[OPE] Spirit and self

From: Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@telfort.nl>
Date: Sat Mar 28 2009 - 08:31:22 EDT


Regrettably you rake up, out of the dustbin of history, all kinds of dubious so-called Marxists and spiritual quacks who put radical theory on a wrong track, who misled the progressive movement and set people back. You combine perfectly valid science with ideosyncratic pseudo-science and ideological quackery. With that sort of practice, no wonder that the Left is in such a bad shape.

Mr Kautsky aimed to prove that the specific doctrines characteristic of christianity arose out of "objective conditions" in the Roman empire, in "a time of utter decomposition of traditional forms of production and government". http://www.marxists.org/archive/kautsky/1908/christ/ch06.htm

But the actual way in which he goes about his analysis, shows very exactly how very badly he understood Marx's materialist conception of history, i.e. the interaction of ideas, practices and circumstances. The active, history-making human subject is almost completely lacking from his portrayals.

Put simply, Kautsky had one theory for explaining "the dead facts of history" which cannot change anymore, and another theory for explaining human action in the here and now. In the process, Marxism is deployed as a flexible ideology which explains anything and nothing, just as with Lenin.

The crude economic determinism in his historical theory is especially clear; his theory of actuality was mainly a pragmatic opportunism, to the precise extent that his principles could not be put into practice. Kautsky, like Lenin, simply wasn't a great intellectual, a great thinker, and neither of them pretended to be one either. They were just power-brokers, that is all, and if their ideas became popular, it has nothing much to do with their quality, but with their ascent to power, and their ideological utility as moral authorities who articulated the conscience of the radical movement.

However, Mr Kautsky does make a useful point:

"The new Bible criticism keeps searching for... a new conception, always with the same result that the Christendom of previous centuries had produced: each theologian painted into the picture of Jesus his own private ideals and spirit. Like second century descriptions of Jesus, twentieth-century ones do not show what Jesus really taught, but what the makers of these descriptions wish he had taught." http://www.marxists.org/archive/kautsky/1908/christ/ch03.htm

That, however, is exactly what happened with "Marxism" too, a process to which he himself strongly contributed.

"Each Marxist painted into the picture of Marx and Engels his own private ideals and spirit."

Why however should we accept a 19th century Marxist analysis of christianity now as the revealed truth, when we have incomparably more research evidence and theological reflection on the topic than Kautsky could ever imagine?

Why should we try to marry Buddhist ideology to Marxist ideology? This is just an admission that Marxism is an inadequate quasi-religion, a metaphysical doctrine that cannot cope with the rich diversity of human strivings. But why should our understanding of what humanity is about, be constrained by a religion?

Why should we let some academic fraudster or political opportunist determine our idea of what Marx and Engels were about, and mystify their radical spirit?

Why should Marxists, who have never seriously studied the forms of human spirituality, be able to dictate "scientifically" how we may think about that? Why should we take their proclamations at all seriously?

Why should I bother with copy-cat Therborn, who rehashes copy-cat Althusser, who in turn monkies a few bits excerpted from a concoction of badly-digested books on anthropology and philosophy? Why not go directly to the anthropological, philosophical and historical sources on which these so-called "philosophes" base their badly flawed leftist conservatism, in the first instance, and evaluate those, in the light of modern knowledge?

Any bona fide historian, philosopher or anthropologist of law can tell you that Pashukanis's theory of law is seriously flawed, that he overextends a few reductionist ideas about the origin of law to explain the legal system, and that his ideas about human morality are highly questionable.

I am very happy to accept bona fide scientific research findings about the functioning of the human mind, it's just that for me this does not at all resolve the problem of interpreting their overall significance, in particular given the reflexive characteristics of human consciousness.

It often takes years of work to solidly prove even just one modest scientific research finding, but it takes only a few seconds for one lazy hack to extrapolate this research finding from behind his writing desk to "the meaning of life, the universe and everything".

For the rest, I don't want to bother anymore with the bottom of the dustbin, it just distracts me from my own research. If you take misleaders seriously, you will your own ruination.


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Received on Sat Mar 28 08:34:30 2009

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