“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Hypothesis

My respondent on Friday suggested that by not talking about capital I was discounting its all determining power, and perhaps also discounting Marx.

I gave some answers that addressed what I perceived to be a certain correlationism in the criticism.

At the end of my remarks I mentioned a kind of cynicism that is default in modernity. I have just now formulated a hypothesis that brings this into focus:

Like some forms of Christian fundamentalism, academic Marxism often thinks its enemy as more powerful than its hero. Just as fundamentalism is to this extent a form of Satanism, so this kind of Marxism is a form of capitalist ideology.

Attendant ramifications, such as reductive undermining and overmining, a certain objectifying materialism and so on, are also shared.



Roger Whitson said...

"I, in my Selfhood, am that Satan! I am that Evil One!
He is my Spectre! In my obedience to loose him from my Hells,
To claim the Hells, my Furnaces, I go to Eternal Death.’"

Ted Underwood said...

There are really two separate issues here. One is a kind of reflexive pessimism on the left -- perhaps esp in academia -- which, I agree, amounts to unhelpful political fundamentalism.

But historical materialism is an entirely separate issue. You can be a confident, optimistic, left materialist. Which may or may not entail being a Marxist, but does require candor about the power of capital.

Alex Reid said...

I would imagine that Marxism, along with the other familiar -isms of critical theory, at least as they are conventionally practiced would all be examples of overmining. If we can't be certain as to the status of species as an object, how would we articulate gender or capital as objects?

John B-R said...

Is capital (or capitalism) a hyperobject?

I mean, you've called climate change/global warming a hyperobject, meaning I think, that we're "in" in whether we like it or not.

And you don't talk about it all the time, of course. Sometimes, e.g. you talk about moving to Rice instead of the climate.

It would be fundamentalist to say to you, "You're talking about moving without talking about the climate. Bad! Bad!

Couldn't the same be true of capital/capitalism? We're "in" it, and we have to know it, just like we have to with the climate, but we don't have to talk about it all the time. I mean, you could be excited about your new job without having to go on some rant about still being trapped in the clutches of the bourgeoisie ...

Henry Warwick said...

Not to be impertinent, but I would like to know how any of this helps the working classes.