Friday, February 10, 2017

Traditionalism, Marx, Spengler, and the conservative revolutionary.

K.R. Bolton has a great essay on a traditionalist critique of Marx, you can read the whole thing HERE. Really, most traditional conservatives were against capitalism, for the exact reasons Marx was for it. In my blog HERE about Christianity’s antithesis to capitalism I quote David Bentley Hart :

This is what Marx genuinely admired about capitalism: its power to dissolve all the immemorial associations of family, tradition, faith, and affinity, the irresistible dynamism of its dissolution of ancient values, its (to borrow a loathsome phrase) “gales of creative destruction.” The secular world—our world, our age—is one from which as many mediating and subsidiary powers have been purged as possible, precisely to make room for the adventures of the will. It is a reality in which all social, political, and economic associations have been reduced to a bare tension between the individual and the state, each of which secures the other against the intrusions and encroachments of other claims to authority, other demands upon desire, other narratives of the human.”

Anyway, I offer these highlights from Bolton’s essay, :

Anthony Ludovici says :

Charles I, as I have pointed out, was probably the first Tory, and the greatest Conservative. He believed in securing the personal freedom and happiness of the people. He protected the people not only against the rapacity of their employers in trade and manufacture, but also against oppression of the mighty and the great…

It wa
s the traditional order, with the Crown at the apex of the hierarchy, which resisted the money-values of bourgeoisie revolution, manifested first in England, then in France and over much of the rest of mid-19
th Century Europe. 

Spengler in The Decline of The West states that in the late cycle of a Civilization there is a reaction against the rule of money, which overturns plutocracy and restores tradition. It is a final conflict in Late Civilisation of what he called “blood versus money”:

[I]f we call these money-powers “Capitalism,” then we may designate as Socialism the will to call into life a mighty politico-economic order that transcends all class interests, a system of lofty thoughtfulness and duty-sense that keeps the whole in fine condition for the decisive battle of its history, and this battle is also the battle of money and law. The private powers of the economy want free paths for their acquisition of great resources

In a footnote to the above Spengler reminded readers regarding “Capitalism” that, “in this sense the interest-politics of the workers’ movements also belong to it, in that their object is not to overcome money-values, but to possess them.”

Spengler calls Marxian types of socialism “capitalistic” because they do not aim to replace money-based values, “but to possess them”. He states of Marxism that it is “nothing but a trusty henchman of Big Capital, which knows perfectly well how to make use of it.”17 Further:

"The concepts of Liberalism and Socialism are set in effective motion only by money. It was the Equites, the big-money party, which made Tiberius Gracchu’s popular movement possible at all; and as soon as that part of the reforms that were advantageous to themselves had been successfully legalized, they withdrew and the movement collapsed.

There is no proletarian, not even a communist, movement that has not operated in the interests of money, in the directions indicated by money, and for the time permitted by money — and that without the idealist amongst its leaders having the slightest suspicion of the fact."
Spengler cites Marx on Free Trade as stating in 1847:

"Generally speaking, the protectionist system today is conservative, whereas the Free Trade system has a destructive effect. It destroys the former nationalities and renders the contrast between proletariat and bourgeois more acute. In a word, the Free Trade system is precipitating the social revolution. And only in this revolutionary sense do I vote for Free Trade."

Marx accurately describes the destruction of traditional society as intrinsic to capitalism, and goes on to describe what we today call “globalization.” Those who advocate Free Trade while calling themselves Conservatives might like to consider why Marx supported Free Trade and described it as both “destructive” and as “revolutionary.” Marx saw it as the necessary ingredient of the dialectic process that is imposing universal standardisation; which is also the aim of communism.

Marx in describing the dialectical role of capitalism, states that wherever the “bourgeoisie” “has got the upper hand [he] has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations.” The bourgeoisie or what we might call the merchant class – which is accorded a subordinate position in traditional societies, but assumes dominance under “modernism” – “has pitilessly torn asunder” feudal bonds, and “has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest,” and “callous cash payment.” It has, among other things, “drowned” religiosity and chivalry “in the icy water of egotistical calculation.” “It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom – Free Trade.”

To this capitalist internationalizing process Marx identifies the opponents not as revolutionaries but as “Reactionists.”
The reactionaries are appalled that the old local and national industries are being destroyed, self-sufficiency is being undermined, and “we have… universal inter-dependence of nations.” Likewise in the cultural sphere, where “national and local literatures” are displaced by “a world literature.”

 The result is a global economic culture, and even a global human, detached from all bonds of geographic and cultural loci... A type of nomad is emerging who serves the interests of an international economy wherever s/he is required.
With this revolutionizing and standardization of the means of production comes a loss of meaning of being part of a craft or a profession, or “calling.” Obsession with work becomes an end in itself, which fails to provide higher meaning because of its being reduced to that of a solely economic function. With respect to the ruin of the traditional order by the triumph of the “bourgeoisie”, Marx said the following:

Owing to the extensive use of machinery and to division of labour, the work of the proletarians has lost all individual character, and, consequently, all charm for the workman. He becomes an appendage of the machine, and it is only the most simple, most monotonous, and the most easily acquired knack, that is required of him…"

Whereas the Classical corporations and the Medieval guilds fulfilled a role that was metaphysical and cultural in terms of one’s profession, these have been replaced by the trades union and employers associations as nothing more than instruments of economic competition. The entirety of Western civilization, and uniquely, much of the rest of the world, because of the process of globalization, has become an expression of money-values.

However, preoccupation of the Gross Domestic Product – generally the sole preoccupation of ballot box politicking – cannot be a substitute for more profound human values. 

Traditional societies are literally rooted in the soil, with a sense of continuity through generations. Under capitalism village life and localized life are, as Marx said, made pass̩ by the city and by mass production.... It was a phenomenon Рthe rise of the City concomitant with the rise of the merchant Рthat Spengler states is a symptom of the decay of a Civilization in its sterile phase, where money values rule.

The reactionary or Conservative in the traditional sense, is the anti-capitalist par excellence, because he is above and beyond the zeitgeist from which both capitalism and Marxism emerged, and he rejects in total the economic reductionism on which both are founded. Thus the word “reactionary,” usually used in a derogatory sense, can be accepted by the Conservative as an accurate term for what is required for a cultural, ethical and spiritual renascence.

Marx condemned resistance to the dialectical process as “Reactionist,” and identified conservatism as the real force that is in revolt against the mercantile spirit:

"The lower middle class, the small manufacturer, the shopkeeper, the artisan, the peasant. All these fight against the bourgeoisie, to save from extinction their existence as fractions of the middle class. They are therefore not revolutionary, but conservative. Nay more, they are reactionary, for they try to roll back the wheel of history. If by chance they are revolutionary, they are so only in view of their impending transfer into the proletariat, they thus defend not their present, but their future interests, they desert their own standpoint to place themselves at that of the proletariat."

Marx devotes section three of his Communist Manifesto to a repudiation of “reactionary socialism.” He condemns “feudal socialism” that arose among the old remnants of the aristocracy, which sought to join forces with the “working class” against the bourgeoisie. Marx states that the aristocracy, in trying to reassert their pre-bourgeoisie position, had actually lost sight of their own class interests in having to side with the proletariat. This is nonsense. An alliance of the dispossessed professions into what had become the so-called proletariat, with the increasingly dispossessed aristocracy, is an organic alliance, which finds its enemies as much in Marxism as in mercantilism.

 Marx condemns “feudal socialism” ...a movement that enjoyed significant support among craftsmen, clergymen, nobles and literati in Germany in 1848, who repudiated the free market that had divorced the individual from Church, State and community, “and placed egoism and self-interest before subordination, commonality, and social solidarity.”

 Regarding these “Reactionists,” Max Beer, a historian of German socialism, stated the following:

The modern era seemed to them to be built on quicksands, to be chaos, anarchy, or an utterly unmoral and godless outburst of intellectual and economic forces, which must inevitably lead to acute social antagonism, to extremes of wealth and poverty, and to a universal upheaval. In this frame of mind, the Middle Ages, with its firm order in Church, economic and social life, its faith in God, its feudal tenures, its cloisters, its autonomous associations and its guilds appeared to these thinkers like a well-compacted building…"

It is just such an alliance of all classes – once vehemently condemned by Marx as “Reactionist” – that is required to resist the common subversive phenomena of Free Trade and revolution. Something of the type was seen again, as mentioned previously, in the post-World War I doctrines of Distributism, Social Credit and Guild Socialism...It is this faithless, secular world, where Mammon rules, and what Spengler saw as the epoch of decline, but perhaps also as one of prelude to revolt against “money” renewal and a “Second Religiousness.”

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