GUT#5: The Philosophy Refugee

 

‘The English have all the material requisites for the revolution. What they lack is the spirit of generalization and revolutionary ardour.’

 

Marx waged war on classical German philosophy and failed. He failed because he could not claim to be inheritor of the western tradition and its destroyer at the same time. That method of attack; infiltration and then rebellion, had been open to Luther in his assault on the Catholic church, but not open to Marx; Hegel had seen to that through his development of dialectics.

 

German philosophy (civilisation), learned a lesson from the fate of the Catholic church in the German Reformation and was ready and armed for the day when Marx or another like him emerged. Marx, who saw himself as the ultimate anticipator, had been anticipated by Hegel. The newly emergent political economy as practiced by Smith and Ricardo was not so prepared and payed the price accordingly; it was overrun and devastated by Marxism. Failure in the field of philosophy and success in the field of economic theory defines the nature of Marxism and the relationship between Marxism and capitalist society.

 

Marx set political economy a trap from which it could not escape; a running noose that progressively tightened the more the victim struggled.  Hegel did the same with Marx. Should Marx chose to be  revolutionary, he would be forced to accept the arbitrary nature of power undermining the idea of inevitable historical progress he was advocating.  Although he liked to think of himself as Lucifer in the Abrahamic tradition, Marx is more like ‘Thor’ the German ‘god’ of thunder whose power mainly consists of a form of ‘Sturm und Drang’ – sound and fury ultimately signifying nothing. Every moment across the earth’s atmosphere there are countless micro electrical discharges from air to earth, returning the air to equilibrium charge. In the same way every time one of countless choices or accommodations is made by ‘proletarian’ or ‘capitalist’, Marxism is grounded by a force it cannot account for. A charge builds up and is then dissipated. Every so often a major lightning strike does occur, but these are rare and only a danger to anything that gets between charge and earth. Mostly these electrical storms only serve to frighten children.

 

This comparison between Lucifer and Thor is instructive. It was central to Marx’s conception of himself and his project that he would  lead opposition forces – i.e. be Lucifer, with all other socialist variants subordinate to Marxism after the form of ‘Paradise Lost’. This struggle to dominate opposition would characterise much of the explicitly political activity that Marx and Engels undertook  in the years in which they engaged in active organisation of workers movements. But as Thor is merely one of many German ‘gods’, so Marx is one of a pantheon of 19thC revolutionaries, one whose main job was to scare with lightning and thunder while others sought to pursue a quieter course. Marxism fitted into a niche within Germanic socialism as a whole- as the extreme that less radical elements could use to prompt concessions from bosses and governments and with which bosses could scare workers. Again we return to the idea of Marxism itself being  co-opted, and leveraged in a way that Marx was not able to control. The idea that workers, trades union leaders, churchmen and even finally capitalists could choose to pick up or lay down Marxist thought and rhetoric as it suited them, never seemed to seriously occur to Marx.

 

But again, this is not to deny that where Marxism is blocked in the philosophical sphere it rebounds with double the destructive force against political economy.  Despite his philosophical shortcomings, Marx was if anything, a victim of his own intellectual success in the field of economics. Marx saw modern industrial capitalism emerging from the womb, saw the defect on its face at the moment of  birth, and realised that the significance of this inherent deformity was that it presaged the inevitability of capitalism’s death, even if Marx could not predict the time and place. And it was not just capitalism itself but one hundred disciplines born out of capitalism that Marx cursed. Sociology, Psychology, Economics, Criminology, were  all doomed in the crib  by Marx, like the Bad Fairy in Sleeping Beauty.  If this is true , how did this curse have power? What was the nature of that power? Where did this power come from?

 

Marxism is flawed in the sense that it does not belong to mainstream western tradition at all. It is more in the tradition of  Diogenes and Socrates, which like ‘democracy’ are claimed by the western mainstream tradition in name but denied in action.  Marx’s rhetorical devices are Zen like koans whose purpose is to short circuit thought (philosophy), and lead to action.  This shrinking of the philosophical horizon to the impetus for action is fundamental to the revolutionary impulse. In a similar vein, in his ‘Meditations’ Marcus Aurelius’ Stoic philosophy  reduces the essence of man’s conscious perspective to the span of a fraction of a fraction of a second because the Stoicism he advocated  finds no consolation in the past and no hope in the future.  All Stoics have is the moment they are in and the same applied to Marx. His purpose was to maintain balance over the abyss between revolutionary antithesis and post revolutionary synthesis. In the same way a tightrope walker uses a pole, Marx used projection into both past and future as a means of giving himself stability.. For a tightrope walker, the longer the pole the better it works to balance the tightrope walker. Through historical materialism, Marx incrementally balanced both distant past and distant future over time only as a means  to stabilise his existence in the present. Marx had no serious interest in the past or the future outside of how they might serve him from one second to another. This is a fundamental insight into Marx and Marxists. They are happy to burn the doors and window frames to heat the house for the week. They are happy to mortgage the gutted building to buy groceries for the day.

 

Analysis of Marx’s philosophy has brought us to consideration of Marx’s material facts, in particular why Marx decided to spend the bulk of his intellectual career in London. Simply put, in philosophical terms Germany could create a Marx but not sustain him. whereas England could sustain a Marx but not create him. Like a tadpole becoming a frog and moving from water to lilly pad, Marx changed internally according to environment and  changed environment according to the dynamic of his personal transformation.

 

Marx’s defeat at the hands of continental philosophy had brought him to London as a philosophy refugee but  it has never been clear by what means Marx could successfully live in London, not least in freedom from the attentions of the British state. Marx’s physical existence in London was characterised by poverty and insecurity. It was only through the sponsorship of Engels that Marx was able to undertake his research. Living in London was not materially advantageous to Marx and it is also clear that London was no more advantageous in terms of the likelihood of revolution occurring there. Anglo Saxons had already clearly emerged as the people in Europe least likely to revolt against the processes that characterised the development of capitalism and the people most likely to compromise with them . In ‘The Condition Of the Working Class in England’ Engels noted the process by which Saxon capitalism was transforming itself through modifying extreme aspects of its development.

 

Despite the fact that there was no imminent danger of revolution, there would surely have been some desire to remove Marx as a supposedly dangerous revolutionary, and if not that at the very least to neutralise any threat he may come to pose. Or if not even that, then to make him serve the interests of the British state either actively or passively.  Since Marx was allowed to remain  unmolested we can deduce that the British state clearly felt there was no threat in Marx or saw a positive advantage in having Marx in the capital city of England.  We can reasonably draw the conclusion that at some level Marx served the interest of England against the interest of Germany in that England felt it had nothing to fear from Marx’s philosophy whereas it felt Germany had.  Germany was increasingly seen by the English state and elite  as a competing  and potentially dangerous foreign power, but one whose potential weakness for continental radicalism presented both danger and opportunity for England. And here is the kind of irony and humour that Marx would appreciate.

 

Marx came to England precisely because no-one understood philosophy there. Nobody in England even understood the significance of philosophy.  Because no-one understood philosophy in England, no-one understood how Marx had been already been defeated by classic German philosophy by the time he got to London. In as far as they took him at his word, the English elite accepted to a greater or lesser extent the nature and  extent of the threat that Marx could pose to the emerging German power. They were happy to have Marx in London on the basis that he could provide advantage to them  with regard to destabilising Germany and posed no significant threat to the stability of England. But in fact the exact opposite was true. In actual fact Marx posed no threat to the German elite and every threat to the Saxons…

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G.U.T.3

 

Guest Of Honour

 

History is nothing but the activity of men in pursuit of their ends.

 

I described how Marx conjured for himself an historical invitation as guest of honour to the forthcoming revolution- to celebrate the emancipation of the ‘working class’ . The third part of his triangle- Capital, also had to be given form so that the working class had something to be liberated from. From this beginning the subject of Marx’s ‘scientific’ work was endowed  with one particular  purpose; it could not be allowed to discredit Marx and Marxism or by necessity we would never have heard of any of it. But how can Marx’s conception of history and the development of mankind be ‘scientific’ if it does not allow for the possibility that it is wrong in all or in part?

 

 

If thy eye offend thee…

 

Marx had been (self) selected by history to  create rational scientific socialism.  From the outset, given the transformative, millennial nature of his message  Marx understood the danger of being accused of creating a secular religion with himself as Moses (and God),  the workers as the Israelites and capital as Pharaoh. Marx, acutely sensitive to the charge of religiosity developed the argument that all ‘religion’ is the product of men and therefore essentially idol worship. Using an incredible parody of Judaic condemnation of paganism as justification, Marx argued it had now became necessary to rid socialism of all  idolatry religious content. But this purging meant excising morality and therefore the element of conscious choice. Socialism cannot embody conscious choice because it is amoral, or beyond morality. It is conscious in the sense that it is scientific and rational. As such it requires acceptance and submission to rationality, not choice. In order to enter scientific socialist heaven new scientific socialist man would have to sacrifice his moral conscience.

 

In building scientific socialism Marx found himself parodying Moses and the Israelites, then parodying the Judaic injunction against idols and the commandment that ‘Thou shalt have no other God but Me’. Finally the ‘rational’ socialism he created required absolute submission before revealed truth. It is little wonder that Marx increasingly complained that :

 

History (meaning religious history-author ) is a nightmare from which mankind (by which he meant Marx himself), struggles to extricate itself.

 

If Marx succeeded in freeing himself, socialism would no longer be moral choice but  scientific fact. Consequently a rational man may choose between two moral alternatives but is forced to choose scientific reality and therefore socialism would  be inevitable for rational people. Since understanding and implementing socialism was no longer a question of morality but one of  consciousness or rationality,  the question I pose becomes even more pressing – Under capitalism you are free to think and sometimes even to speak as you wish, so long as you do as you are told by Capitalists. Capitalism is what you do, not what you think.. Given that Capitalism is what you do, not what you think;  Why can you be an ‘unconscious’ capitalist and not an unconscious socialist? The logical answer is that if socialism did not require ‘consciousness’ there would be no need for Marx and Marxism. Marx would happily do anything for workers and the world revolution apart from write himself out of the picture.  Socialism has to be conscious, or else there is no role for Marx! The intellectual basis for Marxism can be nothing other than a justification for Marx himself….

 

The conscious ideology of Marxism is the product of Marx, but capitalism is not the product of any one person’s thought. Therefore it cannot be  conscious in the way that Marxism is conscious.  Rather, capitalism is the product of capitalists and  workers doing certain things. But we must conclude in line with Marxism  that when workers do what they are ‘supposed’ to do the product is capitalism, not socialism. It is only when workers think about what they are doing in a different way, that what they do could possibly be socialism. This is Marx’s historical warrant to write Kapital..to make capitalism in general and workers in particular, conscious.  But if capitalism is not already conscious, how can it have given rise to Marx and Marxism, which, by Marx’s own argument are the product of capitalism? How can unconsciousness spontaneously produce consciousness? Capitalism must have some seed of consciousness to produce Marx and Marxism. Marx had to find that seed of consciousness to explain himself….

 

A Tale Of Two Titles

 

If capitalism were actually conscious it might more rightly be called  ‘Smithism’  after author of the Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith. This is tacitly acknowledged by Marx  in subtitling Kapital ; ‘A Critique of Political Economy’ which effectively means a critique of Adam Smith and Ricardo and their conception of the significance of capitalism. This approach would account for Capitalism in as far as it was conscious. But capitalism is also unconscious and that also has to be accounted for.  If Marx succeeded in defeating the political economy of Smith and Ricardo, he would simply have defeated two of the high priests of capitalism; he would not have even scratched capitalism itself because capitalism is what you do, not what you say. The author of conscious socialism must also defeat the author of unconscious capitalism …Capital, hence the main title of his major work.  Marx  must critique Smithism, with his critique of political economy and must also critique Capital. So Kapital .. A Critique Of Political Economy came into being with two titles.  Like a dog chasing two hares at once Marx was destined never to catch either of them.

 

All that is solid melts into air..

 

For They Know Not..

 

For Marx’s historical  process to work it was necessary to make capitalism self aware. But what does this mean exactly? It means exactly and specifically to hold capitalism to its own rules. If capitalism cannot operate by it’s own declared rules it will be proved to be irrational and should be overthrown. But it can only be shown to have broken it’s own rules if there are defined rules to be broken. That means there has to be a defined authority to make these rules. But under capitalism everybody is that defined authority because capitalism is what the majority of people do in a capitalist country. And  capitalism can break the rules in two ways. It can knowingly break it’s own rules and it can unknowingly break it’s own rules.   This would come to be a fundamental part of the development of the subsequent  critique of capitalism. The difference between a venal and mortal sin is awareness of the nature of your actions. A sin is mortal if knowingly committed. This gives rise to a new vista: To what extent are the failures of  capitalists the result of ignorance or of conscious sin?

 

Forgive them, for they know not what they do

 

If Capitalists sinned knowingly then the answer and the judgement must be Marxism. But if capitalists sinned unknowingly then the answer and the judgement might be Keynesianism..

 

G.U.T.

Whatever else Karl Marx was, he was not a Marxist- as he himself is reported to have said. This comment is generally taken as a dig at the intellectual quality of ‘Marxists’ and one all the more piquant because it comes from the progenitor of Marxism..  But it is possible to see this from another point of view; as a typically wry observation that Marx himself understood that he could not be a Marxist according to the logic of his own position, because he was unwilling and unable to apply a strict Marxist interpretation to Marxism itself. If Marx was accusing anyone, he was accusing himself…. His favourite motto:

De omnibus dubitandum [Everything must be doubted].”

would of necessity include Marx himself of course…

Marxism as an ideology necessarily comes into existence in it’s own terms. Marxism proclaims that it derives  purpose and validity solely by virtue of it’s own content. For a Marxist, there are no questions to be asked about Marxism’s  origins or the context in which it came to existence outside of the terms of Marxism itself. At first glance his seems a bit knotty, but in fact the logic is quite straightforward. Let me elaborate: Marxism is given as the product of Marx’s intellectual development which in turn is the product of the development of the objective conditions that gave rise to it; (That would be Marx’s intellectual development and also Marxism, which are two different things, but also the same thing,,,ahem..) Let me elaborate further…

The basic idea underpinning historical materialism is that capitalism inevitably comes into existence because of mankind’s increasing productive capacity through technological advance. By the same process socialism/communism also inevitably must come into existence because of the inherent nature of capitalism. In so far as mankind’s development is inevitable, so the development of capitalism from feudalism and then socialism from capitalism is inevitable.  And since socialism is the first truly self aware social movement, it’s ideology must also inevitably come into existence at the same time that socialism itself comes into existence.(Because if it didn’t then it wouldn’t be self aware..and therefore not Marxism/socialism). You can be a functioning capitalist without necessarily understanding capitalism but you can’t be a functioning socialist without understanding socialism. On the contrary, Marxists argue that it is a precondition of being a capitalist that you do not really understand the true nature of capitalism since if you did then you would be…. a socialist!

“Communism is for us not a state of affairs which is to be established, an ideal to which reality [will] have to adjust itself. We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things. The conditions of this movement result from the premises now in existence.”
Karl Marx

This fundamental conditionality is encapsulated in the idea of ‘false consciousness’ which, like many such concepts, is used in inverse proportion to the extent it is understood. The vulgar exposition of false consciousness is that workers believe they have a stake in the ongoing success of capitalism when in fact their best interest would be served by its collapse. But actually the doctrine of false consciousness holds that thought is ‘falsely conscious’ when it holds itself to be the product of abstracted reason instead of objective conditions. In other words a thought is conscious in that it wants to be the product of reason (which is what consciousness consists of, according to Marx),  but it is false in that it is not actually the product of reason but an expression of the social relationships that gave rise to that thought. In more prosaic, (but no less convoluted), terms; You think that you think what you think because you have reasoned it out and therefore there is no reasoned alternative to what you are thinking.  But in reality you think what you think because you have been conditioned to think it. Simply because you are unaware that you have been conditioned to think as you do, your conditioned thought is non rational. If you did understand that you have been conditioned to think as you do, then this would necessarily be the first step toward breaking that conditioning and becoming truly aware, (a socialist).

“Necessity is blind until it becomes conscious. Freedom is the consciousness of necessity.”

In general the first step towards becoming a socialist/Marxist is to understand that there is an historical identity to capitalism because that specific understanding breaks the conditioning of capitalism.

“Once the inner connection is grasped, all theoretical belief in the permanent necessity of existing conditions collapses before their collapse in practice
Letter to Ludwig Kugelmann (July 11, 1868)”
Selected Letters: The Personal Correspondence 1844-1877

From this whole cloth the historical materialism I refer to above  is created. Historical materialism holds that the emergence, development and demise of capitalism is part of an ongoing historical process. On the contrary, modern capitalist ideology holds that capitalism itself is the end point of that process. (The ‘End Of History’ a la Francis Fukyama).

A brief word to clarify what is meant by conditioning here. This is not necessarily a directed process in the Pavlovian sense of training a dog to salivate at the sound of a bell, but rather a natural outcome of interaction with the world as it presently is. To a Marxist, thought is the contemporaneous state of the world mediated through the minds of the people that inhabit it.

“Society does not consist of individuals, but expresses the sum of interrelations, the relations within which these individuals stand.”
Grundrisse: Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy

As a consequences of this perspective, Marxism understands thought as a PRODUCT not a cause in distinction from capitalists who regard thought as a means to an end instead of an end product in itself. Thought is unconscious ( falsely conscious), to the extent  of being a product and not a cause. Thought is actually conscious to the extent of being a cause and not a product. ( hence the famous Marx quote:

Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.

Eleven Theses on Feuerbach

These prophetic words are inscribed upon Marx’s grave. Irony.

Marx argued this in direct contradistinction to Hegelian philosophy although he claimed Hegel in part as inspiration. In fact, Marx characterised his materialism in exactly this way as the contradictory argument that refines Hegelian philosophy. Hegel starts from the process of thought and goes on to explain the thought process but Marx ends at thought. In this way Marx directly contradicts Hegel and yet claims though this contradiction to be his successor! This startling conception of the thought process gives rise to a problem however. If a given thought process is the product of the conditioning that created it, surely it is trapped by that very same conditioning. How can such a thought process ever realise that it is the product of conditioning? How can you modify your own thought process just by thinking about it? How can you lift yourself up by your own shoe laces? It is clear that for the argument to work some outside force becomes necessary to break into the conditioning/thinking feedback loop and produce a change.

Luckily as it turns out, capitalism just happens to contain within itself that agent of change!

PART 2 Back To The Future Or Actually The Future Is Exactly What It Used To Be Or Neo Feudalism Or Now Listen You Queer, Stop Calling Me A Crypto Nazi Or I’ll Sock You In The Goddamn Face!

 

The general political and economic history we are taught focuses on forms of society over the functions that form represents. It teaches economic and political structures are primary and the forces they actually represent are secondary at best.

 

This creates a history and a politics that are at best really only a series of snapshots strung together in the semblance of a storyboard, or at worse a single blurred image, the import of which we endlessly haggle over with no hope of ever coming to a clear resolution.

 

If we accept this fragmentation of history and politics the best insight we can hope for is the pyramidal model of society that the ‘left’ and ‘right’ use.

 

The understanding we have of history and politics is not the result of unknowable abstractions, it is the concrete result of the most powerful forces in the society we live in. A fragmented and disintegrated political/ economic system inevitably produces a fragmented and disintegrated understanding of history and politics.

 

The disintegration of capitalist society we experience can be sourced to an elite – traditionally seen as the ‘top of the pyramid’, effectively drawing off a vector of wealth and power from society but not redistributing any of that wealth and power back.

 

Capitalism did not always do this, nor is it necessarily forced to this, but it has the tendency to do this. The potential to systematically and permanently vector wealth away from society to a specific elite differentiates Capitalism from all the other forms of society, contemporary and historical. It is what makes capitalism special.

 

Capitalism is a form of society where economics really can be separate from politics -an observation the left vehemently denies and the right celebrates but refuses to acknowledge the consequences of. But why does the ‘left’ deny this simple observation? Understand this and you understand the relationship between War, Welfare and Whiteism.

 

In the Divergent Split Stream Model the capitalist elite draws off wealth and power through the capitalist vector . (shown here). This wealth and power becomes increasingly INVISIBLE and UNKNOWABLE to the remaindered feudal integrated vector. For mainstream economics and politics (which are the province of feudalism), more or less the whole purpose of existence has become to try to understand what your elite is doing at any given time and hopefully to influence it.

ssm

Understanding the process of disintegration can give us historical insights into the motivations of the elite and their consequences for society as a whole.

 

At a crucial stage in its development, a capitalist elite is no longer automatically obliged to organise or defend the society they benefit from, symbolised by the moving out of military uniform that all capitalist elites eagerly undertake when they are able. I pointed out that kings and barons rise and fall with the redistribution systems they service. This is as true for contemporary feudal/integrated societies as for those that existed 500 years ago.

 

Capitalists are consciously ‘Independent’ when they no longer go to war to defend the society that protects and benefits them. Think about George Washington and the American War of Independence in this context. Think also about Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.

 

At the time of George Washington, nascent Anglo Saxon capitalists in America were in the process of creating a new separate system of wealth accumulation and redistribution based on the wholesale theft of that continent.

 

If anything distinguished the emerging Saxon American system from its European counterparts it was the fact that it sought to be pure and whole. The Anglo Saxon American process was entirely one of transferring a territory and its wealth from one racial cultural group to another; there was literally nothing else happening in America at that time. Proto America understood itself to be entirely a redistribution system.

americanmodel

And everyone who benefitted agreed that the process had great potential. It became the American Anglo Saxon evangelical project to demonstrate to the world that such a thing as a society running with only a capitalist vector was actually possible!

 

Here is America’s specific claim to moral, political, and historical uniqueness in the world; Germanic Land Democracy that you can successfully run a society without a feudal/integrated vector. Damn the Pope! Damn the European hierarchy of Church, Nobility and Society! And Double Damn Noblesse Oblige!

 

Just as ‘The King’ is the personification of the feudal/integrated system so ‘The Individual’ is the personification of this Capitalist vector. Summed up in the truly bizarre Saxon cri de coueur : ‘The Englishman’s Home Is His Castle’. Feudalism and Capitalism fused together; Germanic land Democracy.

 

At the precise historical moment of Americas birth, two imperatives clashed in the person of George Washington. One moment he was required to act as feudal king fighting a war as guarantor and defender of a uniquely American redistribution system. The next moment he was President; a mere elected functionary.

 

Washington hovered between these two states of public (and internal!), being. As feudal king his purpose was to integrate American society, as President he was representing the interests of forces that were striving to create the first permanently disintegrated society.

 

If you doubt the feudal personification of Washington and the American elite, remember that they named America’s capital city after this single man. And they did it with straight faces and no hint of irony. Isn’t this the very essence of ‘primitive’ feudalism?

 

Now compare the American Continental War with the First World War which was the last time a significant section of European, (in particular continental German), capitalists were willing to actually fight and die for the society they were beneficiaries of. After the Somme there were to be no more trenches for the young men of these elites. It was this change in society more than any other that gave the Second World War its own character twenty years later.

 

In a bizarre mix of comedy and tragedy, German corporate bosses decided to hire a replacement mock-feudal military caste to stand in for them in the form of the Nazis, led by the corporal Hitler! Has there ever been such a catastrophic bungle by any social group in history?

 

The burgher market trader instincts of German capitalists gave birth to the most deadly set of consequences imaginable. Most horribly ironic of all, Germans clearly recognise their propensity for this kind of stupidity in the classic tale of the ‘Pied Piper of Hamlyn’. But they are doomed to go ahead and relive it anyway…over and over again.

 

So here are two Germanic elites and two very different stories. American Anglo Saxon and Continental German had to adapt to and adopt the necessities of feudal integration and both did so in very different ways. These were two nations at different times under existential threat from outside. The Anglo Saxon American revolutionaries took feudalism on wholesale, the Continental Germans tried to buy a ready made version of it off the shelf. The Anglo Saxons in America succeeded wildly and the Germans failed catastrophically. Neither outcome was happenstance.

 

The historical lesson here is that CAPITALISM ALWAYS NEEDS FEUDALISM to survive and develop. If Capitalism fails to harness the power of feudalism, it risks its own existence. You can‘t fake it as the German bourgeoisie found out to its cost…

 

Most exactly of all, Capitalism needs to construct a feudalist distribution sub system if the capitalist elite is to successfully disintegrate itself from society.

 

Who will administer society if the capitalist elite is off pursuing its own interests? On what basis, with what justification, will this administering body operate? Its only viable justification is the integration of society; the essence of feudalism

 

A bureaucracy must be formed representing a new relationship between oppressed and oppressor. Instead of paying money to the King who distributes it to his enforcers, you must pay the enforcers directly!

 

But this capitalist/feudal bureaucracy is different because of a third consequence of disintegration; the emergence of ‘social science’.

 

Social science is only possible and necessary when you want exact scientific knowledge of the ‘mass’ of people as a separate grouping. Enter the new capitalist disciplines of Sociology, Anthropology etc. In the universities and the colleges of the 18th and C19th the foundations of a new priesthood is being created.

 

By the time that the Split Stream Welfare Model is implemented the capitalist elite has effectively reproduced the pre-capitalist system but excluded the itself from it. In other words the elite has become truly ‘modern’ and ‘scientific’ by means of ensuring that the remainder of society is ‘primitive’. And every capitalist society since then is objectively judged to be successful to the extent that it manages to recreate a feudal system and visibly exclude itself from it.

sswm

Of course, we need a name for this new relationship between bureaucracy and society. We can hardly directly admit it is feudalism- that the brave new future we are building is fundamentally dependent on the past. So we give this state of affairs a new name to reflect its ‘social’ nature ; we will call it ‘Socialism’.

 

Now we can see where Germanic ‘class’ politics springs from- a concoction of feudalism, welfare and socialism (or War, Welfare and Whiteism if you prefer). This is the political structure that will support and illuminate the new redistribution system.

 

And so along with Washington and Hitler, vector history brings Karl Marx into focus.

 

Somewhat vain and self important but also brilliant, Marx was a rogue operator in the new emerging social sciences. Like an insufferably precocious pupil Marx constantly disrupts and irritates the lecturer with startling insights, speculations and guesses called out from the back of the class. Some of these catcalls were pinpoint accurate and some were horribly wrong.

 

But by effectively second guessing a whole raft of developments in the emergence of social science, rogue student Marx managed to disrupt the entire inaugural lecture. The carefully planned unveiling of ‘Social Science’ collapsed into chaos!

 

And it has never recovered..Is it any wonder the establishment regards him as they do?

 

It’s hard not to see young Marx as something of a Victor Frankenstein character (as in Prometheus), seeking forbidden knowledge, failing to heed the warnings of his teachers and ultimately heading for disaster.

 

And while we are about it; seeking to raise what was dead through the newly acquired power of science… Given what we know about young Mary Wollstonecraft and her antecedents, I think I can make an argument that the Frankenstein story itself is a metaphor precisely for the emergent scientific capitalist class bringing feudalism back from the dead.

 

This is Not America…

 

By the time America invaded Vietnam in the 1960’s none of its national elite or their children went to die in wars. And nobody seriously expected them to. This certainly gave the Vietnam war its very own peculiar nature. American society at large was well aware of the extent this change even if it did not understand the full significance of it. What this meant was that America and its elite, despite its peculiar development path was becoming more like the European states.

 

The documentary film ‘Best of Enemies’ records the televised debates in 1968 between liberal Gore Vidal and conservative William F. Buckley Jr. and it happens to capture perfectly this moment of America’s final transition from ‘capitalist+’ to ‘capitalist-‘ society. As the publicity blurb for the documentary has it:

 

‘ Intended as commentary on the issues of their day, these vitriolic and explosive encounters came to define the modern era of public discourse in the media, marking the big bang moment of our contemporary media landscape when spectacle trumped content and argument replaced substance’

 

To make it absolutely clear: The Nixonian/ Neo Con movement as espoused by William F Buckley jr that emerged in the late 1960’s is a welfare system just as its liberal counterpart espoused by Gore Vidal was. It’s specific argument is that welfare should be constructed in such a way as to benefit white Anglo Saxon society and particularly white working class Anglo Saxons at the expense of other sections of American society. In other words it seeks to exclude some sections of society to more clearly cohere the remainder around a specific identity.

 

It is no coincidence that Nixonian welfare centered on the Moral Majority emerges precisely when the elite begins to very consciously disengage (as in the Vietnam war) from American society. The project is to then put in place a comprehensive new welfare system that society will rely on to maintain cohesion. Buckley and Vidal are arguing over what the nature of the new sub system feudal welfare system, (LBJ’s The Great Society), will be.

 

It is every bit as consciously redistributive as so called liberal or socialist opponents. Its difference centres on who qualifies. And who qualifies will be decided by which version of the history of America becomes the dominant narrative.

 

From this perspective the animus between the two antagonists comes into clear focus. It is no accident that both are populist disseminators of American history. It is no accident that their central argument revolves around what the content and meaning of American history is.

 

If Thine Eye Offend Thee..

 

And now we can finally move towards a rational explanation for what seems totally irrational oxymoronic Neo Conservatism: It is America’s admission that it needs feudalism in some form if the elite is to successfully disengage. But in this admission America’s previous strength is revealed as a weakness because it has no feudal backstory to hang its welfare state on. It is going to have to invent one.

 

This is the opportunity for ‘right wing’ public intellectuals like Buckley and Irving Kristol to prove their worth. We can explain how Neo Conservatism can draw together an establishment WASP like Buckley and an ex ‘Trotskyist’ like Kristol within the context of American politics. On the surface their political trajectories would appear to be irreconcilable. But if we understand that their shared struggle is not to re-formulate the future but the past, many of the apparent contradictions evaporate.

 

Both Kristol and Buckley realised that in the creation of Neo Conservatism, their shared purpose was to try to find a way to create a vision of the past and to present it as the future; feudalism as welfare. The inspiration of Neo Conservatism is to accept the practical reality of the need for feudalism, while publically denying it with all your might. In a moment of clarity Kristol realised that feudalism/integration was essentially what his Trotskyist Socialism had been about all along.

 

From this perspective we can see that the Cold War arguments over whether communist Russia was more advanced than USA is really an internal argument about the future of America. America is projecting its hopes and anxieties onto Russia and later Japan and China. Because now the American elite continually gazes upon feudalism with fear and a kind of sick desire. They are painted into a corner. They are all turned around.

 

This has reached some kind of crisis point with Islamism. The modern Protestant welfare society finds itself powerless to launch an all out attack on feudalism. How can it? It will be cutting its own throat. No matter how much it is offended it cannot put its own eye out or cut off its own hand.

 

Disintegrated history and politics experiences its dislocation and confusion through the medium of past, present and future. Whenever the West tries to describe an alien society it does so in terms of primitive or advanced etc. The West is permanently confused as to whether China is modern or backwards. Or modern and backwards. Or whether it is going forwards or forwards and backwards at the same time.

 

The West looks for markers of ‘modernity’ like mobile phones or gay marriage. If you have a modern mobile phone network but not gay marriage is your society modern or backwards? Was Iran becoming more modern or less modern when it overthrew the Shah of Iran? Is the Arab Spring a leap forward or backward? Was Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood progressive or regressive? Confusion multiplies and reigns.

 

Something like this happened with astronomy. Retrograde motion is an observed phenomenon in astronomy in which planets appear to move ‘backward’ across the night sky. Of course, this is impossible, planets can no more move backward in space than societies can move backwards in time. Retrograde movement is the consequence of planets with relative trajectories seeming to accelerate at different speeds. They are all going forward in perfect order, it is just that from one point of view it can seem as though they are not.

 

When a model of the solar system was put forward that more accurately mirrored reality, all the confusion disappeared. Soon astronomers were able to predict the whereabouts of any given planet at any given time. It happened when they realised they could not calculate correctly with the earth as the centre of the system. The same thing must happen now with Anglo Saxon societies. The world does not revolve around them. History does not revolve around them.

 

Societies can appear to move backwards but of course they don’t really. They are all progressing forwards we just have to find a model to explain how. Vector history can do that. The key is to identify or restate a problem in a way no one has before and offer a solution. That is what I have done here.