and will never in their current form manage a revolutionary transition.
Those who value the socialist/communist ideal would like to see the subject liberated from Marx fetishism and its cult of personality, bad science and botched predictions.
Zizek is a complete bullshitter peddling a mess of Marx/Hegel pottage that is extravagant and useless. It is impossible to read the cascade of gibberish he peddles as leftist commentary.

The eonic model can help here to abandon the illusions of historical theory, deal in concrete periodizations, and their empirical moments, and to construct socialism as a democracy reinvented in a Commons, etc…

That is, start with the Neolithic, then the first era of higher civilization, then proximate antiquity, and then the rise of the modern era. That’s it. That is all you need. There is no theory to explain this sequence or any proof is a dynamic epochs, but it does look like one. If not we can use it anyway to map civilization which encompasses an immense set of categories, social politics, cultural empiricism, values and religion, philosophy and its history, yogas and their legacy, the enigma of Archaic Greece and ancient Israel, etc, etc…The modern era is a universe in itself and is not defined by capitalism, which is process and not a stage of history. The whole Marxist analysis amputates almost every relevant category in the name of reductionist materialism, now out of date.

Dialectical materialism is a strange echo of ancient subjects rendered into an inaccurate and perilous version of the ‘dialectic’ or triad. Those are interesting subjects but they have been misconstrued to do what they can’t do. Explaining history as the action of triads is a great idea that always failed. There are in any case far better attempts to resolve the dialectic than either Hegel or Marx.
The left is out of time for this useless philosophical toy/luxury: simple logic is enough to construct the foundation of socialism. The idea of recipe, a procedure to do things, is needed to construct socialism. Not the ambitious idiocies of Marx and Hegel.

Source: In Defense of Slavoj Žižek

Marx and Hegel: design arguments

We should note that Barzun critiqued Marx along with Darwin (and also Wagner) and even for a socialist his arguments are interesting. In fact, we have suggested a post marxist interpretation for the left that can absorb criticisms of Marx’s theories. We are in the process of doing that ourselves. Marx ironically once critiqued comes into his own more effectively without his Grand Theory.
But the debate between Hegelians and Marx/marxists is classic and is an obvious earlier version of the design argument current. This was before Darwin but the ‘dialectic’ resembles the recent one because they both enter the terrain carefully marked out by Kant as: Achtung: minefields ahead.

Let us note that Hegel is a renegade from Kant, a scandal in itself, and proceeds to sense design in world history abstracted to a ‘concept’ of ‘Geist’, and this is countered by Marx’s attempt to promote the up and coming scientific reductionist scientism that cannot allow design arguments. Ironically Marx’s theory ends up with a materialist design argument in the posit of epochs of history leading inexorably to communism. Hegel’s ‘spirit’ is a handy mystical tidbit indeed, and consider the eonic effect and its model: some intangible something that straddles a planet and explains everything including the emergence of freedom. Result? a generation of post-Hegelians throwing rotten tomatoes at the Hegelian temple. The critique of Hegel is well taken but the attempted opposite of historical materialism is equally flawed.
In fact, the argument is intractable and for good Kantian reasons sets off multiple alarm bells is those who evidently will never learn, poor post-Kantians all.

Source: The ID Deception and the ‘atheist’ advantage in design arguments//Decoding World History and the correct approach to design in history – 1848+: The End(s) of History

How Critical Race Theory Became The New Conservative Bogeyman | Portside

When I was a student at Florida State University many moons ago, the state legislature took a surprising amount of interest in our course offerings. So much so that one of the advanced-level philosophy classes I took had been cleverly retitled as “Post-Hobbesian Materialism” although everyone knew it was a course on Karl Marx’s Capital, Volume One.

Source: How Critical Race Theory Became The New Conservative Bogeyman | Portside