Tagged: Marxism

Hooray for Hollywood

The kerfuffle over Academy Award nominations is Christmas Day for the professional outragetariat.

Looked at objectively: this is a matter of multi-millionaires — of various ethnic and national backgrounds — in verbal combat over nominations for a piece of statuary. A golden sex toy for the beautiful people (as per Gervais). The ego trip of the 1% (as per the Occupyistas).

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Re political kerfuffle across the pond, viewed from afar:

Not all Marxists are/were Communists. Not all Marxists and Communists are/were Stalinists. There’s a world of difference between the Marxist Orthodoxy, the so-called Scientific Socialism which runs from Kautsky to Althusser, and Western Marxism (sometimes called Cultural Marxism), exemplified by Gramsci, Korsch, and the Frankfurt School. The former remained Stalinist long after the strongman’s death. The latter rejected Stalinism when the man of steel was at the height of his power.

When Mr Corbyn (or was it Mr Milne) embarked on his string of slow-moving purges, I commented: “The assumption of the infallibility of Mr Corbyn and his grassroots cadres is the end of democratic politics and the beginning of organised religion.” The course that Labour has taken during Mr Corbyn’s reign is a return to catechistic Marxism of the Orthodox variety. There can be no compromise with the catechism, even if reality contradicts it. Mssrs Corbyn, McDonnell, and Milne would do well to remember Marx’s reflections on the events in France between 1848-1851 which put the thesis of the Communist Manifesto into doubt.

Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.

The dead weight of Stalin and Trotsky is the nightmare on the brains of the Corbynard cadres and haunts Mr Corbyn’s philosophical outlook. It is time for both to wake up from the bad dream and face reality squarely as it is, not as it is supposed to be (as per the catechism of the Marxist Orthodoxy).

Being alive

Munich is the Austin of Bavaria.

Madonna has been accused of “cultural appropriation.” However, none of the critics are aware that so-called cultural appropriation is otherwise known as life. In the sphere of popular culture, it is otherwise known as late capitalism. There’s nothing remarkable about it.

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New information has surfaced about Sartre’s refusal of the Nobel Prize for Literature:

A letter sent by French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre in 1964 declining the Nobel Prize for Literature came too late to avert one of the biggest debacles in its history, Swedish media reported Saturday.

Sartre’s letter arrived nearly a month after he had been picked as the top choice by the Nobel Committee, the daily Svenska Dagbladet reported, based on archival material made available at the end of a customary 50-year period of secrecy.

The report throws light on the sequence of events leading to Sartre’s decision to become the only person to willingly turn down the world’s most prestigious literary prize.

Perhaps Sartre was prescient: his “literary” works are hardly read anymore. Even worse, his philosophical texts are now antiques from the bygone age of existentialist Marxism.

For example, in Search for a Method Sartre asserts “we are convinced at one and the same time that historical materialism furnished the only valid interpretation of history and that existentialism remained the only concrete approach to reality” (1968, p 21). Who today would have the courage to embrace either of these claims?

Using your mouth like a fist

The only Marxist opinion worthy of consideration is that of Žižek. There’s no jouissance in the anarcho-syndicalism of Chomsky.

The Ridley Scott film “Exodus” is already generating ire for failing to be a factual representation of the mythology surrounding Moses.

Realism for its own sake is the destruction of imagination.

After portraying the Batman, the role of Moses is a definite come down for Christian Bale.

It is more than a bit narcissistic to believe “Big Brother is watching YOU” in particular. But such narcissism is functional for the conspiracy theory set.

Own goal

Mayonnaise is a staple of economy of scarcity.

Hip hop is well into middle age. It is an exhausted musical form.

It’s time to disarm police forces in the US as a public safety measure.

Populism, left or right, frequently walks hand in hand with chauvinism and xenophobia. It should not be encouraged.

Class wars are also culture wars. Always have been. Only traditionalist Marxists fail to notice this fact.

Marxist theory is dead. Marxist common sense is revenant.

After Marxism

The death of Marshall Berman, the last romantic Marxist and author of the brilliant All That Is Solid Melts into Air: The Experience of Modernity, is a reminder that the halcyon days of historical materialism are long past. Once upon a time, there was distinct “utopian” feeling, represented by the existence of the CCCP. Even though everyone (aside from the most ardent Stalinist) knew it was horrible da drüben, it was also different in its larger aim which was not entirely debased by really existing socialism. The fall of the Berlin Wall seemed to sap the collective energy out of intellectual and political movements on the left.

Although its pretension to scientific certainty was exposed as closer to faith than fact, Marxism provided a unified framework for imagining something else, which could drive movements, spur debate, etc. It provided coherence. Post-1989, there is fragmentation. Movement types can’t agree on the problems to be solved (climate? North/South? surveillance? identity? Empire?) and, in many cases, theorists turn their critique on each other (e.g., “feminism”). What I sensed as a student was an organic link between intellectual work, within a “tradition,” and politics outside the academy and its journalistic productions. That link was supplied by an engagement with an “enlightenment project.” Marxism (economic justice + radical democracy) was one important element of that project. With the critique of that project’s biases and blind spots, there is dispersal, centrifugally, and in some cases self-defeating purism. While people do occasionally wake up (e.g., Occupy’s break from waiting in line at the Apple Store), today’s wakefulness is likely to take the form of Jihad, Tea Party madness, or the culture of outrage enabled by social media.