[Marxism] The Road to Rightville

Fred Zaman agent.redstone at yahoo.com
Sun Aug 12 12:38:21 MDT 2007

  There is an 2007 IACR conference paper (The Bhaskarian 
  Dialectic of Freedom in America) posted at the website above 
  that presents a theoretical Marxist/critical-realist account of 
  the historical pathway the egalitarian struggle for freedom has 
  followed in capitalist America, circa 1650 to the present and 
  predictably beyond into the future. This paper explains at 
  theoretical level the “Road to Rightville” currently being 
  followed in America: economically, politically, and culturally. 
  Below is a preface to the above paper that’s to be presented 
  orally at the conference. Refer to the paper to see the figures 
  and tables discussed below.
  Fred Zaman
  In “The Bhaskarian Dialectic of Capital: The Pulse of Freedom 
  in America,” available in full on the 2007 IACR conference 
  papers website, two figures and two tables exemplify the four 
  elements of the Bhaskarian dialectic presented, which are 
  American capitalism’s critical-realist (CR): “non-identity,” 
  “negativity,” “totality,” and “agency”;  the overall theory of 
  which is called transcendental naturalism (TN). Figure 1 in the 
  paper graphically summarizes American capitalism’s “non-
  identity” in TN, Figure 2 diagrams its “negativity,” Table 1 
  summarizes its “totality,” and Table 2 summarizes American 
  capitalism’s “agency.”
  These figures and tables, analytic constructions of the four 
  divisions (moments, edges, levels, dimensions) of the 
  Bhaskarian dialectic of American capitalism’s pulse of freedom, 
  are expressed in terms that—although theoretical—are more 
  “practical” than “philosophical.” They permit us to understand, 
  in an practical application of dialectical critical realism 
  that is “specific” yet at the same time “global,” the 
  concretization of Bhaskarian dialectic. Figure 1, for the 
  capitalist dialectic of this essay, is a graphic representation 
  of the “1M moment” that—in Bhaskarian terms—includes non-
  identity, structure, differentiation, change, transitive-
  intransitive ontology, emergence, openness, etc. Figure 2 in 
  this dialectic is a graphic representation of the Bhaskarian 
  “2E edge” concerning dialectical categories, arguments and 
  themes expressed in the terms of negation, negativity, 
  contradiction, becoming, development, etc. Table 1 then calls 
  out elements of the “3L level” that concern reflexivity, a 
  totality that includes the reality of absence, concrete 
  universality, and the unity of theory and practice. And Table 2 
  then is a theoretical construction of the “4D dimension,” 
  wherein the capitalist dialectic of the pulse of freedom in 
  America is open, through an integration of agency and structure 
  that is active and reflexive, and in practice unifies theory 
  and practice. Each of these theoretical divisions, however, of 
  the Bhaskarian dialectic of capital and freedom in America, 
  individually presupposes the reality of the other three—each 
  one is implied in the whole as a system.
  Figure 1, representing the first CR division of American 
  capitalism’s Bhaskarian dialectic, is a graphical summary and 
  overview of the nation’s “non-identity” created, through the 
  dialectic of capital thus formulated, during the four-hundred-
  year patterning of America’s “pulse of freedom” shown. This 
  figure exemplifies the CR notion of a structured, stratified 
  and differentiated reality that includes “transitive” and 
  “intransitive” dimensions, emergence, change, and openness. 
  Figure 2, the second CR division, then is graphically depicts 
  the ongoing waves of dialectical negativity that Americans 
  historically have experienced (and themselves produced), over 
  the four hundred years of the nation’s historical pulse of 
  freedom. This figure exemplifies the expansion of ontology to 
  include as real the absence of that which is non-existent. 
  Table 1, the third CR division of the capitalist dialectic in 
  America, summarizes the nation’s high-level totality of 
  ideology over the four hundred years of its “pulse of freedom.” 
  It exemplifies the idea of totalities that are always radically 
  open with no guarantees about the ultimate outcome, which 
  totalities also include absence as an element of the real. Each 
  of the four ‘totalities” shown—one in each column—includes 
  three “presences” along with one “absence” not shown, but which 
  becomes present in the totality following. Giving an example, 
  in postmodern America, liberalism today is the “absence” that’s 
  real, but which is predicted to reappear (become present) in a 
  future age of America not shown, circa 2050-2150. Table 2, the 
  fourth CR division of the capitalist dialectic in America, 
  summarizes the agency (and structure) responsible for America’s 
  pulse of freedom. This table exemplifies the CR notion of 
  agency, meaning transformative practices allied to projects 
  grounded in rationality and directed toward society’s 
  structural transformation into a good society.
  In providing the critical-realist foundation for the Bhaskarian 
  dialectics of capital, TN absents/negates that Cartesian 
  worldview which in modern times has absented our subjective, 
  existential being from the physical world. In TN the human 
  agent as subjective being exists wholly within the physical 
  world, and thus in every respect is subject to the laws of 
  nature: physically, biologically, psychologically, and 
  socially. At the same time however, human beings employ these 
  same laws instrumentally in the achievement of spatially and 
  temporally formulated objectives. This in Bhaskarian terms is 
  the ultimate absenting of Rene Descartes’ original absenting of 
  human subjectivity and agency (i.e. of the mind’s causality) 
  from nature. Transcendental naturalism here is what in essence 
  is a “second-order empiricism” of social phenomena in which 
  specific discrete events cannot be predicted because social 
  systems in critical-realist terms are “open”; but which 
  nevertheless reveals an overall patterning of events to which 
  events that individually are entirely unpredictable 
  collectively conform. This patterning of events, as determined 
  by TN’s second-order empiricism of social phenomena, conforms 
  to objectively existing “laws of nature” (physics, chemistry, 
  biology, etc.) that—whether directly or in complex material 
  instantiations thereof—are employed by subjective agents (which 
  physically are immanent in the world) as their (only) 
  instruments of communication and control.
  In TN nature’s causal laws are treated as real, and often—
  speaking from an evolutionary perspective—fortuitously result 
  in actual mechanisms; but the  powers, potentialities, and 
  capabilities thereof, however, may or may not be manifested in 
  a given situation or period of time as empirical regularities. 
  Nature’s laws thus are fundamentally tendential, so that their 
  materialism is fundamentally aleatory, which means that in TN 
  Newtonian principles are fundamentally non-Humean. Evolution is 
  real also in TN, but the “Newtonian world” out of which things 
  have evolved isn’t abandoned. That is, nature’s Newtonian, yet 
  at the same time non-Humean, tendencies are not eliminated by 
  evolution; but rather sustained in different ways at ever 
  higher levels of organization, through evolved, second-order 
  “generative mechanisms” manifested in recurring yet ever-
  changing patterns that exhibit some form of abstract Newtonian 
  behavior. Even in complex phenomena that are “emergent,” 
  Newtonian tendencies arise naturally in the developing 
  complexity thereof, awaiting to be discerned by acute critical 
  realists. TN thus is the Newtonian flip side of a critical 
  realism whose first principle is that (evolved/evolving) 
  transcendent beings always employ nature’s laws as the 
  instruments of their agency. In this, however, one must 
  understand that the philosophical link between the principles 
  of “Newtonian science” and the “Humean causal form” in 
  conventional first-order empiricism has been absented, through 
  a second-order Newtonian causality and empiricism.
  Critical realists really need to think through TN’s anti-
  Cartesian formulation of the subject, the difficulty of which 
  will be compounded by the strong Cartesian bias in western 
  society against any radical, Newtonian-grounded, perspective of 
  human agency. Human agency, in the Cartesian worldview, can 
  never be explained in terms of the laws of physics because the 
  subject has been arbitrarily—and very unnaturally—absented from 
  nature. This Cartesian absenting of the existential subject in 
  nature is widely held, even though it is fully recognized that 
  nothing can be accomplished through human agency that will ever 
  violate these laws. Critical realists, as social activists, 
  need to forcefully challenge society’s dominant Cartesian 
  worldview, which is widely unquestioned even in the face of the 
  overwhelming preponderance of evidence to the contrary—that is 
  even considering the fact that in everyone’s life, as well in 
  the work of scientists as they exploit nature’s laws 
  instrumentally in whatever experiments, nature’s laws rule the 
  day without exception. We live in a universe filled with 
  Newtonian mechanisms that exist both within and without our 
  bodies, yet we—as the Cartesian story goes—somehow remain 
  untouched by the fundamental principles thereof with regard to 
  our agency. What Cartesian nonsense!
  The immanent critique of science in transcendental naturalism, 
  following in principle that of transcendental realism but 
  further expanding upon it, takes as its starting point the 
  assumption that the reason ‘science works’ is because 
  scientists are able, in empirical studies, to employ nature’s 
  laws—either directly or in complex material instantiations 
  thereof—as their instruments of observation, measurement and 
  control. The precepts arising out of this immanent critique, 
  similar to transcendent realism, are ontological precepts about 
  the natural world being a stratified open system. In 
  transcendental naturalism, however, the condition of 
  possibility of science is that it seeks fallible knowledge, of 
  emergent properties in open systems, through the employment of 
  nature’s laws discovered in closed systems as second-order 
  instruments of theoretical interpretation in open systems. The 
  figures and tables of this essay are examples of this in the 
  application of TN’s immanent critique of science to the 
  Bhaskarian dialectic of capitalism over the past four hundred 
  years of American history, circa 1650-2050.
  Figure 1 summarizes the critical-realist principle of non-
  identity as exemplified in America’s capitalist dialectic, 
  disclosed through the second-order empiricism of TN:
  Figure 1. America’s  capitalist dialectic:
  CR “non-identity” in the transcendental naturalism of American 
  capitalism is a planetary diagram with the American 
  “proletariat” lying at the center and historically illuminating 
  American society in four different seasons of ideological 
  dominance: the Spring of Faith of conservative colonial America 
  (1650-1750); the Summer of Solidarity of communitarian 
  antebellum America (1750-1850); the Autumn of Skepticism of 
  liberalist modernist America (1850-1950); and the Winter of 
  Alienation of libertarian postmodern America (1950-2050). 
  America’s “proletariat,” effectively functioning at the level 
  of a collective political unconscious, is here the source of 
  society’s centrist attractive force (egalitarian gravitas); the 
  “haute bourgeoisie” is society’s progressive inertial force 
  (private sector momentum); and a newly-reformulated “petty 
  bourgeoisie” in TN is society’s structural force (public sector 
  relations) defined in the terms of its position in the orbit of 
  Figure 1. In America’s Spring of Faith the petty bourgeoisie is 
  conservative, the haute bourgeoisie is communitarian, and the 
  proletariat is liberal; in America’s Summer of Solidarity the 
  petty bourgeoisie has become communitarian, the haute 
  bourgeoisie liberal, and the proletariat libertarian; in 
  America’s Autumn of Skepticism the petty bourgeoisie has become 
  liberal, the haute bourgeoisie libertarian, and the proletariat 
  conservative; while today, in America’s Winter of Alienation, 
  the petty bourgeoisie has become libertarian, the haute 
  bourgeoisie neo-conservative and the proletariat communitarian.
  This accounting of nature’s laws, through the transcendental 
  naturalism of evolving/emerging Newtonian tendencies in complex 
  social systems, thus is generally consistent with the 
  Bhaskarian understanding of causation. The paper, which is 
  about both evolution and emergence at a societal level, 
  provides a deep critical-realist explanation of America’s 
  political, economic, and social evolution over some 400 years 
  of history, and during this time the emergence of a 
  quadrumvirate of political ideologies [conservative (1650-
  1750), communitarian (1750-1850), liberal (1850-1950), and 
  libertarian(1950-2050)] that have dominated the nation one 
  after the other. Figure 1 is a critical-realist account of an 
  ongoing, class-based Bhaskarian dialectic in America 
  responsible for the historical contours of the nation’s 
  economics, politics, and culture; its hegemony of private 
  capital; and an ongoing, opposed, proletarian “pulse of 
  freedom.” The explanation given is fundamentally critical-
  realist in character.
  The remaining three Bhaskarian divisions of America’s 
  capitalist dialectic, as disclosed through the second-order 
  empiricism of TN, are:
  Figure 2. America’s “underground currents of the unconscious”:
  CR “negativity” in the transcendental naturalism of American 
  capitalism includes the cyclic, Althusserian “underground 
  currents” of the four ideologies in Figure 1: Center-Right 
  conservatism, Far-Right communitarianism, Center-Left 
  liberalism, and Far-Left libertarianism. Each such current is 
  in phase opposition with one other current to which it is 
  diametrically opposed, and in phase quadrature with the others. 
  The current positive peaks depict public sector (petty 
  bourgeoisie) hegemony, while the current negative peaks depict 
  communal sector (proletariat) hegemony. The current midlines on 
  ascending waves then represent private sector (haute 
  bourgeoisie) hegemony, while the current midlines on descending 
  waves represent the political absence of the ideology 
  previously hegemonic in the public sector. At the present time 
  (circa 2000), for example, the Center-Left liberalism that was 
  hegemonic in the public sector circa 1900 is politically 
  “absent” today in every sector of society—which absence of 
  course is a political reality that currently affects the 
  nation’s political discourse.
  Table 1. America’s critical-realist “virtu”:
  CR totality in the transcendental naturalism of American 
  capitalism is composed of the three classes/sectors whose 
  ideologies determine the four seasons in Figure 1, in the 
  historical order shown. This totality, listed in Table 1 for 
  each season in Figure 1, is Hegelianized in terms of society’s 
  ongoing dialectic/pulse of freedom through a master-slave 
  dialectic (ideocratic thesis, antithesis, synthesis) in which 
  dual elitist and publican “masters” (haute and petty 
  bourgeoisie) jointly rule over a lowly populist slave 
  (proletariat). The ideologies of master and slave reverse in 
  the manner of the Hegelian master-slave dialectic over a period 
  of two hundred years, to then later obtain a synthesis thereof 
  over the next two hundred years for a completed Hegelian triad 
  of “thesis, antithesis, synthesis” over some four hundred 
  years. America according to this historiography is now moving 
  toward the completion circa 2050 of a four hundred year 
  Hegelian cycle of Center-Right conservativism v. Center-Left 
  liberalism. Also according to Figure 1, another four hundred 
  year Hegelian cycle of Far-Right communitarianism v. Far-Left 
  libertarianism (not shown in its entirely in Figure 1) is 
  predicted to be completed one hundred years later circa 2150.
  Table 2. America’s critical-realist “ordini”:
  CR agency (and structure) in the transcendental naturalism of 
  American capitalism also is a two-dimensional table with the 
  three classes of the nation’s political unconscious listed 
  along the horizontal. Along the vertical are six parameters or 
  elements of each class, including its: domain of authority 
  (sector of society), critical-realist ordini (class generative 
  mechanisms and structures), class dialectic (as seen from 
  within the class), class reflexivity (class dialectic as viewed 
  from the outside), critical-realist virtu (second-order 
  Newtonian homologues of class rules of engagement), and 
  ideological source (second-order Newtonian homologues thereof). 
  The essay integrates these different aspects of the cultural 
  dynamics of America’s class-based political unconscious into 
  the historical dialectic of freedom diagrammed in Figure 1.

Sayan Bhattacharyya <ok.president+marxmail at gmail.com> wrote:
  ...a more accurate wording might have been "Why I Turned Right: Or,
The Experience That Closed My Mind Forever." [...] When he was 15,
Stanley Kurtz attended an antiwar rally, only to be shocked at the
sight of severed pig heads mounted on sticks, a crass taunt aimed at
the police." [...]

Young people tend to be politically unthinking, and liberal arts
professors tend to be arrested young people. But many undergraduates,
encountering the towering stupidity of college radicalism, tenured and
otherwise, chose to be conservative, where conservative meant
deferential to the past, appropriately awed by greatness, calm,
courteous, skeptical and cautious. As Talleyrand immortally put it,
"Above all, no zeal." By definition, "no zeal" doesn't lurch you
anywhere, especially not with the heaving self-certainty that lurched
these writers to the right. For them the primal scene of revulsion at
the liberal mind-set stays forever fresh. "By virtue of its
one-sidedness and extremism," Stanley Kurtz writes, "the academy
serves as a key generator of our polarized political and cultural
battles." At Yale, Heather Mac Donald discovered the sorcery known as
deconstruction, then "watched with horror as the multicultural yahoos
took over the humanities." Dinesh D'Souza arrived at Dartmouth a
moderate-to-liberal kid from Mumbai, only to discover a faculty
infiltrated by radical feministas, women who "made statements to the
effect that all males were potential rapists." Fighting fire with
fire, D'Souza recalls with relish the tasteless gay jokes he published
while at The Dartmouth Review and how one of his heroes, an English
professor named Jeffrey Hart, once wrote an article arguing that the
school's apartheid protestors were really "protesting their own

Here we near the answer to our riddle: how privileged college
graduates, while fronting for the interests of corporations and the
rich, speak the language of angry populism, and with such depth of
conviction. [...]


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