Thursday, January 2, 2014


My dialectic method is not only different from the Hegelian, but is its direct opposite. To Hegel, the life process of the human brain, i.e., the process of thinking, which, under the name of “the Idea,” he even transforms into an independent subject, is the demiurgos of the real world, and the real world is only the external, phenomenal form of “the Idea.” With me, on the contrary, the ideal is nothing else than the material world reflected by the human mind, and translated into forms of thought…In its mystified form, dialectic became the fashion in Germany, because it seemed to transfigure and to glorify the existing state of things. In its rational form it is a scandal and abomination to the bourgeoisie and its doctrinaire professors, because it includes in its comprehension and affirmative recognition of the existing state of things, at the same time also, the recognition of the negation of that state, of its inevitable breaking up; because it regards every historically developed social form as in fluid movement, and therefore takes into account its transient nature not less than its momentary existence; because it lets nothing impose upon it, and is in its essence critical and revolutionary.  - Karl Marx, 1873 Afterword to the Second German Edition of DAS KAPITAL
Benjamin Netanyahu's claim, as repeated in the New York Times today, is a unique example of the dialectics of identity itself.  His proposal stems from the following premises:
  1. That Israel be recognized as the Jewish State;
  2. That the Palestinians have refused to recognize the Jewish State;
  3. That this intransigence is a death knell for any peace.
There are several unique points to dissect here.  First, what is the Jewish state itself?
The question can best be defined by the difference between Hegel and Marx.  Hegel's idealism is defined by projection of the ideal onto society.  In this logic, Prussian authoritarianism, rooted in a divine philosophy, the State, is desirable because it offers the promise of perfection in the future, not unlike Stalinism, who wrote: "In its essence, dialectics is the direct opposite of metaphysics."  However, this is exactly the failure of Leninism itself, that Marxism is not meta-physical, not open to the insights of Einstein and post-atomic physics.  The Leninist views the world as organized and ordered in a sort of ontological reality that leads to the Dictatorship of the Proletariat because all atomic and sub-atomic particles align to that final cumulus.  I mention this because, despite the secular trappings of figures like Jabotinsky or Ben Gurion, the idea of 'liberation' is derived from such an ontological view.  Why is the dispossession of the Palestinians acceptable?  Because it serves the greater march towards the Ideal.
Recently, I re-read Marx and Engels on Bakunin and Proudhon.  A classic game of 'who said what when?', the ongoing schism between Anarchism and Marxism boils down to an argument of whether the tactic defines the social change or if social change defines tactics.  However, consider this critique below as a critique of the Popular Front-style Old Left Communism:
He [Proudhon] himself provides the key to this enigma. Mr Proudhon sees in history a definite series of social developments; he finds progress realized in history; finally, he finds that men, taken as individuals, did not know what they were about, were mistaken as to their own course, i. e. that their social development appears at first sight to be something distinct, separate and independent of their individual development. He is unable to explain these facts, and the hypothesis of universal reason made manifest is ready to hand. Nothing is easier than to invent mystical causes, i.e. phrases in which common sense is lacking.
But in admitting his total incomprehension of the historical development of mankind—and he admits as much in making use of high-flown expressions such as universal reason, God, etc.—does not Mr Proudhon admit, implicitly and of necessity, his inability to understand economic development?…
Needless to say, man is not free to choose his productive forces—upon which his whole history is based—for every productive force is an acquired force, the product of previous activity. Thus the productive forces are the result of man's practical energy, but that energy is in turn circumscribed by the conditions in which man is placed by the productive forces already acquired, by the form of society which exists before him, which he does not create, which is the product of the preceding generation. The simple fact that every succeeding generation finds productive forces acquired by the preceding generation and which serve it as the raw material of further production, engenders a relatedness in the history of man, engenders a history of mankind, which is all the more a history of mankind as man's productive forces, and hence his social relations, have expanded. From this it can only be concluded that the social history of man is never anything else than the history of his individual development, whether he is conscious of this or not. His material relations form the basis of all his relations. These material relations are but the necessary forms in which his material and individual activity is realized.  -Letter from Marx to Pavel Vasilyevich Annenkov, 1846
These sorts of terms can be used to deconstruct not just Proudhon and his failings, but also Stalinism itself.  And this bears immense insight into the standing inquiry, what is the Jewish state?
In the past, Judaism was a derogatory term used to connote exactly why something was wrong.  Why were bankers wrong?  Because they were Jewish bankers!  This applies to ideas like Jewish Bolshevism, Jewish atheism, ad infinitum.  The notion of a 'Jewish State' was presented in the Zionist era, therefore, as an inversion of the negative, as a representation of Judaism as the highest point of human achievement, as a counter to anti-Semitism in a way that highlighted the legacy of Judaism in secular society.  Notions of democracy, feminist equality, and unionized labor were positioned as Jewish contributions to the secular order.  The ideals of Spinoza, Einstein, and others in the Diaspora were meant to culminate in the incarnation of Eretz Yisrael.  Yet it is clear, at this juncture, that something has gone terribly, terribly awry here, and that these aforementioned tenets have not materialized in a genuine fashion.  Instead, ontologically, there are two Israels, a one for Palestinians of any faith and one for Jews of any nationality.  The contradiction serves as a rebuke of the second point, that Palestinians refuse to recognize the Jewish state.
In the obvious historical context, this is a simple point of rebuke to be made, mainly, that both the PLO and Hamas have previously stated their willingness to recognize the borders of pre-June 1967 Israel in conjunction with Israel's recognition of a Palestinian state along the same borders and their right to self-determination.  But, in a metaphysical sense, it is not that Palestinians refuse; rather, they are unable to experience the Jewish State, ergo how can they recognize that which they are forbidden from experiencing?  How is one to recognize that which he has never experienced?
This, ergo, refutes the third point, that it is Palestinians refuse to recognize Israel.  Perhaps it is Netanyahu who refuses to recognize Israel itself, that is, Israel as it should be, enclosed within its legally-defined borders and providing civil liberties to all its citizens.
By virtue of the nature of the method just indicated, the science exhibits itself as a circle returning upon itself, the end being wound back into the beginning, the simple ground, by the mediation; this circle is moreover a circle of circles, for each individual member as ensouled by the method is reflected into itself, so that in returning into the beginning it is at the same time the beginning of a new member. Links of this chain are the individual sciences [of logic, nature and spirit], each of which has an antecedent and a successor — or, expressed more accurately, has only the antecedent and indicates its successor in its conclusion.  -Hegel on the Absolute Idea
Obviously, this theoretical framework can be applied to the bi-nationalist ethos of Udi Aloni, whose theory of a federated Palestine is much more Hegelian than any Soviet dunce.

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