Since we are on the raised eyebrows circuit for ‘philosophy’ on the left we may as well take on Zizek, and we confront his forthcoming book trying First Aid on dialectical materialism. We have chastised this subject many times here, and Last and First Men tries to shows the context of this subject strewn over history, e.g. the triadic Samkhya of India, which is an ironic ‘completion’ of the muddled ‘dialectical materiaslim’. But Samkhya isn’t science either, and in all these cases I think the left needs to move past philosophical hobbies to some solid core. Unfortunately that solidity can’t be found in theories, either, such as historical materialism. What should the left do here? Scrap all of the marxist ‘dialectical’ philosophies, and all of the economic theories with their rejection of free agency. Ditto the claims for stages of economic history. The rough stages we think we see are ad hoc.
We will have to see what Zizek cooks up, but I think the verdict is already in on dialectical materialism. Still another book trying to revive the subject is depressing. The question arises, what do we have to do to free the idea of a ‘new communism’ from philosophical idiocy? Start over with a new cadre and a new discipline and a new view of history (the next post will try to ‘volunteer’ my historical model).
Even as we criticize dialectics we need to retreat before a defense of an absolutely minimal ‘dialectic’, which means a ‘debate’. A debate is about two sides to an argument, completely natural and an intuitive and robust definition of ‘dialectic’. The problem arises when we try to theorize about this: the result is highly speculative, and probably false: is there a preexisting ‘third term’ beyond ‘thesis’ and its negation that somewhat reconciles or transcends the dyadic contradiction. This is where the confusion starts.
In any case, the usage of Hegel, taken as archaeology, is important because over and over his obscurities have another meaning that saves the ‘conceptual trainwreck’ created by his descendants. But here we discover that the ‘dialectic’ was related to an occult lore of the ‘triangle’. Bad news: our enquiry might be not only illogical but laced with magical thinking.
Anyway, all real work toward a communist system and economy needs to be clearly stated outside of the ‘dialectic’.
Marxists live in a closed world: they get assent, or even a mere nod of friendly ‘no context’ to dubious ideas that would be shot down at once outside of the closed cult.
Before criticizing these theories (which is easy after the Sokal hoax) we need to remind the faithful that darwinism is a failed scientific theory. The attachment there to error is almost worse than anything is dialectical studies.
Absolute Recoil: Towards A New Foundation Of Dialectical Materialism
is major new work the leading philosopher Slavoj Žižek argues that philosophical materialism has failed to meet the key scientific, theoretical and political challenges of the modern world, from relativity theory and quantum physics to Freudian psychoanalysis and the failure of twentieth-century Communism. To bring materialism up to date, Žižek proposes a new foundation for dialectical materialism. He argues that dialectical materialism is the only true philosophical inheritor of what Hegel designates as the speculative approach of thought – all other forms of materialism fail. In Absolute Recoil, Žižek offers a startling reformulation of the ground and possibilities of contemporary philosophy.