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Philosophers, academics, revolutionaries

February 26th, 2016 · 1 Comment

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/02/26/academia-hands-off-revolutionary-philosophy/

The issue of philosophy on the (marxist) left has never been a particularly coherent question. It helps to study the way that positivism suddenly emerged in the wake of the Enlightenment, and this contracted philosophy, and with it the marxist legacy: this was the generation that choked on Hegel and ended up embracing vulgar materialism. Marx with his dialectic never really corrected this situation. It is thus going to be difficult to rescue the mediocre philosophy in the wake of Marx from its general castigation by bourgeois culture. I admire Lenin as a revolutionary, but if his legacy as a philosopher is made to replace a figure like Kant the result is going to be problematic. Leftists have thus probably turned off more potential adherents with this strategy than has Stalinism. Categorizing Lenin, Mao Tse-tung, Ho-Chi-Minh, Guevara, Castro, Frantz Fanon, Senghors, Cabral, Nyerere and Lumumba as philosophers is an invitation to confusion, and the inferiority complex falsely generated by contrasting categories. We don’t blink if we can’t match six footers in the high jump, but here the term philosopher shifts in meaning and produces cognitive dissonance. Does the left not consider that the academic philosophers here castigated aren’t really philosophers at all? It was Schopenhauer I think who noted that Plato and Kant just about sized up philosophy. That’s a view at the opposite extreme. And it raises the issues of idealism that marxist materialists so dread or detest. It seems a pointless perspective, or even bias. The ‘dialectic’ suggests the need to consider the triad of idealism, transcendental idealism in the Kantian brand, and materialism as counterpoints in a larger sphere. But the history of early marxism in the era of the post-hegelian reaction and scientism/positivism condemned marxism to a very narrow future in the realm of philosophy. Academic philosophy was wiped out at this point, or so its seems. So the poor quality of philosophy in the marxist future after Marx isn’t surprising.

The point is important rather to see the need for revolutionaries to be more than philosophers by generating new cultural beginnings rich enough in qualitative content to cradle philosophy, and many other things.
A look at the model of history in WHEE: history and evolution.com, shows how hard it would be to achieve this but with some indication of the massive architecture of opposites needed to do it. The innovations of the early modern have thus a special character and are very hard to imitate. In any case, the legacy of scientism is a millstone around the neck of the left. Better to find a more comprehensive philosophy.

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