Over and over again I have noted that marxism is in the way of a serious movement on the left. That’s confusing, because the marxist canon has a basic center of gravity, from the early socialists, that needs to be preserved, via a rewrite. But the basic theory combination of Marx is flawed, confusing, and somehow counterproductive. Historical materialism is a useless theory (although a good idea, needing restatment in some other format) that is a bull’s eye for sarcastic Marx critics. Throw out bad theory, and the basics remain, class analysis, and class struggle, praxis, the basics of a practical strategy for a post-capitalist society. In fact, marxism never actually stated what it intended. The time to really do that is now.
We need another way: a variant of the eonic model (as I used to call it, now the ‘macroevolutionary model…”) would work beautifully as a generalized background for an ideology of neo-socialism, and the evolution/revolution thereto, as communism. But the old terminology needs clarification and the model, which was too fancy, needs to be seen for what it is, a robust chronology of historical evolution, requiring no theory.
But the fancy part had its own ingenuity: the model was designed so that ‘theory’ applied to the past, while ‘free action’ applied to the present and future. But this finesse, ultra simple and elegant, left many staring. Basically, marxism could never resolve the idea of freedom between scientism and the ideology of liberation. Since marxists were fanatics in denying this, no insight or repair was possible.
The beautiful thing about the ‘eonic model’ is that it disappears into the background leaving praxis in its wake.
It is worth recalling the hopeless confusion on the left prior to the Russian Rev: people were so paralyzed by theory, which said that they had to let the bourgeois revolution happen first (?), that they literally stood by as passive bystanders. Lenin was not so confused: he seized the chance with a violent coup d’etat, contrary to all theory. And that theory was useless.
There is only one liberal/socialist evolution/revolution, as a construct of praxis in the context of freedom, not deterministic theory.
The eonic model needs an upgrade here, but it is actually clear as brook water: no theory at all, simply a periodization matrix showing the ‘dynamics’ in action, historically…..
I know, convincing the old left of this is totally hopeless, but I will pursue this line anyway.
So, as promised last week, I restored online an old netbook: http://descentofmanrevisited.com/index_top_1848.htm 1848+: Theory, Ideology, and Revolution
This was to consider the need for post-marxist historical frameworks, which creates a foundation for ideas of secular history, modernism, revolution and its dynamics, the liberal emergence of the democratic revolution, the context of the French Revolution and its succession, that is, a new foundation for ‘marxism’ recast as a successor revolution/evolution in the wake of the modern transition.
I wrote a whole series of these ‘netbooks’ (using the old MS publisher for the web, a handy (now gone as a webgenerator) piece of software that is useful as word processor for the web, but now you can almost use dreamweaver for that, if you can afford it) during the period 2005-2008 at the time of the second and third edtions of WHEE. They were composed rapidly, two hours or so apiece (you can see about seven of them at eonic-effect.net), and were intended as tutorials/commentary on WHEE. The speed of composition shows in the text.
Looking over the one titled after the 1848 symbolism I find it better than I remembered, but only as a first draft set of notes for a first draft of a book.
Leftists are completely stuck on Darwinism, historical materialism, and reductionist views of history, so it would be almost a waste of time to even bother trying to upgrade Marxism. But I think it should be done anyway.
The left has NOTHING at this point, in the way of theory.
They certainly have a praxis, but that is constantly mind-scrambled by bad marxism, which is overrated, not science, and by its very name a part of the cult of personality, Marx’s, that is leaving the left hung up.
The so-called eonic model would work beautifully as a substitute, rewritten with my new terminology, and displaced to the background as a foundation for a new version of historical dynamics to replace historical materialism. This framework has a new solution to the problems that often confuse the left: the dynamcis of modernity, of revolution, punctuated equilibrium, dialectics, Hegel, etc… Most of the place of economics in world history is demystified.
The framework given in this netbook gives a very loose starting point for a new approach to these subjects. It is like a blank form that can assist leftists to bridge the French Revolution/1848/future revolution void into which they fall, armed with bad theory. Hegel’s idea of the emergence of freedom is given a new and more robust form.
You can argue that the so-called ‘eonic model’ is a speculative myth, but, in fact, nothing is required as a theory or belief system here: it simply points to the non-random patterning of world history, and the strange dynamics, taken empirically, of modernism. In the process the status of revolution is clarified, and in general the fallacies of a ‘science of history’ are resolved in the classic manner of Kant and the others in the phase of German Classical philosophy. The dialectic is a leftist myth, after being an Hegelian confusion, starting as an Aristotelian piece of the obvious: debates are real, and people disagree. That’s not a theory of history.
The non-Darwinism will distract attention, and noone will consider a new approach on evolution, but, at this point, if you are going to follow the Monthly Review into neo-Stalinism, you will waste a second chance, after the Bolshevisks wasted the first. But then again, they are thinking Marx is a sacred canon, and that maybe they will fall into power as with the Bolshevik revolution, and simply liquidate all opposition. You never step in the same river twice, quoth Heraclitus. It won’t happen, OK. The old-fashioned patience of Marx for the proper transition to post-capitalism requires vigilance with respect to the reactionary right, and that grotesque neo-right, the Leninist psychopathy.
Time to do it right this time. It is not clear at all if a revolution is needed, or whether a combination of crisis points, and reconstructive responses will take its place…
The issue of revolution in the early modern has both inspired and confused the left. A new way to look at revolution is needed. Are they dynamical events, free events, historically inevitable events, etc….
Anyway, this netbook is a handy quick summary of the material in WHEE (World History and The Eonic Effect) but cast in the final phase when the revolutionaries post-French Revolution came to the crux point (of failure), 1848.
A lot of things become clear in the context of the model of the modern transition, and the ‘great divide’.
Anyway, I hope to rewrite this netbook, perhaps, with some more explicit material on the issues of the modern left, since the French Revolution.
The density of marxism is confusing, and not very useful Who needs it? And that doesn’t mean we have to give it up: we just take a more realistic view of it, and then, surprise, it comes into its own.