Category Archives: Politics

Marxist Conservatism

One ought to recognize in the Marxist critique of capitalism a covert loyalty to an antecapitalist community. Marx was too sophisticated, too urbane to throw in his lot with those he dismissed as utopian socialists, yet, as his early writings show, his animus against capitalism derived, like theirs, from a reaction against capitalism’s desecration–desacralization–of traditional, patriarchal norms. He was, at heart a romantic reactionary, but forced by intellectual vanity to give his anticapitalism an avant-garde “progressive” cover, a project facilitated by the mental suppleness he absorbed from Hegelian dialectics.

If this covert nostalgia for the predeluvian past at the heart of Marxism is acknowledged, then the tendency of communist revolutions to bring to power archly paternal figures like the Man of Steel and the Great Helmsman can be appreciated as preservative of an ancient notion of regality. In effect, communism was able to give an absolutism threatened by the encroaching democratic corruption a new lease on life, thus safeguarding in distorted but still recognizable form the authority of the Great Father. Insofar as masculinity and what today is disparaged as “authoritarianism” are essentially the same thing, communism can be credited with having found a way to reinvent heroic virility as a modern virtue. This is why the monuments and edifices that remain from the Stalinist era, despite efforts to dismiss them as bombastic anachronisms or icons of “totalitarianism,” are paragons of aesthetic probity compared to the hysterically performative structures to which the postmodern cult of lameness has accustomed us.

Communism ultimately failed because, like modernism in general, it could not sustain the contradiction of attempting a modern, secular, humanist revival of a world that modernity, secularism, and humanism had destroyed. Nonetheless, the passing of modernism has left a void because modernism, for all its paradoxes, was the last heroic gesture that a senescent Western civilization was capable of before it completely surrendered to flaccidity.

Somnolence of the Woke

The post-’60s transformation of the Western left into a liberal avant-garde allied with the worst, most debasing tendencies of capital has had as its logical outcome the transformation of working class resistance against capitalism into working class resistance against liberalism. Today, whatever is of any intellectual interest emanates from this anti-liberal awakening.

Meantime, in a galaxy far, far away, “woke” liberal academia is stuck in a somnolent time warp, still dutifully engaged in deconstructive projects that are the intellectual equivalent of pulverizing piles of rubble into piles of finer rubble, bravely tilting at a phantom white patriarchy, demolishing canons kept alive only in the minds of those who want to abuse them and completely blind to the fact that its “transgressions” are affirmations of ruling-class self-exemption from reality.

Coke vs Pepsi

The “culture war” is an argument between fools. The conservative fools want capitalism without capitalism, “free enterprise” and the Ancien Régime at the same time. Liberal fools want to abolish what capitalism has already abolished, the old paternal function, and replace it with something more arbitrary and totalitarian, the rule of “sensitivity.” The conservatives pine for the old master. Liberals would prefer a dominatrix. Between them they have succeeded in reducing political discourse to a choice between inanities. This is why the categories of political affiliation align so nicely with those of consumption, Apple versus Microsoft, Honda versus Ford, etc. Identity politics is not, as is often supposed, a strictly liberal phenomenon. It is the default of politics reduced to brand choice.

Amen

Ultimately, Russia-gate is yet a variation on the tired old theme of American innocence.  If something goes wrong, it can’t be the fault of decent Americans who, as we all know, are too good for our deeply flawed world.  Rather, it must be the fault of dastardly foreigners trying to hack our democracy.  It’s a deep-rooted form of xenophobia that has fueled everything from the criminalization of marijuana (smuggled in by evil Mexicans) to the 1950s Red Scare (a reaction to Communism smuggled in by evil Russians), and the war on terrorism (the work of evil Muslims).  The idea that America may in anyway be responsible for its own fate is of course unthinkable.

But Russia-gate may be the greatest delusion of all.  After decades of celebrating Donald Trump as the essence of American flash and hustle, the corporate media have decided that the only way he could have gotten into the White House is if Putin put him there.  The upshot is a giant conspiracy to force Americans to turn their back on reality, an effort that can only end in disaster for all concerned, Democrats first and foremost.