The Self-Reflecting State - Timo Schmitz - E-Book

The Self-Reflecting State E-Book

Timo Schmitz

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Beschreibung

"The Self-Reflecting State" shows a post-modern concept which treats human interaction in a state-like quality: We choose our friends in certain ways, as we want to be treated well by them and at the same time love them for who they are. But when we go to politics, we forget the community spirit and become the most egoist individualist people not thinking beyond ourselves. Why don't we do politics in the same way than we interact in communication with acquaintances? As a Buddhist Constructivist and Left thinker, Timo Schmitz analyses the society on different levels, such as morality, consciousness, culture, and ideal economy (within this view) and shows that our political views actually reveal ourselves and that any change therefore begins in us as individuals at first.

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Forword

In 2015, I published a new philosophical stream called the New Constructivist Communism through the article series Individualism between Moral and Virtue, Government and Religion, which contained 27 articles and was finished in 2016. The basic view was presented in my Inner Chapters, which concluded the theme. This was then further embedded by giving several positions. I, personally, think that the work was well-received, though Chapter 16 and 21 soon turned out to be complete rubbish. In my youthful naivety, I thought I could include a statement on Platonism, without realizing the deep impact and complexity on the same. In my university study, I dedicated a lot of attention to Plato until now and I can only shake my head on what I produced on Platonism back then. However, I have to admit that through really grasping Plato, he even was more favored by me. In 2017, I made a few modifications on my theory. This happened in two phases in which the question of universality and the political question was focused. After years of publishing my first draft on my basic ideas, I think that thanks to criticism but also through one’s own development, it is time to reflect the ideas again to adjust the New Constructivist Communism to its time. Most people probably are shaken off when they hear the term “Communism” since they see a strong political connotation. Indeed, it would be wrong to deny that the New Constructivist Communism is not political, but as a post-modern concept, it is not only dedicated to politics, but to self-realization. It questions the contemporary society and asks “what can I do myself to make this world better?”. For this reason, it was evident that the first draft did not include classical political theories, but rather focused on Plato, Sartre and Nietzsche, and thus essential questions as the soul, the world order, even God. Therefore, my drafts already indicated self-reflection, but missed its point. It is this self-reflection which dominates my philosophy. We live in a constructed world, and in the same way, we construct ourselves, our values, our images – us! Therefore, it is a politics to ourselves. It will turn out that we are the political object, as we will see in the end.

Chapter 1 : Plurality and Individuality on a standpoint of Classes

Everybody is actually oneself, that is an undoubted fact and needs no proof, as no one can be someone else. It is the nativity and uniqueness of human-beings that Hannah Arendt used to call ‘persona’. And as an acting person, as ‘persona agens’, we want to be ourselves as we can only act through ourselves, in being our own agent. At the same time, people face conventions and moral images, which emphasize on a collective base. So my 2015 version of the New Constructivist Communism focusses on the struggle between individualism and collectivism. Identity is very important for human-beings and starting with the 1968 revolutions, individuality became unstoppable. People identify as themselves, they act as themselves, so they realize they are their ‘own’. As such, they want to decide over their own. This is the birth of nowadays individualism as we grasp it. For Ancient Greek people, this model would be a pure horror. For Aristotle, the smallest unit is the house – the oikos – which is a whole entity and as such several houses make up a village (komé), or better said: a community. [Aristotle, 1252b – 1253a] The house as such is ‘force’. It is ruled by the patriarch, the oikodespot, who is owner of the women and slaves and oversees that reproduction works well. [Habermas, 2018: 56] As such, the house is the private space and everything which is happening inside, stays inside. One cannot get any merit in the house. The marketplace on the contrary is the public space where every citizen (and in Ancient Greek it only included adult males) is equal. [Ibid.] Being free for an ancient Greek meant, being not ruled by people from the outside – by foreigners, such as the Persians. Benjamin Constant defined it as the Liberty of Ancients. [Constant, 1819] In contrast, in Modern times, a new kind, a Liberty of Moderns started to grow, which focused on the individual. Defining freedom collectively was phased out by defining freedom on individuality. [Ibid.] The problem however that I pointed out in 2015 was the fact that there is no actual consensus. People on different places on the earth are taught different moral values and they changed from time to time. This makes it difficult to connect morality to any kind of truth. We therefore need a certain space. Consequently, as the very first basis, I introduced the principle of individualism as ground for my philosophy. A free society is defined through individuality and pluralism. Therefore, everyone shall have the right to believe in what one wants and also has the right to believe it the way one wants. [Schmitz, 2018: Chapter 1] This is especially important in a digital era, where radical truths are taught: for instance, if a man criticises feminism, he might be attacked in social media for being a misogynist. Such a radicalism gives space for the even more radical views, while moderate views get into an individual underground, i.e. one only thinks for oneself and does not dare to speak out, in fear of being labelled as well. This makes minority views give a glance of majority views and is a form of authoritarianism. Even further, in a digital era, nothing is forgotten. This means that people have to be perfect, as every single mistake – every mail, every comment, every phone call – might appear somewhere one day again. Therefore, I emphasize that everyone has the right to make a mistake and an individual has the right to correct one’s mistake whenever one wants and one also has the right that his corrected view is accepted. [Ibid.] So we can see that people are governed. In my 2015 version, I only focused on governments, which was far too idiotic from my point. Thinking that only the government governs us is naïve. After I read Habermas, I realized that there is more that I already talked about in several chapters in my 2015 version, but I failed to realize its importance: it is the public itself. People are judged by the public. But even further, I understand Habermas’ fear of the colonisation of what he calls Lebenswelt. Everything has its own Logic. Markets follow their own logic, so do laws, so do government systems, everything systemizes us and these systems start taking over us. [Schmitz, 2018/ 2021c] Even in digital times, elections are manipulated by intriguing people via social media, the cyberwar has already begun. And people seemingly just are regarded as puppets on the playground. In such an environment, individualism and thus pluralism is endangered. The keyword here is equality, and this also means that no one is less worth even if his or her opinion seems stupid to us. If people are told what is good and what is bad they can’t govern themselves anymore. [Schmitz, 2018: Chapter 1] As such, everybody has to define oneself what is good and what is bad for one, but as we can learn from every religion, there are some conventions that are universally accepted, such as the prohibition to kill people. I think, it is no coincidence, that the first chapter of my 2015 draft was translated into Burmese very early and went viral in intellectual circles in Myanmar. It is a young society, in which people were torn down in a dictatorship for decades. Their daily reality was a self-less system in the sense that the self had no value and one only had to work for the system – thus “no self” or “self-less” in a certain sense. The transformation now, makes people demand for an identity. While the first chapter was too evident for readers from Europe stating “learnt nothing new” in social media, for Burmese people, this chapter was astonishing. They are asking themselves, what is “society” and what “am I” and this country is searching for answers – actually, it is literally struggling.

A society without castes and ranks is too evident for us, but people in India still fight for freedom. Though castes were officially abolished, the situation in which people are born inside still determine their fates. It is the best example for social inequality, where extremely rich and extremely poor people live. At the same time, this shows why the Communist cause is more demanded than ever before. The matter of classes became very important in the era of Enlightenment. Enlightenment also is often seen equally with education. But maybe it is just better to say that during that time, it became easier for information to spread. People built their spheres in which they could discuss and these spheres tended to alienate: as Tocqueville showed that in the Early Middle Ages, a small circle oppressed the majority. But every fifty years, the people became closer as the highest lost a bit of power and the smallest gained a bit. [Tocqueville, 1985: 15-19] Thus, the society always becomes closer and closer. As I pointed once out in an essay: “In many [countries], revolutions took place […] that could be called cultural revolution by its lexical term (not by its historical term!) […]  Cultural revolutions took place in the whole human history. When people were dissatisfied with their situation in Middle Ages a political revolution took place. But this was not limited to politics. The Renaissance dissolves the Middle Ages. The mentality of the people changed abruptly. During the Middle Ages, no one cared about the past or history in general. The Renaissance was a revival of historical understanding and return to arts from antiquity – in a modern sense, however.” [Schmitz, 2014/ 2020] Hannah Arendt in contrary showed in “On the Revolution” that revolutions are a quite new phenomena and that the American and French revolutions were the first revolutions in our modern understanding, while revolutions before were rather seen as restaurations. Indeed, I think that even the Reformation was not a revolution but the try for a restauration. But at the same time, a restauration might be a revolution as well: a good idea went out of order and has to be set back to its starting point. This cycle was even revealed by Machiavelli. [Schmitz, 2018/ 2021a] However, the French Revolution showed a gruesome example on how the three common ranks were formally abolished but new ranks were quickly constructed. Even the freedom promised by that very revolution turned out to be just another restauration.

The fundamental issue on classes was given by Marx and Engels stating: “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes. In the earlier epochs of history, we find almost everywhere a complicated arrangement of society into various orders, a manifold gradation of social rank. In ancient Rome we have patricians, knights, plebeians, slaves; in the Middle Ages, feudal lords, vassals, guild-masters, journeymen, apprentices, serfs; in almost all of these classes, again, subordinate gradations” [Marx & Engels, 1848]. This fundamental phrase became an aphorism for generations of revolutionaries. Indeed, Marx and Engels realised that revolutions always appeared. But even the new type of a revolution changed nothing and ended just in a restauration. Therefore, another new type of revolution ought to be created. Concerning the question above, I think the French Revolution was not the first revolution, but it was a revolution of a very new type. For Arendt, every human-being has an animal part which serves our instincts to survive (animal laborans). [Arendt, 1983: 92-126] The second-base of human-beings addresses the characteristics which make humans be human (homo faber). [Arendt, 1983: 127-139] However, I think that the third base, the uniqueness, did not exist before the French Revolution. People were not aware of their person as such. This is why Constant had to distinguish the “Ancients” from the “Moderns”. Something new developed which people were not aware before: people suddenly got aware of their force.

Anyways, hundred years after the French Revolution, nothing seemed to have changed for Octave Mirbeau. Mirbeau states that the elector thinks “Je suis électeur! Rien ne se fait que par moi. Je suis la base de la société moderne” [Mirbeau, 2002: 4], but in fact the elector just chooses his master – he chooses the authority and gives avowal to be reigned by another person. The proletariat fought for elections, it is their merit [Decker, 2013], but it did not bring them into power. Therefore, Mirbeau gives advice to the voter: “Je te l’ai dit, bonhomme, rentre chez toi et fais la grève” [Mirbeau, 2002 : 7]. Mirbeau saw that the French Revolution’s final outcome did not change anything: Mirbeau took the people’s concern of being governed by a monarch and now has the concern whether being governed by an elected monarch, so to say, is that so much better? To him, it was only a power transfer from one group to another, but for the common people little changed. The only innovation is that the state gets the approval that the people transfer all their power to the state, but they still have only limited ways to participate. Around the same time when Mirbeau published the final version of “La grève des électeurs” in France in 1902, a young Russian named Lenin started publishing critical works in a country that had no revolution at all and thus was still swallowed by absolutism. Vladimir Lenin preferred a council democracy: People shall vote councils that vote other councils and therefore a society where everyone can participate should be established [Schmitz, 2015/ 2017]. Lenin himself never understood his person as “Leninist”. He was a Russian Marxist who was fascinated by the ideas of Karl Marx, though he reshaped many of his views. The basis of Marxism lies in economic activities and the relations within society. [Schmitz, 2018: Chapter 7] Marx does not regard the society as a group of individuals but rather grasps them as one entity that in itself is always in interaction, thus people are not independent. Unfortunately, the means of production are accumulated in the hands of a few and therefore these few people are exploiting the masses. [Ibid.] For Marx, exploitation is based on surplus labour: the amount of labour that the worker performs but for which he is not paid is surplus labor and since the surplus labor only helps the factory belonging to the bourgeois, but from which the worker has no profit in the end, surplus labour can be defined as exploitation. [Ibid.] Marx on the contrary rather prefers to produce for direct use supplying the society with its needs instead of producing for profit. [Ibid.] Through the people’s production for each other, their survival is ensured and exploitation ceases away. Furthermore “After reaching socialism, people will try for a society which is not only classless, but also overcomes the need of state borders or countries as no rulers will exist.” [Schmitz, 2015/ 2017] Lenin however thinks that the political campaign has to go along with the economic campaign. While Marx predicted that a revolution can only take place in a highly developed capitalist system, Lenin on the contrary assumed that the revolution has to take place in the poor countries, since the global finance system of the imperialists favors exploitation in its colonies and poor countries and thus according to Lenin, the poorest of the poor won’t be able to stand the conditions anymore and start the rebellion. [Schmitz, 2018: Chapter 7] Lenin postulates a democratic centralism: an institution that centralises the needs of the people and coordinates fighting for it. After the revolution is fulfilled, a vanguard party should go on standing for the interests of the revolution, to avoid a restauration by the old forces. The vanguard party however shall only be one party out of many in a plural but socialist system. [Ibid.] This idea was later turned around by Stalin who said that the vanguard party has to be the only force to avoid a restauration by the class enemy who is just waiting for his turn. Therefore, instead of making the state wither away, Stalin postulated a strong state which has to be as powerful as possible to defend Socialism against the enemies that are everywhere in the underground. By suggesting a fight against an invisible enemy, Stalin could use this argument for purges, forced killings and even genocides. Left totalitarism was born. [Ibid.] Even further, he declared the paradox of “Socialism in One Country” which meant that all Socialist states have to subdue their interests to the Soviet Union and in return meant that Soviet satellite states could be exploited for the sake of the Soviet Union. This applied at least to the states that were not strong enough to build up Socialism on their own or were not strong enough to resist to the Soviet interference. [Ibid.] Trotsky who was sent to exile in Mexico and later being killed there on Stalin’s order declared a “Permanent Revolution”, in which a country that established Socialism has to support other countries that are not able to perceive the revolution on their own. Like Lenin, Trotsky supported that the revolution can take place in a backwarded country. [Schmitz, 2015/2017] Rosa Luxemburg already attacked Lenin’s views in 1904. Her philosophy, Luxemburgism, is a critique towards Leninism and Trotskyism. During the Russian Revolution, Luxemburg accused the Bolsheviks of seizing absolutist political power and opportunist policies. [Schmitz, 2015: Chapter 7]