We will repost this from yeesterday: the stale character of historical materialism. Marx was brilliant, but outsmarted himself. In the generation giving birth to scientism, the idea of an historical law about economic history that made predictions was a temptation to be avoided.
Historical materialism is a classic of historical analysis, but, at this point that’s all it is. The problem is that you can’t really produce a theory of this kind and then try to call it science. It was a viable strategy in the nineteenth century, and marxism was taken as science well into the history of the Second Internationale. But that tactic won’t work any more.
Is it really needed? I think that the more general tenor of ‘historical materialism’ is loaded with a reductionist brand of scientism, and the result cannot handle philosophy, religion, consciousness, free will, or its own ‘dialectic’ which has addled the brains of most marxists.
What the left needs is a simple outline or chronicle of history, an exploratory discourse on communism and its definition, a critique of economic ideology in the context of class analysis, and a political platform that bypasses such complete wastes of time as the theism/atheism question, the spiritual/material question, while able in practive to deal with such oppositions…
The question of capitalism has been over-mystiqued, even by marxists. Capitalism is not a stage of history, or the inevitable Faustian gambit on the way to development. This frustrating irony of marxism is the way it condemns us to capitalism’s playing itself out. Bull!. We can simply exit the nightmare at any time, and do the job right from beginning. The delay created by marxists has left us with a capitalist system that is almost beyond challenge. In fact, it could easily be challenged with a neo-marxist post-marxism, preferably with Marx/Engels reduced to historical references, as a new communism demands a new perspective altogether. Throw in postdarwinism. The compromise with,or confusion over, Darwin on the left is no longer safe given the way the religious right has exposed the theory (taking their ideas form scientists themselves).