THE DIALECTICAL EVOLUTION OF POSTMODERNISM: MARX GOT IT RIGHT, HE JUST DIDN’T GET THE IDEOLOGICAL PARADIGMS DOWN PAT!
If you studied Marxism in High School, College and University, usually you got some sort of Americanized version of this ideology, which liked to crow about how structurally flawed it was and how ‘free enterprise’ with private property and ‘liberty and freedom’ was somehow innately superior to Marxist ideology, because as we all were supposed to bow down and acknowledge back during the Cold War, Marxism had led to the Evil Empire of the Soviet Union, which was the antithesis of everything we stood for as Sons and Daughters of Liberty, Freedom and Democracy here in the West. Or so we thought.
But what, pray tell, has the fall of the Evil Empire truly wrought in the era of Postmodern times if not a return to a state of society resembling that of the pre-WWII era extreme right and extreme left wing forms of ideation, the likes of which characterized Europe especially between 1919 and 1939, between the end of WWI and the outbreak of WWII?
Let us for a moment look closely at what exactly Karl Marx was trying to foster and promote as an idea of analysis for how he saw society and its evolution. Marx was a student of the German philosopher Hegel, who was the first to advocate for the notion of what we now call the ‘dialectical’ notion of analysis of society. This was expressed in what has become known as the formula of ‘thesis, antithesis, synthesis, and thesis.’ Meaning, put more simply, for every problem, there is a solution which rises up equally and in opposition to the problem, and that these two equal and opposing forces then ‘duke it out’ so to speak through space and time within the public realm, either on the battlefield, or in the court of public opinion (or at the ballot box), and the result is a ‘synthesis’ or outcome, which becomes the new ‘thesis’, or way of thinking and doing in society, and then the process starts all over again.
So, essentially Hegel, who influenced Marx, came up with the notion that we’re essentially not really moving ‘onward and upward’ in any sort of linear or much less exponential way, such as like a rocket does when it blasts off into the atmosphere, but rather we are like that rocket when it runs out of fuel and inevitably falls back down into the ocean and needs to be re-fuelled and to start over again. We unfortunately seem to have been lulled into the false notion that the ‘rocket’ of capitalist economic ‘growth’ and ‘progress’ is going to continue to ‘blast off’ and keep going off into ‘space, the final frontier.’ Although that may ultimately prove to be true as a sustainable way of promoting JFK’s notion of the ‘New Frontier’ and of Frederic Jackson Turner’s ‘Frontier Thesis’, it still leaves us with the conundrum of what to do with our Troubled Revolution here on earth.
So getting back to Marx for a moment. Marx adapted Hegel’s dialectical method to the analysis of history and said that we were all headed inevitably and deterministically towards some sort of Communist Utopia, whereby, if you play the tape to the end, the Soviet Union was not only supposed to collapse, as it did, but that first of all before that, the world was to have been consumed by a global Communist Revolution, and that the Dictatorship of the Proletariat (a sort of global Soviet Union sort of government), would have emerged, then collapsed, as the state was supposed to have ‘withered away’ according to Marxian utopia, and we were all supposed to go to Communist lala land heaven of living in a ‘small government’ heaven which essentially resembles more what he Tea Party and the Anarchists espoused than anything that state-centric Communism ever put forth. What Marx envisioned for his utopia when the Dictatorship of the Proletariat withered away and we transitioned to ‘true socialism’ was that we would all simply govern ourselves with local worker’s ‘Soviets’, or councils, and that all world government would be local in nature. Again, sounds more like those Tea Party yahoos and Anarchists than anything else, eh? Funny how all utopias ultimately all have the same elementally libertarian view of freedom from state-centric tyranny, yet they all ultimately fall into the same trap of becoming dystopias?
So again, what Marx predicted was that feudalism was inevitably leading to capitalism, which was inevitably leading to Communism, which, in his mind would inevitably lead us to the utopia of a borderless society of world local government with no God and no religion. Nice job there Karl! What instead has happened is that yes, Marxian analysis from a dialectical viewpoint has been borne out, but that the ideological paradigms which Marx predicted as the outcome have not turned out to be the case. What we are currently witnessing is rather a case of feudalism leading to industrialism, leading to post industrialist/neo-feudalist/neo-fascist postmodernism, whereby we have come full circle back to a combination of feudal plutocracy, combined with capitalist gilded age types of wealth disparities from the late nineteenth century and early twentieth centuries, all wrapped up in a re-invigorated sense of fascist autocracy and ‘populism’, borne out of an anti-secular-progressive, anti- left wing backlash or countercultural revolution against the 1960s and early 70s New Left secular progressivism, which has left western civilization more and more diametrically opposed and divided than ever before, with basically everybody staked out on the periphery of the ideologically perimeter, all pointing at one another and shouting injurious epithets at each other. Meanwhile, the giant hole in the doughnut, representing the middle ground, the middle class, the middle of everything, becomes bigger and more vacant every minute, and nobody dares stick their neck out, much less jump head first into that gaping hole in the middle for fear of being seen as being the person who got swallowed up by the ‘hole in the doughnut.’
Oh well. I guess as the title of this piece says, Marx got it right, he just got the outcome wrong! We’ll just have to see where this all pans out, and how it will pan out. Maybe if enough of us jump into the hole in the doughnut we can fill that gaping hole, eh? But then again, I think my Grandmother used to tell me that Genghis Khan used to win battles by laying siege to his enemies fortresses by simply piling up his men’s dead bodies up the wall leading to the gate of the fort, until his men could climb on top of the dead bodies and use them as a ladder to get to the gate further up the wall. So maybe we need to dump a whole pile of people down that hole in the doughnut, eh, to fill it up before we can have some semblance of a more balanced dialectical discourse one again in this world.
Anybody for stuffed doughnuts folks? Yum, cream and jelly filling!!! Just kidding there folks. (I think). Have a good one. That’s what Reading Break does to me. Gives me time to mull things over. God Bless.