10 September 2010

The macro/micro problem

This blog has been in semi-retirement for a while for the simple reason that I've been in semi-retirement... from politics. When practice dries up, so should the theory, if you're any kind of a materialist. The idea is that sometime in the New Year I will reassess whether I want to get back to the front line of the class struggle and the social justice movements, or whether I want to, for example, go join a Zen nunnery for a few years.

But seriously, if there's any aphorism that I think sums up the Chaos-Marxist approach, it's from the novel Crime Story by Maurice Gee - There's not two places with a bridge between, there's only one place.. And I'm pretty sure he meant by it exactly what I mean by this whole blog, this whole way of looking at the world. In bourgeois economics, the "macro/micro" problem refers to the fact that in the neo-classical model, and the neo-classical/Keynesian synthesis which is a slightly more sophisticated version of it, the microeconomic model (of how people behave) totally contradicts the macroeconomic model (how economies and global flows behave), even though they both work in their own particular "zones".

You can argue - like you can for Marx's transformation problem - about whether this is a contradiction in the model or a contradiction in reality. (Since general relativity contradicts quantum mechanics, perhaps we should be used to "contradictions in reality" by now.) But radical politics has exactly the same macro-micro problem. Marxian economics and cultural theory, I feel, explains why the world is as it is very, very well. But it doesn't, and I don't think it can, behave why individual people behave as they do, or indeed give the individual guidance on how to live their life in the way the world is now. Various psychoanalytic and spiritual theories can do that - but because the question of "meaning" is a non-material one, they tend to contradict materialism. John Molyneux has come out and said that if you're a consistent Marxist, you have to be an atheist, period. Which only begs the question of whether, by throwing the bathwater out of God as a personal entity, you've also lost the baby of God as a component part of the human psyche essential to self-actualisation and good health. (Call it the Holy Guardian Angel, Circuit VII, the Jungian Self, whatever.)

It's always been my contention that this is the reason for the pathology of small radical groups - because the politics become a nauseating "communal dogma" when they're applied to the everyday lives of the political activists outside of political/industrial activism. Why, you might ask, should they be expected to? Because there's a "common sense" that being a Marxist / anarchist / deep green etc. is a lifestyle choice as well as a political strategy. We are all expected, really, to be sexually permissive atheists, who find meaning for their lives in "the struggle". This has not worked for me. And if it doesn't work for me, it won't work for other people, and perhaps this kind of Year Zero attitude to the warm and squishy parts of human existence is what has lead to the ghettoisation of social activism. If you insist that politics must become the driving force, the objet petit a of a political activist's life, then politics is exclusive to those who have that kind of monkish devotion.

The traditional way in which Marxists who're aware of this problem have tried to fill the gap is with Freudian psychology (Reich, Fromme, Marcuse etc.) The best that can be said for Chaos-Marxism is that I've tried something different.

9 comments:

  1. Hey Doloras,

    I wonder if you'd be interesting letting my interview you (via email)? Let me explain. I am an ex-anthropologist doing a little independent research on blogging and blog-culture, and I’ll like to get you perspective on everything from blogging to chaos Marxism to life praxis.

    I blog at Archive Fire so if you want to get a sense of who I am or what my own orientation is you’ll find that there.

    The main reason I want you to be my VERY FIRST interview is because yours was the very first blog I ever read.

    Please give it some serious consideration and let me know what you think.

    You can email me at: ambientdisorder@gmail.com or leave me a comment here or over at Archive Fire. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey Doloras,

    I wonder if you'd be interesting letting me interview you (via email)? Let me explain. I am an ex-anthropologist doing a little independent research on blogging and blog-culture, and I’ll like to get you perspective on everything from blogging to chaos Marxism to life praxis.

    I blog at Archive Fire so if you want to get a sense of who I am or what my own orientation is you’ll find that there.

    The main reason I want you to be my VERY FIRST interview is because yours was the very first blog I ever read.

    Please give it some serious consideration and let me know what you think.

    You can email me at: ambientdisorder@gmail.com or leave me a comment here or over at Archive Fire. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sorry, I had pre-moderation turned on. I got your message and I'll get back to you.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Agreed, especially on the 'warm and squishy' bits of human species life that exceed/resist simple political categories.

    For similar reasons I am becoming sceptical of the slogan 'another world is possible' Of course a better form of social organisation is possible but it has to take place in this world with people as they really are - confused, heroic, committed, tired, often more interested in music/clothes/drinking on the beach than 'politics'. Better than that than an imagined world which assumes that everybody should be a particular kind of political subject/activist, and where in fact only those kind of people end up exercising power.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yeah, can you imagine a world where the people in control were the people who are now "left-wing political activists"? Trained as they are in the habits of intellectual arrogance and clique warfare? I shudder.

    I still like "Another world is possible", because that's actually a kind of Gnostic slogan if you look at it right. And certainly Karl Marx his own self understood that the new world will have to be built by the damaged, screwed-up people who populate the current one, so it'll have to be an incremental, evolutionary process (although punctuated by revolutionary leaps).

    But seriously, music, clothes and drinking on the beach actually offer some kind of gratification, which is more than you can say for left-wing politics right now, unless you're in Venezuela or Nepal or possibly Berlin.

    ReplyDelete
  6. You have to use a new weapon to fight a totally different kind of warfare; so try Gestaltanalysis instead just like I do.

    ReplyDelete
  7. And Gestaltanalysis in this context means...?

    ReplyDelete