http://history-and-evolution.com/whee4th/chap6_2_2.htm: Theory and Ideology: Das Adam Smith Problem
The world system is coming to a crisis of–stupidity. I meant to reference ‘economic crisis’, but the sentence completed itself spontaneously: that crisis is a crisis of, yes, stupidity. The catch phrases in that tricky ideologist Adam Smith have escalated into the same dissease of mind that we see in the Biblical literalism of many Xtians/Jews. This is related to the alarming success of people like Ayn Rand who has somehow triggered an even more stark brand of this ‘economic Smithian ‘biblical’ literalism’. One of the visible signs, among a host of such, is the mantra, ‘greed is good’, that has gone from marginal to near mainstream, with what we can see are disastrous results. The dumbing down can be seen in the inability of the economically indoctrinated to deal with climate change issues, an alarming sign of a loss of reality.
In general the legacy of Darwinism and economic ideology is going to spell the end of a whole form of civilization and we should be prepaing a new and radical brand of the Occupy phenomenon.
I say this, having just cited an article on the ‘leaderless’ Occupy, its slant being the centre of gravity of the labor movement. My reinjected radicalism seems perhaps out of tune. Actually, almost at the beginning of commentary on the OWS here I invoked the need for a double-aspect to the movement, one crystallizing around political activism, another carrying a kind of fail-safe or virtual radicalism on the side. Thus I support two viewpoints here, which is not very practical, perhaps, but the opportunity to act in the current electoral framework should be matched with a radicalism beginning to grapple with the coming catastrophe of civilization change. For starters, an Occupy Marxism initiative needs to reassess the nineteenth century radical legacies and simultaneously learn from the classics such as Marxism, and dump them as near obsolete/failed ideologies. With Marxism the domination of thought on the old left has reached a state of frozen mentation that cannot serve a future. The simple way to start is to recast the Marxist legacy in a new and more intelligent form, free of the dead sectors that have always sacrificed intelligence to a party line. A clear sign of the problem is the ‘ism’ of Marxism: we need a formulation that leaves behind this individual (except in the invocation of a tradition) and moves to an entirely new formulation (which should obviously echo the old). The old left is going to asphyxiate the OWS movement in Leninist deadpan if it tries to impose that brand of junk cliches on a new movement. At one and the same time the core principles of socialism created in the generation before Marx need to be recycled and restated. Marx is an overrated but savvy packager of his generation’s thought. We need a new package. I say this over and over, but the ‘marxists’ in cold storage seem beyond revival.
This may or may not be immediately relevant to a movement that feels the need to distance itself from radicals to reach the 99%, but it can be our virtual initiative in the background. As I noted last fall, the need is for a generalized activist ideology that is ‘both at once’, a mainstream movement with a higher gear that can shift the movement on demand, so to speak. The approaching ride over the ‘falls’, revolution, should be foreseen, and some response readied. There should be no mental effort wasted over the duality of radical/mainstream there: a continuous spectrum of an ideology of action.
Meanwhile the strange legacy of Marxism is that noone can use that corpus of work. Every line has been commented on by acute critcs that cadre Marxists never read. A new literature has to come out of the trenches to take the triumphant anti-Marxism sophistries by surprise. The old cliches, daily repeated in a hundred ‘leftist’ outlets, are dead. Even a minimal recycling can achieve a thrust. BTW, I am directly describing what the OWS movement did, and its success was instant.
The whole game of the Marxist left has been confused by its own errors of theory, overlays by subsequent movements such as Leninism, and the rest of it.
It is law of life that something done once that has failed needs to be recast completely. The old left has failed to learn this lesson. But the time to begin is imminent.
Meanwhile the obvious insights of Marx into the issues of economic ideology can be restated outside his system, to help with the epidemic of economic stupity and near religious literalism that has immobilized economists, business, and politicians in a kind of regurgitated Ayn Rand funk.