- Jun 28, 2002
- Reaction score
I quite agree.
But isn't it so for those who take a Marxist position that (crudely put) it rests on the "international", whereby the dictatorship of the proletariat cannot transpire without basically the abolition of borders/nation states altogether? And in fact it's often claimed that this was at least one of the reasons that "a true Marxist society" has never been achieved; eg as it spread out of Russia in the early part of the century, it basically failed to spread far enough (or was curtailed by force; either way, outcome the same), and thus failed? This is at least what was put to me by the "Marxists for No" (or whatever they called themselves) whom I spoke to during the Indy campaign in 2014 many times (in George Square), as a primary reason to resist the move to an independent Scottish state.
As I say, though, I absolutely 100% agree that "there is a better opportunity to pursue the interests of the working class in an independent Scotland than as part of this moribund basket case that we're tied to", but then I'm not a Marxist. Smaller, more cohesive polities, just seem to me to be the best chance; but isn't that contrary to the fundaments of the theory? Or is it just another step in the teleological progress of history?
For clarity, I don't know what "ism" I am, really. Which is because I personally think that the effect of digital Pandora's Box on the world is rapidly outstripping 20th century modes of political thought, and I'm more than happy to freely acknowledge that I'm unsure of what the best, most effective way forward for those of us with more than a passing interest in a (more) just society.
The new digital world poses a problem for capitalism as much as Marxism (as I've alluded to elsewhere, data becoming both commodity and currency kind of begs questions of how the labour theory of value is to be applied). Capitalism, though, the great adaptor, seems to be recasting the internet around forms of rent (I'm sorry that's so clumsily expressed, but nevertheless). Right now, I see digitisation as more likely to mark an evolution of capitalism into something possibly worse – we can already see bizarre new forms like China's dynamic capitalism fused with a kind of hi-tech Stalinism. Who had it right (in my reading, anyway) was a conservative: the sociologist Daniel Bell, who suggested that Marx was correct in his analysis from the 1700s to the 1970s, but failed to account for the "post-industrial society" which would be dominated by the spread of a "knowledge class, the change from goods to services and the [changing] role of women". However, "we should expect new premises and new powers, new constraints and new questions, with the difference that these are now on a scale that had never been previously imagined in world history". I guess I'm just deeply sceptical that this will result in the stateless utopia of the Paris Manuscripts. (Murray Bookchin has also speculated on how well the Marxist paradigm works in conditions of abundance as opposed to scarcity. Anyway, I digress.)
Here I am, essentially Joe Soap, attempting to grapple with all this with my own average intellect, such as it is. However, I must say that I'm truly heartsick of the intellectual condescension that comes out of the Marxist left. There really is no one more likely than Marxists (in my own limited experience) to for example condemn you as a 'rambling blether' or 'unscientific' – whatever that means in this context – and patronise you with the assumption that you've never read a book in your life, and hence that your disagreement – or even your honest queries and speculations – are the result of pure ignorance. I'm trying to understand, so I'm asking questions, and presenting my own thoughts. If ordinary people can't be persuaded of a position, or even have an intelligent, speculative conversation between each other about that position, without being simply and high-handedly referred upstairs to basically the "professor class", then how far is that position ever likely to get in actual reality? Why must honest questions be a priori presumed to be hostile, rather than an invitation to dialogue? Really gets me down sometimes – like, it really, really does.
I can honestly say, and with a genuine and deep sadness, that I'm glad to be rotating out of the orbit of the university this year (into a future as yet unknown), because alas that's where I've felt it the most. It's just safer to keep schtum there if you are "off the orthodox reservation" in even the smallest ways – EGB really was right about that. I hoped for better here, though.
No text speak.