CONTEMPORARY BOURGEOIS THOUGHT
What is the point of philosophy in a contemporary capitalist world dominated by destruction and where humanity has been pushed to the edge of the abyss? Ideologues of capitalism create an illusion that the ruling relation to reality is based on a certain way of thinking, that it has a rational nature. Philosophy has become a “rational” echo of destructive capitalist irrationality. It is but one of the humanist masks of an inhumane and destructive civilization and, as such, is advertising for capitalism. It provides and strengthens a way of thinking that, like religion, is deprived of critical self-reflection and prevents man from becoming aware of the tendencies of global development and the objective possibilities of liberation that through subjective practice (political struggle) can turn into real possibilities for freedom. At the same time, “philosophizing” is reduced to the creation of a network of formally and logically consistent concepts that are supposed to mediate between man and the world. Philosophy has become a means for confusing reason and distracting it from the crucial questions. Contemporary bourgeois philosophers disqualify reason as the most authentic and most important human means for ensuring survival and freedom. It is reduced to an instrumentalized ratio and has become the means for mystification of the existing world and for the destruction of a visionary consciousness that offers a possibility for overcoming capitalism and creating a new world. Philosophy has become a technical subject and, as such, is a means for turning concrete existential and essential questions into abstract theoretical questions. Instead of a revolutionary concept, the dominant concept is that of conformism. Instead of a fight to eradicate the causes of non-freedom and destruction, a theoretical discussion about consequences is being imposed. The bourgeois theory offers a critique of capitalism which does not question it and which seeks to “perfect” it. “The essence of capitalism” acquires an idolized dimension and becomes the basis for criticizing capitalist reality. Thus the mythologized past becomes the basis for criticizing the present. Everything that might and should happen has already happened. A struggle for the future becomes a struggle for the past. The bourgeois intelligentsia multiplies the “field of research” by creating numerous “grey areas”, primarily to expand its space as much as possible. It acts like the market: it produces increased quantities of intellectual goods with ever-lower quality, which are sold in the form of books, lectures, studies, and reports.
Max Horkheimer came to the conclusion half a century ago that serious philosophy was nearing its end and that society was becoming an anthill. Philosophers contribute to that state of affairs by not developing a philosophy that is grounded in the emancipatory legacy of civil society and national cultures, they rather adapt to a ruling order that, rather than a wise man, needs an stupified consumer. Philosophy becomes an entertainment skill and, as such, is a part of show-business, while philosophers become the “jesters” of capitalism. The philosophical mind is being integrated into capitalism by the destruction of its emancipatory potential and by turning philosophy into another commodity in the marketplace of consumer society. The amount of the commission fee becomes the “measure” of the quality of the philosophical thought. Even when significant matters are communicated, they are expressed in such a manner as to lose their political dimension and obtain an entertainment or clownish dimension. Philosophers like Slavoj Zizek and Bernard-Henri Lévy are typical examples of “Coca-Cola” intellectuals. Their “reflections” are being tailored to provide “philosophical” legitimacy to the ecocidal and genocidal activities of the stakeholders in the “new world order”. Their thought represents a philosophical merit badge on the chests of the capitalist executioners who obliterate nature and humankind. At the same time, the leftist bourgeois intelligentsia, headed by Jürgen Habermas, Oskar Negt and Oskar Lafontaine, create an illusion that capitalism could be “brought to reason” by means of enlightened thought. It does not address the workers, but an abstract “citizen”, a petty bourgeois who has been degenerated by the consumer way of life and who can not be bothered with radical social changes that might jeopardize his consumer’s standard of living. “Bringing to reason” does not imply the development of combative sociability and the nullification of the capitalist order as it is reduced to the “pacification” of workers and the technical development that implies the obliteration of man as a social being and of nature as life-generating entirety. Even when the ruling political circle (alienated from the citizenry) is being threatened by an insistence on the necessity of the direct participation in political life of the largest possible number of citizens, this is performed in a manner that does not stand for an appeal to the citizens to fight against the ruling order. The “social peace” needs to be preserved at all cost in order to prevent economic crisis and the ensuing social crisis – without which the petty bourgeois consciousness and its “consumer society” cannot be eliminated. At the same time, a critique of capitalism is increasingly present. But it is of an academic nature and is deprived of any political, change-creating dimension. It does not address the destructive nature of capitalism and is not moved toward a vision of the future based upon a radical step away from the capitalist world.
The purposefulness of philosophic thought is determined by whether this thought poses concrete historic questions. Today, in a world that faces an ever more realistic possibility of destruction, that principle means concrete historical questions might be the last questions posed by man. It is this quality that makes a difference between today’s concrete historical questions and all earlier such questions. The development of capitalism as a totalitarian order of destruction imposes the question of survival as the most important concrete historical question. Actually, by bringing humanity to the brink of destruction, capitalism ”has answered” all crucial questions. Bearing in mind the intensity of the capitalist destruction of life, all questions come down to one: what can be done to prevent the destruction of humanity? The only meaningful thought is of an existential character, that is, it creates the possibility for a political (changing) practice that will prevent the world’s destruction. In that context, philosophy is meaningful as a critique of capitalism and a visionary projection of a future world. There is a need for creating an integrating critical and visionary thought with an existential nature, which will contain the emancipatory legacy of civil society and national cultures. Humanity will again appreciate the importance of serious thinking when people return to the basic existential questions. The seriousness of those questions will make people serious: crucial existential issues will eliminate any trivial ways of thinking and direct the mind towards the essential issues. Riding the wave of the French bourgeois revolution, classical German philosophy shaped the self-consciousness of modern man. Today, the humanist intelligentsia should shape a thought that will guide the last revolution in the history of mankind. It is not the hoot of Minerva’s owl in the twilight, but the war cry of a man who has been awakened and who is ready not only to liberate humanity from oppression, but to prevent its destruction. Ultimately, what is philosophy if it is not capable of answering the questions that are of vital importance to human destiny?