materialism and truth

Do we spend too much time worrying about truth and its manipulation of the senses, priority of matter etc., Rene Descartes owes us a few credits as the destructive consequences of both his having too much free time and of the devilish deception sneaking inside his text…

To quieten the soul, I pick up a meditative text that actually I know will not be quiet at all… Fascinating reading.

Lenin, in Materialism and Empirio-Criticism, asserts early on that ‘Sensation depends on the brain, nerves, retina, etc., i.e., on matter organized in a definite way. The existence of matter does not depend on sensation’ (Lenin 1908/ 1972:55)

Lenin, Vladimir [1908]1972 “Materialism and Empirio-Criticism.” In Collected Works Volume 14, Moscow: Progress Publishers

Does this mean bad ideas, deception, lying is ‘simply’ the consequence of materials – say faulty interpretations in really existing textbooks and newspaper, or perhaps chemical processes that induce psychotic states of bias, jealousy, prejudice. Perhaps the conspiracy theory about high–frequency manipulation rays are disturbing thought (probably not). The relation of all these things and many more are the components of a materialist analysis that must also be aware of dialectics.

The biggest problem in philosophy now seems not to be about understanding how things are in the world and other old debates about material causes, things, perception and appearance. The philosophers now seem keen neither to interpret or change the world but to convince us that we cannot know anything except by their say-so, and that truth is false, lies are true and money conquers also.

I am as ever nonplussed with how seriously people take themselves, and will just keep plugging along. The questions that might occupy my internal polemic at the present time will and must be several, and formulating a list responsive to popular tendencies intellectual thought is not yet an analysis, however:

– The ecological turn in Marxism, of course not unrelated to the ways the crisis of corporate pollution of the planet is glossed as ‘climate change’ and alternately green washing (include a bio zone in any urban precinct development) and ‘natural’ fibres in fashion (still an exploitative industry whether the factory/ sweatshop produces bamboo or cotton shirts).

-fascism, ultra right, conservatism and the laments of the lost-its-way left

-Deleuze, new media, software studies, vitalism. New forms of political quietism.

– historical forgetting (and the ransacking of history for romantic television drama series – Downton Abbey, Outlander etc.,). The history wars in India in the hands of the fantasist Modi

– cancel culture, vampire’s castle, apolitical fight-targets, cruelty, and posturing, having something to say with nothing to say just so someone sees you saying it.

– fear of the hard work of reading political theory. Self-censorship or ignorance about the achievements, and ongoing problems, of social theory in Marx, Engels, Thorstein Bunde Veblen, Rosa Luxemburg, Gyorgy Lukacs, Georges Bataille, Raya Dunayevskaya, Gayatri Spivak, Silvia Federici…

– the middle-brow niche of pseudo–political cinema – Young Marx, Chicago Eight Eleanor, Prey, and the narrowing domain of art- cinema reified and resolved into just a few handicapped autos names known but no longer watched (well) – Godard Wong Kar Wai, Ritwik Ghatak, Zhou, Miike, Ichikawa Kon.

– Publishing circuits and the privatised regulation of journals – Elsevier, T&F etc. The wicked effect this has on rushing to judgements that are never justified and hardly ever writerly. Ahh, only my enemies seem to care for the work – I learn from them too. Credit due, but their sous are bleak. I’ll swap reading Lenin for Eisenstein, the montage of attractions and Kino-Fist instead of Vertov’s Kino-Eye.


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