Pomo wars (Was: War as a happening thing)

JKSCHW at aol.com JKSCHW at aol.com
Tue Jan 25 19:37:12 PST 2000

[I have been saying mean things about the intellectual content of postmodernism.]

Chuck says:

> The problem is that you might be looking for something that isn't

there, rather than seeing what is there- . . . ., Much of this work is phenomenological

rather than analytical, despite the claims. So, if you were looking

for analytical validity and insight, then of course there is none


OK, I'll buy that, in general. There are important exceptions.

> Instead, consider that the work represents an intellectual reaction to

the failure of a post-WWII social, political and cultural revolt

against mass industrial society- . . . .

This is more or less Eagleton's view, right? I'll buy that to some degree. Which makes pomo a symptom, for the most part, rather than a serious intellectual project. I am not sure that I will go that far. The best of it can be quite good. Its development of themes of race, gender, and other difference could help fill real lacunae in more economically oriented radical thought, whether Marxist, liberal, or social democratic.

> You have indicated in other posts a distaste for Hegel.

Me? I'm a great fan of Hegel's. Remember what the old man said about the latter day critics who treat Hegel as "dead dog." You want sheer analytical power, Hegel is unrivaled in the hsitory of philosophy. I said I was a not-so-good Hegelian, which is true, I'm too much of a pragmatist or even a goddamned logical empiricist to bea good Hegelian. Nut even a not-so-good Hegelian is a sort of Hegelian. I am probably as much and as good a Hegelian as I am a Marxist. Lots of people here will tell you that doesn't amount to much.

> Hegel when confronted

with the rising mechanistic bastions of the English empiricists and

French postivists, tried to re-vitalize and return to what he

conceived to be the primary font of all subsequent philosophical

impulses, and give that resuscitation a uniquely germanic cast. In

other words he represents an intellectual tradition of identity in


There's something to this, but you need to account for Hegel's relation to Kant here, and both of their relation to Rousseau.

> That Hegel's Theory of the Right, gave him the

odious title of philosopher of the Prussian State, should go a long

way toward making the connection between him and Heidegger, who after

all will forever be considered in similar terms in relation to the

rise of the National Socialist movement in the Germany of the 1930s.

Gaak. There is that quietistic preface to the Philosophy of Right, but the theory of that book is a hell of a lot more radical that the Prussian state could happily accommodate. As far as any connection between Hegel's defense of liberal constitutional monarchy, one of the great and scrupulous articulations of liberal political thought in the history of western thought, and Heidegger's unprincipled and unargued accommodation to Nazism on its terms, not his, fugedaboudid, as we say in Chicago.

> Consider this cartoon. The cold reaction of current Marxist schools to

post-modern philosophies of culture has a great deal of similitude to

Marx's own reaction to Hegel. And, yet both then as now, what would

one be with out the other?

I think that postmodernsim is more like the Young Hegeliansim of Stirner (in particular), whom Marx trashed as "St. Max" in the normally unread parts of the German Ideology. Maybe we should start reading those parts.

Marx was not "cold" towards Hegel. He was a Hegelian _to the core_. Lenin once said you couldn't understand Capital without mastering Hegel's Logic. I think there is something to be said for this. The theme is developed in Tony Smith's The Logic of Marx's Capital--the "Logic," in Smith's view, being Hegel's.


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