Two thoughts on “oppositional politics” in stagnation

An interesting turn among my Marxist friends, most of whom rejected most forms of Leninism for their historical degeneration to nationalism over time, is that they increasingly involve pre-1914 Kautsky or Zimmerwald left or various first and second international movements. Let me be clear, this being from people who have rejected most current “Marxist-Leninism” as LARPing. My response has been to leave the entire thing and may of these people have accused me of being a “reactionary.” This is fine if being historically-minded first means being ‘reactionary.’ Anyway, the point here is the tendency to “Revive the legacy” is the same tendency one has seen among the religious when they can’t overcome the culture to which they seem themselves as opposing but they also helped create. The idea that if we can only go back to a correct legacy removes both the responsibility and the impulse to go beyond. Such Marxist revivalism will probably have the same effect as Christian revivalism, as an outlet valve, frankly a delusional one from the liberalism that one has helped to “evolve” (“devolve”) in ones critique and participation in it. Time’s arrow goes one way. To oppose the Zeitgeist takes more than picking a flash pan in the past and pretending that if we were only more loyal to it, it would not happen again. If that was the case, why weren’t people loyal to the idea the first time?

Many years ago, in my studies of religious thinking, I read Mark A. Noll’s “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind” and reflecting on it, there is something that hit me. The scandal of the evangelical mind and the scandal of the liberal-mind are related. In the success of liberal thinking–success that liberals do not recognize as they cannot see that most conservatives actually accept but redefine “liberty, equality, and fraternity” increasingly that success has degenerated the left-liberal and right-liberal modes of thinking. In lacking an opposition that had substantive ontological differences, most of the liberal mind has become devoted to opportunistic pragmatism to maintain and spread–much again like evangelicals turned to pietism and eventually to prosperity gospel and other obvious nonsense–that liberals do not even understand or comprehend their own logic that let to their thinking (often rejecting the sources of their own ideas as “reactionary” or “privileged” which maintaining the hidden substance of those ideas) and without really challenging the narratives. In the end it turns to tribal emotivism and puffs of popular feeling masquerading as an opposition to a culture that one has already dominated intellectually so much that one’s assumptions are almost the air around you. Like Mark Noll said about the “evangelical mind” in its success, the scandal of the evangelical mind is “there isn’t one.” So too the what has happened to liberal thinking in its current moment of ascendancy.

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