Only a few of the most ideologically enstupidated believe Dialectical Materialism anymore, but for the last century or so, Marxist history simply was history. “Social class” is pretty good shorthand for a bunch of correlated phenomena, and there’s an economic component to everything, so History as the clash of class interests can’t go too far wrong. Drop Dialectical Materialism, as even the Commies did in practice, and you’ve got a fairly robust interpretive method.
So robust, in fact, that we Americans started taking it for granted, even when it was obviously wrong. For instance, “everybody knows” that poverty causes crime, even though (as Theodore Dalrymple says) if that were true, we’d still be living in caves. “Poverty” here is shorthand for “culture,” which everyone really does know is crime’s true cause.
Which highlights another great seduction of Marxism. Because, of course, in modern America, “culture” really means “race.” And though race can’t be fixed, “culture” can… IF “culture” really is just a byproduct (the Commie term d’art is “superstructure”) of economic class. Poverty causes Ghetto Affective Disorder, so toss enough benjamins into the ‘hood and GAD goes away (with the nifty side benefit of “proving” that “there is no such thing as race” — if race is culture and culture is money, then by the transitive property of equality, race is money).
So long as there’s scarcity, then — so long as “programs” remain “underfunded” — this half-assed Marxism without Marx (henceforth, “Marxism”) is a Get out of Reality Free Card. Problem is, there’s no scarcity anymore. When a whole bunch of people really were going to work with no shoes and going to bed hungry at night — as in, say, Tsarist Russia — the culture/poverty connection made superficial sense. It seemed plausible, at least, that the serf’s glaringly obvious cultural defects stemmed from his truly awful material situation. If even half the stuff Turgenev wrote about* was even half right, it’s no surprise Ivan Sixpack was such a brute.
But then World War II happened, and we won, and honest-to-god poverty disappeared from our shores. Nobody in America has gone to bed hungry involuntarily in three generations. Thanks to the Great Society and its endless ramifications, our “poor” people while away their hours in front of plasma tvs and keel over from diabetes and heart disease . They’re not poor because they lack money and opportunity; they’re poor because they lack IQ and impulse control.
Prosperity flips Marxism on its head, and it has left the political class rudderless. The Left, who still like to parade themselves as the champions of The Working Class, quite obviously despise The Working Class, for cultural reasons — guns, Jesus, NASCAR, patriotism, that sort of thing. But they’re so well-trained to think in culture = economics terms that they can’t pitch their proposals any other way. In practice, “social justice” is simply old-school, command-economy wealth redistribution — instead of paying for Head Start, say, or raising per-pupil spending in inner city schools, the kulaks are now being squeezed for (even more expensive!) hormone therapies for the mentally ill. They will tax-and-spend until it kills them, though tax-and-spend is obviously fatal — Marxists to a man, they can do no other.
Alas, so-called “conservatives” are all Marxists, too. We all know what’s really the matter with Kansas: They’re materially fine, but spiritually dead. The Left has quite successfully convinced Black Americans that Ghetto Affective Disorder simply IS “Black culture”…. but there’s nothing for the Whites. (Yes, there are wiggers, but only in upscale, all-white suburbs; white kids who act like this around actual black kids get the shit beaten out of them). “Conservatism” used to mean (among other things) the knowledge that a man can be materially poor but culturally rich — Western Culture simply IS “culture,” and it’s for everyone, that’s why we have free museums and public libraries. The modern “conservative” simply hands over the money and lets the “free market” sort it out — you can buy a symphony ticket and hear Beethoven, or you can blow it on MC Funnetick Spellyn’s latest album, it’s out of our hands, who are we to judge?
When the change comes, it will come with lighting speed. As The Z Man points out here, our politics is still locked into 1992. Everyone in both parties is a Marxist (in the sense I’ve been describing); the only real “debate” is about gestures and labels. The last time this happened, change came over just three presidential elections — 1852, 1856, 1860. I forget what happened after that, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t good.
We’re finally starting to grasp Marxism’s fundamental category error. Money isn’t culture; culture is culture. The few folks in our political class not named “Donald Trump” who realize this are still thinking like Marxists — they’re betting that yet more iterations of iCrap on Social Media will keep us docile. So far they’ve been right…. but that’s just delaying the inevitable. How much longer, do you think, before the cord cutters who gave up the NFL this fall start giving up other things, like Social Media? At first they’ll be much happier….
…. and then they’ll be PISSED. As Z Man likes to say, it’s not going to end well.
*RTWT, but be warned — Dalrymple quotes Turgenev’s story “Mumu” at length. Is somebody chopping onions in here? A whole lot of onions?Loading Likes...