History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Hook’s From Hegel to Marx

February 27th, 2012 · No Comments

I got a copy of Sidney Hook’s From Hegel to Marx from this spot at Amazon for 50 cents last year (plus the four dollar postage), but the cheap copies seem to have sold out. I picked it up this morning, with a wry feeling that this was a good compendium of all the stuff a new left has to forget: only way to do that is to read it first????
My point: the left is hung up on Marx, who was hung up on the classic, and primordial post-Hegel decades after 1830 to 1848, when the fast march of the Hegel wake produced a prodigious cornucopia of thinkers, most of whom Marx interacted with, and subtly challenged, often leaving his trail unclear, to the dozens of later historians like Hook trying to unravel this fascinating, but now distracting, tale. This is a great field for writers of PHD theses (there are dozens of Hook-clones), but its enigma forever eludes all commentary, and the result is one aspect of the Marx mesmerization that hypnotizes all later leftists. Marx is made out to be more original than he was, and his sources in this era are an important resource, and re-starting point, with a little less of the fetish made out of Marx’s track through this Wonderland into dismal positivism and historical materialism. It is baffling that after one of the greatest episodes in world history in the field of philosophy from Kant to Hegel and Schopenhauer was thrown away in the name of dreaded ‘ideaism’ to substitute dull nineteenth century scientism and positivism, soon joined by Darwinism. And Marx is thought smart? The whole effect of Feuerbach’s brief star in the 1840’s misled the later left.
This field has been so rehashed it is now incmprehensible, as it is turned into the endless Marx paean, where the reality is a cunning downfield halfbacks sprint, followed by the terrible years of writer’s block in London.
Can we escape this frozen landscape? I think we can, and rereading some of this, before forgetting it, might help, a sort of ‘Occupy the 1848 generation’ to recycle socialism from scratch, without Marx, but with plenty of his core ideas recast, and plenty of the core sources, from Hegel to Feuerbach, et al. To make Marx the sole genius in this progression is a strange outcome, and enshrines Marx’s limits and blunders, e.g. his miscalculations on liberalism and rights.

Anyway, there are a lot of books that came in the wake of Hooks’ early if not first and very original text, so the subject is a bit of a chop suey, but this classic generation, with a critical look at Marx, might help the left, pace OWS, find liberation from the stale nemesis of the Second Internationale, whose legacy in the hands of unintelligent cadres has locked leftist innovation in a box.

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