May 4 2012
Whiteism and the Left: The Moment of Truth
Between the Russian Revolution and the rise of the Nazi party, revolutionary Rosa Luxembourg observed that the world would be forced to choose between barbarism and socialism. The path of progress envisioned by Marx could no longer be considered a foregone conclusion- a startling and sobering reflection made by a woman living out the last act in her life.
Marx did not have the dubious benefit of Luxembourg’s position in history, which goes some way to explaining what now seems so inexplicable; his insistence on the universality of progress through capitalism.
Profound change has occurred between the time of Marx and now. His vision of universal human progress has become fatally compromised, recast as a specific cultural artefact; part of the narrative of human progress but no longer with the power to define it. A historical Berlin Wall stands between where we are now and Marx and his world. Only an understanding of Whiteism will allow you to even see this wall, much less scale it and look over.
To Marx, forward motion of human development seemed an indisputable fact. Dynamic industrialisation and political and social change were sweeping old structures away replacing them with political and economic forms that appeared analogous to one another. French, German and English systems, even backward Russia, all appeared to have basic developmental characteristics in common. It seemed obvious that the undeveloped world would in time, follow this template. All societies were progressing to capitalism, providing the platform for a worldwide Communist revolution. This vision of capitalism systematically transforming the world was the very bone structure of the Communist movement in the opening years of the last century
Since this progression was to be universal there appeared to be neither necessity nor means to describe it in specific historical terms. Marx did not attempt to describe capitalist progress as the product of specific circumstances, which is to say he idealised it; took it out of time and place- the very antithesis of a materialist conception. Marx implied that capitalist development was progress itself; it did not feed into and specific society, society fed into it. In this lay a fatal flaw. Any description of a social development must take into account its specific cultural positioning in history and geography.
Since Marx saw progress as inevitable to the extent it was universal, he never faced the inevitability that to preserve property and power the Burghers would lay the neck of Germanic civilisation down on the altar of Nazism. German civilisation would prove to be the sacrifice required to preserve Germanic capitalist society.
In the century preceding 1930, Germanic society had become the torch bearer for an unchallenged vision of civilisation and progress. Societies were regarded as civilised and advanced to the extent that they complied with the White/Germanic template of society. They were backward and primitive to the extent that they violated it. The idea of material civilisation completely dominated all Germanic societies and all the societies that were dominated by Germanic societies. Material development, expressed through technology was civilisation. Marx’s materialist formulation was the apotheosis of this conception, asserting that civilisation itself rested on a level of material development- specifically the Germanic model. A society that had the motor car was in every way more advanced, (closer to the goal of Socialism), than one that used the horse and cart.
Only an understanding of the depth and ubiquity of this perspective can make clear how shattering it was to realise that technology could be used as an expression of barbarism.
In 1930 Germany Luxembourg became aware that just as the Russian revolution had changed the trajectory of world history, it would provoke a response that was just as significant. She could see a tipping point was fast approaching. Luxembourg foresaw the inescapable logic of the rise of fascism in response to the Bolshevik revolution, even if she could not foresee the horrific actualite of fascism.
The rise of Nazism, the Holocaust and the War is the history of the degradation and transformation of technology ; from the mechanised record keeping of IBM in the death camps to the industrial scale murder of prisoners in custom made factory facilities, from the creation of the Enigma code machine to Bletchley park computing and finally the Atomic Bomb.
As both contending sides of Germanic society Saxon and German descended into savagery, they took idealised universal civilisation and progress based on the German model with them. The very idea of Germanic civilisation died in the Holocaust. As the Weimar Republic went up in flames universality did too.
This was a cataclysm beyond which Marx could not have seen and it forever forms an insurmountable barrier between him and us.
Fascism and the resulting holocaust did achieve part of their purpose. They did prevent an ’inexorable’ movement towards socialism; at the cost of the very idea of technological/cultural progress itself. Germanic society through Fascism chose to turn its face away from the idea of civilisation through technology and indeed the very idea of civilisation and progress . It is the Holocaust and the world it produced that has given us high tech barbarism we see today.
The Germanic mind can now only see technology as the harbinger of death and destruction because of the betrayal of technology/civilisation they themselves carried out in WWII. Now in a horrific inversion of reason it is the purpose of all Germans to universalise this techno-fear and techno-disgust through fantasy fiction and pseudo science- this is what they see as their legacy to the world.
High tech barbarism produced a psychic assault to Germanic society and all the societies dominated by Germanism, producing a myriad of diseased dystopian visions of the future. Every year another Germanic film or novel appears depicting the future made horrific by technology in the hands of one or other group of German barbarians.
But it is important to understand these artefacts tell us nothing about the future and everything about the Germanic past.
I can see Rosa Luxembourg in her moment of truth: turning her gaze to a brutal reality; a world away from Marx’s vision and anything he had known or had to face. Finally, brought up against the true nature of profound human conflict, there is no room for idealism or any other self-delusion.
Bless her courage.
Forgive Marx his idealism.
Curse German barbarism.
And end it.