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(critiquing) Marx’s theory of history – Wikipedia

June 27th, 2018 · No Comments

A useful snapshot of marx’s ‘theory of history’ (see link below) but we have often noted the problems here. Marx’s thinking is so classic that it is hard to both do it justice and to see the limits of its attempts at theory. Marx’s material is a core set of master ideas encased in a brittle shell. In fact, as noted in the article, marx made no claim to a master theory. But is that really accurate?

The marx legacy is ultra dogmatic and frequently turns into stale dogma. In any case the prime focus on economic determinations is too limited and results in a theory that eliminates too much of human culture. The materialist perspective asserts that there is no spiritual factor in history. But this commits the path to communism to a very partial non-dialectical imposition on the future of society and seeds an immense opposition from the start. Does a communist society really need this assumption? We should note at once the strongest criticisms offered here to so-called ‘spiritual factors’ in history, but we have also tended to reinterpret them according to what is probably the great hint to the ‘master key’ to history, the eonic effect. There, for example we the evidence of the axial age and the emergence of twin religions, in contrast, israelitism and buddhism. There is no economic interpretation of this and it is simply up in the air as to whether these are spiritual or material entities. Are these spiritual factors in history? Is the axial age a spiritual phenomenon? Note that the era of archaic greece shows massive innovations in concert with the cases of israel and india. The strong clustering of advance in all areas of culture makes the period almost of an age of revelation more outstanding than the primitive israelite, but the result is in limbo between materialist and idealist perspectives.

We have constructed a resolution in a universal materialism of the type proposed by j g bennett which restates the issue of the spiritual in the three term triad of hypo, auto, and hypernomic: the spiritual is ‘material’ with its own energies in the context of cosmological evolution. This approach is reminiscent of the classical samkhya and can resolve the materialist problematic by developing its full potential. Marxism could easily fit into this context and thrive, with a larger language that could communicate with a very diverse public. And in this context then we can deal with a larger set of historical determinants in a neutral fashion.
There are further problems with the issues of stages of history:
Stages of history

2.1 Primitive communism
2.2 Slave society
2.3 Feudalism
2.4 Capitalism
2.5 Socialism
2.6 Communism
The culture of paleolithic man remains a bit of a mystery. So the idea of primitive communism remains up in the air…
The stage of ‘slave society’ is illusory. The onset of higher civilization shows many signs of bypassing slavery and that its appearance is as of a later disease of civilization. Marx rejects any ‘sentimental nonsense’ about states and later parliaments but these are crucial innovations in history and their starting points deserve more than the harsh reductionist dismissal marx gives them. The state emerges in early pre-sumer in the temple compounds and their religious formats. The issue of class struggle is not at first intrinsic. Again the starting point declines into more or less what marx pointed to. It is routine to accuse the egyptians of building their pyramids with slaves but it wasn’t the case: it was a patriotic duty of men who were more like a military draft for fairly short periods of time.
By the later phase of the sumerian/egypt generators of higher civilization in their cone of diffusion (the later civilizations in their wake) did indeed devolve into slavery. And by the time of the romans we see that occidental civilization is pathological with respect to slavery. But this is not a stage of history. A social disease can’t really be a stage of history. In fact the stage of feudalism is really the collapse of the roman world and the slow movement to a new foundation of history, which will only come in a later epoch, modernity…
We have often noted that capitalism is not really a stage of history: it is a perpetual companion to states but becomes especially amplified by the industrial revolution. In some of its facets it is the object of reform in the enlightenment. But its ominous character soon arises and here the critique of marx and the socialists is more than appropriate. But is there an inexorable march to communism? We hardly know: if we move to construct communism we in fact unwittingly prove the sequence correct! But we can’t assume that communism has a fixed future slot. We must as free agents proceed to determine the meaning of communism and move to create it. We can do that, not via an economic determination of the future of society but as a revolution to democracy based on axioms of fairness. The latter have been eliminated from the mix in marxism as idealist. But was this really the right strategy?
Marxism arose in a reaction to the era of hegel. But whatever we think of hegel we are going to be contracted if we base a projection into the future on a negation of idealism, like an amputation. The future will bite back….

The Marxist theory of historical materialism sees human society as fundamentally determined at any given time by the material conditions—in other words, the relationships which people have with each other in order to fulfill basic needs such as feeding, clothing, and housing themselves and their families.[1][need quotation to verify] Overall, Marx and Engels claimed to have identified six successive stages of the development of these material conditions in Western Europe.[citation needed] In contrast to many of his followers, Marx made no claim to have produced a master key to history, but rather considered his work a concrete study of the actual conditions that pertained in Europe. As he put it, historical materialism is not “an historico-philosophic theory of the marche generale imposed by fate upon every people, whatever the historic circumstances in which it finds itself

Source: Marx’s theory of history – Wikipedia

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