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Karl Marx, part 8: Modernity and the privatisation of hope [View All]

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marmar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-27-11 06:55 PM
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Karl Marx, part 8: Modernity and the privatisation of hope
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Karl Marx, part 8: Modernity and the privatisation of hope
The Arab spring is an example of the eternal desire for human liberation, which has often alighted on false utopias

Peter Thompson, Monday 23 May 2011

In the 20th century the failure of the German revolution in 1918/19 and the degeneration of the Russian revolution into dictatorship as well as the rising power of the US as a consumerist democracy led to a serious rethink on the part of most Marxist thinkers about questions of agency, class and economics and the dogmatic certainties of the Second and Third (ie Social Democratic and Stalinist) Internationals. It is hard to pinpoint exactly when this trend started and it certainly had many disparate branches but essentially it boils down to a turn to a sort of humanist, philosophical and cultural Marxism that attempted, in Ernst Bloch's terms, to re-inject the "warm stream" of the ethics of human liberation back into the "cold stream" of what for many had become the "negative dialectic" of positivistic and scientistic systems of social control in west and east. In the 20th century the turn to an exploration of ideology and unconscious desire replaced that of an active revolutionary communism and an adherence to revolutionary communism in the west itself became in many ways no more than an expression of an internal unconscious and romantic desire for personal liberation.

Where Alain Badiou talks today of an almost ahistorical "communist hypothesis", Bloch spoke about an "invariant of direction", a mood of an eternal desire for human liberation that breaks out at certain historical points where the objective conditions allow it. The Arab spring would be an example today, whereas 40 and 20 years ago respectively it was the Prague spring and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

In this context, the attraction of going back to Hegel and the early Marx immediately becomes apparent because the idea of the unfolding of human freedom as the main motivating force of history this time properly understood as something that can only succeed if the objective socio-economic conditions are right is taken as a given. It is not that the economic ideas of Marx are rejected but there arises an attempt to subordinate economic categories again to human needs and desires and to see parties, states, economics and science as necessary servants of humanity rather than its eternal masters. .............(more)

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