Monday, February 15, 2021

The Trump impeachment - a symbol-event

 In the thumbnail sketch of modernity I carry around in my head, I see it as the result of two revolutions, both of which have failed. The first, or bourgeois revolution was basically about justice and equity. In this revolution, the powerful would no longer solely make the rules to which the powerless were subject, nor would they escape the rules that had been made. Where once the powerful were shielded by a system of immunity from obeying the rules and regulations that whacked the lower class, there would be true equality before the law.

This ideal has shaped a lot of political movements, from the French revolution to the American civil rights era. It has always failed to dissolve the immunity of the powerful, nor has it restrained the whacking of the powerless. It has, however, given that whole process a bad conscience.
The second revolution necessarily comes after the first: it is the revolution of the system of property relations in the broadest sense. This revolution shaped itself first as capitalism, in which capital was, ideally, wrenched free from an entrenched, privileged class and the market system destroyed all privileges that could not be justified by efficiency, and then as a socialist revolution that destroyed the last privilege, that of the holders of mere capital over the producers of goods and services. As we know, this revolution has also failed, and spectacularly failed where it was not preceded by the first, bourgeois revolution.
We live among the corsi and recorsi of these revolutions. The recorsi of the last forty years has been hard. Trump’s acquittal is a symbol-event – either the recorsi continues, and we go down before remorseless reaction, or we actually take up the long task of those revolutions with some chance of success.
There’s no compromise with the tide.


  “In brief, cultural history only represents a surface strike against the insight [of historicism], but not that of dialectics. For it lack...