The issue of the Axial Age could be an terrific opportunity for the leftists stuck in historical materialism to recast the foundations of their subject in a larger key. We have passed out of the era of reductionist scientism, and a form of postmarxism that can mediate the almost fantastic lead up to modernity in the Axial Age could be a useful way to reuniversalize their subject without succumbing to localized religious cultures, instead moving toward the whole history of civilization/religion as a backdrop to the impetus point of the onset of modern communism (I ditch the term ‘marxsim’). Its economic emphasis can be both recast and challenged by a larger philosophic perspective. Let’s face it: forcing conformity to the kind of economic fundamentalism of the early marxists isn’t going to work anymore. There is a easy way to overcome this and recast postmarxism as a subject that be far more nimble on economics by being less dogmatic about base/superstructure, etc… The issue is a broad modern culture, a ‘church of historical reflection and memory’ as a secular study of the legacies of antiquity, as shown in the Axial Age. That would make a communist perspective far more intelligible to the immense diversity of global cultures. To be sure, economic language is in some ways a more universal language, for modernity, but its cogency has been lost in the hopeless confusion of theories and false theories. The result is almost as bad as theology. Some way has to be found out of that, and the means to it is not marxist dogmatic historical materialism. But an overall ‘smorgasbord’ of the marxist legacy is still very useful if shock treatment could be applied to religious marxists. Maybe a boot camp for a new cadre of potential revolutionaries that created a bouquet of everything from confucianism, to buddhsim/yoga, to the types of monotheism, and then a strong caesura coming rapidly to the modern context, and its reformations, etc… There communism is a procedural revolution toward postcapitalism based on electic versions of classic marxism, the latter term banished for good, blended with a new understanding. The left renounced the whole of German classical philosophy for a reduced positivism that crippled the movement from the start and a useless debate between materialism and idealism. That legacy, and many others, from the Reformation to Romanaticism, could help to create a less narrow modernism that can carry a real revolution.
This is not a concession to religious traditionalism, and the left will be little more than a steward to complex reevaluation of ancient religions, without forcing the issue with stupid attempts to use historical materialism to analyze religion. Those religions are moving beyond themselves in their own dynamic and the crudy forms of secular humanism are compounding confusion.