Human beings have a nature — Gramscian delusions notwithstanding

published Jan 05, 2023

What the central ideas behind cultural Marxism tell us about that rotten ideology.

Human beings have a nature — Gramscian delusions notwithstanding

The following — delightful — post comes straight from @Wokal_Distance's Twitter feed.  I've made only minor edits to it.

The idea that human beings have no nature, are infinitely malleable, and can be re-engineered to make the Marxist-Utopian vision work is not new.

Antonio Gramsci said this in the "Prison Notebooks" he wrote between 1926 and 1937:

The basic innovation introduced by the philosophy of praxis into the science of politics and of history is the demonstration that there is no abstract "human nature", fixed and immutable (a concept which certainly derives from religious and transcendentalist thought), but that human nature is the totality of historically determined social relations, hence an historical fact which can, within certain limits, be ascertained with the methods of philology and criticism.

Consequently political science, as far as both its concrete content and its logical formulation are concerned, must be seen as a developing organism.

What Gramsci is doing here is saying that humans have no inherent, stable, innate, nature which governs them and makes them what they are. As such, he thinks it is social relations only which make humans what they are.

Gramsci does not have at his disposal the sort of tools created by postmodernism which would allow him to argue that humans are "socially constructed." Instead, what he argues is for absolute historicism in which everything about human beings, including culture, language, social practices, temperament, drives, desires, needs, wants, and everything else about humans is entirely contingent and therefore malleable, alterable, and changeable. He thinks that if theorists can use history and the study of social relations they can figure out how human beings developed to be how they are. What he wants is to figure out is how humans became how they are, with the idea in mind that if humans can develop to be how they are now, they can be changed and develop to be another way.

Gramsci's goal here is simple: he wants to crack the source code of the human self so he can figure out how to re-engineer human beings and transform them. And Gramsci wants to figure out how to transform human beings so humans can be re-engineered to better fit the Marxist vision of society.

The idea is deeper then mere "re-education" or brainwashing. Gramsci, (and other neo-Marxists) want to reach into the center of human nature and alter it so that they can make humans fit their utopian vision. They want to reach right into the depths of the human psyche and re-engineer the human soul (so-to-speak) so it conforms to the neo-Marxist utopian vision.

The neo-Marxists realize their utopian vision is not compatible with human nature (which they very much strongly would like to erase), and so rather than change their vision to fit humans, they want to re-engineer humans to fit their vision. Rather then just admit their utopian vision is simply absurd and wrong, they want to reach right through the human psyche, to reach into the very essence of what it means to be humans and then re-engineer the human soul so that it can be made to fit their vision.

The addition of postmodernism has made things even worse, because now they have come to believe that there is nothing that is fixed, absolute, stable, or objective. They think that all knowledge and truth is "socially constructed" and, as Searle has pointed out, they have come to think that if they do not like one set of facts, they can simply construct another set of facts they prefer and which fits their utopian vision. The result is that they are, in effect, trying to jettison the reality we have and socially construct another.

The problem is that just because something is contingent does not mean that it is malleable, and it certainly does not mean that we can re-engineer reality and the human soul in just any way we want. The fact that the current state of affairs is a product of historical events, doesn't mean we can just go around altering it to try to fit some pre-conceived idea of how we wish things were — that would be putting the cart before the horse. Reality does not care about your utopian vision, and the arrogance of the social constructivists will lead to their utopian dreams being shattered on the solid rock of reality

Reality is what we crash into when our beliefs are false, and we can't re-engineer it however we want. If we let people who think we can re-engineer reality and the human soul to use our society as the guinea pig for testing their ideas... there will be unimaginable suffering (are the history of Communism has already shown). And there will be no end to the suffering because utopian leftists are drunk on their own moral self-righteousness.

C.S. Lewis once noted:

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

And the postmodern / neo-Marxist / woke left is always convinced that if they just lean a little harder into their vision they can make it a reality. And they will never stop no matter the cost because they think if they just go a little further it will be worth it.  Just one more concept perverted, just one more peasant punished for uttering the latest taboo idea / word, maybe their glorious vision will arise after that.

The Pharaohs of leftist utopia continually demand we make bricks for their utopian vision without the cement of reality; we must say we the sane refuse to live under the tyrannical moral authority of those who demand we create an impossible utopia at the cost of great human suffering.