In order for human society to function, it requires countless abstractions (i.e. illusory manifestations of social phenomena that do not in actuality exist). Society itself is one such abstraction. The basis of any real critique of bourgeois society, of the later phases of the information and telecommunications revolution, or of human society in general, entails the peeling back and exposure of said illusions. It is only in this way that one can achieve, as close as possible, pure objectivity in criticism and analysis of social phenomena. Here we will attempt to expose some of these illusory manifestations of social phenomena as rudimentary examples. We will critique the fundamental notions we hold of society, humanity, the nation state, class society, liberal and universal human rights, etc. both on the left and generally.
To begin as our first example, countries do not exist. A country is as real as Santa Claus. People do not believe in it because it exists. It exists (even without substance) solely because people believe in it.
One does not see proof of the existence of the object itself, but rather the real consequences of its perceived existence. The socially accepted perception of its existence manifests itself to the individual as evidence of its existence. This illusion in particular is historically necessary insofar as class society exists.
Social hierarchies and seemingly organic organizations of social life manifest themselves as unchangeable, morally defensible and necessary absolutes. Like all things, they too change with time and with the evolution of a society. These manifestations largely define the ethics, values, and socially accepted morality of an epoch.
These ethics, values, and morals are almost exclusively those of that epochs ruling class. “The ruling ideas of each age have only ever been the ruling ideas of that ages ruling class”, said Marx. Therefore we can say with reason that every socioeconomic and political system follows a moral system based squarely on the justification of its own existence. This system is adopted by the oppressed and exploited social classes in times of geopolitical and economic stability as much as it is promoted by the ruling class. Education systems and the press both promote the ruling ideas of a particular epoch, which are, as we have previously stated, those of that epochs ruling class.
There are many commonly held oversimplifications of the idea of the ruling class on the left. These too are illusions, and these too hurt the cause of human liberation. To begin, a member of the ruling class (except in cases so immoral that it is indefensible even to that members social class) does not perceive (typically his) actions as being immoral. On the contrary, he is merely an individual acting in the same way as those around them. He is merely mirroring the society from which his own psychologically ingrained moral code of conduct emerged.
When it occurs, a member of the ruling class is naturally taken aback by the eruption of a social revolution or a radical social movement. Because he lacks the experience of the oppressed classes, he does not understand why the revolution or mass movement has emerged. In case of revolution, the destruction of long standing social hierarchies and traditional manifestations of social life is such a shock to the status quo that such an individual clings to his own perceived and long ingrained notions of right and wrong. He therefore renounces objective reason in revolt and clings to the subjective ‘reason’ and ‘order’ of a dying social system.
Only the successful manifestation on positive social change brought about by a social revolution or movement can change the mind of such an individual.
But an individual is bound by their own experiences. A vast improvement of the social life of the majority in such a short span of time necessarily implies a reduction in quality of life, luxury and privilege for the ruling elite. This is why universal healthcare, in the liberal countries where it exists, is deemed to be ‘a disaster’ by the bourgeoisie who can no longer pay for ‘premium’ (see, better) healthcare due to their privileged status in society. Thus begs the question, “Is universal healthcare a disaster?” But we say that the question itself is invalid. To the proletariat and the working majority it is largely a godsend, to the bourgeoisie it is a nightmare.
In spite of the subjectivity of morality, there are certain actions universally abominable in virtually every society regardless of historical epoch. These actions almost always act against the interests of human civilization and the long-term survival of the human species.
The individual is infinitely malleable only because the potential course of human evolution is infinite. There is no such thing as ‘human’, this too is an illusion. A human is only the currently existing, statistical average homo sapien, and the homo sapien is constantly evolving even at what seems to be a snails pace. Within the bounds of natural evolution, there are certain facets of human nature that do not change with even the most radical social revolution. The constellations in the sky are not timeless and eternal, but the individual stars are moving. Their motion is not detectable to us as individuals, even over eons. But they are not static, the stars too are in motion.
The basis of our critiques are the identification of social illusions as they manifest themselves in the socialist movement, and in society at large. It is in this that we hope to soon publish our work on the information and telecommunications revolution, tribalism, and the erosion of liberty in late capitalist society.