Kant, history, and a challenge
September 6th, 2018 •
It is essential to get past the ‘end of history’ morass and move beyond historical materialism and Hegel: A far superior method based on Kant’s original essay on history, or Kant’s Challenge, can transform awareness. This can bypass the end of history confusion by looking at the question from another angle. The online netbook is perhaps too simple, but it contains the basic issue in systems analysis form. Hegel ‘Spirit’ in history is too mystical. The basic issue is stated more directly using the ‘macro model’. We see ‘freedom emergence’ in history in that context.
Historical materialism has mis-stated the issue here also. It is a hopeless muddle that has confused every generation of marxists and made them a closed cult defending the muddle ad infinitum. Time to drop it and try a new perspective.
It is almost impossible to decipher the ‘end of history’ meme. The model in WHEE is more useful and never really deals with the ‘end of history’.
Instead it answers the questions asked by Kant in his short essay. The model of the eonic effect gives an elegant and highly suggestive solution to the questions asked by Kant. The solution given in the eonic or macro model is so simple and elegant that it simply sails by the complexity of Hegel to Kojeve to Fukuyama. None of that really clarifies Kant’s basic challenge. It might suggest one of the meanings sometimes given, as the entry to a new epoch. I don’t know. Or it might instead be taken as a discourse related to another: the timeless aspect of a teleological system. The macro system ‘touches’ the directionality of world history in terms of the intermittent action of its basic driver, the ‘end’ in a pun on ‘ends’ as ‘goals’. But that is a bit speculative. The whole muddle of the ‘end of history’ is too opaque to determine much of anything.
The eonic model answers directly to each of the main issues of Kant’s essay, ignoring the rest (it is not a commentary on that essay). Part of Hegel’s problem was that, as Kant warned, the issue of his challenge was premature. The world would have to wait for more data. And that is correct: we live now in the first generation to have enough data to see the solution to what Kant wondered about.
The basic solution to the question of a progress to a civil constitution is implicit in the model in its ‘discrete freedom sequence’. But the simple point is that the stunning emergence of democratic revolutions in the early modern is confusing us a little. I have criticized marxists but they alone analyzed this and came up with the charge of bourgeois revolution. And everyone forgets that the first ‘democratic’ (power to the people) revolutions in the early modern was Munzer’s Peasant Revolt with its ‘communist theme’: communism came BEFORE what we call democracy. In fact democracy, pace Locke, rapidly downshifted in the worst case of the ‘democratic’ revolution, the decidedly bourgeois revolution of the Americans, who compromised on slavery! We don’t often realize this outcome was close to a fraud, even as it created a large-scale mockup of a democratic something. But a closer look shows not only Munzer (and the ambiguous bourgeois Luther) but the English Civil War with its near-Cambrian profusion of potential in the many ‘queer’ profound experimental movements, Levelers, Diggers, … Let us recall the ambiguity of Locke as a counter-revolutionary.
The analysis of such as Marx and Engels here is appropriate, and they saw that ‘democracy’ in this outcome was problematical, as it had been in Athens.
What is the solution in terms of the ‘eonic model’? There is none: the macro system spawns on one level a kind of ideal abstraction and the first glimpse of this is communist!! The whole nexus devolves into realization as a crude form of democratic yet elitist Frankenstein that ended up in the Civil War, and which was always vulnerable to usurpation by the capitalist class…..etc..
The action of the ‘end of history’ is really an abstraction we look back on from our present. We shouldn’t use the term in this model. The eonic model is very clear: after the phase of system action generating the modern transition the system defaults back to free agency, which means we are on our own. A first costly experiment to fix ‘bourgeois democracy’ as ‘real communist democracy’ was a train wreck, and is Strike One, bolshevism, in the new era in realization. In antiquity, after the axial age the whole system simply declined from its height, and never recovered. Will that happen again? Looking at the fiasco of current american ‘democracy’ is not grounds for optimism.
We need to ready for a base hit and not Strike Two at a moment of crisis when the capitalist usurpation as ‘bourgeois democracy’ from ‘bourgeois revolution’ has now produced a calamity of a system of markets that cannot respond to climate change. The ideas of capitalism as the ‘end of history’ in this sense is a semantic calamity, and a social apocalypse in the making. But the problem is ours to solve. It is a practical question of a revolution, a new economic system, a postliberal system of freedom and rights, and a possibly transitional system of hard authority to lay the foundations of a system received from the ‘expropriation of the bourgeoisie’. We need to get cracking with a practical set of blueprints. It is not longer ‘revolution first’. ‘Revolution first’ has already failed. We need a sense of a global/national federation of socialist republics, this time with something better than the fiasco called out as Strike One. But willy nilly events will prove Marx right in a way: we must respond to the situation that arises, which could be chaos globally at four degrees of temperature rise. The bourgeoisie failing action will soon be castled in air-conditioned bunkers ruling over mass genocide.
Use my model,it is much simpler and the verdict is simpler: the moment to construct a new postcapitalist system is at hand. Nothing in Hegel, Kojeve, or Fukuyama says anything against this. There is no end of history. Look at classical antiquity in the Occident. It went into decline that slowly but surely ended in a medieval period. Then the macro system jumpstarted a new beginning, right on schedule in the fifteenth century (often confused with the Renaissance, which was something else). That action is long since over, and we are on our own. The american system is pretty much as Marx predicted. With the invention of the CIA the system has mutated into an enigma of crime, empire, covert ops, and political lunatics. Such a fast decay over a mere two centuries is another puzzle.