The Reasons Why People Hate Cultural Marxists

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Re: The Reasons Why People Hate Cultural Marxists

Postby American Dream » Fri Dec 29, 2017 10:59 am

Here is more from Ken Knabb which focuses more specifically on post-capitalist society:

The Joy of Revolution

Chapter 1: Some Facts of Life

We can comprehend this world only by contesting it as a whole. . . . The root of the prevailing lack of imagination cannot be grasped unless one is able to imagine what is lacking, that is, what is missing, hidden, forbidden, and yet possible, in modern life.

—Situationist International(1)

Utopia or bust

Never in history has there been such a glaring contrast between what could be and what actually exists.

It’s hardly necessary to go into all the problems in the world today — most of them are widely known, and to dwell on them usually does little more than dull us to their reality. But even if we are “stoic enough to endure the misfortunes of others,” the present social deterioration ultimately impinges on us all. Those who don’t face direct physical repression still have to face the mental repressions imposed by an increasingly mean, stressful, ignorant and ugly world. Those who escape economic poverty cannot escape the general impoverishment of life.

And even life at this pitiful level cannot continue for long. The ravaging of the planet by the global development of capitalism has brought us to the point where humanity may become extinct within a few decades.

Yet this same development has made it possible to abolish the system of hierarchy and exploitation that was previously based on material scarcity and to inaugurate a new, genuinely liberated form of society.

Plunging from one disaster to another on its way to mass insanity and ecological apocalypse, this system has developed a momentum that is out of control, even by its supposed masters. As we approach a world in which we won’t be able to leave our fortified ghettoes without armed guards, or even go outdoors without applying sunscreen lest we get skin cancer, it’s hard to take seriously those who advise us to beg for a few reforms.

What is needed, I believe, is a worldwide participatory-democracy revolution that would abolish both capitalism and the state. This is admittedly a big order, but I’m afraid that nothing less can get to the root of our problems. It may seem absurd to talk about revolution; but all the alternatives assume the continuation of the present system, which is even more absurd.

Stalinist “communism” and reformist “socialism”
are merely variants of capitalism

Before going into what this revolution would involve and responding to some typical objections, it should be stressed that it has nothing to do with the repugnant stereotypes that are usually evoked by the word (terrorism, revenge, political coups, manipulative leaders preaching self-sacrifice, zombie followers chanting politically correct slogans). In particular, it should not be confused with the two principal failures of modern social change, Stalinist “communism” and reformist “socialism.”

After decades in power, first in Russia and later in many other countries, it has become obvious that Stalinism is the total opposite of a liberated society. The origin of this grotesque phenomenon is less obvious. Trotskyists and others have tried to distinguish Stalinism from the earlier Bolshevism of Lenin and Trotsky. There are differences, but they are more of degree than of kind. Lenin’s The State and Revolution, for example, presents a more coherent critique of the state than can be found in most anarchist writings; the problem is that the radical aspects of Lenin’s thought merely ended up camouflaging the Bolsheviks’ actual authoritarian practice. Placing itself above the masses it claimed to represent, and with a corresponding internal hierarchy between party militants and their leaders, the Bolshevik Party was already well on its way toward creating the conditions for the development of Stalinism while Lenin and Trotsky were still firmly in control.(2)

But we have to be clear about what failed if we are ever going to do any better. If socialism means people’s full participation in the social decisions that affect their own lives, it has existed neither in the Stalinist regimes of the East nor in the welfare states of the West. The recent collapse of Stalinism is neither a vindication of capitalism nor proof of the failure of “Marxist communism.” Anyone who has ever bothered to read Marx (most of his glib critics obviously have not) is aware that Leninism represents a severe distortion of Marx’s thought and that Stalinism is a total parody of it. Nor does government ownership have anything to do with communism in its authentic sense of common, communal ownership; it is merely a different type of capitalism in which state-bureaucratic ownership replaces (or merges with) private-corporate ownership.

The long spectacle of opposition between these two varieties of capitalism hid their mutual reinforcement. Serious conflicts were confined to proxy battles in the Third World (Vietnam, Angola, Afghanistan, etc.). Neither side ever made any real attempt to overthrow the enemy in its own heartland. (The French Communist Party sabotaged the May 1968 revolt; the Western powers, which intervened massively in countries where they were not wanted, refused to send so much as the few antitank weapons desperately needed by the 1956 Hungarian insurgents.) Guy Debord noted in 1967 that Stalinist state-capitalism had already revealed itself as merely a “poor cousin” of classical Western capitalism, and that its decline was beginning to deprive Western rulers of the pseudo-opposition that reinforced them by seeming to represent the sole alternative to their system. “The bourgeoisie is in the process of losing the adversary that objectively supported it by providing an illusory unification of all opposition to the existing order” (The Society of the Spectacle, §§110-111).

Although Western leaders pretended to welcome the recent Stalinist collapse as a natural victory for their own system, none of them had seen it coming and they now obviously have no idea what to do about all the problems it poses except to cash in on the situation before it totally falls apart. The monopolistic multinational corporations that proclaim “free enterprise” as a panacea are quite aware that free-market capitalism would long ago have exploded from its own contradictions had it not been saved despite itself by a few New Deal-style pseudosocialist reforms.

Those reforms (public services, social insurance, the eight-hour day, etc.) may have ameliorated some of the more glaring defects of the system, but in no way have they led beyond it. In recent years they have not even kept up with its accelerating crises. The most significant improvements were in any case won only by long and often violent popular struggles that eventually forced the hands of the bureaucrats: the leftist parties and labor unions that pretended to lead those struggles have functioned primarily as safety valves, coopting radical tendencies and greasing the wheels of the social machine.

As the situationists have shown, the bureaucratization of radical movements, which has degraded people into followers constantly “betrayed” by their leaders, is linked to the increasing spectacularization of modern capitalist society, which has degraded people into spectators of a world over which they have no control — a development that has become increasingly glaring, though it is usually only superficially understood.

Taken together, all these considerations point to the conclusion that a liberated society can be created only by the active participation of the people as a whole, not by hierarchical organizations supposedly acting on their behalf. The point is not to choose more honest or “responsive” leaders, but to avoid granting independent power to any leaders whatsoever. Individuals or groups may initiate radical actions, but a substantial and rapidly expanding portion of the population must take part if a movement is to lead to a new society and not simply to a coup installing new rulers.

Representative democracy versus delegate democracy

I won’t repeat all the classic socialist and anarchist critiques of capitalism and the state; they are already widely known, or at least widely accessible. But in order to cut through some of the confusions of traditional political rhetoric, it may be helpful to summarize the basic types of social organization. For the sake of clarity, I will start out by examining the “political” and “economic” aspects separately, though they are obviously interlinked. It is as futile to try to equalize people’s economic conditions through a state bureaucracy as it is to try to democratize society while the power of money enables the wealthy few to control the institutions that determine people’s awareness of social realities. Since the system functions as a whole it can be fundamentally changed only as a whole.

To begin with the political aspect, roughly speaking we can distinguish five degrees of “government”:

(1) Unrestricted freedom
(2) Direct democracy
____ a) consensus
____ b) majority rule
(3) Delegate democracy
(4) Representative democracy
(5) Overt minority dictatorship

The present society oscillates between (4) and (5), i.e. between overt minority rule and covert minority rule camouflaged by a façade of token democracy. A liberated society would eliminate (4) and (5) and would progressively reduce the need for (2) and (3).

I’ll discuss the two types of (2) later on. But the crucial distinction is between (3) and (4).

In representative democracy people abdicate their power to elected officials. The candidates’ stated policies are limited to a few vague generalities, and once they are elected there is little control over their actual decisions on hundreds of issues — apart from the feeble threat of changing one’s vote, a few years later, to some equally uncontrollable rival politician. Representatives are dependent on the wealthy for bribes and campaign contributions; they are subordinate to the owners of the mass media, who decide which issues get the publicity; and they are almost as ignorant and powerless as the general public regarding many important matters that are determined by unelected bureaucrats and independent secret agencies. Overt dictators may sometimes be overthrown, but the real rulers in “democratic” regimes, the tiny minority who own or control virtually everything, are never voted in and never voted out. Most people don’t even know who they are.

In delegate democracy, delegates are elected for specific purposes with very specific limitations. They may be strictly mandated (ordered to vote in a certain way on a certain issue) or the mandate may be left open (delegates being free to vote as they think best) with the people who have elected them reserving the right to confirm or reject any decision thus taken. Delegates are generally elected for very short periods and are subject to recall at any time.

In the context of radical struggles, delegate assemblies have usually been termed “councils.” The council form was invented by striking workers during the 1905 Russian revolution (soviet is the Russian word for council). When soviets reappeared in 1917, they were successively supported, manipulated, dominated and coopted by the Bolsheviks, who soon succeeded in transforming them into parodies of themselves: rubber stamps of the “Soviet State” (the last surviving independent soviet, that of the Kronstadt sailors, was crushed in 1921). Councils have nevertheless continued to reappear spontaneously at the most radical moments in subsequent history, in Germany, Italy, Spain, Hungary and elsewhere, because they represent the obvious solution to the need for a practical form of nonhierarchical popular self-organization. And they continue to be opposed by all hierarchical organizations, because they threaten the rule of specialized elites by pointing to the possibility of a society of generalized self-management: not self-management of a few details of the present setup, but self-management extended to all regions of the globe and all aspects of life.

But as noted above, the question of democratic forms cannot be separated from their economic context.

Irrationalities of capitalism

Economic organization can be looked at from the angle of work:

(1) Totally voluntary
(2) Cooperative (collective self-management)
(3) Forced and exploitive
____ a) overt (slave labor)
____ b) disguised (wage labor)

And from the angle of distribution:

(1) True communism (totally free accessibility)
(2) True socialism (collective ownership and regulation)
(3) Capitalism (private and/or state ownership)

Though it’s possible for goods or services produced by wage labor to be given away, or for those produced by volunteer or cooperative labor to be turned into commodities for sale, for the most part these levels of work and distribution tend to correspond with each other. The present society is predominately (3): the forced production and consumption of commodities. A liberated society would eliminate (3) and as far as possible reduce (2) in favor of (1).

Capitalism is based on commodity production (production of goods for profit) and wage labor (labor power itself bought and sold as a commodity). As Marx pointed out, there is less difference between the slave and the “free” worker than appears. Slaves, though they seem to be paid nothing, are provided with the means of their survival and reproduction, for which workers (who become temporary slaves during their hours of labor) are compelled to pay most of their wages. The fact that some jobs are less unpleasant than others, and that individual workers have the nominal right to switch jobs, start their own business, buy stocks or win a lottery, disguises the fact that the vast majority of people are collectively enslaved.

How did we get in this absurd position? If we go back far enough, we find that at some point people were forcibly dispossessed: driven off the land and otherwise deprived of the means for producing the goods necessary for life. (The famous chapters on “primitive accumulation” in Capital vividly describe this process in England.) As long as people accept this dispossession as legitimate, they are forced into unequal bargains with the “owners” (those who have robbed them, or who have subsequently obtained titles of “ownership” from the original robbers) in which they exchange their labor for a fraction of what it actually produces, the surplus being retained by the owners. This surplus (capital) can then be reinvested in order to generate continually greater surpluses in the same way.

As for distribution, a public water fountain is a simple example of true communism (unlimited accessibility). A public library is an example of true socialism (free but regulated accessibility).

In a rational society, accessibility would depend on abundance. During a drought, water might have to be rationed. Conversely, once libraries are put entirely online they could become totally communistic: anyone could have free instant access to any number of texts with no more need to bother with checking out and returning, security against theft, etc.

But this rational relation is impeded by the persistence of separate economic interests. To take the latter example, it will soon be technically possible to create a global “library” in which every book ever written, every film ever made and every musical performance ever recorded could be put online, potentially enabling anyone to freely tap in and obtain a copy (no more need for stores, sales, advertising, packaging, shipping, etc.). But since this would also eliminate the profits from present-day publishing, recording and film businesses, far more energy is spent concocting complicated methods to prevent or charge for copying (while others devote corresponding energy devising ways to get around such methods) than on developing a technology that could potentially benefit everyone.

One of Marx’s merits was to have cut through the hollowness of political discourses based on abstract philosophical or ethical principles (“human nature” is such and such, all people have a “natural right” to this or that) by showing how social possibilities and social awareness are to a great degree limited and shaped by material conditions. Freedom in the abstract means little if almost everybody has to work all the time simply to assure their survival. It’s unrealistic to expect people to be generous and cooperative when there is barely enough to go around (leaving aside the drastically different conditions under which “primitive communism” flourished). But a sufficiently large surplus opens up wider possibilities. The hope of Marx and other revolutionaries of his time was based on the fact that the technological potentials developed by the Industrial Revolution had finally provided an adequate material basis for a classless society. It was no longer a matter of declaring that things “should” be different, but of pointing out that they could be different; that class domination was not only unjust, it was now unnecessary.

Was it ever really necessary? Was Marx right in seeing the development of capitalism and the state as inevitable stages, or might a liberated society have been possible without this painful detour? Fortunately, we no longer have to worry about this question. Whatever possibilities there may or may not have been in the past, present material conditions are more than sufficient to sustain a global classless society.

The most serious drawback of capitalism is not its quantitative unfairness — the mere fact that wealth is unequally distributed, that workers are not paid the full “value” of their labor. The problem is that this margin of exploitation (even if relatively small) makes possible the private accumulation of capital, which eventually reorients everything to its own ends, dominating and warping all aspects of life.

The more alienation the system produces, the more social energy must be diverted just to keep it going — more advertising to sell superfluous commodities, more ideologies to keep people bamboozled, more spectacles to keep them pacified, more police and more prisons to repress crime and rebellion, more arms to compete with rival states — all of which produces more frustrations and antagonisms, which must be repressed by more spectacles, more prisons, etc. As this vicious circle continues, real human needs are fulfilled only incidentally, if at all, while virtually all labor is channeled into absurd, redundant or destructive projects that serve no purpose except to maintain the system.

If this system were abolished and modern technological potentials were appropriately transformed and redirected, the labor necessary to meet real human needs would be reduced to such a trivial level that it could easily be taken care of voluntarily and cooperatively, without requiring economic incentives or state enforcement.

It’s not too hard to grasp the idea of superseding overt hierarchical power. Self-management can be seen as the fulfillment of the freedom and democracy that are the official values of Western societies. Despite people’s submissive conditioning, everyone has had moments when they rejected domination and began speaking or acting for themselves.

It’s much harder to grasp the idea of superseding the economic system. The domination of capital is more subtle and self-regulating. Questions of work, production, goods, services, exchange and coordination in the modern world seem so complicated that most people take for granted the necessity of money as a universal mediation, finding it difficult to imagine any change beyond apportioning money in some more equitable way.

For this reason I will postpone more extensive discussion of the economic aspects till later in this text, when it will be possible to go into more detail.

Continues at:"communism"%20and%20reformist%20"socialism"%20are%20merely%20variants%20of%20capitalism
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Re: The Reasons Why People Hate Cultural Marxists

Postby Elvis » Fri Dec 29, 2017 6:15 pm

From my limited reading on Marx and Marxism, I can recommend the very good criticisms of Marx by Karl Popper (The Open Society and Its Enemies) and Theodore Roszak (The Making of a Counter Culture and Where the Wasteland Ends, etc.)
"It seems to be what we have now is a political system which has essentially become, for the last thirty or forty years, a war on the human imagination."
(David Graeber)
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Re: The Reasons Why People Hate Cultural Marxists

Postby SonicG » Fri Dec 29, 2017 9:32 pm

Very familiar with Ken Knabb but I still have not read his autobio...
"a poiminint tidal wave in a notion of dynamite"
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Re: The Reasons Why People Hate Cultural Marxists

Postby American Dream » Fri Dec 29, 2017 10:44 pm

It's online and available to all in the same place where you find The Joy of Revolution.
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Re: The Reasons Why People Hate Cultural Marxists

Postby Sounder » Fri Dec 29, 2017 10:55 pm

The more alienation the system produces, the more social energy must be diverted just to keep it going — more advertising to sell superfluous commodities, more ideologies to keep people bamboozled, more spectacles to keep them pacified, more police and more prisons to repress crime and rebellion, more arms to compete with rival states — all of which produces more frustrations and antagonisms, which must be repressed by more spectacles, more prisons, etc. As this vicious circle continues, real human needs are fulfilled only incidentally, if at all, while virtually all labor is channeled into absurd, redundant or destructive projects that serve no purpose except to maintain the system.

Many people say this, myself included, but in my opinion the system is not capitalism, which is but a symptom, rather the system runs on the sale of fear and uses a split model of reality to produce and maintain this fear of the other.

Marxism continues therefor to support the existing system.
All these things will continue as long as coercion remains a central element of our mentality.
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Re: The Reasons Why People Hate Cultural Marxists

Postby American Dream » Sat Jan 06, 2018 9:09 am

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Re: The Reasons Why People Hate Cultural Marxists

Postby American Dream » Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:02 pm

Adorno: Theses on Occultism

ImageI. The tendency to occultism is a symptom of regression in consciousness. This has lost the power to think the unconditional and to endure the conditional. Instead of defining both, in their unity and difference, by conceptual labour, it mixes them indiscriminately. The unconditional becomes fact, the conditional an immediate essence. Monotheism is decomposing into a second mythology. "I believe in astrology because I do not believe in God", one participant in an American socio-psychological investigation answered. Judicious reason, that had elevated itself to the notion of one God, seems ensnared in his fall. Spirit is dissociated into spirits and thereby forfeits the power to recognize that they do not exist. The veiled tendency of society towards disaster lulls its victims in a false revelation, with a hallucinated phenomenon. In vain they hope in its fragmented blatancy to look their total doom in the eye and withstand it. Panic breaks once again, after millennia of enlightenment, over a humanity whose control of nature as control of men far exceeds in horror anything men ever had to fear from nature.

II. The second mythology is more untrue than the first. The latter was the precipitate of the state of knowledge of successive epochs, each of which showed its consciousness to be some degrees more free of blind subservience to nature than had the previous. The former, deranged and bemused, throws away the hard-won knowledge of itself in the midst of a society which, by the all-encompassing exchange-relationship, eliminates precisely the elemental power the occultists claim to command. The helmsman looking to the Dioscuri, the attribution of animation to tree and spring, in all their deluded bafflement before the unexplained, were historically appropriate to the subject's experience of the objects of his actions. As a rationally exploited reaction to rationalized society, however, in the booths and consulting rooms of seers of all gradations, reborn animism denies the alienation of which it is itself proof and product, and concocts surrogates for non-existent experience. The occultist draws the ultimate conclusion from the fetish-character of commodities: menacingly objectified labour assails him on all sides from demonically grimacing objects. What has been forgotten in a world congealed into products, the fact that it has been produced by men, is split off and misremembered as a being-in-itself added to that of the objects and equivalent to them. Because objects have frozen in the cold light of reason, lost their illusory animation, the social quality that now animates them is given an independent existence both natural and supernatural, a thing among things.

III. By its regression to magic under late capitalism, thought is assimilated to late capitalist forms. The asocial twilight phenomena in the margins of the system, the pathetic attempts to squint through the chinks in its walls, while revealing nothing of what is outside, illuminate all the more clearly the forces of decay within. The bent little fortune-tellers terrorizing their clients with crystal balls are toy models of the great ones who hold the fate of mankind in their hands. Just as hostile and conspiratorial as the obscurantists of psychic research is society itself. The hypnotic power exerted by things occult resembles totalitarian terror: in present-day processes the two are merged. The smiling of auguries is amplified to society's sardonic laughter at itself; gloating over the direct material exploitation of souls. The horoscope corresponds to the official directives to the nations, and number-mysticism is preparation for administrative statistics and cartel prices. Integration itself proves in the end to be an ideology for disintegration into power groups which exterminate each other. He who integrates is lost.

IV. Occultism is a reflex-action to the subjectification of all meaning, the complement of reification. If; to the living, objective reality seems deaf as never before, they try to elicit meaning from it by saying abracadabra. Meaning is attributed indiscriminately to the next worst thing: the rationality of the real, no longer quite convincing, is replaced by hopping tables and rays from heaps of earth. The offal of the phenomenal world becomes, to sick consciousness, the mundus intelligibilis. It might almost be speculative truth, just as Kafka's Odradek might almost be an angel, and yet it is, in a positivity that excludes the medium of thought, only barbaric aberration alienated from itself, subjectivity mistaking itself for its object. The more consummate the inanity of what is fobbed off as "spirit" -- and in anything less spiritless the enlightened subject would at once recognize itself, -- the more the meaning detected there, which in fact is not there at all, becomes an unconscious, compulsive projection of a subject decomposing historically if not clinically. It would like to make the world resemble its own decay: therefore it has dealings with requisites and evil wishes. "The third one reads out of my hand,/ She wants to read my doom!" In occultism the mind groans under its own spell like someone in a nightmare, whose torment grows with the feeling that he is dreaming yet cannot wake up.

V. The power of occultism, as of Fascism, to which it is connected by thought-patterns of the ilk of anti-semitism, is not only pathic. Rather it lies in the fact that in the lesser panaceas, as in superimposed pictures, consciousness famished for truth imagines it is grasping a dimly present knowledge diligently denied to it by official progress in all its forms. It is the knowledge that society, by virtually excluding the possibility of spontaneous change, is gravitating towards total catastrophe. The real absurdity is reproduced in the astrological hocus-pocus, which adduces the impenetrable connections of alienated elements -- nothing more alien than the stars -- as knowledge about the subject. The menace deciphered in the constellations resembles the historical threat that propagates itself precisely through unconsciousness, absence of subjects. That all are prospective victims of a whole made up solely of themselves, they can only make bearable by transferring that whole to something similar but external. In the woeful idiocy they practice, their empty horror, they are able to vent their impracticable woe, their crass fear of death, and yet continue to repress it, as they must if they wish to go on living. The break in the line of life that indicates a lurking cancer is a fraud only in the place where it purports to be found, the individual's hand; where they refrain from diagnosis, in the collective, it would be correct. Occultists rightly feel drawn towards childishly monstrous scientific fantasies. The confusion they sow between their emanations and the isotopes of uranium is ultimate clarity. The mystical rays are modest anticipations of technical ones. Superstition is knowledge, because it sees together the ciphers of destruction scattered on the social surface; it is folly, because in all its death-wish it still clings to illusions: expecting from the transfigured shape of society misplaced in the skies an answer that only a study of real society can give.

VI. Occultism is the metaphysic of dunces. The mediocrity of the mediums is no more accidental than the apocryphal triviality of the revelations. Since the early days of spiritualism the Beyond has communicated nothing more significant than the dead grandmother's greetings and the prophecy of an imminent journey. The excuse that the world of spirits can convey no more to poor human reason than the latter can take in, is equally absurd, an auxiliary hypothesis of the paranoiac system; the lumen naturale has, after all, taken us somewhat further than the journey to grandmother, and if the spirits do not wish to acknowledge this, they are ill-mannered hobgoblins with whom it is better to break off all dealings. The platitudinously natural content of the supernatural message betrays its untruth. In pursuing yonder what they have lost, they encounter only the nothing they have. In order not to lose touch with the everyday dreariness in which, as irremediable realists, they are at home, they adapt the meaning they revel in to the meaninglessness they flee. The worthless magic is nothing other than the worthless existence it lights up. This is what makes the prosaic so cosy. Facts which differ from what is the case only by not being facts are trumped up as a fourth dimension. Their non-being alone is their qualitas occulta. They supply simpletons with a world outlook. With their blunt, drastic answers to every question, the astrologists and spiritualists do not so much solve problems as remove them by crude premisses from all possibility of solution. Their sublime realm, conceived as analogous to space, no more needs to be thought than chairs and flower-vases. It thus reinforces conformism. Nothing better pleases what is there than that being there should, as such, be meaning.

VII. The great religions have either, like Judaism after the ban on graven images, veiled the redemption of the dead in silence, or preached the resurrection of the flesh. They take the inseparability of the spiritual and physical seriously. For them there was no intention, nothing "spiritual", that was not somehow founded in bodily perception and sought bodily fulfilment. To the occultists, who consider the idea of resurrection beneath them, and actually do not want to be saved, this is too coarse. Their metaphysics, which even Huxley can no longer distinguish from metaphysics, rest on the axiom: "The soul can soar to the heights, heigh-ho, / the body stays put on the sofa below." The heartier the spirituality, the more mechanistic: not even Descartes drew the line so cleanly. Division of labour and reification are taken to the extreme: body and soul severed in a kind of perennial vivisection. The soul is to shake the dust off its feet and in brighter regions forthwith resume its fervent activity at the exact point where it was interrupted. In this declaration of independence, however, the soul becomes a cheap imitation of that from which it had achieved a false emancipation. In place of the interaction that even the most rigid philosophy admitted, the astral body is installed, ignominious concession of hypostasized spirit to its opponent. Only in the metaphor of the body can the concept of pure spirit be grasped at all, and is at the same time cancelled. In their reification the spirits are already negated.

VIII. They inveigh against materialism. But they want to weigh the astral body. The objects of their interest are supposed at once to transcend the possibility of experience, and be experienced. Their procedure is to be strictly scientific; the greater the humbug, the more meticulously the experiment is prepared. The self-importance of scientific checks is taken ad absurdum where there is nothing to check. The same rationalistic and empiricist apparatus that threw the spirits out is being used to reimpose them on those who no longer trust their own reason. As if any elemental spirit would not turn tail before the traps that domination of nature sets for such fleeting beings. But even this the occultists turn to advantage. Because the spirits do not like controls, in the midst of all the safety precautions a tiny door must be left open, through which they can make their unimpeded entrance. For the occultists are practical folk. Not driven by vain curiosity, they are looking for tips. From the stars to forward transactions is but a nimble step. Usually the information amounts to no more than that some poor acquaintance has had his dearest hopes dashed.

IX. The cardinal sin of occultism is the contamination of mind and existence, the latter becoming itself an attribute of mind. Mind arose out of existence, as an organ for keeping alive. In reflecting existence, however, it becomes at the same time something else. The existent negates itself as thought upon itself. Such negation is mind's element. To attribute to it positive existence, even of a higher order, would be to deliver it up to what it opposes. Late bourgeois ideology has again made it what it was for pre-animism, a being-in-itself modelled on the social division of labour, on the split between manual and intellectual labour, on the planned domination over the former. In the concept of mind-in-itself consciousness has ontologically justified and perpetuated privilege by making it independent of the social principle by which it is constituted. Such ideology explodes in occultism: it is Idealism come full circle. Just by virtue of the rigid antithesis of being and mind, the latter becomes a department of being. If Idealism demanded solely on behalf of the whole, the Idea, that being be mind and that the latter exist, occultism draws the absurd conclusion that existence is determinate being: "Existence, after it has become, is always being with a non-being, so that this non-being is taken up in simple unity with the being. Non-being taken up in being, the fact that the concrete whole is in the form of being, of immediacy, constitutes determinateness as such."1 The occultists take literally the non-being in "simple unity with being", and their kind of concreteness is a surreptitious short-cut from the whole to the determinate which can defend itself by claiming that the whole, having once been determined, is no longer the whole. They call to metaphysics: Hic Rhodus hic salta: if the philosophic investment of spirit with existence is determinable, then finally, they sense, any scattered piece of existence must be justifiable as a particular spirit. The doctrine of the existence of the Spirit, the ultimate exaltation of bourgeois consciousness, consequently bore teleologically within it the belief in spirits, its ultimate degradation. The shift to existence, always "positive" and justifying the world, implies at the same time the thesis of the positivity of mind, pinning it down, transposing the absolute into appearance. Whether the whole objective world, as "product", is to be spirit, or a particular thing a particular spirit, ceases to matter, and the world-spirit becomes the supreme Spirit, the guardian angel of the established, despiritualized order. On this the occultists live: their mysticism is the enfant terrible of the mystical moment in Hegel. They take speculation to the point of fraudulent bankruptcy. In passing off determinate being as mind, or spirit, they put objectified mind to the test of existence, which must prove negative. No spirit exists.

1 Hegel, Wissenschaft der Logik, Werke 5, p. 116 (Hegel's Science of Logic, London 1969, p. 110). ... ltism.html
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Re: The Reasons Why People Hate Cultural Marxists

Postby Luther Blissett » Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:31 pm


In all experiments in basic income conducted so far, creativity and innovation continued at the same pace as before, where it was measured. No one worked any less either. That socialism is an innovation-killer is demonstrably false since these experiements were immune from western imperialism, often being conducted within the west.

Some research indicates that large advances in human civilization arose out of periods of cooperation over competition. That the myth of competition was created at the same time as the concept of debt.

The state of socialism was, from its conception, meant to illustrate the next stage of human evolution, if you’re wondering what some future system might be. Today, if to each according to their needs and from each according to their abilities were instituted, nothing would really change other than that the world’s billionaires future great-great-great-great grandchildren might not inherit the yacht. The smallest, most unnoticeable change to their “wealth” would change everything for the global working class. There’s no way for us to achieve the next stage in civilization through competition.

Of course, “to each according to their needs and from each according to their abilities” would also negate war and war spending, so that’s also quite a bit of additional global “play” “money.
The Rich and the Corporate remain in their hundred-year fever visions of Bolsheviks taking their stuff - JackRiddler
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Re: The Reasons Why People Hate Cultural Marxists

Postby American Dream » Sat Jan 20, 2018 3:38 pm

“The Rise of the Leninist Right”? A commentary on a Berkeley professor’s nonsense

Filed under: Academia,conservatism — louisproyect @ 6:07 pm

Cihan Tuğal

The final section of Tuğal’s article, titled The American Right’s “21st-century Leninism”, is filled with confusion. He writes:

Starting with Andrew Breitbart himself, the founder of the “alt-right” media outlet, the right read the Frankfurt School; it made healthcare a big deal; and with the rise of Trump and Bannon, it promises jobs and infrastructure.

So Andrew Breitbart reading the Frankfurt School is meant to prove that the “Leninist” right was stealing the left’s thunder? Doesn’t Tuğal understand that Breitbart’s obsession with the Frankfurt School (or what he also called Cultural Marxism) was identical to that of Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 69 young leftists in 2011? is only interested in the Frankfurt School in the same way I am interested in what someone like Michel Chossudovsky or what LaRouche’s Executive Intelligence Bulletin have to say. I am monitoring them. To get an idea of what Breitbart thinks of the Frankfurt School, get a load of this:

The [Frankfurt] Institute built up a cadre of cultural Marxists, including Max Horkheimer, Erick Fromm and Herbert Marcuse. When the Nazis came to power in 1933 the Frankfurt School migrated to the United States. There its members set about poisoning American culture, based in Columbia University. Theodor Adorno promoted degenerate atonal music to induce mental illness, including necrophilia, on a large scale. He and Horkheimer also penetrated Hollywood, recognising the film industry’s power to influence mass culture. The American schools system was a prime target for successful subversion.

I love that business about Adorno promoting atonal music to promote mental illness. What a bunch of howling jackals at the magazine our president reads.

Also, what does Tuğal mean when he says that Breitbart made healthcare “a big deal”. To me, a big deal means you are promoting it, not trying to eviscerate it. How could he could have written such nonsense? ... -nonsense/
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Re: The Reasons Why People Hate Cultural Marxists

Postby American Dream » Wed Jan 24, 2018 10:37 am

Postmodernism Did Not Take Place: On Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life

Shuja Haider January 23, 2018

The École Normale Supérieure, May 1968.

A specter is haunting North America — the specter of postmodernism. Or at least, that’s what Jordan Peterson would have you believe. Peterson, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, has entered into an unholy alliance with all the powers of the alt-right to exorcise this specter. Though he calls himself a “British classical liberal,” Peterson’s appeal feeds into the most reactionary tendencies in contemporary politics. He rose to fame when he was captured on video at a protest on the University of Toronto campus, telling transgender students he refused to use gender-neutral pronouns. He has since joined the ranks of Logan Paul and PewDiePie as a YouTube star. He mostly eschews writing, instead posting videos of lectures online for his primarily young, white, and male audience.

But Peterson has just released a new book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. It is his first since 1999’s Maps of Meaning, a study of myth in modern thought. In that book, Peterson based his thinking on the mysticism of Carl Jung, following a pattern initiated by Joseph Campbell, whose influence is now primarily seen in Star Wars rather than scholarship on myth. Peterson neglected to engage with unanimously recognized predecessors in the field of study, like anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, who had postulated as early as the 1950’s that myths are based on a recurring structure across cultures and eras.

The new book, as its listicle-esque title indicates, is a self-help manual. But amid the bootstrapping pablum and folksy anecdotes that are standard for the genre, Peterson includes a pointed political argument. If his readers are struggling, he says, it is because contemporary society has fallen into disorder. In spite of the abundance and comfort offered by capitalist innovation, we have abandoned the stability of traditional society, one in which the fittest among us held power and resources, in which consensus was self-evident, and in which, to paraphrase a slogan beloved among the alt-right, there were only two genders. But things have fallen apart. To invoke a cliché, which Peterson does not hesitate to do, the center cannot hold. This, he says, is the result of an idea. That idea is postmodernism.

Peterson traces the dangers of postmodernism to a place of ill repute: Paris. In particular, the École Normale Supérieure, a centuries-old university founded to realize the ideals of the Enlightenment. That sinister institution was where Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault got their start as students of philosophy, initiating a school of thought that has now taken over the world. Not only were Derrida and Foucault “the two architects of the postmodernist movement,” Peterson has said in a lecture, “they were avowed Marxists.”

The conflation of postmodernism and Marxism may come as some surprise to those who identify as belonging to either side of the equation. Perhaps the best-known theorization of postmodernity, Fredric Jameson’s Postmodernism: The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, conceives of the period as an object of inquiry to which Marxist analysis may be applied, not a theoretical perspective. Today, it is not uncommon to see condemnations of postmodernism and pleas for a return to Enlightenment rationality in the pages of Jacobin. But Peterson is not the only ideologue to elide the distinction between these usually opposed frameworks. This strange conspiracy theory has increasingly gained traction among the far right, famously appearing in 2083: A European Declaration of Independence, the manifesto Anders Brevik distributed before he murdered 77 people in Norway.

Its origins were surprisingly deliberate, emerging from a paleoconservative Washington think tank called the Free Congress Foundation. The FCF was founded by Paul Weyrich, a founder of the Heritage Foundation and namer of the so-called Moral Majority movement. Weyrich also created a TV network called National Empowerment Television, a short-lived predecessor to Fox News, which aired a documentary in 1999 called “Political Correctness: The Frankfurt School.” Hosted by a pipe-wielding human bleach stain named William Lind, it presents an account of the origin of what we now call “identity politics.” These came, Lind tells us, from the Institute for Social Research, or the Frankfurt School. There, Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, and their cronies created a school of thought called “critical theory,” which the FCF gave the name “cultural Marxism.” This frightening idea fused the impertinence of Marx with the indecency of Freud, producing a new threat to Western values far beyond those posed by Copernicus or Darwin. This argument was elevated to the surface of political discourse by Patrick Buchanan, in his 2001 Oswald Spengler rewrite, The Death of the West. As recently as 2017, Buchanan condemned “Postmodern America” in a column defending Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore.

Like all the classic conspiracy theories, the antisemitism here is barely concealed. One proponent of the theory, psychologist Kevin MacDonald, has argued that cultural Marxism is an expression of what he calls a “group evolutionary strategy” characteristic of Jewish people. MacDonald acknowledges that not all Jews are radical leftists, but, argues that regardless, these movements are “Jewishly motivated.”

This repellent association hasn’t stopped the theory from being taken up by mainstream political pundits even today. The Daily Caller has reported that the Frankfurt School “colonized higher education in the West.” Jonathan Chait based a commentary on political correctness in New York magazine on the theory, claiming that “the modern far left has borrowed the Marxist critique of liberalism and substituted race and gender identities for economic ones.” While Chait carefully avoids the term “cultural Marxism,” he still describes the version of Marxism he sees in so-called “political correctness” as “more philosophically threatening” than conservatism.

Peterson makes a slight adjustment to the narrative in 12 Rules for Life. A Jungian psychologist, he seems to find it necessary to exonerate Freud. There is a brief reference to the Frankfurt School, represented only by Max Horkheimer rather than the more frequently cited Adorno or Marcuse or the still-living Jürgen Habermas (himself a devoted critic of postmodernism as he defines it). Peterson then jumps ahead a few decades and crosses the Rhine. Creating a designation of his own, he identifies not “critical theory,” but the “postmodern neo-Marxism” of postwar French philosophy as his intellectual adversary.

Neither Derrida nor Foucault is cited in 12 Rules for Life. Apparently, not only has Peterson never bothered to actually read them, he seems not to have even read their Wikipedia entries. The only relevant citation is of a book called Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault, which he customarily recommends at speaking engagements. The author, Stephen Hicks, is Executive Director of the Center for Ethics and Entrepreneurship at Rockford University, and an acolyte of Ayn Rand. Armed with this dubious secondary source, Peterson is left making statements that are not only mired in factual error, but espouse a comically reductive conception of how social life and history work. He takes a common misunderstanding at face value, proceeding to build a whole outlook on it.

Derrida and Foucault are indeed associated with trends varyingly described as “poststructuralism” or “postmodernism,” not just by reactionaries, but by liberals like Mark Lilla and leftists like Noam Chomsky as well. The former term may have some correspondence to reality. It shows how Derrida and Foucault followed and responded to a trend in French intellectual life known as “structuralism,” based on the linguistic theories of Ferdinand de Saussure and epitomized by Lévi-Strauss’s studies of myth, and departed from its basic orientations. But neither thinker ever advanced a theory of “postmodernism” or claimed it as a theoretical practice — in fact, they hardly ever used the word. In a 1983 interview in the philosophical journal Telos, Foucault was asked to identify the place of his thought in the postmodern era. “What are we calling postmodernity?” he responded. “I’m not up to date.”

The term had been used sporadically in late 20th-century cultural theory, most prominently by literary critic Ihab Hassan, in 1971’s The Dismemberment of Orpheus: Toward a Postmodern Literature, and architectural historian Charles Jencks, in 1977’s The Language of Post-Modern Architecture. But it was introduced to the philosophical lexicon by the French philosopher Jean-François Lyotard. In 1979, Lyotard wrote a study commissioned by the Council of Universities of the Government of Quebec, called “The Problems of Knowledge in the Most Developed Industrial Societies.” It was reprinted in France with the more straightforward title, The Postmodern Condition.

“Our working hypothesis is that the status of knowledge is altered as societies enter what is known as the postindustrial age and cultures enter what is known as the postmodern age,” Lytoard wrote. He described postmodernism as “incredulity towards metanarratives,” the latter term denoting a story that explains all other stories, like the doctrine of original sin. Among those metanarratives was Marxism. The world of the late 1970s was becoming inscrutable to the human subject, with computerized storage of knowledge surpassing the capacity of the mind, and automation of labor leading not to a utopia of leisure, but rising inequality and economic crisis. “Our incredulity is now such that we no longer expect salvation to rise from these inconsistencies, as did Marx,” Lyotard concluded. While Peterson’s argument is that postmodernists replaced a Marxist dichotomy of proletariat and bourgeoisie with a generalized conception of oppressed and oppressor, this was hardly Lyotard’s concern.

Lyotard’s closest compatriot in philosophy was Jean Baudrillard, who drifted out even further towards science fiction; he was an acknowledged influence on The Matrix. Baudrillard was as much provocateur as philosopher, but he was not the political radical of Peterson’s imagination. Like Lyotard, and like Jordan Peterson, he broke with the leftist leanings of his youth. He considered himself not a communist, but a nihilist, and his work dealt primarily with information and perception. One of his most derided statements, the title of his book and essay The Gulf War Did Not Take Place, is among the least extraordinary. In an age of electronic information transfer, when the documentation of an event is simultaneous to the event itself, our access to events is highly mediated. What we see on television is filtered through the desires of state and corporate influences. Baudrillard’s claim was that the image of the Gulf War presented to the West in mass media was not identical to what happened in the Persian Gulf.

But in 12 Rules for Life, Peterson doesn’t concern himself with the history of the idea he is obsessed with defeating. His attentions land squarely on Derrida — Foucault is left off the hook this time around. The book offers this whirlwind gloss on Derrida’s work, which amounts to some 30 or 40 volumes:

According to Derrida, hierarchical structures emerged only to include (the beneficiaries of that structure) and to exclude (everyone else, who were therefore oppressed). Even that claim wasn’t sufficiently radical. Derrida claimed that divisiveness and oppression were built right into language—built into the very categories we use to pragmatically simplify and negotiate the world. There are “women” only because men gain by excluding them. There are “males and females” only because members of that more heterogeneous group benefit by excluding the tiny minority of people whose biological sexuality is amorphous. Science only benefits the scientists. Politics only benefits the politicians. In Derrida’s view, hierarchies exist because they gain from oppressing those who are omitted. It is this ill-gotten gain that allows them to flourish.

Elsewhere, Peterson has ridiculed Derrida’s characteristic way of putting things, questioning the validity of terms like “logocentrism” and finding malice in every neologism. In an interview, he claims it was Derrida who “most trenchantly formulated the anti-Western philosophy that is being pursued so assiduously by the radical left.” Worryingly, Derrida and his followers are “extremely radical, postmodern leftist thinkers who are hellbent on demolishing the fundamental substructure of Western civilization.”

In actual fact, Derrida’s work was rooted in constant dialogue with the history of Western philosophy. He was a classical philosophical scholar, often presenting detailed and rigorous research on figures like Plato, Hegel, and Rousseau. His conversance with European thought extended into the 20th century as well. He can be considered one of the foremost critics of structuralism, but his early works addressed phenomenology, presenting both translations of and commentary on the writing of the turn-of-the-century German philosopher Edmund Husserl. Derrida drew on a wide range of influences, especially Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud, both thinkers Peterson deems acceptable, as well as Martin Heidegger. Applying their skeptical outlook to the phenomenology and structuralism in which he had achieved mastery, Derrida was able to interrogate these methods from within.

Continues at: ... ules-life/
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Re: The Reasons Why People Hate Cultural Marxists

Postby American Dream » Sun Jan 28, 2018 1:05 pm

2006 interview with Robert Kurz - José Galisi Filho

A 2006 interview with Robert Kurz on “the end of modernization”, the decline of culture, and the process of individualization or social “atomization”.

2006 Interview with Robert Kurz – José Galisi Filho

And how do you define our era as opposed to the cycle that is coming to an end with the current stage of capitalist accumulation?

If we can describe our time as the crisis of modernity, a crisis that is distinguished by a loss of substance, then this problem has an elementary social basis in the economy of the modern system of commodity production. According to Marx, abstract labor constitutes the transfer of human energy for the purpose of valorizing the substance of capital. In the third industrial revolution of microelectronics, this substance is itself becoming increasingly more superfluous.

For the first time in the history of capitalism, the rationalization of production has overtaken the expansion of markets. As human labor power, in successive waves, is withdrawn from the productive process, real capital lags behind. This is no longer an instance of the further mutual interconnection of the economic and social totality. The transfer of production capacity to low wage countries, like China or India, is not a zero-sum game, but is linked to the export of high technology. In those countries it is limited only to a minority of export-oriented “special economic zones”.

In globalization, there is no longer any kind of national economic “development”, in which the population as a whole can be integrated. In this sense, as well, modernization has come to an end. Capitalism is becoming a capitalism of minorities. It establishes the planetary interconnection of humanity, yet only in a negative sense, as a process of crisis, which everywhere dissolves the basic connections of social existence. World capitalist society as it is currently constituted can no longer integrate the majority of the world’s population.

This is not only a problem of mass poverty and unemployment, however. Increasing social fragmentation is also to the same extent liberating, on the large and small scale, “post-political” processes of disintegration. All over the world, as a continuation of competition by other means, new relations of force are emerging. We can speak, on the one hand, of a stealthy process of privatization. Instead of the traditional kinds of war we are seeing civil wars of a new type arise amidst the prevailing anomie, civil wars that are associated with a particular kind of violence against women and children. The zones of insecurity expand with each passing day.

Planetary capitalism is suffocating not only as a result of its own self-produced uncertainty. To the same extent that labor power is devalorized, a “de-substantialization” of capital is simultaneously taking place. Value and its form of appearance as money are the result, when all is said and done, of transferred human energy, and only for this reason do products assume their commodity form, that is, the form of an abstract “reification of value” as opposed to their palpable qualities. By devalorizing living labor power, the third industrial revolution is destroying value itself and poses a threat to the entire system of commodity production. The crisis of “abstract labor” is becoming the crisis of capital itself, because the “valorization of value” is coming up against its historic limits.

How should we understand cultural production in this context? Do you think that, in the sphere of art, modernity is our Antiquity?

I think, with regard to the economic relation as the center of official society, that there is a clear distinction between the modern and the postmodern. The modern was the continuation of the historic rise and consolidation of abstract labor. The substance of capital is becoming, in the process of accumulation, increasingly more rarefied. It is affecting ever more spheres of life and its influence has extended to cultural production, which is organized within the capitalist logic of the culture industry.

Literature and art immanently reflect this substantial movement, which is known as modernization, even to the most remote pores and interstices of everyday life, such as changes in psychic relations, social character, sexuality and the perception of the world. With regard to this point, both the traditional leftist critique as well as the critique associated with the old camp of real socialism, and also the conservative critique in all of its versions, have spared no efforts. But this critique always has the dynamic of the expansion of abstract labor as its unspoken assumption.

This is evinced not only from the cultural point of view, but also from the political and economic perspectives. Political “democratization” was identical with the integration of the masses into capitalism. The recognition of the wage worker as a subject of civil rights, as well as a citizen (universal suffrage, women’s right to vote only in the 20th century, the right to strike and the freedom of assembly), only constitutes the other side of the coin of his submission to abstract labor. And real socialism was merely an alternative system, conceived on the basis of the same social and ontological foundations. As real socialism on the periphery of the global market after the October Revolution, it developed as a paradigm of catch-up modernization, in which abstract labor was not abolished, but only introduced and applied later than elsewhere.

On the other hand, the postmodern represents the process of dissolution and decline of abstract labor. The end of real socialism belongs to this context and signals the end of catch-up modernization. The unified world system can no longer generate a substantial unity, except in small islands of decreasing profitability. While the classical cohesion of the modern nation-state dissolves, the de-substantialization of capital now radiates in the reverse direction, to all domains of existence, as a feeling of general prostration and crisis.

The crisis of the economic substance and, consequently, the crisis of politics, have become the crisis of modern male identity, which is anchored in that substance, while women, due to their dual socialization and categorization in the separate moments of real reproduction, were always only semi-integrated. In this crisis, the conquests of the feminist movement are being successively—and up until now without meeting much resistance—revoked. On the terrain of this retreat, the deflated masculine identity has gone out of control, expressing itself, everywhere, in ever greater sexist violence.

The old demons of modernization, dressed up in new clothes, are making a comeback—racism, anti-Semitism, ethno-nationalism—among both men and women. They only represent a destructive relation to the new existential threat to reestablish, in an imaginary way, the lost social nexus under the rubric of the “other”.

The same decline can be observed in cultural production. That is why the crisis of culture and art is not due only to the financial crisis and the precarious living conditions of their practitioners, but also to their contents. The new is just a rehashed version of the old (retro). It is not just television programs that are infinitely repeated. Used-up fashions and contents return to circulation after shorter and shorter intervals. Culturally, the dynamic of development is being transformed into a kind of eternal recurrence of the same.

Now that everything has become indifferent, art can no longer be provocative. Nudity and tasteless bloodbaths on the German stage provoke a big yawn. What is really sensational today in Germany is when the actors appear on stage with their clothes on. There is no more cultural content that can be expressed in the capitalist form, precisely because it has itself lost its content. Social fragmentation and disintegration as universal disconnection are becoming a lack of universal content or a de-realization of all the critical contents of the past, that once served to counteract this development.

Technological reductionism is also demonstrated in communications. The more individuals are mobilized by the multimedia technological arsenal, the less they have to say to each other.

The social sciences are not immune to these tendencies. Ulrich Beck also speaks of himself, when he refers to a self-inflicted loss of meaning and of the unreality of sociology. The unreality of sociology is the same as that of art and culture, and it is just as “guilty”, to the same degree that it tries to conceal this loss of substance by inventing empty concepts. This is why sociology can no longer offer any kind of response to the urgent problems of the crisis. It superficially describes some phenomena, but refuses to recognize the correlation between them.

There is only one way out of this postmodern merry go round: if theory once again addresses “the totality”, beginning with the crisis of “abstract labor” and of modern gender relations, carrying out a radical critique of the capitalist ontology, which, for the obsolete critics of the past was merely positively assumed. Perhaps, with such a profound critical undertaking, it would be possible to once again restore its provocative qualities to art.

Can one still speak of the class struggle? Can the proletariat still be considered to be a force of opposition against capital?

Ever since the onset of industrialization, the modern era was distinguished by the class antagonism between “wage labor” and “capital”, between “proletariat” and “bourgeoisie”. This opposition appeared to be ontological, because “abstract labor” was understood as an eternal natural necessity and only in a totally external sense as the substance of capital. In official bourgeois ideology, the capitalist form was inseparable from the necessity of “labor” itself, and in socialist ideology “eternal labor” was supposed to free itself from the capitalist form.

Today, the social assumptions common to both ideologies are eroded and it is perceived that both sides are, so to speak, at least in part, half right. The abstract substance of labor is in fact an inseparable part of the capitalist form, but only to the extent that this form is steadily evacuated of its own substance. The “ontology of labor” is revealed to be just as historically limited and as obsolete as the universal commodities and the monetary form of capital.

Those “labor armies” invoked by Marx in his time are disappearing as the organized basis of the class struggle. It only seems that today the mobilization of these “armies” is being repeated in the special economic zones of China and India, while at the same time in those countries, in their domestic markets and agricultural production, “labor” is, to a great extent, being demobilized. From the global point of view, the absolute volume of regular labor is constantly declining.

Capital reacts to this internal crisis with the constitution of an economy that is interconnected like a financial bubble. Once real investments and factories, machines and labor power are increasingly less profitable and “overcapacity” prevails everywhere, this overcapacity must be demobilized on an increasingly more vast scale (with plant closures, for example). Finance capital takes refuge in virtual (fictitious) accumulation in the financial markets. Profits no longer come from the production or sale of commodities, but almost exclusively from the insubstantial increases of the market prices of stocks and real estate, from transactions involving the securities of corporations and their subsidiaries (hostile takeovers, for example).

Just like the social sciences in their theoretical reflections, capital also seeks, from a practical economic point of view, to go with the flow. The export-oriented special economic zones of China and India, managed by the transnational corporations, are also in reality dependent on the economy of the financial bubble, especially on the foreign trade deficit of the United States, and do not represent any kind of real productive accumulation.

The sociological process of individualization described by Ulrich Beck was, from the beginning, bound to this economic virtualization of capital. In the latter, the classical proletariat is dissolving and the traditional class struggle is losing, along with “labor”, its ontological basis. When, in 1986, Beck called attention to the liberation of people from their old class bonds, he totally ignored the crisis character of this same economic process. In the meantime, he has himself had to backtrack from his initial optimism, but he still refuses to acknowledge the internal relation between individualization and the crisis character of virtualization.

The opposition between poverty and “abstract wealth” (Marx) is dramatically radicalized in the monetary form, but it no longer results from the exploitation of living labor power. People are indeed being individualized and socially atomized, as capital faces ever greater challenges to its accumulation. Within this new mass poverty, various levels of social disparity are developing, which can no longer be traced to a common denominator of a uniform social “class”.

While the remnants of the social welfare state still exist in the western countries, an increasingly larger number of people are becoming dependent on payments from public resources, which goes hand in hand with the increasing national debt. The more these transfer payments are restricted as part of an attempt to manage the crisis of the state, the more the forms of precarious labor multiply, beyond the ambit of normal industrial jobs.

Most of these new employment relations are no longer based on the production of goods, but take place in the sphere of circulation, in the pure market processes of buying and selling or individual services, pseudo-self employment, compulsory community services performed by the beneficiaries of unemployment insurance, jobs for which people are paid one euro, part time home aid positions, housemaids, teams of street sweepers, work in call centers, phone sales, temp work, as well as so-called sub-work (a few hours a week in the supermarket bagging groceries or stocking shelves), work in bars, small-scale street vendors, one or another kind of “poverty business” and even simple begging.

This tendency has already affected many members of the young generation of middle class academics, who, to a great extent, cannot find any regular appointments and have to take jobs that pay little or nothing right up until they are almost 40 years old, or even contracts for temporary labor. In France there is talk of a “génération precaire”.

In these conditions, individuals are not only socially and psychologically, but also economically, atomized. They no longer find a common framework for the unification of the forms of organization of their precarious jobs. Under the pressure of the threat of impoverishment and of the exacerbation of their living conditions, they devise new kinds of social struggles, such as the mass protests of the students in France. But these social movements (as well as the so-called antiglobalization movements and their social forums) can no longer be unified under the label of “class struggle” or under that of a “working class”, as the anachronistic traditional left vainly seeks to accomplish. Already in the 1970s the “new social movements” had exhausted the paradigm of the old “class struggle”.

This naturally resulted in a weakening of the power and capacity of these movements to achieve their demands. They often assumed the form of purely “single-issue movements” that addressed specific questions. Social protests also were fleeting and failed to mount any sustained form of organization. This was in part due to the fact that the obsolescence of the “working class” and the end of the “class struggle” between opposed social forces not only imposed obstacles with regard to organizational matters, but also, as in the new social movements, imposed similar obstacles in sociology and cultural practices, because the perspective of the social totality was lost.

There is no longer any common goal, the old understanding of “socialism” has been liquidated, along with the ontology of “labor”. At the very moment of its historic crisis, capitalism seems to be a pure and insurmountable condition of social nature. In order to unify the social movements of atomized men and women as a new historic force it will also be necessary to establish new common goals beyond capitalism, a generalized critique of “abstract labor”, of the modern system of commodity production and of its gender divisions.

At the present time, not much in the way of these necessary changes is discernable. Instead, what we see is widespread capitalist nostalgia. The more that capital, by way of its own dynamic, undergoes “de-substantialization” and the more obsolete and precarious the remaining “labor” becomes, the more prevalent the longing for a past time of stable labor relations and the “economic miracle” of the postwar era.

This nostalgia is dangerous, because the illusory nature of these retrospective fantasies influences consciousness as a contradiction and assumes destructive ideological forms. The new poor, and precisely the most educated among them, are not better people. It is precisely the resentment generated among them that leads them to hunt for culprits, instead of critically questioning their socially changed conditions of existence. The capitalism of the virtualized financial bubble, in which they would themselves love to participate and get rich, simultaneously appears as a subjective threat, by way of its “locusts” in Private Equity Funds and other investment devices, a threat that is very close to the ideology of anti-Semitism (the cliché of “Jewish financiers”).

Conspiracy theories are therefore all the rage in best-sellers, as well as in a truncated and vulgar “critique” of capitalism in the form of an obtuse anti-Americanism. The old clearly-demarcated borders of the past between “right” and “left” are dissolved in the crisis of socially common assumptions. The future will depend on whether or not these social movements establish priorities that go beyond the old class struggle and nostalgic, anti-Semitic and anti-American tendencies. Or, to put it another way, whether they can successfully adopt a radical critique of the seemingly natural laws of the social forms of modernity.

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Re: The Reasons Why People Hate Cultural Marxists

Postby JackRiddler » Sun Jan 28, 2018 5:35 pm

While you're at it, can't you post this often interesting stuff in one of your other threads, and stop kicking up this stupid and offensive one that you didn't even start?
We meet at the borders of our being, we dream something of each others reality. - Harvey of R.I.

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I am by virtue of its might divine,
The highest Wisdom and the first Love.

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Re: The Reasons Why People Hate Cultural Marxists

Postby American Dream » Sun Jan 28, 2018 5:44 pm

I could I suppose but sometimes I think that the ugly realities matter a lot. I will consider this more.
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Re: The Reasons Why People Hate Cultural Marxists

Postby dada » Sun Jan 28, 2018 6:34 pm

If it helps in your consideration, AD, I second Jack's suggestion.

The irony of placing thought-provoking, quality articles in a thread with the pejorative 'cultural marxist' in the title is not lost on me. I think they deserve better, though.

I also think the ugly reality of the cultural marxist label is far overshadowed by the ugly reality revealed within the subjects of the articles, themselves.
Both his words and manner of speech seemed at first totally unfamiliar to me, and yet somehow they stirred memories - as an actor might be stirred by the forgotten lines of some role he had played far away and long ago.
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