[Marxism] Benjamin's Eighth Thesis on the Philosophy of History

Gary MacLennan gary.maclennan1 at gmail.com
Sun Feb 19 18:05:10 MST 2017


VIII

The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the “emergency situation” in
which we live is the rule. We must arrive at a concept of history which
corresponds to this. Then it will become clear that the task before us is
the introduction of a real state of emergency; and our position in the
struggle against Fascism will thereby improve. Not the least reason that
the latter has a chance is that its opponents, in the name of progress,
greet it as a historical norm. – The astonishment that the things we are
experiencing in the 20th century are “still” possible is by no means
philosophical. It is not the beginning of knowledge, unless it would be the
knowledge that the conception of history on which it rests is untenable.

Friends continue to send me the lots of analyses of Trump  the latest is a
piece for Time by a Bret Stephens-
http://time.com/4675860/donald-trump-fake-news-attacks/.  He appears to be
a clever conservative, but I tend at a stretch.to put him the the category
that says Trump is a genius and he is doing all this to get us upset and
angry and we are falling into a trap.

Stephens as a conservative, fails to contextualize Trump.  It is vital I
believe to acknowledge just how small Trump's victory was. Some 75% of
Americans either voted against or didn't vote for him.  His base is very
narrow and historically one of the smallest for a Republican.  Trump was a
protest candidate at a time when the system's failures are becoming
blatantly obvious to most people. Faced with a venal and corrupt and stupid
Democratic Party candidate and machine, Trump almost lost.   I will repeat
- this was the Drover's dog election, that is, anyone, even the dog of the
drover, could have won it. That is how we should view the show that is
being unfolded in front of us.

James Butler of Novara Media is spot on with his analysis.  The Trump show
is chaotic.  They are making it up as they go along.  It is remotely
possible that Bannon intends to activate his plan to spend trillions to get
America working again.  I doubt very much if Trump could pull that off. But
we shall see. Anything short of a full on attack on the decay of the
economy will spell disaster for Trump.

Now Lou in his blog on the Deep State attempted to characterize the period
we are going through.  He appears to think it parallels the awakening in
the 60s from the dead hand of the Cold War. I don't live in the States so I
cannot judge whether the analogy is apt or not.  But I do agree that the
period is new and that it contains possibilities for the Left that have not
existed for years.

To link up the Benjamin thesis, I would say that our task is to turn what
appears to be a state of emergency into a real state of emergency.  We are
not in a state of emergency  just because Trump is a narcissistic fool.
The truth, as I see it, is that the ruling class in the States does not
have a clue how to proceed. Moreover, their ignorance is matched with an
obdurate arrogance that facilitated their willingness to put a menagerie of
misfits into the White House.

These are conditions which might well aid the rise of a great refusal by
the proletariat.  That would constitute a real emergency.

comradely


Gary



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