Of Marx’s Mustache and Revolutionary Parisians
This month marks two of the most important events in humanity’s pursuit for emancipation—Karl Marx’s 200th birthday and the 1968 France demonstrations. Each have their own separate stories, different narratives, and origins. The global Left’s commemoration of Marx is a recognition that his insights are still relevant; while the French’s remembrance of the 1968 student uprisings confirm the tragedy of one of the last major attempts to dismantle Capitalism.
Ten years since the Great Recession, the world is unrecognizable from what it once was in the eyes of those who hope for better days after the fall of the Iron Curtain. The world’s outright collapse of the financial market coupled with political instability, regime change, and the creeping rise of authoritarianism has spurred revivals of ideologies supposedly rendered obsolete by neoliberalism, yet Marxism is still seen as one of the alternatives. Once again, Marx’s critique of Capitalism has managed to have a second life from the fringes of political extremes and Soviet dustbins, and as such, this affirms the public’s interest in Communism as a possible antidote to unbridled globalism.
Across the spheres of opinion and of the social edifice, the so-called intellectuals of the Liberal pedigree are in full retreat. Unable to face their detractors and accept accountability for their actions, they unwittingly reveal themselves as the preservers of a broken status quo. Failing to assert themselves as credible, they cry for the proliferation of fake news, where they can even be blamed for an environment that has tolerated fake news through the commercialization of the press. And unable to convince, they resort to the old trick of citing the dangers of “populism” and “mob rule.”
But a sizeable proportion of the population no longer heeds to the Liberal’s pronouncements and hurried scribbles. Distrust and skepticism has become so ingrained, that to reverse the irreversible is no longer possible. In this context, the pragmatism of the ruling classes is no longer even viewed as such. Rather, this pragmatism is a mere longing for utopia in which the order of things can go on indefinitely. The crisis of the modern world is now at its peak; the future now rich with possibilities.
So where is Marx in all of this? His vision pertaining to Capitalism’s decline and fall never slipped away from the consciousness of the populace. According to Marx, the capitalist system is fluid and transient. For no matter how a system claims to withstand adversities, a generation of continued existence sets its gradual degeneration and its inevitable decay.
The decay of Capitalism includes a systematic erosion of moral values into meaningless aphorisms, of religion into customary practice, of ideas into abstract verbiages and of human life into a pious customer. Capitalism’s secret lies on how it values the commodity into an imprecise and a largely subjective ascription of values into an object. To view everything as a commodity is the hallmark of its ideology and that of Economics; in which Capitalism tends to reduce all forms of life into a gigantic source of its energy to keep itself running.
If the present condition becomes the future; then the future must become our present condition
In a world claiming to be free from the dictatorship of ideology and the propaganda it constructs, ideology is no longer constrained to a centralized entrepôt because it has become the lens on how we view ourselves and our surroundings. This gives rise to a naturalistic fallacy, a state in which the farther the individual is to ideology, the more he is trapped into the contradictory logic of it, which can be demonstrated by one’s reluctance to delve into a life without the allure and power of Capitalism.
One may also notice that in this era of the economic system, the avenue of escapism is an immense enterprise of its own. Engaged on the manufacturing of desires, of quick-fixes, and a tendency toward the preservation of the contemporary in opposition to the revolutionary, the penchant for escapism only drags the individual closer to one’s own illusions that he can escape the encompassing universe of absolute nothingness. Everyday life in this late stage of Capitalism is a constant battle to maintain these “necessary illusions.”
Lastly, the economic system has come to a point where it is neither prosperous yet hopelessly stagnant. Tearing the enchanting perfumes of a conspicuous showcase of wealth as an indicator of societal progress, what this means is that the world is descending both into avarice and decadence. Automation liberates man from work, hence from the soil of his own adobe, and technology separates man from his bodily functions. A repugnant worship of the scientific method and man’s own rationality dominates the discourse of a collapsing and a fading system denying its inevitable collapse and its painful demise; condemned to eat itself at the end.
Criticizers condemn Marx based on the notion of progress as the potion that cures all societal ill, while crediting the innovations of “humanity” by denying the Marxian contributions to the present. The historical record however is dismissive of such tendencies to believe that changes in time translate to changes in mentalities, a tendency that still advocates from figures who take the notion of progress as a blind evolution from one to the other—a combination of forces driven by a multitude of actors and that of circumstances drive the mechanism, from the strikes to the cries for shorter work hours.
Even the arguments for free market no longer hold weight. The holy market is by itself an institution collective and irrational by design, hence its dependence from the steady subsidies from the coffers of the State, and its excessive oversight. The rise of a bureaucratic image of Capitalism so efficiently utilized by China, by Franco’s Spain, and by countless governments wanting to follow Beijing’s footsteps is considered superior from the managerial Capitalism of a still largely Reaganite United States and a Thatcherite Britain, two countries undergoing a dangerously explosive debt and where the middle classes are now a dying breed due to their plutocratic elites trying to stay relevant.
Now is the time to demand a world where we can extinguish our present condition from the face of the Earth. Everything once held in esteem dissipates; all once permanent suffers from disdain and neglect. The acceleration of man into descent unravels the Pandora’s Box he has been hiding in for so long. For if the present condition becomes the future; then the future must become our present condition.
To which I say, long live the unbearable future! Long live the continuing legacy of Marxian thought!