The Reasons Why People Hate Cultural Marxists

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Re: The Reasons Why People Hate Cultural Marxists

Postby American Dream » Thu Dec 28, 2017 10:18 am

http://newpol.org/content/walter-benjam ... -altright/

Walter Benjamin and the Political Practices of the Alt-right


by Matt McManus December 27, 2017



ImageThe Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

Walter Benjamin was one of the great analysts of liberal capitalism during a time when its days seemed numbered and fascism was ascendant across Europe. Much of his work is taken up with looking at how the cultural products and processes characteristic of a civilization are reflective of the inner psychic and spiritual tensions roiling beneath the surface of hegemonic ideologies.

In his seminal 1936 essay “The Work Of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” Walter Benjamin discusses how works of art are created and reproduced in different era. He traces how works of art were once meticulously reproduced by craftsmen working under a master, and compares that to the modern world where art can be reproduced and disseminated with incredible rapidity. Benjamin also discusses the impact that this has on society. Because art can now be reproduced and spread across the body politic with incredible speed, it has become and powerful tool for the maintenance of power structures. Those who have power in society can quickly and cheaply produce ideologically loaded aesthetic works, which can quickly be deployed as tools of distraction and propaganda.

But notably, Benjamin made another and far deeper point at the conclusion of his essay. Noting how the rise of reactionary fascism was in part dependent on the paradoxical use of the most powerfully modern technologies to deploy propaganda, he pondered what this said about the subjects of fascist regimes. His conclusion was quite striking. The capacity of modern societies to reproduce artistic materials had become so pronounced that in fascist countries it had produced a very new type of social organization. Fascism was essentially a society that had transformed itself into entertainment. The alienated masses of people were turned to self-distraction to prevent them from recognizing the insidious forces of exploitation that continued to efface their individuality. As he puts it in the Epilogue:

“The growing proletarianization of modern man and the increasing formation of masses are two aspects of the same process. Fascism attempts to organize the newly created proletarian masses without affecting the property structure which the masses strive to eliminate. Fascism sees its salvation in giving these masses not their right, but instead a chance to express themselves. The masses have a right to change property relations; Fascism seeks to give them an expression while preserving property. The logical result of Fascism is the introduction of aesthetics into political life. The violation of the masses, whom Fascism, with its Führer cult, forces to their knees, has its counterpart in the violation of an apparatus which is pressed into the production of ritual values.”


Benjamin’s essay was published in 1936 as the cinema was just cresting in its cultural influence. Films such as Triumph of the Will overtly deployed technology to produce a new aesthetics of distraction, most of which reached a pitch in the call for war and violence. Anticipating Stanley Kubrick’s black comedy Dr. Strangelove many years in the future, Benjamin suggests that we would so plunge into the distraction of our darkest impulses that even acts of wanton destruction and annihilation would increasingly be regarded as acceptable because they drew people out of themselves for a brief period of time. The connection between such an aesthetics and support for an increasingly authoritarian and paranoid political culture isn’t hard to discern. Moreover, as we shall see, it also plays an integral role in the formation of broader historical narratives which must also be analyzed and challenged.

The Modern Aesthetics of Distraction and the Alt-Right

Benjamin’s endlessly provocative essay is a useful starting point for thinking about the modern aesthetics of distraction deployed by the alt-right and its various affiliates. But while Benjamin is a useful place to start, we need to go beyond his analysis. We must examine how what is effectively post-modern conservatism uses the now exponentially more powerful technological tools of digital media and communications to disseminate its paranoid messages.

The alt-right emerged as the product of complex conditions in society, but its first instantiations were online. Individuals felt increasingly alienated in a society which no longer conformed to their expectations, often dealing with disappointment at their inability to live up to the American Dream in a climate of economic decline. Moreover, they came to feel that the triumphalist historical narratives about American supremacy, often affiliated the ascendency of white protestant norms to the status of universal ideology, were increasingly being challenged. The psychic protection these alienated individuals felt by affiliating with this triumphalist historical narrative about American greatness was undercut by counter narratives about the persistence of past wrongs towards groups like women, African Americans, and the developing world more broadly. These counter narratives were promulgated by seemingly alien groups within society who were simultaneously both all-pervasive and hegemonic, while also not embodying the traits of “real” Americans.

As the historical narratives about American greatness were undercut, and the psychic defense it provided against alienation faded, many in the future alt-right turned to distraction to express their resentment. This took the form of a dizzying and growing array of right wing aesthetics whose primary purpose was no longer to present a clear and consistent political ideology. Classical conservatism, while certainly preceding the alt-right, was at least concerned for present itself as an intellectually consistent system of thought. William F. Buckley’s snide pretensions shouldn’t distract from the fact that many took his unique blend of moralistic Protestantism, support for unbridled individualistic capitalism, and robust international interventionism, to be a genuinely plausible worldview. But the alt-right was never concerned with that. This is why, despite its apparent hatred of post-modernity, the alt-right is very much a post-modern movement. Its relativism and distrust of any “truth” but that which flows from the communications bubble is indicative of the conditions of its birth.

Digital technologies, with their capacity to simultaneously open up new spaces for thought while enabling individuals to increasingly live within a communications bubble, meant that most alt-righters never needed to concern themselves with the intellectual salience of their ideology. They could concern themselves increasingly with distraction; the most satisfying of which was often to undermine and stereotype all those they felt were responsible for their sense of alienation. Intellectuals, Women, LGBTQ individuals, Muslims, Democrats, Hollywood celebrities. Each was targeted in turn by memes, pod-casts, videos, fake news. This was all designed to present a minimum of intellectual content in the most affective manner possible. In other words it was designed as ideological entertainment which played to the psychic desires of alt-righters to have their resentments stokes.

Of course many the alt-right could not give plausible reasons why these groups were dangerous. The most offered was that these groups were taken as representative of everything that was holding back “real” Americans; an idealization drawn from stereotypes and clichés that never had much basis in reality. But that is what Benjamin taught us long ago, and what is more clearly important than ever before. The aesthetics of distraction is designed for affect on the masses; it distracts feelings of resentment and anger towards reactionary actions rather than the critical evaluation of power. In the immediacy of resentment one can temporarily efface the loneliness of alienation. But once one steps beyond immediacy, the greater historical problems of an aesthetics of distraction become clear.

The aesthetic tools of distraction do more than just provide an outlet for the resentments of the alienated. Though this is their day to day function, they serve another purpose. They allow the alt-right the opportunity to reconstruct an account of history which superficially redeems and resurrects the formerly triumphalist narrative. “Make America Great Again” is a call to return to a triumphalist narrative by ridding the state of those whose mere presence increasingly challenges it by serving as a reminder of American sins past and present. This also demonstrates the fundamental impotence of the alt-right, what Hannah Arendt might have called its “impotent bigness.” It wishes to redeem a triumphalist historical narrative by removing those who threaten its credibility. But removing and attacking those same people one serves to reinforce their point about American shame. Few things demonstrate this better than the very election of Donald Trump; sending a trust fund sex-offender to the White House to stick it to those progressives who say rich white men tend to get ahead.

Conclusion

I will conclude by looking at another dimension of Benjamin’s work; that concerned with history as a whole and its potential redemption. In his Theses on the Philosophy of History, Benjamin innovatively pushed against the idea of historical progress. Unlike liberal narratives which parroted the inevitable triumph of world-wide capitalism, and even their Marxist counterparts who remained firmly committed to the utopian belief in the communist society to come, Benjamin presents us with a far more pessimistic image of the past as a chaos yet to be redeemed.

“There is a painting by Klee called Angelus Novus. An angel is depicted there who looks as though he were about to distance himself from something which he is staring at. His eyes are opened wide, his mouth stands open and his wings are outstretched. The Angel of History must look just so. His face is turned towards the past. Where we see the appearance of a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe, which unceasingly piles rubble on top of rubble and hurls it before his feet. He would like to pause for a moment so, to awaken the dead and to piece together what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise, it has caught itself up in his wings and is so strong that the Angel can no longer close them. The storm drives him irresistibly into the future, to which his back is turned, while the rubble-heap before him grows sky-high. That which we call progress, is this storm.”


Benjamin’s solution to the problem of historical progress as chaos is messianic; we can only redeem the broken history of the past by effacing its alienation in the present. In doing so, we establish a present in which “splinters of messianic time” are shot through. Accomplishing this means turning people from the aesthetics of distraction and to confrontation with the real sources of their alienation and the complex histories underpinning them. We can start by demonstrating that as long as the alt-right attempts to redeem a false narrative of American greatness through embodying the must ugly characteristics found in America’s history, it is doomed to impotent failure.
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Re: The Reasons Why People Hate Cultural Marxists

Postby Karmamatterz » Thu Dec 28, 2017 6:10 pm

other than as a made-up insult leveled against purported leftists by Nazis, "Alt-Right" and gullible idiots, maybe you'd have something to say after that.


It has become quite trite to always trot out the Nazi accusation, hasn't it? It doesn't fit. Same with the grouping and labeling those you disagree with as being of the alt-right. It goes without saying elitists (of the left and right) love to call pretty much everyone they disagree with idiots. It's so very charming.

Here is a very simple reason why some might dislike cultural marxists (I use dislike as hate is too strong a word, it immediately creates tension and hurts dialogue) and that is because they believe in a free lunch. That is a very simple concept in basic economics. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Someone has to pay, but the fantasy and delusion is that somethings should just be "free for me" or others and so and so should pay for it.

If you fundamentally believe you have the right to other people's income or property then it becomes easy for others to dislike (hate for some) a marxist and all they represent. I certainly don't hate marxists, but I disagree that they have a right to my income, property or wealth (which I have little of). There is already enormous redistribution of wealth going on in our country. Every one of my paychecks shows it. Wouldn't it be just grand if we could have a checkbox and actually sign-off on what part of our income/state/sales etc...tax we wanted to go to what part of the entire government budget? Of course that is just a fantasy and really delusional.
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Re: The Reasons Why People Hate Cultural Marxists

Postby DrEvil » Thu Dec 28, 2017 7:22 pm

People don't hate cultural Marxists, they hate people who use the term unironically, because those people are usually using it as a dog whistle for "the Muslims are coming to rape your daughters!". Anders Behring Breivik was explicitly targeting people he saw as cultural Marxists because he thought they were destroying our culture with unfettered immigration from Muslim countries.

I think the original term was "cultural Bolshevism", which was coined by the Nazis.

And btw: the goal of Marxism isn't to take your stuff, it's to ensure that you have everything you need regardless of your ability to contribute.
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Re: The Reasons Why People Hate Cultural Marxists

Postby Elvis » Thu Dec 28, 2017 9:41 pm

DrEvil » Thu Dec 28, 2017 4:22 pm wrote:People don't hate cultural Marxists, they hate people who use the term unironically, because those people are usually using it as a dog whistle for "the Muslims are coming to rape your daughters!". Anders Behring Breivik was explicitly targeting people he saw as cultural Marxists because he thought they were destroying our culture with unfettered immigration from Muslim countries.

I think the original term was "cultural Bolshevism", which was coined by the Nazis.

And btw: the goal of Marxism isn't to take your stuff, it's to ensure that you have everything you need regardless of your ability to contribute.


Image

Perfectly stated. :thumbsup
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Re: The Reasons Why People Hate Cultural Marxists

Postby Karmamatterz » Fri Dec 29, 2017 1:05 am

And btw: the goal of Marxism isn't to take your stuff, it's to ensure that you have everything you need regardless of your ability to contribute.


I'm going to write it again because I strongly believe its important to maintaining polite open dialogue regarding this topic. I don't hate anybody, including marxists. I do understand why people do allow hate to build inside themselves on this.

The intention may not be to "take your stuff," but the result is the same. If everyone is forced to contribute to others so that all are on the same economic playing field it means some are probably working harder than others, and not being compensated for it. Probably the worst aspect of this is that talented individuals who contribute more are punished. What is the incentive to work hard, I mean really hard, if your efforts aren't compensated? This model is an innovation and imagination killer.

Why would anyone in a model like that be ambitious and strive to create, build and risk their lives if they know if others can take their work and use it without returning something in kind? The less talented, intelligent or lazy can reap the fruits of the labor of others without coming close to creating what a more skillful person does. Marxism removes the freedom to be inventive and shine as humans were created by forcing an unnatural way of life on them. How does one be a master of your own destiny when the state is literally taking your work and redistributing it to others who don't care about you or where they got it from? They don't compensate you, they just expect their own free lunch given by those who can, and do.

It dumbs people down and creates a sense of less responsibility for yourself and instead of self-determination, one of dependency. Where role does personal accountability play in socialism?
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Re: The Reasons Why People Hate Cultural Marxists

Postby mentalgongfu2 » Fri Dec 29, 2017 2:09 am

Karmamatterz » Thu Dec 28, 2017 11:05 pm wrote:
And btw: the goal of Marxism isn't to take your stuff, it's to ensure that you have everything you need regardless of your ability to contribute.


I'm going to write it again because I strongly believe its important to maintaining polite open dialogue regarding this topic. I don't hate anybody, including marxists. I do understand why people do allow hate to build inside themselves on this.

The intention may not be to "take your stuff," but the result is the same. If everyone is forced to contribute to others so that all are on the same economic playing field it means some are probably working harder than others, and not being compensated for it. Probably the worst aspect of this is that talented individuals who contribute more are punished. What is the incentive to work hard, I mean really hard, if your efforts aren't compensated? This model is an innovation and imagination killer.

Why would anyone in a model like that be ambitious and strive to create, build and risk their lives if they know if others can take their work and use it without returning something in kind? The less talented, intelligent or lazy can reap the fruits of the labor of others without coming close to creating what a more skillful person does. Marxism removes the freedom to be inventive and shine as humans were created by forcing an unnatural way of life on them. How does one be a master of your own destiny when the state is literally taking your work and redistributing it to others who don't care about you or where they got it from? They don't compensate you, they just expect their own free lunch given by those who can, and do.

It dumbs people down and creates a sense of less responsibility for yourself and instead of self-determination, one of dependency. Where role does personal accountability play in socialism?


The inherent assumption in all of the above is that "Marxism" is used as an excuse for the lazy to profit from the work of the industrious.



What about someone who is mentally retarded? Or with Downs Syndrome? Are they to be expected to live in poverty because they cannot be as inventive or intelligent or focused as a "more skillful person?" Or to hope for charity, because capitalism is unwilling to provide for members of society who cannot do so themselves?

As to motivations "to be ambitious and strive to create, build and risk their lives" - there are many motivating factors for individuals to be creative or ambitious or to take risks aside from economic profit. Even raising a family is not particularly profitable now that child labor is frowned upon. Unfortunately, it is the economic motive which is the sole focus for any activity in capitalism.

I don't consider myself a Marxist, but the inability of capitalism to provide useful, humane answers to questions like the above is one of its glaring failures.

(none of this has much to do with "cultural marxism," but since that is a bullshit dogwhistle term anyhow, I am happy to see the conversation shift)
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Re: The Reasons Why People Hate Cultural Marxists

Postby SonicG » Fri Dec 29, 2017 5:06 am


(none of this has much to do with "cultural marxism," but since that is a bullshit dogwhistle term anyhow, I am happy to see the conversation shift)


I was going to say that "cultural marxism" should be interpreted as "historical materialism" or the type of social critical theory proposed by the Frankfurt School et. al., both of which still offer up excellent tools for analysis. But yeah, it has little to do with a "Marxist" economic system, which also has nothing to do with "taking your shit away from you..."

Double-indeed that we need a lot of new theoretical manners in which to arrange "economic relationships between humans", but I am still constantly surprised to no end at the revulsion upon merely suggesting, "hey, maybe if we all just share a little more, we could greatly improve our mental and physical well being..."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutual_Ai ... _Evolution
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Re: The Reasons Why People Hate Cultural Marxists

Postby Elvis » Fri Dec 29, 2017 5:09 am

Karmamatterz wrote:It [socialism] dumbs people down


I don't see this. Have you compared U.S. test scores with more socialist countries lately?

The United States is just about the dumbest country in the world.

It seems the Chinese commies have been less interested in turning their population into mindless consumers than in educating them in science and engineering. (That may be changing, and the U.S. could become the new go-to place for cheap factory labor.)


Where role does personal accountability play in socialism?


There's no reason "personal accountability" can't play a role in any society. People collectively choose their culture, and change comes through individuals working to nudge the culture in one direction or another, toward one value or another. We can probably agree that socialism should be tempered with personal responsibility.

We might also ask: "What role does philanthropy play in capitalism?" Is love of humanity a value enshrined in capitalism?

A: No. Philanthropy is a voluntary gesture, in the U.S. it's a band-aid side-effect of the profit prime directive. More often than not, major "giving" is used to subtly exert social control and further entrench capitalist values (e.g. Rockefeller), or as a tax strategy. You could be sitting on $60,000,000,000 and there's no capitalist code that says you have to give any of it away, unless there are tax advantages or tangible PR benefits, or your wife nags you to do the right thing.

There are exceptions of course. Andrew Carnegie was not exactly a socialist but he was sincere about improving American education and encouraging cultural awareness and appreciation. He built 2,000 libraries around the country because he genuinely wanted Americans to improve themselves, read the classics, be informed citizens and so on. Old Man Rockefeller would never have done that. (Or maybe would, if he could stipulate the titles and name the administrators.)


I don't really understand the fear of a compassionate society—an economic system, a government, a culture—that puts human beings first. What we have instead, in the U.S. especially, is a culture that puts material acquisition, accumulation and "growth" first. It's working out for a few people, but I'm unimpressed with the overall result.
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Re: The Reasons Why People Hate Cultural Marxists

Postby Elvis » Fri Dec 29, 2017 5:33 am

SonicG » Fri Dec 29, 2017 2:06 am wrote:

(none of this has much to do with "cultural marxism," but since that is a bullshit dogwhistle term anyhow, I am happy to see the conversation shift)


I was going to say that "cultural marxism" should be interpreted as "historical materialism" or the type of social critical theory proposed by the Frankfurt School et. al., both of which still offer up excellent tools for analysis. But yeah, it has little to do with a "Marxist" economic system, which also has nothing to do with "taking your shit away from you..."

Double-indeed that we need a lot of new theoretical manners in which to arrange "economic relationships between humans", but I am still constantly surprised to no end at the revulsion upon merely suggesting, "hey, maybe if we all just share a little more, we could greatly improve our mental and physical well being..."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutual_Ai ... _Evolution


That's really helpful, thanks, I don't think I'd ever heard the phrase "cultural Marxist" before this thread.

Your second paragraph kind of rings with what I just wrote about fear (I guess we were typing at the same time). :thumbsup
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Re: The Reasons Why People Hate Cultural Marxists

Postby Elvis » Fri Dec 29, 2017 5:40 am

Oh and in 25 words or less here's why I can never really be a Marxist:

Dialectical materialism is an aspect of the broader subject of materialism, which asserts the primacy of the material world: in short, matter precedes thought.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialectical_materialism


But that's just me. :clown
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Re: The Reasons Why People Hate Cultural Marxists

Postby SonicG » Fri Dec 29, 2017 6:09 am

Cheers, and kudos for mentioning charitable giving...I think you can see how the endowments of the super-rich from the late 1800s onwards spurred the technocratic age, it did bring great advancements with spinoffs like massive access to free education leading to people rapidly becoming critical of that same system. Wasn't the top tax bracket at like 90% under Eisenhower? Yes, those MAGA days...But it just served to spur massive charitable giving, of which universities certainly benefited with incredible post-war growth (helped by the GI Bill) also...
One example:
Enrollment also surged during the cold war era. Just prior to World War II the state universities with the largest enrollments–namely, the Ohio State University and the University of California at Berkeley–surged far ahead of other institutions with enrollments of around 19,000. Many major state universities prior to World War II had enrollments between 3,000 and 6,000. By 1970, however, the Ohio State University's main campus at Columbus enrolled more than 50,000–comparable to the University of Minnesota. The University of California had expanded its Berkeley campus enrollment to 26,000.

Read more: Higher Education in the United States - HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT, SYSTEM - Colleges, Institutions, Universities, and American - StateUniversity.com http://education.stateuniversity.com/pa ... z52drwM0vo


Any UC alumni here? I graduated one and dropped out of another...
But remember, Herbert Marcuse was in (very conservative) San Diego at UCSD from 1965 to 79 (!)
Frankfurt School bigwig...thus the Rockefellers sponsored the Frankfurt School to subvert the hippies...etc...
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Re: The Reasons Why People Hate Cultural Marxists

Postby American Dream » Fri Dec 29, 2017 6:22 am

Is Marxism an identity you have to claim? A dogma that you have to adopt? Do you have to join some particular party and unquestioning follow some particular set of leaders? I never felt a compelling need for any of that and honestly I still don't. I do think there is important insight to be gained from within that tradition but also much to be questioned:



Zombie-Marxism Part 3.1: What Marx Got Wrong – Linear March of History

Why Marxism Has Failed, and Why Zombie-Marxism Cannot Die
Or My Rocky Relationship with Grampa Karl



by Alex Knight, http://www.endofcapitalism.com
Part 3.1 – September 19, 2011

This is part of an essay critiquing the philosophy of Karl Marx for its relevance to 21st century anti-capitalism. The main thrust of the essay is to encourage living common-sense radicalism, as opposed to the automatic reproduction of zombie ideas which have lost connection to current reality. Karl Marx was no prophet. But neither can we reject him. We have to go beyond him, and bring him with us. I believe it is only on such a basis, with a critical appraisal of Marx, that the Left can become ideologically relevant to today’s rapidly evolving political circumstances. [Click here for Part 1and Part 2.]

What Marx Got Wrong

“Marxism has ceased to be applicable to our time not because it is too visionary or revolutionary, but because it is not visionary or revolutionary enough” – Murray Bookchin, “Listen, Marxist!”

Although Karl Marx provided us crucial and brilliant anti-capitalist critiques as explored in Part 2, he also contributed several key theoretical errors which continue to haunt the Left. Instead of mindlessly reproducing these dead ideas into contexts where they no longer make sense, we must expose the decay and separate it from the parts of Marx’s thought which are still alive and relevant.

I have narrowed down my objections to five core problems: 1. Linear March of History, 2. Europe as Liberator, 3. Mysticism of the Proletariat, 4. The State, and 5. A Secular Dogma.

I submit that Marx’s foremost shortcoming was his theory of history as a linear progression of higher and higher stages of human society, culminating in the utopia of communism. According to Marx, this “progress” was manifest in the “development of productive forces,” or the ability of humans to remake the world in their own image. The danger of this idea is that it wrongly ascribes an “advance” to the growth of class society. In particular, capitalism is seen as a “necessary” precursor to socialism. This logic implicitly justifies not only the domination of nature by humanity, but the dominance of men over women, and the dominance of Europeans over people of other cultures.

Marx’s elevation of the “proletariat” as the agent of history also created a narrow vision for human emancipation, locating the terrain of liberation within the workplace, rather than outside of it. This, combined with a naive and problematic understanding of the State, only dispensed more theoretical fog that has clouded the thinking of revolutionary strategy for more than a century. Finally, by binding the hopes and dreams of the world into a deterministic formula of economic law, Marx inadvertently created the potential for tragic dogmatism and sectarianism, his followers fighting over who possessed the “correct” interpretation of historical forces.

(These mistakes have become especially apparent with hindsight, after Marxists have attempted to put these ideas into practice over the last 150 years. The goal here is not to fault Marx for failing to see the future, but rather to fault what he actually said, which was wrong in his own time, and is disastrous in ours. In this section I will limit my criticisms to Marx’s ideas only, and deal with the monstrous legacy of “actually existing” Marxism in Part 4.)

Capitalism is "advancing" us right off a cliff.


1. Linear March of History

“Rooted in early industrialization and a teleological materialism that assumed progress towards communism was inevitable, traditional Marxist historiography grossly oversimplified real history into a series of linear steps and straightforward transitions, with more advanced stages inexorably supplanting more backward ones. Nowadays we know better. History is wildly contingent and unpredictable. Many alternate paths leave from the current moment, as they have from every previous moment too” – Chris Carlsson, Nowtopia (41).

Much of what is wrong in Marx stems from a deterministic conception of historical development, which imagines that the advance and concentration of economic power is necessarily progressive. According to this view, human liberation, which Marx calls communism, can only exist atop the immense productivity and industrial might of capitalism. All of human history, therefore, is nothing but “progressive epochs in the economic formation of society,” as Marx calls it in his Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (1859):

“In broad outlines Asiatic, ancient, feudal, and modern bourgeois modes of production can be designated as progressive epochs in the economic formation of society. The bourgeois relations of production are the last antagonistic form of the social process of production… the productive forces developing in the womb of bourgeois society create the material conditions for the solution of that antagonism [communism].”

The idea that history marches forwards along a linear path was not an original of Marx’s – as Bookchin writes in The Ecology of Freedom, it stems from “Victorian prejudices” that “identify ‘progress’ with increasing control of external and internal nature. Historical development is cast within an image of an increasingly disciplined humanity that is extricating itself from a brutish, unruly, mute natural history” (272).

Marx absorbed this framework through Hegel, who theorized a pseudo-spiritual development of humanity towards the idealization of “Absolute Knowledge,” or God. The underlying logic of this divine movement is the attainment of higher levels of “Reason” – the human mind is increasingly able to detach itself from both the human body and from nature, and thereby exist “for itself.” In this way Hegel imagined that civilization had been evolving in a long dialectical process whereby humanity had become increasingly capable of conceptualizing freedom, and through events such as the French Revolution, was realizing that freedom in actuality.

Encoded in the word “teleology,” the linear march of history is a simplistic storyline whereby human history has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Along the way, the plot progresses and advances rationally through successive stages, inevitably reaching its predetermined destination. The famous “end of history” that Francis Fukuyama claimed had been achieved in 1989 with the downfall of the Soviet Union and the global dominance of Western capitalism was a distinctly Hegelian proposition. “Rational” capitalism had proven itself superior to “irrational” communism. The End.

Marx, like Fukuyama, inherited this Hegelian logic and succumbed to its tantalizing promise of unfolding destiny.1 However, Marx’s teleology was not concerned with the advance of philosophy or ideas, but was only meaningfully realized in the emancipation of humanity from class oppression. According to Marx, humanity becomes “for itself” through the advance of economic forces, which will free humans from “material want” and thereby eliminate the need for the division of society into rich and poor. Communism is forecast as the final stage of the storyline, when humanity will achieve its end in classlessness and material abundance. In his “Critique of Hegel’s Dialectic and General Philosophy” (1844), Marx explains this end:

“[Atheism and communism] are not an impoverished return to unnatural, primitive simplicity. They are rather the first real emergence, the genuine actualization, of man’s nature as something real” (Bottomore 213).

The core problem is Marx’s understanding of human liberation, which is posited as dependent on economic development. Instead of humanity possessing an innate and natural capacity for freedom, Marx delays “the first real emergence of man’s nature” to the end of history. Concerning himself with the “material conditions” for freedom, Marx fails to appreciate that people are constantly producing these conditions themselves in their own communities (taking care of one another, creating tools to accomplish work more efficiently, etc.), and that class systems like capitalism exist by leeching off those efforts, or impeding them to eliminate competition for institutionalized solutions. The development of massive industrialization and the emergence of powerful States do not bring with them the potential for liberation, but are that which humans must be liberated from.

This is not a question of technology, but of power. I fundamentally do not believe that liberation can be built on a foundation of oppression. Power must not be concentrated, but dispersed. Contrary to Marx, the imposition of class society does not enable progress, it obstructs progress.

Marx Against Nature

Marx’s mistaken logic is repeatedly manifest in his ambivalent attitude towards capitalism. Not understanding capitalism’s constant need to perpetuate terrible violence against the planet, and as Silvia Federici adds (below), against women, Marx assigns a beneficial and essential role to capitalism in his grand storyline. Although terrible for its social injustice, the system is simultaneously hailed as a necessary “advance” by virtue of its unprecedented “development of productive forces.” In Capital, Vol. 3 (unpublished at his death), Marx argues:

“It is one of the civilizing aspects of capital that it enforces this surplus labour in a manner and under conditions which are more advantageous to the development of the productive forces, social relations, and the creation of the elements for a new and higher form than under the preceding forms of slavery, serfdom, etc.” (Marx-Engels Reader 440).

Today we know that capitalism threatens the very survival of the human species, and perhaps of the Earth itself. The billions of commodities pumped out by capital’s factories for rapid consumption and waste correspond directly to unprecedented damage to the world’s ecosystems. The clear-cutting of forests, the collapse of the ocean’s fisheries, the creation and spillage of toxic chemicals, the exhaustion of the fresh water supply, and the immense pollution of the atmosphere with greenhouse gases – with its corresponding destabilization of the climate – all call our attention to the ecological violence carried out by overdevelopment. Simply put, human economy is exploiting the world’s resources at a drastically unsustainable rate. In this context, any talk of capitalism today as a “higher stage” of development is simply ecocidal.

In Marx’s era, ecology as a science did not exist, and his comments on nature were few and far between. Obviously he could not have foreseen the predicament we are in today. However, there is a dangerous anti-ecological sentiment built into Marx’s linear march of history, which we reproduce at our own peril. It is not simply an academic question of “what Marx really believed.” If freedom is conceived of and built by extending capitalism’s “progress,” Marxists will (have and are) seek to further industrialize and “develop,” at the expense of the planet. Achieving a sustainable economy means not only breaking with capitalism for its mass production and industry, but breaking with a Marxist teleology that ignores humanity’s place in the larger web of life.

Opposing this view is an increasing push by some Marxists to discover an ecological wisdom in Marx. As I was writing this essay, I received an email by the Marxist magazine The Monthly Review, telling me that a new book is coming out by John Bellamy Foster, author of numerous books on this subject, including Marx’s Ecology. The aim of Foster’s writings, and others of the same thought, seems to be to locate any and all passages in Marx and Engels’ huge body of work that suggest at least an ambiguous or vaguely positive view of nature, then weave them together to create a picture of environmentalism. I find this endeavor unconvincing for several reasons – the comments cited by Foster and others are typically tangential to Marx’s main arguments and are often vague in content. On the contrary, Marx’s core argument about historical development is based on directly anti-ecological assumptions, which can only be explained away by performing intellectual gymnastics.

The key issue regards economic growth, or in Marx’s phrase, “the development of productive forces.” In “Wage Labour and Capital” (1847), Marx speaks of production as “action on nature,” revealing his awareness of the ecological basis for human economic activity (M-ER 207). However, rather than speaking of the need to transform economic activity so as to benefit humanity and nature together, Marx speaks simply in terms of quantity of production, to take as much as possible from the Earth. He repeatedly claims that what is needed is to develop the “modern means of production,” the industrial technology and centralization of capitalism.

“Only under [capital’s] rule does the proletariat… create the modern means of production, which become just so many means of its revolutionary emancipation. Only its rule tears up the material roots of feudal society and levels the ground on which alone a proletarian revolution is possible” (588, “The Class Struggles in France” 1850).

This celebration of the advance of industry reflects Marx’s belief that communism will be more capable of rapid industrialization than capitalism. Capitalism is expected to develop the “productive forces” too fast for its own good, leading to crises when production is “fettered” by the irrational organization of “bourgeois property.” From the “Communist Manifesto” (1848):

“The productive forces at the disposal of society no longer tend to further the development of the conditions of bourgeois property; on the contrary, they have become too powerful for these conditions, by which they are fettered, and so soon as they overcome these fetters, they bring disorder into the whole of bourgeois society… The conditions of bourgeois society are too narrow to comprise the wealth created by them” (478).

Communism is supposed to replace capitalism because its greater rationality will allow it to fully develop the means of production. Therefore, Marx’s historic mission for the proletariat is to seize control of the economy, not to slow down or decentralize industrialization; instead industrial growth is precisely the goal. The “Communist Manifesto” delivers one of Marx’s most important strategic statements:

“The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degrees, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralise all instruments of production in the hands of the State, i.e., of the proletariat organised as the ruling class; and to increase the total of productive forces as rapidly as possible (emphasis added)” (490).

The key phrase “increase the total of productive forces as rapidly as possible” reveals much, but could be misinterpreted due to its vague character. Luckily, the same document fleshes this statement out a bit. Marx’s immediate goals for “the most advanced countries” (i.e. Europe) include, “Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State,” “Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands,” and “Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture” (490).

The idea that industrialization will bring freedom is laid bare here. Apparently Marx was not aware of, or concerned with, the destruction industrial agriculture would inevitably reap on so-called “waste-lands,” which today we know as the marshes and flood-plains that sustain some of the most diverse ecosystems on land. Protecting precisely these areas from “development” has been one of the primary aims of environmentalism.

In Capital, Vol. 3, Marx makes plain his “Victorian prejudices.” The purpose of developing industry “as rapidly as possible,” is for humanity to succeed in what he sees as its battle with a hostile Nature:

“Just as the savage must wrestle with Nature to satisfy his wants, to maintain and reproduce life, so must civilized man… Freedom in this field can only consist in socialized man, the associated producers, rationally regulating their interchange with Nature, bringing it under their common control, instead of being ruled by it as by the blind forces of Nature” (M-ER 441).2

Friedrich Engels, Marx’s lifelong friend and collaborator, was even more blunt on the matter. Engels’ 1880 pamphlet “Socialism: Utopian and Scientific” was one of the most important works for popularizing Marx’s theory. The pamphlet was published while Marx was still alive and even included an introduction by Marx, so it is very unlikely that Marx did not give his personal approval to its representation of the pair’s views. The essay explains the view that historical development is a process wherein humanity is liberated from Nature and comes to dominate it. It reaches a climax in this passage explaining the significance of “the seizing of the means of production” and the emergence of communism:

“[F]or the first time man, in a certain sense, is finally marked off from the rest of the animal kingdom, and emerges from mere animal conditions of existence into really human ones. The whole sphere of the conditions of life which environ man, and which have hitherto ruled man, now comes under the dominion and control of man, who for the first time becomes the real, conscious lord of Nature… It is the ascent of man from the kingdom of necessity to the kingdom of freedom” (Marx-Engels Reader 715-6).3

Marx and Engel’s communist utopia, to the extent that they elaborated it, is conceived as a highly developed industrial paradise, where machines produce massive outputs of goods and services with the least amount of labor. Standing atop this virtually unlimited material abundance, humans should theoretically have no reason for competition or division into classes. They will stop acting like “animals” and start behaving “rationally.” Social peace is to be achieved through a cooperative war against nature. As Murray Bookchin summarizes, “In this dialectic of social development, according to Marx, man passes on from the domination of man by nature, to the domination of man by man, and finally to the domination of nature by man.”

Ecology is based on the fact that humans are just as much a part of the fabric of life as any other animal or life-form, and therefore the interests of humanity and nature are not in opposition, but the same. Marx and Engels’ “lord of Nature” statements are not exceptions to their overall theory of social development, but its inevitable end. A linear march of history, whereby “progress” is narrowly understood as stemming from economic growth, cannot be compatible with an ecological perspective.

One may rise to the defense of Marx and Engels and point out the terrible social misery and poverty of 19th century Europe, which would justify the demand for economic growth. In fact, this echoes the thinking of much of the American Left today, living in the most affluent economy that has ever existed, but which still de-prioritizes ecology in favor of the short-sighted demand for investment to “create jobs.” The error of this logic is not that it calls attention to the need for economic resources, but that it places such need in opposition to the needs of the planet. Instead of downscaling and decentralizing the economy so that people can meet their material needs in an ecologically balanced way, capitalism is understood as “necessary” precisely for its immense centralized structures of production and distribution. Critiquing only the distribution and not the production, shallow Leftist politics seek to give more resources to the poor by exploiting the planet to a greater degree.

Now that industrialism threatens to destroy the Earth’s biosphere itself, the bankruptcy of this position should be obvious. One hundred and fifty years after Marx wrote his masterwork Capital, we can now see quite viscerally that capitalism is “advancing” us off a cliff.

Capitalism: A Historic Setback

Marx’s linear march of history not only leads to a dead end, it confuses its beginnings. Specifically, Marx fails to give full weight to the terribly violent origins of capitalism and ultimately justifies these horrors as necessary to reach a “higher stage” of development. However, as Silvia Federici points out, capitalism did not bring social progress with its emergence. On the contrary, it is better understood as a global system of abuse, which for the last 500 years has perpetuated itself through violence against the poor, women, people of color, rural communities, and the planet itself. In this view, “It is impossible to associate capitalism with any form of liberation” (Federici 17). Capitalism is better understood as a historic setback, from which we must recover not by “expropriating” it, but by abolishing it.

Marx does devote space in Capital (1867) to the brutal violence that created the landless European proletariat and launched the capitalist system into dominance over Europe. He refers to these violent beginnings as “primitive accumulation,” or the “historical process of divorcing the producer from the means of production” (Marx-Engels Reader 432). What this meant in lay-men’s terms was primarily the driving of Europe’s small farmers and peasants from their land and homes, and forcing people into the wage labor market. In contrast to the “bourgeois historians” who wash over these “enclosures” as merely a matter of “freeing” the workers from serfdom, Marx points out,

“[T]hese new freedmen became sellers of themselves only after they had been robbed of all their own means of production, and of all the guarantees of existence afforded by the old feudal arrangements. And the history of this, their expropriation, is written in the annals of mankind in letters of blood and fire” (433).

Only by eliminating the self-sufficient communities which made up Europe’s working class during the 14th and 15th centuries could capitalism take shape, because it is precisely the existence of a class of laborers who have nowhere to go and no way to provide for themselves asides from working for a wage that distinguishes capitalism from other systems of domination.

Marx also notes the “extirpation” of the American Indians, as well as the enslavement of millions of Africans, as necessary building blocks in the process of primitive accumulation for bringing immense wealth to the emerging European capitalist elite. He concludes: “capital comes [into the world] dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt” (435).

However, none of this shocking horror prompts Marx to rethink his linear march of history paradigm. Capital, Vol. I ends with a weak and abstract justification for how displacement, slavery and genocide could be compatible with historical progress. For this, Marx returns to Hegel, and suggests that capitalism’s “expropriation” of the world’s population is only paving the way for is negation, communism:

“But capitalist production begets, with the inexorability of a law of Nature, its own negation. It is the negation of negation… the expropriators are expropriated” (438).

Discrediting these meaningless phrases, Silvia Federici – Italian autonomist and feminist – boldly asserts: “Marx could never have presumed that capitalism paves the way to human liberation had he looked at its history from the viewpoint of women (emphasis added)” (12).

Federici has done a great service by making visible the hidden history of “primitive accumulation” through her book Caliban and the Witch. The value of this book is not only that it fills in huge gaps in our knowledge of the origins and continuing bloody nature of capitalism; it also specifically illuminates the attacks on women, queer and trans people necessary for the creation and propagation of this social system.

Caliban and the Witch focuses on the long-ignored topic of the Great Witch Hunt. From the 15th to 17th centuries, being female in Europe was a risky proposition. If someone didn’t like you they could denounce you as a witch, and there was a real chance you would be rounded up by the authorities, accused of copulating with the devil, casting evil spells, consorting at Sabbats after dark, etc. You would most likely be tortured, then executed in the public square in front of relatives and children. Witch-hunting spanned both Catholic and Protestant nations, and the practice was carried out primarily at the hands of Church and State, not by the common person in the street.

The sheer scale and scope of this horror leads Federici to conclude that it was not accidental, but instead locates it as a key form of primitive accumulation:

“Hundreds of thousands of women were burned, hanged, and tortured in less than two centuries. It should have seemed significant that the witch-hunt occurred simultaneously with the colonization and extermination of the populations of the New World, the English enclosures, [and] the beginning of the slave trade” (164-5).

The identities of the women targeted by the witch hunts reveals much about the purpose of this campaign of murder. In most cases, their “crimes” were of a sexual or economic nature. The most common offenses were infanticide, abortion, inability or unwillingness to get pregnant, the sterility of a husband or other male, cheating on a spouse, sex of an “unproductive” nature (i.e. non-missionary), as well as theft, the death of livestock, or other misfortunes.

“[T]he witch was not only the midwife, the woman who avoided maternity, or the beggar who eked out a living by stealing some wood or butter from her neighbors. She was also the loose, promiscuous woman – the prostitute or adulteress, and generally, the woman who exercised her sexuality outside the bonds of marriage and procreation. Thus, in the witchcraft trials, ‘ill repute’ was evidence of guilt. The witch was also the rebel woman who talked back, argued, swore, and did not cry under torture” (184).

In short, the witch hunt was primarily a war against female sexuality and female economic independence. Whereas before capitalism, many European women had enough independence to support themselves as healers, midwives, herbalists, gardeners, prostitutes, fortune tellers, etc., the witch hunts eliminated most of these opportunities. By the 17th century most European women had become restricted to the roles of housewife and mother (24-5). As this work of taking care of men and children, which Federici calls “reproductive labor,” was unpaid, while males could hold waged jobs and earn an income, a “new sexual division of labor” was constructed whereby women became dependent on men for economic survival (170).

Another hidden aspect of this history is that the witch hunt also targeted homosexuality and gender non-conformity. Silvia Federici reminds us that among the “unproductive sex” demonized during this time was any sex other than that between one male and one female. Across much of Europe up to that point, homosexuality had been accepted and even celebrated. In the town of Florence, for example, Federici asserts,

“[H]omosexuality was an important part of the social fabric ‘attracting males of all ages, matrimonial conditions and social rank.’ So popular was homosexuality in Florence that prostitutes used to wear male clothes to attract their customers” (58-9).

In the new patriarchal order of capitalist Europe, which was obsessed with controlling reproduction, non-conformity of gender or sexuality were seen as threats to monogamous marriage. An unknown number of queer and trans people lost their lives in the witch burnings, but Federici points out that the word “faggot” remains in our language as a reminder of the terror that converted human beings into kindling for the flame (197).

Silvia Federici’s argument is not that feudalism was a wonderful or idyllic system either – it was still a class society. Instead, she points to the enormous peasant movements and heretical movements active in Europe during the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries as indications that in the breakdown of the feudal system, other worlds were possible. In place of Marx’s deterministic formula for “progressive epochs in the economic formation of society,” we can understand that human beings make their own history, either by submitting to systems of oppression and authority, or by working together for collective liberation. There is a constant struggle between those in power and those against it, and the future can go in any direction as that struggle shifts, moves, and evolves.

In this light, Federici argues the “transition” from feudalism to capitalism was not an “evolutionary development” of economic forces, but rather a brutal “counter-revolution” carried out by the old feudal elites and emerging merchant class (21).4 Most of the Crusades, as well as the Inquisition, were levied against Europe’s internal enemies: the poor and working classes. The goal of the repression was to stop the social revolution that was spreading out of control, and spilling over into “national liberation” struggles such as the Peasant’s War of Germany or the Hussite rebellion in what is now the Czech Republic. Recovering the hidden history of these epic clashes embarrasses the view of capitalism as an “advance,” showing that it has only “advanced” over hundreds of thousands of dead peasants and proletarians, destroying their rebellious attempts to create a non-feudal, non-capitalist world.

In the face of this bloody history, it seems no longer morally acceptable to justify the violence of “primitive accumulation” as necessary for historical development. Capitalism did not move us forwards, but backwards. Federici concludes that the creation of capitalism not only reduced human beings to landless proletarians, but introduced new sexual, gender, and racial hierarchies to divide the working class and make revolution significantly more difficult.

“[Primitive accumulation] required the transformation of the body into a work-machine, and the subjugation of women to the reproduction of the work-force. Most of all, it required the destruction of the power of women which, in Europe as in America, was achieved through the extermination of the ‘witches.’ Primitive accumulation, then, was not simply an accumulation and concentration of exploitable workers and capital. It was also an accumulation of differences and divisions within the working class, whereby hierarchies built upon gender, as well as ‘race’ and age, became constitutive of class rule and the formation of the modern proletariat. We cannot, therefore, identify capitalist accumulation with the liberation of the worker, female or male, as many Marxists (among others) have done, or see the advent of capitalism as a moment of historical progress. On the contrary, capitalism has created more brutal and insidious forms of enslavement, as it has planted into the body of the proletariat deep divisions that have served to intensify and conceal exploitation. It is in great part because of these imposed divisions – especially those between women and men – that capitalist accumulation continues to devastate life in every corner of the planet” (63-4).

Women, queer and trans people, and other oppressed groups in the Global North have all made tremendous strides towards equality and recognition in recent decades. However, Silvia Federici reminds us that “primitive accumulation” did not just launch capitalism, it has accompanied the spread of capitalist relations across the world. At the same time that Northern society has opened up for women and minorities, capitalism has exported more vicious patriarchal violence to much of the Global South, devastating the social fabric. Today we can see it most horrifically in the mass rapes, child slavery and ethnic cleansing of the Congo, where various factions and government armies fight over access to minerals like coltan. The global market for minerals used in laptops, video games and cell phones relies on the cheapening of these resources, and also the cheapening of African lives. With arms money pouring in, some five million Congolese have died in the last eight years. The despair of the Congolese is not natural – it is being manufactured through brutal capitalist enclosures on their self-sufficient ways of life.

In order to uphold Marx’s linear march of history, we would have to ignore, deny, or rationalize these realities of social and ecological trauma. By shelving all “pre-capitalist” cultures as “lower” forms of social development, Marx unfortunately justified the violent imposition of capitalism on his European ancestors (and the rest of the world as I will explain in the next section). As Silvia Federici makes visible, this campaign was directed especially against women, homosexuals and gender non-conformists through the witch hunts. While Marx himself was apparently unaware of the sexual nature of “primitive accumulation,” such ignorance is much harder to justify in our current age of global information.


Continues at: http://endofcapitalism.com/2011/09/19/z ... f-history/
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Re: The Reasons Why People Hate Cultural Marxists

Postby SonicG » Fri Dec 29, 2017 6:32 am

I prefer the re-imaging of Marx that Debord and Vaneigem attempted but, sure, YMMV in regards to the bearded one...
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Re: The Reasons Why People Hate Cultural Marxists

Postby American Dream » Fri Dec 29, 2017 9:17 am

SonicG » Fri Dec 29, 2017 5:32 am wrote:I prefer the re-imaging of Marx that Debord and Vaneigem attempted but, sure, YMMV in regards to the bearded one...



Yes very much- and I also like Ken Knabb:


It’s often said that a stateless society might work if everyone were angels, but due to the perversity of human nature some hierarchy is necessary to keep people in line. It would be truer to say that if everyone were angels the present system might work tolerably well (bureaucrats would function honestly, capitalists would refrain from socially harmful ventures even if they were profitable). It is precisely because people are not angels that it’s necessary to eliminate the setup that enables some of them to become very efficient devils. Lock a hundred people in a small room with only one air hole and they will claw each other to death to get to it. Let them out and they may manifest a rather different nature. As one of the May 1968 graffiti put it, “Man is neither Rousseau’s noble savage nor the Church’s depraved sinner. He is violent when oppressed, gentle when free.”

Others contend that, whatever the ultimate causes may be, people are now so screwed up that they need to be psychologically or spiritually healed before they can even conceive of creating a liberated society. In his later years Wilhelm Reich came to feel that an “emotional plague” was so firmly embedded in the population that it would take generations of healthily raised children before people would become capable of a libertarian social transformation; and that meanwhile one should avoid confronting the system head-on since this would stir up a hornet’s nest of ignorant popular reaction.

Irrational popular tendencies do sometimes call for discretion. But powerful though they may be, they are not irresistible forces. They contain their own contradictions. Clinging to some absolute authority is not necessarily a sign of faith in authority; it may be a desperate attempt to overcome one’s increasing doubts (the convulsive tightening of a slipping grip). People who join gangs or reactionary groups, or who get caught up in religious cults or patriotic hysteria, are also seeking a sense of liberation, connection, purpose, participation, empowerment. As Reich himself showed, fascism gives a particularly vigorous and dramatic expression to these basic aspirations, which is why it often has a deeper appeal than the vacillations, compromises and hypocrisies of liberalism and leftism.

In the long run the only way to defeat reaction is to present more forthright expressions of these aspirations, and more authentic opportunities to fulfill them. When basic issues are forced into the open, irrationalities that flourished under the cover of psychological repression tend to be weakened, like disease germs exposed to sunlight and fresh air. In any case, even if we don’t prevail, there is at least some satisfaction in fighting for what we really believe, rather than being defeated in a posture of hesitancy and hypocrisy.

There are limits on how far one can liberate oneself (or raise liberated children) within a sick society. But if Reich was right to note that psychologically repressed people are less capable of envisioning social liberation, he failed to realize how much the process of social revolt can be psychologically liberating. (French psychiatrists are said to have complained about a significant drop in the number of their customers in the aftermath of May 1968!)

The notion of total democracy raises the specter of a “tyranny of the majority.” Majorities can be ignorant and bigoted, there’s no getting around it. The only real solution is to confront and attempt to overcome that ignorance and bigotry. Keeping the masses in the dark (relying on liberal judges to protect civil liberties or liberal legislators to sneak through progressive reforms) only leads to popular backlashes when sensitive issues eventually do come to the surface.

Examined more closely, however, most instances of majority oppression of minorities turn out to be due not to majority rule, but to disguised minority rule in which the ruling elite plays on whatever racial or cultural antagonisms there may be in order to turn the exploited masses’ frustrations against each other. When people get real power over their own lives they will have more interesting things to do than to persecute minorities.

So many potential abuses or disasters are evoked at any suggestion of a nonhierarchical society that it would be impossible to answer them all. People who resignedly accept a system that condemns millions of their fellow human beings to death every year in wars and famines, and millions of others to prison and torture, suddenly let their imagination and their indignation run wild at the thought that in a self-managed society there might be some abuses, some violence or coercion or injustice, or even merely some temporary inconvenience. They forget that it is not up to a new social system to solve all our problems; it merely has to deal with them better than the present system does — not a very big order.


-“The Joy of Revolution,” from Public Secrets: Collected Skirmishes of Ken Knabb
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Re: The Reasons Why People Hate Cultural Marxists

Postby Karmamatterz » Fri Dec 29, 2017 10:33 am

The inherent assumption in all of the above is that "Marxism" is used as an excuse for the lazy to profit from the work of the industrious.


Not an excuse, but a natural outcome of the marxist model...or so I think with my limited knowledge.

“I don't consider myself a Marxist, but the inability of capitalism to provide useful, humane answers to questions like the above is one of its glaring failures. “


Surely capitalism has its flaws, as do just about all forms of economics. There is no perfect model. Perhaps thousands of years in the future humans will have evolved in a way that we transcend our current biology and nature that allows for the creation of something better. For the foreseeable future we are what we are.

I did mention there needs to be some safety nets. From my own personal experiences in life I know of parents who have children born with such handicaps. My father spent his entire career teaching and helping the developmentally disabled and I learned close up what it meant to give of time and tremendous effort to help those people. My best friend from childhood was diagnosed with Alzheimers last year and unfortunately he had to stop working at his peak. Now he lives on disability. One does not need to be rigid about ideology and show no compassion.

It is ultimately the responsibility of the parents to work at caring for their children who are born into the world with unfortunate disabilities. There are many programs in place to help those people. Just down the road from my neighborhood there is a very fine publicly funded center for helping those people learn basic skills and in some cases finding jobs for them. Whenever there is a levy to fund that institution I always vote for it. I recall as a kid sitting at the dinner table listening to my father talk about how he would stop at grocery stores talking to managers trying to place his students in jobs like bagging groceries. My Dad didn’t rely on the government to do that for him, he took his own personal time to do such things because he was a compassionate man that strove daily to help those he sometimes called affectionately called the “broken ones.”

As someone else mentioned, they had never heard of cultural marxism. Same with myself. I dislike dog whistle terms like that. I largely ignored this thread for a long time but just lately had some vacation time and was able to read more threads on RI. Terms like that (and many many others) are used for fear mongering instead of open dialogue. Thanks for pointing that out Mentalgongfu.

The “cultural” aspect of marxism seems to be part of this because economic models don’t live in a bubble, they become a larger part of a society and millions of variable come into play. Materialism has many negative aspects. But yet we are all using material objects created by skilled people to communicate on this forum. Humans being what they are, materialistic tendencies thrive and become grossly out of whack. The more balanced people I know are not grossly materialistic. I just don't hang out with people who are. I prefer a kayak to a power boat. Walks in the woods to jetting about on lavish vacations. But...its necessary to have the freedom to decide what one spends their income on. There needs to be the freedom to decide "am I going to spend my money on a new car, TV, boat, vacation, gadget, chainsaw, groceries...or am I going to give a portion of that income voluntarily to others?"

I have no revulsion for sharing a little more or helping others. Come to think of it, I don't know anybody who has such a revulsion. Perhaps we see the "revulsion" come out in online discussions when proper context isn't provided to enable discussions such as this? I'm very grateful that a thread such as this can be used to politely converse with you all. Screech threads happen nonstop online and too infrequently people have knee jerk reactions instead of thoughtfully contemplating what messages others are trying to get across.

I mentioned the lessons I learned from my Dad. There are many opportunities to share and contribute to those in need. Some of the most conservative people I know donate large large sums of money to help those in need. Two people I knew very well locally who passed away in the last year or so created very sizable trusts (multi-millions) and funded local organizations to manage the distribution of their wealth to those in need. I believe that the "revulsion" can come from the idea that one has to be "forced" into giving. They (perhaps) see it as their work, income etc... is being taken away without their consent. We all know how important consent is to our ability to live a life where you are in control of your own destiny.

“Andrew Carnegie was not exactly a socialist but he was sincere about improving American education and encouraging cultural awareness and appreciation. He built 2,000 libraries around the country


My local library was created from those very funds as I learned from reading the plaque in the lobby. I'm very grateful for that library as when I first moved here I was a regular repeat visitor.

“I don't really understand the fear of a compassionate society”


Agreed! It all comes back to how one is raised in their family and what values and lessons are taught by your elders.
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