historical-materialism

I was never wicked acquainted with the Star Wars expanded universe (now called Legends), but I just watched a video on youtube that gave a good outline of the broad history (linked here). Based on what I’ve seen, I’m glad that it’s been scrapped in favor of the new canon. It just seems like their universe went through thousands upon thousands of years of the same shit: republics rise, they congeal into dictatorships, rebellions form to overthrow the dictators, and new republics are then formed; the process repeats. The technology of the Star Wars universe hasn’t seemed to evolve in any meaningful way over the course of eons – eons upon eons. Why do we keep ending up with liberal representative democracy even though the technology probably exists in-universe to accelerate productivity to the level of post-scarcity? (Hell, what about Star Trek replicators as a totally-plausible in-universe possibility?) Over time, the structures of society ought to change. 

There’s also way too much emphasis on the Skywalker and Solo lineages – Star Wars ought to treat these people as important figures in the Galactic Civil War time, then just let them gracefully disappear. Having new main characters who aren’t related to the Skywalkers (like Finn, Poe, and probably/hopefully Rey) is better storytelling, and it’s absolutely necessary so that the world doesn’t grow stagnant.

I’m probably hoping for too much, since the writers of Star Wars aren’t aiming to do world-building on historical-materialist grounds or write some colossal meditation on the human condition told through a multitude of unrelated characters. But even so, the EU/Legends did seem to have a lot of bland storytelling.

Emperor Palpatine clones!!!

Dark Side Luke!!!

Okay, guys, holy shit. How about something new???

Knee/elbow lightsabers!!!

sfoisajfoiasdjgoiasdjgoihsgoiera

White people are chronically devoid of empathy, not because they are incapable of it, but because the crux of whiteness as an identity and process is the dehumanization of the Other – this permeates every aspect of the white psyche, especially when it comes to interactions of any kind with racialized people, and this goes double for white “progressives” who tend to do absolutely anything but empathize, anything to avoid doing the real work of critical introspection and extending empathy as an action grounded in knowledge as opposed to a hollow, self-serving and convenient sentiment

They’ll self-flagellate, beg for absolution, claim solidarity, collect racialized people and our ideas as proof, chide us for not giving them enough credit for having tried, rigorously monitor us for “mistakes” that justify our dehumanization, shoehorn themselves into our bodies, our pain – without at any point realizing that what makes it possible to do any of the aforementioned is that historical, material, psychical relation between whiteness and the Other, that perpetual process of dehumanizing us in order to humanize themselves and justify violence, i.e., the antithesis of empathy

People asked for a larger resolution picture of the parallel historical materialism map. I think this should be a better resolution.

(And again, this is very simplified and overall Not Good™ by many standards; I get that. It is simply meant to convey how historical modes of production change according to material and technological factors, as well as how those factors could give rise to either a class society (most of history’s unfortunate trend) or a classless society.)

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In this struggle for consciousness historical materialism plays a crucial role. Ideologically no less than economically, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat are mutually interdependent. The same process that the bourgeoisie experiences as a permanent crisis and gradual dissolution appears to the proletariat, likewise in crisis-form, as the gathering of strength and the springboard to victory. Ideologically this means that the same growth of insight into the nature of society, which reflects the protracted death struggle of the bourgeoisie, entails a steady growth int he strength of the proletariat. For the proletariat the truth is a weapon that brings victory; and the more ruthless, the greater the victory. This makes more comprehensible the desperate fury with which bourgeois science assails historical materialism: for as soon as the bourgeoisie is forced to take up its stand on this terrain, it is lost. And, at the same time, this explains why the proletariat and only the proletariat can discern in the correct understanding of the nature of society a power-factor of the first, and perhaps decisive importance.
—  Georg Lukács, History and Class Consciousness, p. 68

explainguncontrolandsafespaces  asked:

You are anti capitalist. The other end is communism. Is that what you support? If a person chooses not to work in your ideal economy what happens to them?

I feel like the reason you’re asking this is because you’re assuming that communism would entail “the collective” forcing a person to perform labor and then extracting their labor product when finished, yes? As if to imply that starvation in a capitalist economy is significantly better? Nah, we don’t want some collective committee forcing an individual to perform labor – and if you think that’s what the anti-capitalist critique boils down to, you’re denying yourself a layered understanding of capitalism itself, as well.

Are you under some sort of impression that workers get to control the full product of their labor under capitalism? That the critique of capitalism is merely “do basically everything the same as capitalism except have a significant place for the state sector and regulation”? Or, like, “the state does everything”?

C'mon mate, read a bit on historical materialism – the social structure of society is overwhelmingly dependent on technology, the material conditions, and our relationships to the means of production. For instance, we had feudalism when there was the windmill, we developed capitalism as the steam engine and the commercial factory took off, and now we’re fast approaching a scenario where extensive automation could free millions upon millions of people from even needing to work a job beyond couple-hour shifts, if that. The changing technology will necessitate a change in social structure, as history has shown, or we’ll continue to slip further into obfuscating barbarism managed by a ruling class of capitalists and state bureaucrats. Rather than continue to compel people to work 8+ hour shifts, starve, or have their jobs lost to machines, machines ought to replace every job they feasibly could; at that point, society should democratically control the abundance-producing machines. Figure out what jobs need to be done to satisfy needs, cut out the many jobs that literally aren’t needed to sustain society (and are just there to help with profit extraction and bureaucracy), automate wherever possible, divvy up the work that can’t be automated, and then people get to pursue whatever they want once those economic faculties are covered. In the end, people have bountiful leisure time, thus expanding their freedom (ya know, the fetishized but actually-neglected concept of capitalism). I’m simplifying the process a bit, but that’s the general trajectory that ought to be embraced.

The capitalist system has many innate tensions within it, but that automation conundrum is HUGE – capitalists want the most profit possible, and soon they will automate away jobs as wages start to increase again. This is why liberals miss the point in the grand scheme of things – yes, increased minimum wages CAN lead to job loss, and automation WILL consume jobs left and right in the coming decades. But that’s not due to the “greedy workers wanting more” or whatever bullshit right-wingers argue – it’s because the system is not structurally designed to meet everyone’s needs. It’s not about freedom or individualism or serving human need; it’s about profit extraction for a small caste of elites.

Zoom out and consider where humanity has gone and will continue to go as time moves forward. You’re sitting in an idealistic fantasyland if you think capitalism can maintain itself forever as the modes of production change and as we slip further into environmental collapse. I implore you to dig past surface ideology you’ve been fed since childhood and locate the true source of tyranny and widespread human suffering.

Being a “Marxist” isn’t enough

It wasn’t until recently that radicals in bourgeois academic circles became bold enough to call themselves “communists” again. Before that, a trend emerged—which still continues today—of socialist academics calling themselves “Marxists,” but never daring to append the more dangerous names of Lenin and Mao to that title. They would declare fidelity to a critique of the current system they lived in, but continue to offer lukewarm, ineffective solutions to mitigate the ills of capitalism, indistinguishable from reformist solutions put forward by liberals. This allowed them to keep their jobs and ultimately become pet radicals for the bourgeoisie. The most prominent examples that immediately come to mind are Richard D. Wolff and Noam Chomsky—radicals in name, liberals in practice.

Recently I’ve become very skeptical of people who call themselves “Marxists” but don’t seem to be engaging in the kind of revolutionary activity that Maoist collectives in the US like the Red Guards or Revolutionary Collectives seem to. What do they mean by “Marxism” then?

Marxism is much more than a critique of capitalism, it’s dialectical and historical materialism—a science that was initiated by Marx and Engels and is still being developed to this day. Crucially, it’s a science that can only be advanced through revolutionary practice. If these “Marxists” are really scientists the same way Marx and Engels were, people who were actively engaged in the revolutionary struggles of their day, then where is their experimentation? After all, chemists and physicists have their laboratories and observatories; they’re constantly learning and putting their science to the test.

Furthermore, the communist movement has advanced far beyond Marx and Engels; we have the experiences of the Russian Revolution and the Chinese Revolution, and the experiences of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the Soviet Union and People’s Republic of China, the latter giving us the invaluable experience of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. There have been two ruptures in the science of revolutionary communism since Marx and Engels, those of Lenin and Mao. Today being a “Marxist,” that is, adhering fidelity to the science that Marx and Engels developed (and not just their critique of capitalism), means being a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist. This is exactly like how physicists recognize that their science has developed a lot since Newton, and today the rupture of Einstein is recognized as a fundamental component of their science.

While Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and physics may both be sciences in the same analogous way, physicists (thankfully) don’t append the names of the main theorists who produced ruptures in their science, probably for good reason. The name “Marxism-Leninism-Maoism” may not be ideal, but since the class struggle is a particularly vicious one and developments of a science of revolution in a world where capitalist ideology is overwhelmingly hegemonic prove to be difficult, the distinction has become necessary. The word “socialism” today means a million different things depending on who you talk to, most of them a far cry from what the Bolsheviks used the term to mean. “Communism” is quickly starting to look that way too. Maybe the name “revolutionary communism” would better encompass every aspect of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, but I could quickly see revisionist trends twisting it around as Maoism gains hegemony in the communist movement.

Regardless, there’s a point I want to stress here: you can’t just be a “Marxist.” You have to be a communist. That means you need to be engaged in the class struggle and you have to uphold the developments it’s made since Marx and Engels. You have to go one step further than recognizing that the proletariat is the grave-digger of capitalism; if you’re a scientist and your science is revolution, you need to be engaged in revolution and struggle alongside the proletariat. Otherwise you’re just another liberal appropriating radicalism you didn’t earn.

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“Tragedy of the Commons”

Western Marxism as a whole thus paradoxically inverted the trajectory of Marx’s own development itself. Where the founder of historical materialism moved progressively from philosophy to politics and then economics … the successors of the tradition … increasingly turned back from economics and politics to philosophy.
—  Perry Anderson, Considerations on Western Marxism, London: New Left Books, 1976, p. 52.
  • 1600s aristocrat: Can you point to one successful example of a capitalist republic in the history of time? You can't, and that's because democratic election of leaders goes against human nature. It might work on a small scale, but all notions of individual liberty are just idealistic pipe dreams. Any time it's been attempted on a large scale, capitalism has killed more people than feudalism ever could. We've already reached the end of history.
  • Radical peasant: *looks at the audience of the stage play like James from The Manor*
Hogwarts Houses as Leftists
  • Gryffindor: Radicalizing friends and giving passionate speeches to the IWW and shit. Super into the glorious ideals and image of socialism and is probably always carrying a red flag. Sings the Internationale and Solidarity Forever at family gatherings and parties. Will de-arrest you without a second thought.
  • Hufflepuff: Working in soup kitchens and spreading the good word through community service. "Meets people where they're at" better than the other three houses and comes off as the least pretentious. Digs full consensus at meetings and heavily emphasizes left unity. Most likely to form a cooperative or commune.
  • Ravenclaw: Writing tomes on theory and praxis and historical materialism. Probably has a small library of books on left-wing theory of all stripes and is always up for debate to win people over. Can often be really creative, formulating and drawing the propaganda posters and writing paragraphs of solid ideas on them. Sounds like a mix of a professor, a conspiracy theorist, and a wizard to the uninitiated.
  • Slytherin: Organizing black bloc and other forms of direct action. Always down to fight fascists and perfectly comfortable speaking out if they disagree -- in society and among other leftists. Probably has a sick punk or thrash band with deeply political lyrics. Often misunderstood -- tends to stick to their subculture but will immediately join the larger movement when push comes to shove.