History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Redfortyeight Group: a ‘chapter 4’ for Last and First Men

April 10th, 2015 · No Comments

I am considering a new edition of Last and First Men, although I like the way of keeping the discussion short as in the first edition.
But a lot of material was sacrificed, as we noted with Habermas, and it might help to broaden the discussion. I have been critical of dialectic, but it is a debate hard to win and some way of upgrading the subject might help. Or least giving a historical account that can help clarify the confusions.

A set of continuations by outsiders might be of interest, if some broad framework can be defined for the discussion. The macro model is too complex, but a simplified outline of history is enough, with a bare suggestion that many issues, like teleology, are not easily resolved.

We have listed a number of issues, beside the dialectic, such as the reductionist character of historical materialism, the passage into neo-classical marginalist economics, which bypassed the old debates via Marx’s theories. A longer version might expand historical reference into the whole early modern: the Reformation, the Scientific Revolution, Spinoza to Kant, the rise of liberalism, the idea of freedom in the wake of Newton, and then Kant, and the emergence of rights theory and the coming of the democratic revolutions, and the sources of their cooptation as bourgeois revolutions. There is much more up to the Enlightenment and Romantic movement, to say nothing of the Industrial Revolution and the ‘relative’ birth of ‘capitalism’!! In fact a ‘Munzerian’ slant could actually claim that the idea of communism emerged first before that of democracy and this had an Xtian source!
There are dozens of study projects that could start with ‘chapter 4’ for an extended study, and as I am turning seventy the book should be soon placed in the public domain.

I think that historical materialism is a phrase that is used for target practice by a multitude for whom the term is stuck in their craw. Call it something else and its point immediately resurfaces: without the hard determinism claimed, seek out the correlations of economy and class, and its ideological implications. That is a rich field that needs a window opened for some fresh air. The original course of marxist analysis was and is profound, but with some characteristic confusions (like Marx’s poor rendering of ethics, free agency, etc…), and the whole game can shift into a recasting that is postdarwinian in the expose of social darwinism, etc…

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