It is useful to look through Out of Revolution, posted link today to PDF version, to see the place of revolution in the early modern, almost an innovation of modernity, whatever intimations we may see before.
It is not bias, ideological posturing, or abuse of theory to say that the liberal/left wins all arguments here as the conservative stance is typically deluded. Modernity, democracy, and then the still unrealized socialist lefts, spring from a massive tidal wave of revolutionary action. Edmund Burke (who supported the American Revolution) is not only wrong, but completely out in left field. That is not to say one cannot critique the violence of the French Revolution, but in fact much of that springs from the violence of the right attempting to suppress it.
The reactionary thinkers cited in this essay are a bunch of nullities, but, as with Strauss, their influence is out of proportion to their second rate thinking. We can see it in the ‘end of history’ gambits: clever, very clever, but philosophical junk/fraud. Few glitzy concoctions have fooled people as badly as the Fukuyama version.
The age of democratic revolution is taken as the key, the liberal birth of modernity, etc…The marxist critique of the ‘bourgeois revolution’ must thus enter. Munzer in the sixteenth century shows that we could just as well posit the fountainhead of modern revolution in a ‘communist’ version of democracy. The English Civil Was is a Cambrian era of potentials. But the core democratic revolutions are so far the key transformations of revolutionary modernity. The valiant efforts of Marx/Engels to expose the problems with this are of course classic, but have somehow been vitiated by the Bolshevik legacy. We should vigorous defend the original thinking of the period leading to Marx as the inchoate starting point to…start over.
The left is being decimated by neoliberalism, covert agency psychopaths, etc…But the reality is simply the worn out clothing of the Second Internationale. A new starting point is needed and will be forced on us by the coming crises. But if the left is destroyed the future will be barbarism, so the idle rejection of the left is no laughing matter.
The nature of class has changed: consider the portraits of class in North and South, a BBC costume drama. Or any number of sources. In the US class has shifted to a pseudo-egalitarian common class divided solely by money. To a marxist that might seem a quibble, but the diagnosis is thus slightly different. It is unsafe to think this way! The core issue has not been resolved. But as we observe shifting sociological realities we might see that the left has failed to adjust. They are losing working class support, but the whole concept of the working class has evolved into something else.
In Last and First Men we suggest thinking of a new left based on the idea of The Universal Class, which includes all possible sets of classes in one dynamic. The Universal Class is the ‘working class’, almost be default, and yet it can help to reformulate the leftist/revolutionary stance on the passage to a new postcapitalist society.
In any case the conservatizing trend of the anti-modernist reactionaries is thus an historical anomaly, but a potent psychological hypnosis. Here, of course, religious traditionalism has not helped and as if Feuerbach had never lived the monotonous trance of conservative minds clogs the whole chance, with neoliberal economics set to recreate class first of money, then a new BBC class mythology grafted onto big bad money.
Too much BBB, better watch out.
The model of history here has a curious quirk: it distinguishes the action of a system and the free agents inside it. In its mysterious depth the macro effect shows that revolution tides in the early modern in the logic of an historical system. Then in the wake of the modern transition free agency comes to the fore, an obscure point at first, but an indication of the problems the left has in creating revolutionary change through free agency. ??what does this mean: a long study of the macro model is needed. But we don’t have to fixate on that question. The point is simply that revolutionary change must be carefully considered and planned. It won’t fulfill the hopes of historical repetition. That said, modern freedom arises via revolution. The transition to postcapitalism won’t be much different. But it cannot be a stale repetition of bolshevik logic. The latter is as confused as anything in Edmund Burke.