Saturday, May 21, 2011

Is Goldman Sachs Speeding Up the Future? Part Three

Dear Raoul,

You fool, you’ve taken up exactly the point of debate I wanted to wage.

Friedman, Harvey, and Arrighi (or what I've read of them) share a conviction that is a a common fallacy: proactive revolution, that is to say, revolution out of step with the dialectic. If you want to get drunk on Marxism, read Marx, who preaches a vast wasteland of starvation and depravity around which the revolution must coalesce. That is to say, in contemporary terms, high food prices leading to starvation, global warming making the planet uninhabitable, overaccumulation rendering all but the highest brackets of society uninhabitable.

All of which are, obviously, outcomes that we must not allow to come to pass. But the "speed up the future" argument, as I had come to understand it, is a provisionally nihilistic exercise in Realpolitik. As such, it stands to reason that the dialectical forces that will bring revolution in the context of a vacuum of proactive progressivism will come more quickly, thus dulling the potential decades of starvation and depravity. You will recall that food prices were the single most tangible material deficit to inspire Tunisia and Egypt. Ideologies of liberation were powerful enough only to provide a reactive rallying cry. There was a historical-material trigger, suggesting that perhaps the Historical Dialectic cannot subsist on ideology alone, no matter how pressingly progressive that ideology may be.

There is a third possibility here, which would be to speed up the future by raising awareness of exploitation and depravity in the ruling classes among the wretched of the earth, thus triggering the reactive progressive move through a synthesis of ideology and empirical observation. This would seem to be Harvey's angle, though I fear he preaches only to a choir for whom political action is fetishized but not properly understood--a choir who, given the opportunity to take up arms for the cause, would prefer to keep reading, assuming their comrades were safe and their meals still adequate.

If I can sum this all up in one proclamation, it is this: we need a radical leftist Realpolitik.Without it I fear we are condemned to bitching, moaning, and smoking cigarettes inside our intricately constructed ideological cocoons, drunk on the feeling of raw and utter truth and superiority we draw from a vital and devastating knowledge on which we know not how to act. We too need the dialectic.

Never doubt my leftism again, you motherfucker. I would gladly piss in Friedman's mouth and nuke the Aspen Institute.

- Francis Fukuyama

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