Would Marx be conservative today? | The USA Print

Would Marx be conservative today?



A specter runs through the debate on the left: the suspicion that the legendary Karl Marx would get along with a large part of the current left (from the bases of Sumar de Yolanda Díaz to those of Chilean President Gabriel Boric or the brigades woke Americans). The person who has best argued this intuition is the Swiss thinker Elena Louisa Lange, who explains her position in a recent article from the German publication Die Weltwoche: “It is worth asking what Marx, a fighter against Prussian censorship, would think about cancel culture from left today, or what Marx would think about the (German) Greens, whose policy is based on the new collectivism around the virus or climate change, ”says Lange.

The philosopher points to the years of the Counterculture and the Frankfurt School as a turning point in the change of direction of the left: “The philosopher Herbert Marcuse, a key figure in the student movement of those years, but also intellectuals strongly marked by Marx like Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer were no longer very supportive of workers’ emancipation. Adorno and Horkheimer, influenced by the Auschwitz experience, replaced class struggle with Jewish identity politics, while Marcuse saw the revolutionary subject in the ‘wretched of the Earth’ (Frantz Fanon): in the Third World, in women, in blacks, in homosexuals…”

Clearer: “In Marcuse’s vision, these marginalized, in a kind of reissue of the Maoist cultural conflict, should have the historical role of ‘break with the old patterns’ and form a ‘new man’ against the cultural dominance of bourgeois ideas of happiness: a white and heteronormative family, color televisions, cars, own homes…From then on, the emancipation of all people was no longer discussed; that is, of liberation from oppression in general. In the idea of ​​the New Left, justice would only be achieved when the marginalized could also belong and win a place at the table of power”, recalls Lange.

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Marx and the academic elite

Lange rejects that university students with high incomes and a settled life classify groups that live much worse than them as oppressors. “The idea of ​​dividing people into oppressors and oppressed, based on skin color, gender, and sexual preferences, and not by their role in the power structure, contradicts all of Marx’s political philosophy.. For Marx, to declare the white and heterosexual man as an enemy, even if he is only a factory worker, instead of wanting to improve everyone’s life, would be a sign of a fundamental political degeneration ”, denounces the author.

The people on the left who embody this degeneration are today in the wings of power: a wealthy class of green professionals, whom Marx would have described as petty-bourgeois socialism.

Then he launches an unequivocal accusation: “It is no coincidence that today the people who embody this degeneration are on the levers of power: a wealthy class of green professionals, whom Marx would have described as petty-bourgeois socialism and whom he would have fought.” To reinforce his reproach, he recalls that the Trier philosopher was a staunch enemy of technocracy. The author of the capital He always defended that collective freedom is impossible without individual freedom, and for this reason Lange suspects that he would have faced the impulses of a new “totalitarian collectivism” that we have seen looming with the coronavirus and climate change crises. “Marx, who had to flee Germany in 1849 due to state persecution, would be doomed to a similar fate today. But it would not be the conservatives who persecuted him, but the leftists ”, concludes his text.

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Elena Louisa Lange (1976) studied Japanese Philosophy and Culture at the University of Hamburg, where she graduated in 2005 with a thesis on Jean-Paul Sartre and his relationship with Logic from Hegel. Since 2009, she has taught classes in various countries on subjects such as the History of Ideas, Philosophy, Marxism, Anarchism and also on Japanese intellectuals such as Tosaka Jun, Umemoto Katsumi and Uno Kōzō. Lange has been a strong supporter of the controversial left-wing German MP Sahra Wagenknechtwhose program mixes measures against inequality with others considered conservative and reactionary.

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