History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Neoliberalism on the rocks

June 19th, 2010 · No Comments

On Your Marx: Neoliberalism on the rocks

We have lamented many times here the failure of Marxists to be ready for their moment. And the renewed interest in Marx can’t go anywhere because the brilliant original critique of capitalist economy is not really backed up by a viable theory any more. The same old tired junk from the labor theory of value to the sacred canons of historical materialism, always a bad theory of history, enter consciousness to block advance and leave everyone chained to bygone episodes. To say nothing of the legacy of Leninism.
This situation is a pity, because the implosion of Neoliberalism rightly leads to an interest in the Marxist tradition, but that tradition is too confused to be of real use. Part of the problem is that Marx was (also) one of the world’s clever propagandists, the vice of those he critiqued, making his theories, which were ispirations to action, seem like science. That was a one shot deal, and with the passing of the Leninist interval that mystification won’t work any more.

All you can do is start over, demote Marx and Engels to the Socialist tradition of the 1840’s that they took up, ripped off, and appropriated, and then create a new tradition after the old.
Not all that simple. We have outlined five ways to that here before breakfast, to no avail. People are addicted to the Marx/Engels brand, and starting chasing their tails in the clever construction divorced from its historical moment.

One thing that might help is to overcome Lenin’s absolute hatred of liberalism, and rewrite socialism as a child of liberalism, one that clearly distinguishes social function from economic function. That’s all that is needed by way of theory. The botched idiocy of neo-classical economics and Marx’s effort to prove his smarts by imitating it (or its antecedent) or working with its concepts backfired. The clever propaganda crowd took up calculus and doubled down with marginal economics. From that point onward Marxists were outplayed. An unnecessary outcome. Marxism was, or should have been, about a liberalism that attempted to transcend the Frankenstein realization of liberalism (in a Kantian sense) called liberal capitalism.

I recommend a study of the eonic effect, and its commentary on the modern transition. It shows a much nimbler approach to historical theory than the clumsy historical materialism which ended up a form of mental block in Marx’s mind, as he struggled to complete Das Kapital, finally putting the whole mess in a box and shipping off to Engels.

Tags: 1848+ · Ultra Far Left

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