Marginalia on Radical Thought: Interview with Jacob Cayia on Hegel, Kant, and Left Pathologies.
Jacob Cayia is a member of the Platypus Affiliated Society and studies literature and the history of philosophy in Chicago. This interview took place from November 2011 through March 2012. Jacob and I have slightly different takes on many things within purview of Platypus project.
Skepoet: You and I both have some affiliation with the Platypus Affiliated Society, although you are a full member in the project [Editor's note: I am now a full member of the project.] How do you interpret the slogan “The Left is Dead, Long Live the Left”?
Jacob Cayia: I understand the slogan, “The Left is Dead, Long Live the Left!” to be operating in two different valences. On the one hand, it brings to mind Rosa Luxemburg’s famous condemnation of the party she was once apart of. In 1914, she called German Social-Democracy a “stinking corpse.” She was not afraid to declare, “The Left is Dead!” — in fact she felt she needed to. Keep in mind that this was the party she had devoted her life’s work to building. The flip-side to this, the aspect of, “Long Live the Left!” consists in her founding the Spartakusbund. In other words, Rosa Luxemburg had to split from “Marxism” in order to remain a Marxist. Besides Luxemburg, the other major figures in this critical tradition include Lenin and Trotsky. The three together are what is known as the “Second International radicals.” They came of age during the heady years of the early 20th century, all looking up to the “German model” and its leadership in Karl Kautsky. But when Kautsky and the “German model” betrayed the very workers they claimed to stand for, Lenin, Luxemburg, and Trotsky had no qualm with splitting from the very model and leadership they once looked up to. In other words, international Marxism had come into crisis in 1914, a crisis in which you had to say both “The Left is Dead!” and “Long Live the Left!”
So, that is one valence, the historical one. The other one involves where we stand in our contemporary moment, but this is not as easy to parse out for a number of reasons. On the one hand, to state that the Left is dead is merely to state an empirical observation. There is no longer an international Left capable of changing society in the way, historically speaking, there once was. Why is this? I don’t know, but I think the first place to start is in asking the question. There are some people, what I might call the “post-political Left” that wants to naturalize this fact. They think that the absence today of an organized, powerful Left is a good thing. The logic goes something like this: now that there are no longer party ideologues and hierarchical, authoritarian political organizations always trying to intervene in the movement, maybe now we will finally be able to make the revolution since there is no institutional Left to spoil it for us. But even in the traditional, institutional Left you find a similar naturalization of its own death, in the sense that they do not reflect on what has really happened to the Left to cause its downfall. These organizations conceive of themselves as “carrying on the struggle” in a manner so that they only perpetuate and self-justify their own activities. But I don’t think the Left can carry on like this. Where an organization had a daily paper 20 years ago, a weekly paper 10 years ago, now-a-days it only has a monthly, photocopied newsletter. And you can’t blame this on the “digital age.” So there is that aspect, the empirical one that you can measure in things like membership numbers and print-runs. There is another aspect, in which what counts as the “Left” today has in fact become right-wing at the level of its ideas. But this is much bigger issue, and one I hesitate to go into.
So, why declare, “The Left is Dead! Long Live the Left!”? To provoke the recognition of this problem so that we might start overcoming it. I think this begins with looking at the history of the Left and asking the kinds of questions that tell you how we got from there to here. This relies on a “Left-centric” view of history, which would then imply that not only did the Left die, but it committed suicide. But there is positive aspect to this too. If the Left killed itself, it can also bring itself back to life. What precisely this would look like is unclear, but what is clear is that the Left must transform itself before it can transform the world.
S.: Do you think that the contemporary left, in so much as there is one, has moved too far away from the philosophy of Hegel and Kant as they are manifested in Marx? If so, why do you think this has happened?
J.C.: This is an extremely complex question. The story with Kant is a little trickier, but nearly every Marxist will tell you that Marx himself, for better or worse, is greatly indebted to Hegel. But people aren’t quite sure what this indebtedness entails. If you press them on it, they will likely tell you that Marx extracted out of Hegel’s dialectic the rational kernel underneath its mystical shell, that he stood dialectics on its feet. What this means to most people is that Marx is a “materialist” with his feet on the ground and that Hegel is an “idealist” with his head in the clouds — but it is this formulation I want to challenge. One cannot think of this idealism/materialism dichotomy in the traditional sense as an ancient philosophical problem. Marx, for instance, couldn’t care less about “matter.” What he cares about, instead, are ideas — and that is why he wrote all those books and was such a vehement critic of the Left. So, I would argue that Marx is an idealist, not a materialist. But to get this, one needs to understand the significance of modern, or German, idealism, which finds its earliest expression in Kant’s Copernican revolution in philosophy. In this metaphysical “revolution” the emphasis is put on thinking about the world as a product of our own activity. In other words, Kant does not begin by searching for a world “out there,” rather he wants to think about the world that we ourselves constitute. This is what Kant means by “idealism.” For Kant, we ourselves are the spontaneous source of the phenomenal world that confronts us in experience — so the question is, what would it mean to think through, and become conscious of, those categories by which we give unity to nature? Hegel is following upon this problem.
So, in what sense is Marx different from this idealist tradition of Kant and Hegel? He differs in the sense that he is profoundly more idealist than either Kant or Hegel could have ever hoped to be. What I mean by this is that Marx, throughout his life, was engaged in a bitter struggle for consciousness. Marx thought ideas could change the world, and that one could only change the world by knowing it, or what is the same thing, that one could only know the world by changing it. One key historical difference between Marx and Hegel (or Kant), is that Marx had a socialist workers movement to intersect, and it was at this that his ideas and polemics were aimed. In this sense, Marx was vying for leadership of the movement and the rationality of his ideas in developing it. For example, in Capital Marx is not developing his own independent theory of economics. Rather, he is engaged in a bitter critique of the Left. His book is a critique of the various Left-Ricardians whose ideas were in vogue in the workers movement at the time, people like Pierre Joseph Proudhon and Thomas Hodgskin. So, you could say, Marx had the “material” by which he could animate with his ideas in a way that previous thinkers never did. If you look at the history of Hegel’s political interventions, it is far more limited. One thing in particular comes to mind. Hegel thought that the German Wars of Liberation against Napoleonic France could be progressive. He thought they could allow for the unification of Germany, which at the time was a loose collection of small states and princedoms, each of which had their own laws, customs, tariffs, regulation, religion, etc. Hegel thought that the Wars of Liberation could unify the country and develop it politically into a modern, liberal state, instead of the back-wards, semi-feudal mess it was at the time. So, you could say that Hegel was something of an “anti-imperialist” who supported the national “self-determination” of Germany, which at the time was a country that existed only in idea, not in reality. One intervention Hegel tried to make was in vying for influence over the Burschenschaften, or what we now call fraternities, but which emerged as revolutionary student organizations during the Wars of Liberation. Hegel’s competitor in this struggle for consciousness was Friedrich Jacobi, an irrationalist philosopher who emphasized the significance of “revelation” as opposed to “reason.” Unfortunately, Jacobi won and Hegel lost, meaning that the Burschenschaften became conservative and reactionary institutions, not the liberal and progressive institutions that Hegel hoped they could be. In the early 1840s the Burschenschaften would hold midnight, candle-lit masses outside the home of their beloved professor, Friedrich Schelling, who was, like Jacobi, both anti-Hegelian and irrationalist. Engels, who was auditing philosophy courses at the University of Berlin at the time, thought this was the epitome of stupidity. I have to agree with that characterization. Nowadays the Burschenschaften do god-knows-what, but I’m sure American fraternities look pretty tame in comparison.
The point I’m trying to make here is that I measure “idealism” by its understanding that ideas can transform the world, that the struggle for consciousness is paramount. In this sense, there is nothing more radically idealist that Marxism. This is actually a pretty common-sensical point for your typical Marxist — it tends to be the theorists and intellectuals who don’t get it.
S.: While post-modernism is out of vogue in philosophy: it seems to have a lingering appeal in anthropology. Do you think that so many
leftist have moved away from philosophy and to anthropology to keep this line of thinking?
J.C.: I’m very suspect of any attempt to give a political dimension to anthropology, which is something that has come into vogue recently with the Occupy movement and some of its figure-heads like the “anarchist” anthropologist David Graeber. One way I understand this trend is that it is searching for better and more democratic ways in which humans might organize themselves socially. So they look to the history of human civilization and evaluate the different models of sociality that humans have given themselves and they pick and choose which ones they think might be best to emulate today. So, for example, feudal Europe might be hierarchical, patriarchal, economically stratified, and anti-democratic. But some jungle-tribe in South East Asia might be state-less, egalitarian, democratic, gift-driven, so on and so on. So, the political import of Anthropology is that we should modify our existing practices in order to emulate the egalitarian and democratic jungle-tribe. It is a form of pre-figurative politics. Even the “spokes-council” model at the Occupy Wall Street takes its inspiration from pre-modern culture.
This has my sympathy in some sense. The history of human civilization is but the catalog of the various and diverse ways in which humans have organized themselves socially. So yes, it is true, the way we life today in modern capitalism is not the way in which we necessarily are destined to live. There are other ways, but for me, the question is how to get from *here* to *there*. I do not think pre-figurative politics are the solution, and in many instances pre-figurative politics takes a conservative, anti-liberal form. Only in modern society does something such as “anthropology” exist as a field of study. Only in modern society do humans begin to look back at their entire history and start thinking about their human nature. Rousseau looked back at the entirety of human history and concluded that the essence of man is his “perfectibility,” or, in other words, that what human nature is is humankind’s infinite potential for becoming-other. Nonetheless, Rousseau did not think we could merely choose to live in a different way in what amounts to a kind of pre-figurative politics. To quote Rousseau, we must search for the remedy to the ill in the ill itself. Capitalism poses certain challenges with respect to changing transforming the world. We cannot ignore this. It is something new.
S.: What do you think of the contemporary Maoist hostility to Liberalism? Do you see this as why Maoist may have a tendency to forgive third world dictatorships but have absolutely no sympathy for Social Democrats in Northern Europe?
J.C.: To begin with, I don’t know if I have much sympathy for contemporary social democratic states in Europe either, though for different reasons than Maoists may have. Given the general historical trend, it looks like the social democratic state is on the way out. In Europe, I would probably point to England as a country that is at the forefront of dismantling what has been a relatively robust welfare state. The less-important countries of Northern Europe, I imagine will follow suit soon enough. A liberal model of welfare, that you find in Hegel, involves the notion that the responsibility of the state is to protect the rights and claims of its citizens against the anarchic chaos of civil society and the market. One of these rights that the state ought to protect is the right to participate in society, the right to sell your labor for a wage and provide for your own subsistence. Hegel recognized that civil society was engendering internal contradictions that were preventing its freer development. Thus the state had to transcend and stand over-and-above civil society in order to reconcile and mediate its contradictions. For example, Hegel’s liberal welfare state has an obligation to make employment possible for all those who are able to work. But what would this look like today in which we have massive, systemic unemployment?
Anti-liberalism on the Left today tends to fall into one of two categories, of which Maoism is of the more old-school variety. Maoism has a complicated history, which can be traced back to the impact of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution for the Left in Europe and America. Many young leftists in the sixties saw new hope in China. It was continuing the revolution, whereas the revolution in the Soviet Union was stalling. But I don’t think this kind of politics ever got beyond the level of “hope,” although the object of this hope continually changes based on wherever the latest space of “resistance” is at the time. For example, for some people today this new hope is emanating from Nepal, but when that revolution stalls, where will they turn to next? Not all Maoism is third-worldist in the way that I am laying it out, but I think there is a common thread here.
What makes this kind of politics anti-liberal is its focus on “resistance.” In other words, it mistakes resistance for politics. This kind of anti-liberalism is hardly unique to Maoism, since it extends to forms of anti-Leninist, anarchist politics too. What’s emphasized in this kind of politics is resistance to capitalism, and it is from this resistance that the political struggle is constructed upon. I think this is a fundamentally wrong way to look at politics and society. The categories of resistance are not adequate to overcoming capital. What I find so profound about Marxism, is that it emphasizes that social transformation can only come about in and through that society itself. We do not “build a new world” so much as we become conscious of the world we already live in, which is the only world accessible to us. For Marx this means working through immanently the necessary forms of appearance. In the words of Marx himself in the Civil War in France, the working-class’ task is nothing other than to set free the elements of the new society with which bourgeois society is already pregnant. This is the context in which I understand Marx’s critique of liberalism. Liberalism, for Marx, is not wrong in-itself, but because of transformations in society, liberalism is no longer an adequate way to think about capitalism. This does not mean that we throw it out whole-sale, it means that the categories of the classical liberal thinkers have become self-contradictory and destructive. Hence, for Marx it takes a dictatorship of the proletariat to save bourgeois society from itself. Bourgeois right can only fully attain to its concept in socialism. Thus, capitalism by truly realizing its essence, turns into its opposite — socialism. What is often called the “negation of the negation.” That’s what it means for Marx to have a dialectical relationship to liberalism.
S.: Do you think this is related to a move away from dialectical reasoning or a regression in liberal society?
J.C.: Well, both. A regression in society corresponds to a regression in the thinking of that society. The revolutionary aspirations of the bourgeois project was able to find its philosophical articulation in individuals like Adam Smith and Immanuel Kant. The society we live in today no longer provokes such philosophical comprehension in thought. Marx might have been the last great intellectual, or Lenin, but if you say this you get yourself into a series of problems and have to account for the transformed nature of the “bourgeois intellectual” in post-1848 society. So a regression in dialectical reasoning is related to a regression of liberalism in society, but this has two different historical valences. On the one hand there is the death of the Left that we find ourselves in in the present, that is, the complete absence of an emancipatory political project in the world, for at least 40 years now, if not much longer. So there is that, that the freedom project inaugurated in the bourgeois revolution and carried through in socialist workers’ politics, has fallen apart. The present is conditioned by this historical truth, which thus places an impasse to the possibility of free thought.
But the other historical reference that needs to be made is to 1848, which is perhaps the most significant date in the history of Marxism, despite the fact that “Marxism” hadn’t really come into existence just yet. But the important point about 1848 is with respect to the lessons learned, or not learned, by the socialist workers movement. In Marx’s 18th Brumaire Marx tasks himself with understanding the changed nature of the state in post-1848 society and the relation of mass politics to that state, what Marx classes under the heading: “Bonapartism.” But Bonapartism for Marx was already an historical problem. Napoleon III in the guise of Napoleon I. The 1848-51 revolution in the guise of 1789 French Revolution. Whereas the Great French Revolution, in Marx’s account, moved along in an *ascending* line, the 1848 revolution moved along in a *descending* line. In other words, it was symptomatic of historical regression. The the question is then, how does this recognition of thought in crisis affect how we think about political possibility, and the lack thereof. So, even over 150 years ago you could say that both dialectical thinking and liberalism in society were in regress, and perhaps necessarily so. This is framed in various ways, often with reference to Marx’s notion of “vulgarity.” So, after Hegel you only have “vulgar” philosophy, after Smith you only have “vulgar” political economy, and so on. Vulgarity refers to the use of concepts that are not adequate to their purported objects. So vulgarity has a series of related terms as well including “identity-thinking” and “undialectical.” Marxism, or more specifically what Lukacs in his History and Class Consciousness calls “Orthodox Marxism,” is the attempt to scientifically and dialectical grasp the concepts we use to understand our relation to the world, and the expression of this relation in politics in the post-1848 world. But if we don’t even live with this problem anymore, if history no longer poses it to us in the form of necessity, then we can hardly claim to be “scientific” or “dialectical” in our understanding. If this is the problem, its not clear where to begin solving it, but I think recognizing how little we understand the world, whether or not we have a “Marxist analysis” of it, is a good place to start.
S.: So where is the socialist project to emerge in light of this failure?
J.C.: If it is to emerge at all, it is to be out of the comprehension of its failure. I am not going to point to any already-existing movement and say, there, that’s the path open to us now, that’s the future of the socialist movement. I don’t say that because I don’t think that’s the task of somebody who wants to hold themselves in a critical relation vis-à-vis the Left, and one holds them self in this critical relation because they want to see something like socialism actually succeed. Marx famously writes in the 18th Brumaire that what distinguishes the nature of the proletarian revolution is that it constantly criticizes itself. In other words, it progresses by way of understanding and comprehending the history of its failures. There’s a great deal that needs unpacking here. If the *end* to which socialist political practice is a *means* to is none other than international socialist revolution (i.e. the totalizing, conscious transformation of society), then the entire history of socialist politics is the history of its failure to actualize its goal. So, to begin with, we ought not to call our defeats, victories. This is a common impulse on the Left, especially, although not exclusively, on the activist left. Take, for instance, protest politics, where the organizing of a protest itself is considered a success or victory. Okay, yes, a protest is a “success” in the sense that it actually occurs, that the efforts of organizers were made manifest in a concrete demonstration. But we ought not to confuse a practical success for a political one. A protest is a means to another end, not an end in-itself. Now, there is a common, anarchist critique of protest politics that wants to substitute what’s known as “direct action” for common, milquetoast protest politics. The idea is something like this: political action needs to have immediate consequences, that empower the individuals taking those actions, and by which to measure the action’s efficacy, and that this political action must be “direct” in the sense that it is not mediated through establishment or representative politics. But once again, the political “success” of an action is looked at on the micro-level. So, for example, a group of people blocking a road to a port is viewed as a successful shutting-down of the port. The end (i.e. shutting down the port) is immediately measurable as the result of the means (i.e. blocking the entrance). I don’t think this is a very productive way to understand politics in a society that is totalizing. Politics is not really about “empowering” individuals, there are self-help books for that. Politics is about the administration and mediation of society on a universal level. You can try to wish your way out of this, by asserting things like “the personal is the political,” but I don’t think that really gets you anywhere. I once heard an Occupy Oakland organizer say that the occupation was avoiding the mediation of the state by, to give one example, not cooperating with police or asking for permits to hold their marches. He was making a virtue of this fact. But when people are getting arrested or beat-up for demonstrating — how is that not a “mediation” of the state and police? So, there still exists a “mediation” so to speak, of the most brutal and coercive kind. I think one needs to instead think through the categories of politics, the state, society, etc. in their immanence as opposed to attempting to falsely transcend them altogether by wishing up a new politics in the safety of your individual mind. For Marxism, concrete political problems are always to be viewed and understood in relation to the totality of society and its necessity for international proletarian revolution. So, to give an example, for Lenin the state was to be made an instrument of class struggle, to a means for the end of its own withering-away.
This may have seemed somewhat tangential to your question, of where the socialist project is to emerge, but the difficulty of this question I think necessitates such an oblique response because, to be frank, I’m not really sure where (spatially speaking or not) a new socialist politics is to emerge. We live in a particularly dire moment and we shouldn’t confuse an appearing renaissance of the left for its success and continuing viability
S.: What do you think are the consequences for continued failure to reflect on failure?
J.C.: The consequences may include the possibility that the world is no longer mediated in any significant way by our consciousness of it. This then, would cast all of previous history in a new light — human history would no longer be the story of freedom’s development, but of humanity’s unqualified, conscious-less alienation from itself. Thinking would no longer count as thinking. All politics would be reduced to pseudo-action. One worry I have is that this may have already occurred.\
S.: So we would be In a Hegelian endstaat then?
J.C.: Well, not exactly, unless you have an especially perverse and pessimistic understanding of Hegel in which his ideal state is one devoid of reason and freedom. I don’t think that the late Hegel is a conservative Hegel. World spirit was never supposed to be the irrational necessity of blind fate, though this is what it might turn out to be.
S.: I don’t have that strict of a pessimistic view, but my personal view is that Hegel actually was in dialectical opposition to himself on the nature of the world-spirit. I can’t know this, but I suspect that’s why Hegel produced a right and a left and Kant didn’t really. (Or didn’t so directly). I honestly think the temptation is there to slip into pessimism because so many of the brightest leftists do it (Horkheimer, Debord, etc). I, however, also think this may be just leftist meloncholia speaking.
J.C.: Kant has a much more ambiguous legacy than does Hegel. Hegel splits people down the middle, whereas everyone can generally appreciate Kant. People don’t always think that the stakes are very high with Kant, but they are wrong about that. Hegel provokes a little more controversy. But of course noting this hardly helps you begin to understand the history of dialectical thought. The categories of “Left” and “Right” Hegelians is tricky because to be an Hegelian is claim to have an historical comprehension of the present. Liberal, revolutionary ideas were pretty much the par for Hegel’s students, but the question is what to make of these liberal, revolutionary impulses at the moment the modern world begins to reveal itself in its most glaring contradiction, as evinced in the revolutions in 1848 in, but not exclusive to, France. Hegelianism was less and less able to keep itself together as a coherent system of thinking. The novels of Ivan Turgenev, who himself was a student of philosophy at the University of Berlin in the late ’30s/early ’40s, bear witness to the growing sophistry and philistinism of Hegelianism, mixed as it was with the influence of Proudhon and other socialist ideas. It was becoming less negative, more conservative, even in its radical guise — affirming, but only in the worst way, what Adorno speculatively judged Hegel himself to be, an identity-thinker — what was once radical thought had become an unlikely bedfellow with society’s own self-domination.
Kant is probably more difficult to grasp than Hegel, and I think Adorno’s own “negative dialectic” is something of a Kantian critique of Hegel, reminding us that the antinomical moment must continue if only as a remnant if freedom is thought to still to be necessary, despite the forces of identity at work reducing individual thought to the mold fit for it in the administered society, foreclosing any possibility for cognition of the whole.
S.: What do you make of the historical Marxist hostility to Kant from the 20th century forward? What do you think this was rooted in?
J.C.: Well, the twentieth-century and onwards incorporates a massive amount of history. In the early twentieth-century you have revisionist Marxism finding bedfellows with neo-Kantianism. So in this era you get books like Lenin’s Materialism and Empirio-criticism, and others. Lukacs’ History and Class Consciousness is also largely engaged with a political critique of this kind of neo-Kantianism. One way these kind of disputes play out is with the assertion of the necessity to go beyond Kant, to Hegel. So with this kind of judgment often comes the mistaken notion that only Hegel is the really dialectical thinker, the idea that Hegel invented dialectics. Pre-Hegelian philosophers are dismissed is inadequate. But you are really closing yourself off if you do this. Engel’s has a line in the Anti-Dühring where he remarks that even though Rousseau had yet to be bitten by the “Hegelian pestilence,” by virtue of his birth, of course, he was nonetheless a dialectical thinker through-and-through. Between Rousseau and Hegel, it goes without saying, lies Kant, who also belongs to this tradition of dialectical philosophy. Dialectics isn’t some kind of perverted thinking invented by Hegel. Rather, dialectical thinking is natural in its essence — thinking the object becomes reflection on the subject. There is a long intellectual tradition of this in the history of modern philosophy. So, on this level, I just don’t think a lot of Marxists bother to give Kant the time and patience they might give to Hegel, but they are really missing out. There is another, somewhat related, reason I want to bring up — that of a stagist conception of philosophy. So, the typical story goes: Hegel transcends Kant, Marx transcends Hegel. Hegel is perhaps the most guilty in indulging in this kind of stagist account of the history of philosophy, especially with respect to the history of German Idealism. Since Hegel “transcended” Kant, we can assume that Hegel is “dialectical” whereas Kant belongs to an outmoded tradition. This is an easy-out, it gives you an cookie-cutter way to categorize history, to claim to “understand” it, but you are really missing out on something essential when you do this, particularly with respect to those individuals in history we might call philosophers of freedom. Depending on how you look at it, we are either living with a problem that is very new or one that is very old. If Rousseau were still alive today, this upcoming summer would mark his 300th birthday, and we’ve still yet to prove untrue his claim that civilization was a massive mistake in humankind’s development. The problem of freedom in society, as Rousseau diagnosed it, remains with us today, and to the extent it does one not ought to write off anyone.
S.: Anything you would like to say in closing?
J.C.: In closing I’d only like to note that there are real pitfalls one encounters when trying to politically think society. Some of the categories we use to think about the world, such as bourgeois, proletarian, capitalism, liberal, reactionary, right, freedom, etc., can themselves perpetuate the society one expects the theory to negate. Thought, instead of becoming emancipating, all too often in the present affirms the existence of its own irrelevance. Marxism, which is little more than critically understanding the historical experience of society, is not about keeping up-to-date the analysis of capitalism, and nor is it about ratcheting up the sigh of the oppressed. Saying this in the abstract is easy, but trying to get an actually existing Marxist to recognize this in themselves in a way that changes their practice, is difficult. While their continue to exist many individual, self-described Marxists, indeed even entire organizations full of them, what continues to go un-recognized is the total absence of Marxism as a force in the world. So confronting this fact, the utter irrelevancy of Marxism as a way of politics in the present, may be the only way today to continue to think the essence of Marxism. The success of Marxism, culminating in the Bolshevik seizure of state power that lasted over 7 decades, is generally recognized for its world-historical impact. But the flip-side to this, the complete failure of Marxism, resulting in its total obsolescence in the present, has not yet been fully understood. Marxism was always about understanding its own historical failures, but we seem to forgotten about that aspect.