GUT #7: The Three Ages Of Marx

 

“The emancipation of the German is the emancipation of the human being. The head of this emancipation is philosophy, its heart is the proletariat. Philosophy cannot be made a reality without the abolition of the proletariat, the proletariat cannot be abolished without philosophy being made a reality.”

Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law, 1844

 

Clearly, the fate of Germany and German people were fundamental to Marx’s conception of world crisis and subsequent revolution.  Consequently, no-one can deny the centrality of conflict between Continental Germany and Anglo Saxon nations in shaping the global history that followed Marx.

 

Marx proclaims ‘The German’ as lynchpin of his (war on) philosophy, and his politics. If the emancipation of The German is the emancipation of humanity it must follow that the emancipation of humanity is not possible without the emancipation of The German. And if the emancipation of humanity is not possible without the emancipation of The German, it must follow that the emancipation of The German is a precondition for the emancipation of humanity. If The German is not emancipated, then humanity cannot be.

 

But in light of the subsequent collapse of German civilisation and the Holocaust we have no choice but to conclude that the liberation of humanity within the terms described by Marx has become an impossibility. How can German ‘workers’ ever lead the world to liberation now? How can they ever be trusted? They are forever discredited; they have built an historical prison from which they can never escape. If the Marxist liberation of humanity  were ever to be resurrected, then  The German  will first have to be liberated from the Holocaust. How can that happen?

 

Marx’s anti-philosophy is a Turin shroud – a two dimensional image we can lay over the shape of history to see where design fits the real form and where it does not. Two world wars have blown much of The German corpus to smithereens- the remains only barely touch Marx’s design for the future here and there. The lines of Marxism sag downward and warp- just shadows on a sheet, supported by nothing. The whole world can see that the image above does not match that of the body beneath it.

 

The prospect of Marxist revolution in Germany and the Anglo Saxon territories was delivered the final coup de gras  by WWII. In Germany Marxists were literally expunged from  the political system. (All that is solid melts into air…) If you were alive in Germany after the conclusion of the Second World War it was de facto proof  that you were not a Marxist, nor had you ever been. Correspondingly, in the Anglo sphere the battle to preserve and rehabilitate German culture and morality was understood as existential necessity. All Saxons- left and right understood that whatever sentence Germany served, they also would jointly serve it even if they were dressed as Germany’s jailers. Marxism’s  political witness could testify  just how far The German had fallen short of  the potential of the 19thC. Anglo Saxons  had no wish to hear it and no wish to let anyone else hear it either.

 

It was as if the world deliberately set out to prove all the fallacies of Marxism and humiliate Marx with the demonstration. Marx argued that the material basis of a society is the foundation of all the structures of that society. The more materially advanced a society is, the more advanced it is in every way – this is the material basis for the possibility of communism. But the world wars culminating in the Holocaust proved conclusively that this is not the case.

 

No matter if  civilisation and material advancement were supposed to be betrothed from birth, The German instead made a black marriage between technology and barbarism. The nature of that barbarism is moral, it  is fascism. It is simply not credible to be asked to believe that a German ‘worker’  can rape,murder and rob Jews and others because he does not understand  his ‘historical role in the class conflict’. After the Holocaust the German worker could never again be portrayed as the hero of history.

 

“It is not a question of what this or that proletarian, or even the whole proletariat, at the moment regards as its aim. It is a question of what the proletariat is, and what, in accordance with this being, it will historically be compelled to do.”

The Holy Family, 1844

 

If Marx wanted to divorce the worker from any conception of morality here was his success in spades! Now the German worker was forever more the very epitome of immorality. The millenarian claim that in the end workers would overthrow capitalism and right the world  is shown to be no more real than the neo liberal claim that markets self regulate  for the benefit of everyone. These are competing statements of faith in the future made in the midst of day to day disaster.  Marx refused to accept the centrality of morality and morality was the wheel on which Marxism was broken.

 

But  just as Marxist revolution and Marxist anti-philosophy  became impossible in Germany and western Europe, so Marxist economics became an absolute necessity. The collapse of Marx’s war on  philosophy made possible the emancipation of Marxist economics. Marxism as revolutionary religious ideology was decapitated. The denuded stump of Marxism, no longer the preserve of political radicals, would serve radical elites instead.

 

And so we finally come to the old man, his final day on earth passing in an armchair by the fire. Marx is Scrooge the old miser and if Marx is Scrooge then Engels must be Marley, co-conspirator in the enterprise. Unlike Dicken’s  novel,  neither  is troubled by apprehension or remorse- after all  what have they to fear? Engels is wealthy and so Marx and his family are well provided for. Both are adamant there is no God, no justice and no retribution.

 

Nevertheless, retribution comes.  I will briefly visit Marx in his death chair  with these three spirits: The First, Second and Third Age of Marx in the hope that something of Marxism itself can be reproached, reproved and perhaps even redeemed.

 

The First Age Of Marx

 

“The emancipation of the German is the emancipation of the human being. The head of this emancipation is philosophy, its heart is the proletariat. Philosophy cannot be made a reality without the abolition of the proletariat, the proletariat cannot be abolished without philosophy being made a reality.”

Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law, 1844

 

Fresh from early adventures in poetry and fiction, young Marx embarks upon his critique of Hegel’s philosophy. He expressly endorses Protestantism and Luther in whom Marx sees  a herald that proclaims the advent of- himself! And Germany is the centre of the real intellectual universe; the proof and testing ground for Marxism.

 

‘My dialectic method is not only different from the Hegelian, but is its direct opposite. …. With him it is standing on its head. It must be turned right side up again, if you would discover the rational kernel within the mystical shell.’

Afterword to the Second German Edition of Capital (1873)

 

Marx is convinced that he has found in his method- the principle of turning Hegel around, the irrefutable answer to everything that had gone before. The anti-thesis to every thesis. All he has to do is apply his method with militant rigour for answers to appear, as straightforward as a chemical titration.  Like young Scrooge, hard  eyed Marx is determined to build his empire free from the hypocrisy and confusion of those that surround him. In particular, free from his father’s hypocrisy and cowardice. The capstone of this empire and Marx’s ascension to high priesthood will be the conscious forsaking of  morality itself. And Marx manages to convince himself that morality will in turn graciously release him from any mutual obligation that might remain.

 

The Second Age Of Marx

 

 ‘Where is the party in opposition that has not been decried as communistic by its opponents in power? Where is the opposition that has not hurled back the branding reproach of communism, against the more advanced opposition parties, as well as against its reactionary adversaries?

Manifesto of the Communist Party

 

We find Marx in 1848 fresh after the publication of the  Communist Manifesto.  At face value  here is Marx in full pomp; Marxism and communism are storming Europe he claims, and national bourgeoisies are powerless and terrified. Here Communism is acceding  to the universality it claims right before our eyes. But  look closer and there is something very wrong here:

 

…It is high time that Communists should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the Spectre of Communism with a manifesto of the party itself. ‘

Manifesto of the Communist Party

 

Apparently what is abroad in the world is not actually communism but a ‘spectre’ of it. Somehow Marx has lost control of his creation, so he is forced to set out in the manifesto the principle of communism. But this creation is the product of reaction not of principle. In fact, the world has produced a thesis  and the Communist Manifesto must be  produced to refute that thesis. It must therefore be antithesis. Marx has codified within his manifesto his original error.  The manifesto  appears in the form of a work of principle- a concise statement. But  it is not what it appears to be. It is in reality a reaction- antithesis and is as limited as a reaction-antithesis.

 

For decades the Communist Manifesto masquerades as a work of principle until the appearance of Das Kapital. Because Communist Manifesto and Kapital are two halves of the same delivery,  the world has to wait until the appearance of his deformed afterbirth reveals the extent of Marx’s misconception.  Kapital is as it is, because  Manifesto fails to be what it claims to be.  The afterbirth, Kapital, is as massive as the birth, Manifesto, is undersized. The afterbirth Kapital, is as red and bleeding as the birth, Manifesto, was pale and anaemic. If the manifesto were truly a work of original defining principle there would never have been the need for Kapital as it was. There would never have been a need for Kapital at all. Now towards the end of his second age, Marx washes up for a short while in Paris  – spiritual home of every  émigré revolutionary and officer of a failed army.   Soon he will relocate permanently to England, and his descent will be complete.

 

In the year 1842-43,…I first found myself in the embarrassing position of having to discuss what is known as material interests…When the publishers of the Rheinische Zeitung conceived the illusion that by a more compliant policy on the part of the paper it might be possible to secure the abrogation of the death sentence passed upon it, I eagerly grasped the opportunity to withdraw from the public stage to my study.

Marx, Preface to the Critique of Political Economy (1859)

 

The Third Age Of Marx

 

Marx did not want to deliver his most famous work; ‘Das Kapital’ in the form that he did. It was an agonising decades long spasm of labour forced on him by the circumstances he contrived in his second age.  Kapital was a massive undertaking whose fundamental objective was impossible to achieve because ‘Das Kapital’ does not represent the triumphant victory and validation of Marx’s theory. It actually represents Marx’s  terms for agreeing to withdraw from the struggle for intellectual supremacy. Das Kapital is a formal resignation letter in which the author offers  peace terms to the world. Negotiating defeat and hailing it as victory is hardly novel in history; is it so surprising that Marx did the same?  Once Marx  lost the battle for philosophical supremacy  the world was pleased to let him pick consolation prizes from what remained.

 

There are three volumes of Kapital but Marx is the actual author of only one: Capital, Volume I (1867). Volume II,  ‘The Process of Circulation of Capital’, and  Volume III, ‘The Process of Capitalist Production as a Whole’, were constructed by Friedrich Engels and others  from notes.  This inevitably coloured  emphasis, context, and overall meaning of these subsequent two works and thus the entirety. In this amalgam of interpretation and construction is the real birth of ‘Marxism’ as separate and opposed to Marx’s specific thought.

 

‘Das Kapital’ took prodigious amounts of effort and time. Marx’s correspondence to Engels and others show varying  enthusiasm for the project requiring frequent comfort and encouragement , not to mention  financial support:

 

 “the thing is proceeding very slowly because no sooner does one set about finally disposing of subjects to which one has devoted years of study than they start revealing new aspects and demand to be thought out further”.

 

Bouts of despair on Marx’s part are often   explained by reference to the sheer size and complexity of the project. The narrative  of Kapital, largely accepted even by Marx’s opponents, is one of overwhelming ambition, more or less accomplished according to your view.  But  in light of  Marx’s own description  we must ask: For every page that was finally written, where are the ten or a hundred pages that could have been written but were not?  Why was Marx driven to write ever more and doomed never to have written enough?

 

Last Words Are For Fools

 

The purpose of analysis is to establish ownership of a principle. When an analysis fails all we are left with is an accumulation of description. Analysis has self defined boundaries  but description by its nature is boundless. When analysis uncovers the  point of principle it is complete.   ‘Kapital’ is only description and not analysis because nowhere in this work does Marx secure ownership of the principle. It must forever be incomplete, no matter how large it is. Nowhere does Marx actually seize the initiative. His analysis of the world never secures the point of principle and completes. Kapital is the consequence of this failing. Had Marx been able to seize the initiative  years before, or at any time, he would never have been in the position of having to write Kapital in the first place!

 

Had Marx had won the war of philosophy he could have dictated terms to the world. Instead he is reduced to sifting through what the world can offer in consolation, effectively making  a list of all the intellectual property  he can claim. Everything except that which he most wanted. Das Kapital is Marx searching though a mountain of words and numbers  for something of  value commensurate to that which he has already lost…

 

Finally, at the end,  Marx is credited with:

 

‘Get Out! Last words are for fools who haven’t said enough!’

 

Perhaps here in his final moment is comprehension of the argument I have been making.

 

And,most telling of all:

 

‘If I were merely to consult my own private inclinations….There could…be no better time for scholarly undertakings…what has happened over the last ten years must have increased any rational being’s contempt for the masses as for individuals to such a degree that ‘odi profanum vulgar et arceo’ [I detest and repudiate the common people. Horace] has almost become an inescapable maxim. However all these are themselves philistine ruminations which will be swept away by the first storm.’2

 

Marx looking for the chaos of revolution to sweep away his very thought processes themselves…

 

1 and 2

Marx-Engels Correspondence 1858

Marx To Ferdinand Lassalle In Düsseldorf

Source: MECW Volume 40, p. 268;
First published: abridged in F Lassalle. Nachgelassene Briefe und Schriften, Berlin, 1922.

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G.U.T. Revealed

“The emancipation of the German is the emancipation of the human being. The head of this emancipation is philosophy, its heart is the proletariat. Philosophy cannot be made a reality without the abolition of the proletariat, the proletariat cannot be abolished without philosophy being made a reality.” [Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law, 1844]

Hegel’s philosophy of dialectics was in itself synthesis. It represented the response to Protestantism’s attack on the foundational Catholic philosophy that had shaped Germany and Europe for the millennia. Identifying the imperative behind this response is key to understanding the dynamic of history since the 18thC.

 

Marx’s battle with synthesised Germanic philosophy forced  him to decamp to England, but retreat provided only temporary respite. Hegel’s dialectic and the problem of moral choice would lay siege to Marx in London and force Marxism  as far west as it was possible to go- America. There was no peace for Marxism even there.

 

Everywhere the synthesised German philosophy held sway was hostile ground to Marxism. Everywhere synthesised German philosophy ruled, Marxism was forced to flee. Marxism could only thrive specifically where synthesised German philosophy did not. These are the true material conditions that determined the success or otherwise of Marxism in any particular time or place. It is not random chance that  Marxism proliferated wherever synthesised western German philosophy failed –  Russia, China, parts of the Far East and now, the modern developed nations. That’s right- Marxism rules in the west now. Marxism gained a foothold when synthesised German philosophy began its decomposition in the western world..

 

The Definition of Tragedy

 

The purpose of GUT is to describe and understand the relationship between Marxism and historical reality as we have experienced it over the past century. Was Marx essentially just an opportunist Victorian radical whose work was a reaction to the development  of industrial capitalism? Or is the Marxist claim that Marx was chosen by the zeitgeist to define a new era and a new conception of history, closer to the truth?

 

Or is it even possible that the history into which Marxism fits points to something different but even more profound than the claims made by Marxists? I will argue that this is the case. Marxists as a whole have FAILED to understand the specific (as opposed to ‘true’), importance of Marxism and failed to communicate this specific importance to the populations of German societies.  The irony is that this failure is  tragedy and genuine disaster precisely for those sections of German societies who came to perceive it as victory. It is a tragedy whose magnitude and depth is only now becoming truly apparent. Defeat perceived as victory is as good a definition of tragedy as any..

 

The key to understanding and defining  Marxism  lies in the context in which Marxism came to be and in which it operated. With this in mind I will briefly survey the most important global powers around 1850 and their relative positions in the world.  Foremost among the Empire powers would be the British Empire comprising of the British Isles and attendant colonies in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It had an outer core of non white populations controlled by Anglo Saxon colonial elites as in South Africa and India etc. At this time the British Empire was  somewhere around the peak of it’s power.

 

Seconded to the British Empire is North America, about to be transformed by the American Civil War of 1861.  The third tier of world powers at that time consisted of western European Latin colonisers such as France, Spain and Portugal. France was clearly fundamentally flawed internally and the other Latin nations; Spain and Portugal  were  heading towards military, social and economic exhaustion. As a consequence their  ability to successfully exploit empire in  South America and elsewhere was rapidly fading.

 

The Struggle To Be Last

 

Behind the western Europeans around 1850  is Germany- finally gaining pace in its development as a scientific and social power. The reasons for Germany’s late development as a capitalist nation state are a fundamental part of GUT. And bringing up the rear of the pack, the two wild cards that would actually shape the detailed course of the 20thC –  Russia and Japan.

 

The two most fraught battles in any race are the battle for first and just as importantly, the battle for last place. While England and Germany fought for first, Russia and Japan were fighting to see who would come last in the league table of developed WHITE nations. Russia and Japan were in a desperate battle to see who was the most or least, ‘white’ among them. This battle would produce the Russo Japanese War and this war in turn would produce the modern world.

 

The two most dynamic world powers driven by the pressure for change, were heading for inevitable conflict with each other. This  is the context for Marx’s prediction that capitalism would collapse. The attitude of  British  and German state and society to Marxism only truly makes sense in this context. Consider the viable active content of Marxism, in particular the collapse and revolution that Marx predicted.  What would be the actual process of collapse? Would it be some textbook abstracted ‘workers revolution’ or would it present itself in a complex, tangential real world way?  And what about the consequences of that collapse? Would the post revolutionary nations simply stop dead at the moment of revolution? Wouldn’t new forces IMMEDIATELY start to fill the vacuum left by collapsing capitalism, long before the point when it could legally be declared dead?

 

In truth there could never be a direct revolutionary confrontation between  workers and capitalists because the forces that led to revolution would have caused each class to decompose partially or fully, before they ever got to the point of terminal confrontation! Workers are the product of capitalism not socialism. If workers really were to be the ‘gravediggers of capitalism’- who would be there to pay them? Who would be there to tell them where to dig the hole? If they could do these things without instruction and payment, they would no longer be workers. If you think about it, a ‘workers revolution’ is by definition a nonsense.. Here is a new revolutionary definition of a worker: A worker is a person who cannot think for themselves.

 

Marx’s analysis predicts increased international competition among various competing national bourgeoisies first economic and then military, finally leading to open conflict.. This is what happened.  But both Germany and England, the two powers that would acutely express this process of competition leading to war were Germanic powers and this is fundamental to understanding the unique character of the historical developments that took place. This is not history as some abstracted map where A N Other ‘nation state’ competes with A N Other  ‘nation state’, but the actual specific course of historical events in all its evidentiary detail.

 

Why The Russian Revolution Succeeded And Why It Failed

 

It is in this context that the only significant contribution to Marx’s critique of political economy outside of Marx himself was the theory of Imperialism developed by Lenin. It was his intellectual accomplishment in understanding the crisis of capitalism in its specific historical terms that led to the success of Lenin and Bolshevism. This was why the Russian revolution succeeded where so many others did not. The success of the Russian Revolution was based concretely on understanding that the crisis of capitalism was to be a specifically German crisis. Lenin’s astounding insight was realising that above all else, capitalism was German. The price that Slavs were to pay for this proclamation of historical truth came twenty years later in the Second Germanic War.  Germans, both Anglo Saxon and Continental,  tried to murder them all.

 

The First ‘War To End All Wars’

 

Around  fifty years after the publication of Das Kapital in 1867 the two Germanic powers were plunged into the First World War or more accurately; the First Germanic War. This war fits into the very definition of ‘mutual ruination’ that Marx spoke of in the event that revolution should fail. The two leading capitalist powers at that time were effectively destroyed by the war they started.  The war resulted directly in the Russian revolution and  America’s consequential rise to leadership on the world stage. However, this was only the beginning. Over the subsequent  two decades  Germanic nations descended into madness and horror. And this historical perspective we have absolutely brings us to a clear understanding of the significance of Marxism.

 

 

 

Once we understand that the growth and collapse of capitalism as an economic force was to be framed within the historical context of the rise and fall of German culture and society we can understand the history of the past two centuries. The socialist struggle to avoid ‘mutual ruination’ (Marx) and ‘barbarism’ (Rosa Luxembourg), was specifically a struggle to avoid German ruination and German barbarity. It was in fact a struggle to avoid an inter Germanic war between the two poles of German culture; the Anglo Saxon and the Continental.

 

It was clear from Marx’s analysis that the capitalist elites of each side could never reach accommodation. They were driven to compete to the death by the very same forces that had given them social and economic life! The only way fatal competition  could be avoided was if some other force in society took over and forced co-operation.  Who could that be?  Who could Marx and the other socialists  find among the respective populations of both continental Germany and England that was so ALIENATED from existing society, so abused, and so disenfranchised that they could abandon culture, history and identity and forge a new TRANSGERMAN alliance and identity?

 

The answer was of course, the working class

 

This is what socialism actually is: a plea to the ALIENATED of both poles of Germanic society to ABANDON CULTURE, IDENTITY AND HISTORY and make common cause to avoid war and mutual destruction. A program for carrying out the seizure of power would be necessary to avoid destruction.

 

This endeavour is best described as German Unification Theory. or G.U.T. for short.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

G.U.T. #4

 

 

Marxist Theory Is The Hallmark Of Capitalist Development

 

Marx noted that capitalism is innately unstable  leading to periodic crisis. It is on this prediction of crisis that  his analysis is built; this makes his critique ‘scientific’ in character as opposed to ‘moral’. Marx’s  economic analysis of the development of capitalism is  powerful, accurate and overwhelmingly borne out by observed events. As a consequence it has become the de facto fulcrum that divides modern from  premodern. In line with Marx’s analysis the undeveloped world has the ‘freest’ markets, the developed world the most regulated.. ‘Development’ itself has come to mean the development of regulatory government structures to predict and ameliorate the effects of periodic crisis. Comprehensive global regulation of economy also divides the world in time from pre crisis to post 2008 watershed. The co-ordinated post financial crisis response was the first time all major economies in the world  acted in unison. It was the first example of true globalism- and it was the global triumph of Marxist analysis.

 

For Marx the fact that he was thinking what he was thinking was evidence in itself  that what he was thinking was happening was already happening- as he was thinking it!  A bit like Artificial Intelligence in science fiction  – all at once his conscious analysis of capitalism was aware of itself.

 

‘The entire movement of history, as simply communism’s actual act of genesis — the birth act of its empirical existence — is, therefore, for its thinking consciousness the comprehended and known process of its becoming’.

 

Private Property and Communism (1844)

 

 

But when Marx actually got down to the practical business of how his consciousness might finally manifest outside of Marx in the real world, how it would be made flesh so to speak, he found he was creating a parody of what he increasingly referred to as generic ‘religion’. Even though the specific observations Marx made about crisis were new and the specific conclusions they led to were new, the framework within which he was forced to shape his thought began to look increasingly, disturbingly familiar.

 

 ‘The theory of Communism may be summed up in one sentence: Abolish all private property”.  

 

‘The abolition of existing property relations is not at all a distinctive feature of communism’.    

The Communist Manifesto

 

Marx realised he could not  explain the origin of  his intellect and his theory from within the terms of that theory itself. Fundamentally, Marx could not think of a new, original reason to explain why new, original Marxism came to be… At times Marx argued that his thought was the product of the present ‘zeitgeist’. At other times he implied it came from the future i.e. he was the first to express this new form of thought. If his theory was totally new, (and it must be because capitalism was supposed to be new), and socialism was new as was Marxism new, how come the core elements of the conclusions it reached were so similar to what had gone before? Why wasn’t the practical conclusion of Marxism as different from everything else as it should be?

 

The key to understanding Marx’s problem lies in the relationship of Marxism to  Hegelian dialectics. Marx’s critique of Hegelian philosophy is central to the Marxist  project and centres on Hegel’s presentation of Thought as an abstracted absolute – a logical preposition.  Given any specific thought or conception, Hegelian philosophy describes how that particular thought is modified and developed. Marx used Hegelian dialectics as both starting point and justification for Marxism by modifying the Hegelian dialectic to produce Marxist dialectics and historical materialism.

 

Whereas in Hegelian philosophy The Thought is the starting point for describing how intellect is developed and subsequently changes, in Marxism The Thought is the end point for describing WHY people think as they do at any given point. Marxism seeks to invert the question form: How do people change their minds from one particular thought to another  to: Why do they have any particular thought in the first place? In Marxism, Thought is the product of a process, the end not the means. Adapting dialectics in this way served a two fold purpose for Marx. Firstly it allowed him to locate his own intellectual identity within the historical process of capitalist  unconsciousness/false consciousness spontaneously becoming conscious and secondly it allowed him to explain the conscious nature of Marxism as a separate entity.

 

None Dare Call It…

 

Marxism is a revolution against Capitalism, Political Economy, Moral Socialism and ‘unconsciousness because once you become conscious you can never again be unconscious. If Marxism is not against all these things, it is not revolutionary. By definition, it can leave nothing untouched. Revolutionary Marxism is the antithesis to every thesis.. Revolution must annihilate what has gone before and seeks to replace old knowledge with new knowledge. Which  means even replacing the knowledge of how the revolution itself came to be. Revolution must in the end deny it’s own arbitrary character -even though arbitrariness is it’s prime justification!- and proclaim things were always meant to be this way and therefore things have always been this way. The revolution was inevitable – it took the revolution to make us see that.  In order to be successful every revolution must finally, inevitably revolt against revolution itself..

 

The Significance Of Marx’s Authorship

 

‘ …. in the end, one will be found among us who will prove that the sword of enthusiasm is just as good as the sword of genius.’

Engels, Anti-Schelling (1841)

 

Revolutionary Marxist dialectics must annihilate Hegelian dialectics, and Marx sought to use the very essence of Hegelian dialectics as the means with which to achieve this end, which everyone must admit is very clever. So the battle was between Hegelian dialectics; the ‘HOW’ of Thought, and Marxist dialectics; the ‘WHY’ of Thought.  Look again at Marx’s battle against idolatry religion (see parts 1-3), and you can see that Marx is using exactly the same trick in every instance.. Marx sought to use the Judaic injunction on idolatry against Judaism, and in turn sought to use Hegelian dialectics against Hegel. But just as Marx ended up creating a new form of idolatry religion so he reproduced the Hegelian process in a different form..

 

In Hegelian terms (Thesis, Antithesis and Synthesis), you cannot abolish the ‘past’ (the starting point), you can only modify it. Add water to whisky as much as you like, you can only dilute the mixture, you cannot remove the whisky that is already there. The prime objective of revolutionaries; abolition of what is gone before, is impossible. This Hegelian problem plagued Marxists way past the death of Marx and even past the initial phase of the Russian Revolution. Trotsky finally devised the idea of continually diluting whisky in the barrel before it even got poured into the glass and claimed that this made the problem of dilution moot. He called his solution (pun intended), ‘The Marxist Theory Of Permanent Revolution’.

 

Revolution is antithesis not synthesis; the midway point in a process, not the end of that process. It is the contradiction of everything that presently is. But this means that Marxism is only a way station in the process of thought, not the outcome of the thought process. In Hegelian terms Marxist revolution as antithesis leads to a final synthesis that is different from the Marxist revolution itself. Revolution is not the final outcome, it is the basis for the outcome. Marx sought to specify the outcome of the Marxist revolution, but could not because in as far as Marx is truly revolutionary he could not know the outcome of the revolution he promoted. In Hegelian terms to be a revolutionary is to oppose yourself to past and future.

 

The Gospel According To Marx

 

‘The writer must earn money in order to be able to live and to write, but he must by no means live and write for the purpose of making money.’

‘He called me a sentimental idealist and he was right; I called him a vain man, perfidious and crafty, and I also was right’

 

Quoted in Brian Morris, Bakunin: The Philosophy of Freedom, 1993, p14

 

 

The issue of authorship is the crucial factor that determines the  significance of everything that Marx wrote. The issue of my authorship is the crucial factor determining the significance of everything I write. And everything you write and so on.. If an author fails to maintain the narrative that supports authorship then that writing must fail. The primary purpose of all writing must be to validate the author of that writing. According to Marx, if Marxism was valid in its own terms then it  was part of the continuum of development that had to be located in the history and development of capitalism. The emergence of socialist consciousness was the inevitable consequence of the development of capitalism. This was the logic of human development. This was the logic of Marx himself. Logic is the formula for inevitability.

 

Two Wrongs..

 

This leads directly to Marx’s  critique of Hegel which ‘flipped’ Hegel on its own internal logic to produce Marxism. This flipping of Hegel produces the revolutionary Marxist antithesis of the Hegelian thesis. So as Marxism stakes its claim to be  revolutionary it must forsake its right to name socialism as a successor to the capitalism and Hegelianism it opposes-. Marxism loses it’s purchase on the outcome of the revolution it instigates.. In theory Marx can double down on revolutionary opposition and argue that Hegelian philosophy is absolutely wrong. But If Hegel is absolutely wrong then Marx’s tactic of flipping it on it’s head, using Hegel against Hegel, must also be totally wrong. If Hegel is error, error is not located in the historical process of development of human thought! (if it is, there is no  rational logical predictable march to consciousness as Marx claims…) Two wrongs, however they are put together,  don’t make a right. The more resolute Marx’s opposition to Hegel, the more firmly Marx embeds himself as revolutionary opposition within the framework of Hegel and the less grasp Marxism has on the outcome of the struggle it began. The only other option is that Marx’s analysis and its authorship does not follow on from Hegel (Error)- it is completely separate from it. Then Marx would stand alone, revealed and naked as in the Garden of Eden…

 

The Gates of Eden

 

Fundamentally Marx’s problem is the same as that of Lucifer. Marx claims to have discovered a principle that precedes the principle he begins from, just as Lucifer does. If God Were not The First, if God Had not prescribed the principles of Heaven and Earth, then Lucifer argues he would be legally, rationally  free to propose a new better framework based on a principle he discovered that precedes God. But God Created Lucifer and everything Lucifer does and could ever think. So nothing Lucifer can ever think can precede God, including the principle he claims to have ‘discovered’.  Just as lightning touches earth and is grounded, so Lucifer whenever and wherever he seeks to set foot on the earth, is grounded by this fact. So it is with Marx and Hegel. Marx claims to have discovered a principle that precedes the principle of Hegel but is forced to admit this principle is created as a consequence of Hegel.

 

Morality, religion, metaphysics, all the rest of ideology and their corresponding forms of consciousness, thus no longer retain the semblance of independence. They have no history, no development; but men, developing their material production and their material intercourse, alter, along with this their real existence, their thinking and the products of their thinking.

German Ideology (1845)

 

Welcome To My Nightmare

 

Because Hegel anticipates Marxism and literally accounts for it, Marx must always be antithesis. Marx saw himself as being trapped, prisoner and victim of the order of events in the universe where he was forced to stand forever in an historical  line  behind Hegel when he should be at the head of the queue. And he complained bitterly over and over again about it.

 

“Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living. And just as they seem to be occupied with revolutionizing themselves and things, creating something that did not exist before, precisely in such epochs of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service, borrowing from them names, battle slogans, and costumes in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honoured disguise and borrowed language.”

 

There Is No Alternative.. Is There?

 

The only options for Marx were either deny Hegel entirely (including the context in which Hegel existed), or agree to be bound by him. Either to say there is no ‘law’ of historical development, just the ideas and opinions of individuals, or there is a law and Hegel precedes Marx in it.

 

The premises from which we begin are not arbitrary ones, not dogmas, but real premises from which abstraction can only be made in the imagination. They are the real individuals, their activity and the material conditions under which they live, both those which they find already existing and those produced by their activity. These premises can thus be verified in a purely empirical way.

German Ideology (1845)

 

Of course, if there is no such law then Marx’s claim to be the chosen inheritor of that law would necessarily be wrong. Marx would have to admit that a fundamental part of his analysis was in error. And more importantly, Marx would not be the choice of the contemporary concrete, world to further human progress, he would only be only one random voice of many. In essence, be only another opinion. Not chosen. The inheritor of nothing.

 

How to proceed had become a matter of intellectual courage, rather than intellect per se and Marx simply did not have that courage. Unlike Adam, Marx could only find it in himself to stand at the Gates Of Eden (cause and effect, the dialectic) cursing  God (Hegel) rather than go out naked and alone into the wilderness- to say that he himself was in essence merely a collection of opinions.. Cut off from both past and future,  Marx only could ever be Marx   if he channelled total revolution and antithesis, chaos,  whatever the consequences. From then on the point was to change it- whatever it was..

 

…we see how the resolution of the theoretical antitheses is only possible in a practical way (my emphasis), by virtue of the practical energy of man. Their resolution is therefore by no means merely a problem of understanding, but a real problem of life, which philosophy could not solve precisely because it conceived this problem as merely a theoretical one.’

Marx, Private Property and Communism (1844)

 

Rather than admit that Marx could not solve his problem of philosophy, Marx proclaimed that Marx was a problem philosophy could not solve! As could go neither forward nor back, Marx would devote the rest of his existence to digging a burrow for himself next to the Gates of Eden and here he would remain locked out from the past, unwilling to face his future. Hiding in the space between antithesis and synthesis.  Just as Marx told the moral socialists they would have to sacrifice their moral heaven for a rational one,  so he in turn would have to sacrifice his vision of rational logical, socialist Heaven and give himself over to experimental chaos instead.

 

Marx had been utterly defeated in the realm of rational philosophy. He was now  like defeated Napolean, traipsing across a blasted landscape of his own making, intellectually destitute- a refugee. Where was the only place in the world a man could be guaranteed asylum from the power of rational philosophical enquiry?

 

England.

 

The first part of Marx’s analysis; ‘crisis’ (antithesis) was established. The second part of his analysis, ‘socialism’ (synthesis) could never be. Crisis was the product of reason but subsequent socialism, despite everything Marx said, remained in the realm of choice. Realising that he was powerless to remove choice itself, Marx argued to change the rationale for that choice from morality to reason. Not  choice based on right and wrong but based instead on  heading for the future whether we liked it or not. A  future of two possibilities; Socialism or mutual ruination. Marx came to argue that there is an unwritten contract between capitalists and history and workers and history. ( compare this with England’s unwritten constitution). Workers were signed on to be the gravediggers of capitalism, capitalists the occupants of the box.. If all sides kept to the terms of the agreement there would be a predictable outcome- revolution.

 

 

History is the judge — its executioner, the proletarian.

Speech at Anniversary of The People’s Paper (1856)

 

From this point the mission of Marxists would be to hold capitalism and workers to the contract they had with history. Capitalist would create crisis after crisis of increasing severity until workers rebelled. Marxists would encourage the capitalists with relish. But by late 19thC it was clear that both capitalists and workers had begun to vary the terms of this historical contract. In Germany social provision and welfare emerged under the tutelage of  Bismark ; a process that  spread rapidly over all the Germanic territories of NW Eurasia. The two main holdouts  were England and USA, Anglo Saxon societies and economies.  This state of affairs held until the post World War II capitulation when America and England both adopted welfarism as a consequence of   two World Wars and a  Russian revolution. In a peculiar inversion, here was the first real vindication of Marxism, capitalists themselves conceded that if capitalism was  not managed there was indeed a danger of absolute collapse.

 

Cultural Capitalism

 

The  element of choice Marx failed to destroy returned to centre stage with a vengeance. The twentieth century revealed it was possible to be morally committed to capitalism while rationally accepting it would collapse without intensive and ever increasing management. Through the ideas of Keynes pundits and economists began to modify capitalism to deal with the extremes of its operation with the express purpose of preserving it for its moral and cultural qualities. The economics of capitalism were over. Capitalism revealed itself as pure religion. A moral, cultural choice.

 

Capitalism and those who lived within the system became increasingly characterised by degrees of acceptance instead of absolute acceptance. From this point on Capitalism is characterised by its failure to consistently and comprehensively transform the nature of the societies it operates on. Capitalism begins with an initial phase of rapid and comprehensive restructuring of any given society.. But capitalism is unable to change the nature of societies at a deeper level. It runs out of momentum. We now are at an historical juncture where third world transformation by capitalism  still appears to be relatively rapid and large scale but first world transformation has ground to a  standstill and is moribund. When was the last time capitalism changed anything significant  in a developed nation?

 

Just as the ‘bosses’ choices began to splinter by degrees, so  the workers  increasingly seemed to be captured by ‘momentary diversions’. And the final developed picture of modern economy comes fully into focus.

 

The Marxist concept of crisis is fully universally accepted.

The threat of crisis is to be offset by government intervention.

The extent and depth of this intervention increases year on year.

The only way to limit government intervention is to…use the government to do it!

The Marxist revolution is as complete as it ever could be .

Synthesis.