The twilight of winter, and historicism

I do not call myself a progressive, as it was a term used by left liberals to distance themselves from communism and for liberal-leaning communists to hide, furthermore as the demonization of the word liberal in the popular imagination and simplification of the political spectrum into a highly misleading and rather vapid binary. Yet in pondering the historicism of Hegel as well as Nietzsche and DeMaistre, there is a tension in all historical thinkers for even the most conservative ones realize that while time may not be moving in a presupposed teleos, it most definitely moves and Hegel supposed as did DeMaistre that history was the judge of right.

This, however, has always problematized the left. The left conception of history can not longer be simply linear. It cannot think this because history did not judge left projects well. One was seen two trends in left philosophy: to embrace and accelerate the end of history within liberal modernity or to see everything that has happened as regressive.  DeMaistre had the same conflict when he saw the Enlightenment win. The Right has not be judged well by history either.

Now I do see a validity to this later view yet this is in fundamental contradiction to a materialist conception of history without a teleos which is known. We cannot know the future, and even the past is but a rhyming dictionary. To paraphrase Mark Twain, history doesn’t repeat itself but it rhymes. So this fundamental contradiction requires a self dialectic that remains unaddressed.

I say this on a day I am on a bus and ill with cold. The winter is over but peeking its head up for one more day, and the predictable unpredictability of the natural emerges yet the climate is altering slowly day by day. This actually primes my thought.

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About El Mono Liso

Por una civilizaci├│n de la pobreza.

Posted on April 11, 2012, in History, ideology, Korea, Left-turn, Marxism, Religion and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I used to be happy to call myself simply a radical, but 9/11 changed that for me. I had to assert my normative commitment to progress in economic, political, and social equality and ecological wholeness. From this consideration I came to title my blog, “radical progress.” I don’t believe in inevitable progress, but rather that progress can be projected normatively by examining both the accomplishments of the past and projecting the possibilities of the present.

  2. To be honest, progressive implies that I know what progress looks like. I don’t. I know what I can’t allow for the future in the best of my ability and power, and that’s about the extend of it.

  3. I’ve always felt that the line Engels drew between scientific and utopian socialism is a bit too sharply drawn. We can imagine better social relations that could replace the present. Of course, whether such imaginings will actually be possible is a real mystery, but I think this process of imagining better social relations from within the present and taking action to demand them can have some effect, even as we know it won’t be exactly realized. It was true of liberalism as well, no one really knew what representative democracy would accomplish when it was proposed to replace monarchy. It’s ok to be mistaken, in fact, its unavoidable. However, it seems more honest to propose revolutionary alternatives than to simply reject all such speculation.

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