Sunday, 25 January 2009

A Personal Perspective on Marxism

I have read three books on Marxism in the past, which were all very different descriptions of Marxism, including reading some of the first volume of Das Kapitol by Karl Marx. Whilst I have on separate occasions in the past, agreed with some Marxism in theory, I have not overall been convinced by Marxism politically, or in practise, nor been in agreement with its end-result, of a centralised, monopolistic, state-controlled Communist society.

The dialectic, is a process of reasoning, which involves a thesis (theory, idea, argument, or statement), anti-thesis (opposing theory/idea/argument/statement/perspective), and a synthesis or combination of the two, in order to form a new theory, perspective, or thesis. This process, was originally was one of reasoning and discussion, but Marx described it as a materialistic process, or political and human struggle, and he said that the anti-thesis, to the thesis, of state-capitalism, was the struggle of the working classes for economic gain, and that the synthesis and new thesis, was a Communist society and world. It has been said about Marx by others, that whilst he was quite good at critiquing state-capitalism, he didn't say much about what form a Communist society would take, other than in economic terms, but he was clear, that it would be a dictatorship.

The dialectic in its original form, as thesis, anti-thesis, and synthesis, is very much a process of reasoning, and it is the intellectual basis, that a lot of our parliamentary, democratic politics, is based upon. I have also made some use of the dialectic, in some of my thinking and writing, because it seems to me, that it descirbes a lot of things about human nature, the mind, and society, that things can be both separate yet connected or interrelated. It does occur to me though, that a lot of parliamentary politics, are just based upon the thesis/anti-thesis model, and don't progress much to forming a synthesis or consensus, although this has changed somewhat in modern society, with the political parties being somewhat influenced by each others policies, in order to gain polarity and votes. I'll mention this aspect, and the much wider aspects of ideology in a moment, but first I want to look at the aspect of Marxism, which it is often said about it, that it rejects reason, as a means for change, in favour of some pure action.

The last point, I want to make about the dialectic, in it's original form, is that whilst it does describe a lot about human nature, the mind, and society, it is still a process of positives and negatives, whereas a thesis doesn't necessarily have to be met, or challenged, by an anti-thesis or an immediate negative, it can merely be responded to by another fresh thesis, unrelated to the original thesis. This is a more innovative and positive approach, which is not argumentative or confrontational, and which does not mean that we are dependent in any way upon a previous thesis.

Reason is very important, and it seems to me, that action without reason, is irrational and dangerous, and can only lead to chaos and dictatorship. You need reason, in order to carry things out in action, otherwise those with reason behind action, would just take over spontaneous action, no matter how good its goals or intentions. Marxists often argue that reason doesn't change anything, and that in place of it you need extremism, violence, and force, but I don't agree with that, because again it would lead to dictatorship, and what I want is a free and equal society, based upon fairness and opportunities for all.

There is of course, the question of whether opportunities for all, is just too idealistic and unworkable. For one thing, opportunities for all, is better that the concept of equal opportunities, of the eighties, as equal opportunities, was only a policy for the main, fully established minority and oppressed groups in society, such as blacks, gays, and women, but neglected other minority and oppressed groups, such as people with mental health problems, disabilities, the homeless, and the better rights, welfare, and care of children. The equal opportunities, concept and policy, of the eighties, was hypocritical, immoral, unethical, and corrupt, because it did not aim to create opportunities for everyone, but sought to target certain minorities against others, and this sometimes meant putting minorities into state power, against the same or other minorities, but without creating any corresponding equality or democracy, for those at the lower levels of the class system and society.

On the claim that opportunities for all is idealistic, it is far less idealistic than the limited policy of equal opportunities, and I think that on that particular area, New Labour got the shift of policy and context right. Of course, there will always be winners and losers in any society, but that usually happens in a stage or certain stages in people's lives, and does not have to affect, the whole of their life-opportunities and life-span. The fact that all political parties create some out-groups, and share that characteristic with fascism, means that there will always be a minority, or group at large, who lose out, but overall speaking, the reality of winners, out-groups, and losers in society, is not a natural one, but a social and economic process, and which can be to a fair extent, constructed and rectified, to create overall equalities and opportunities for all.

This brings me to the subject of class, class inequalities, and what Marx called 'class consciousness'. There is a strong valid argument in Marxism, which says that society, and/or the political system, needs to be structured or mechanised around enabling better wages, to those poorer people in society, but the concept of the working classes is a complex one, as it does not include people who are on very low-wages, or people who are unemployed or unable to work. A lot of Marxists, and so-called left-wing socialist political groups and parties, only have sympathy and empathy, with those who work, and those who have potential power. They don't seem interested in sharing power with other poor people, or empowering the poor and powerless in society. This Marxist obsession for power, seems to me to smack of fascism, rather than any kind of socialism, and is my first major objection to Marxism.

The other major disagreements I have with Marxism, despite the fact that some people say it is all sound in theory, is that it is fundamentally flawed in theory in two ways. Marx based most of his entire philosophy and political theory, upon the idea of two single individual people, or intellectual authority figures. The first was the philosopher Hegel, who said that the dialectic (thesis-antithesis/synthesis process of reasoning), was embodied in what he 'universal mind or 'spirit', and in history and the nation-state, and the second person was Feurerbach who was a materialist. Anyone who bases their entire philosophy on two single authority figures like Hegel and Feurerbach, is bound to come up with a ludicrous and monstrous overall political philosophy, that would lead to authoritarianism and dictatorship.

I fundamentally reject the concept of universal mind, or Marx's version of it as 'class consciousness', because those concepts only see, and present consciousness as collective, and do not also put importance upon individual consciousness. Collective consciousness, is important, and essential for social enlightenment and change, but only if there is some kind of dialectical process involved, in both interrelating and interconnecting it, with individual consciousness or mind, where the two things are both unified and separate, and where there is some kind of two way interaction and influence, and/or a centre area of consensus inbetween.

For me, this dialectical process, and centre area or consensus, involves to some extent, a filtering process, where both my awareness of my self, and my social awareness, interact and influence each other overall positively, and the positive hearing voices I experience are a part of that. This does not mean, that I idealise social reality, or that I am out of touch with reality. I am more than aware, of the evil, exploitation, and oppression, that exists in human nature and society, and the social, spiritual, and political processes, and mechanisms of that, as this articles explains, but I do not allow society to control or negatively influence my individual awareness, or for me to negatively influence society.

The second major theoretical objection, I have against Marxism, is that it states that only when people are enslaved in some way, can they realise that they are exploited and oppressed, and revolt and rebel against their present circumstances and situation. Marxism therefore justifies slavery, assumes that people will not want to be free and change society, without coercion, control, and abusive power over them, and to me it is just as evil as authoritarian state-capitalism.

Class consciousness is problematic, because different Marxists have very different ideas of what class consciousness actually is. Some Marxists say that class consciousness, can exist only within the broad working classes, whilst other Marxists - usually more modern ones - say that working class consciousness, is something which is to be permeated throughout the whole of society.

I do not idealise or romanticise the working classes, or any particular class, because the working classes have broadly and strongly supported fascism, such as with the popular far-right skinhead youth subculture of the eighties, and because economic gain for the employed working classes, was the same mentality of Thatcherism. There are good and bad qualities and characteristics to all classes, but there is a strong tendency for modern radical and revolutionary socialists, and right-wing democratic socialists, to betray and turn their backs against the general working class people, and that also is a form of fascism.

Last but not least, is the whole matter of political ideology, and what Marx called the 'ideological struggle'. Ideology, basically means beliefs, ideas, or principles, that create solidarity and/or political and social action. The ideological struggle of Marxism, is to enlighten working class people how the class system influences their ideas and actions, and how to organise for political and social change. The other aspect to ideological struggle though, is that it can simply mean - and is often misused as - propaganda, lies, and deliberate misleading and misinformation. This also justifies deceit and betray on a personal level, or interpersonally.

Whilst I have three major fundamental objections to Marxism, I would not reject it overall or completely, as the dialectic, of both Marx, and Hegel, are both to some extent useful and worth saving, filtering, and transforming