Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Free your mind, or rebel or something

The social changes accompanying capitalism seem to free up the mind. Hegel had a very neat plan, in which thesis and anti-thesis follow one another in sequential order. Capitalism embodies this element of dualism, or the dialectic element, but it does not do so sequentially. Capitalism is the only known social development that includes its own antithesis, not sequentially but concurrently, "packed into" the story of its development. It is as if capitalism as a historical and social movement dangles before its member "nation" or its membership group an illusory proposition or possibility of rebelling.
The mind, therefore, is freed up to rebel against capitalism. But that is just another part of capitalism's plan. It is the only cultural development that packs its own antithesis.
It is not sequential. Capitalism is its antithesis, in real time. The usual Marxist or Leftist theory believes in a capitalist stage. After this stage, comes another, and so on and on. In fact it is more like a "wrapping up" of all the historical contradictions of history itself --of Western history --or else it is a telescoping----what I seem to be saying is, in reverse----collapsing the telescope (the view) of history into one neat, self-contradictory unit. Within that world or that period, of capitalism's potential for self-criticalness, are the youth of my own generation. We really thought we could rebel.

This is because capitalism frees up one's mind; and only under capitalism does the individual have the freedom to think of rebelling. In my time, we did that. I remember when we had "revolutionaries"—in high school. This type of thing went on in the thirties as well. "New York Intellectuals" may well tell us of a time when there were more Stalinists than the more creative type persons called "critical theorists" at City College, New York, in the thirties.
Revolution is sexy, you know. Capitalism gives you this stage of rebellion. All that is pretty much over now. And so is capitalism.

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