chapter  18
Conclusion: The cunning of praxis
Pages 31

This view ironically gives credence to the scientistic ideologies of bourgeois (or “proletarian”) sociology against which Korsch and Lukacs reacted. But by critically appropriating the methodological presuppositions of both positions we can see that both scientistic bourgeois social science and various forms of Marxist analysis make erroneous assumptions about the role of philosophy in the sense of wisdom in social science deliberations as being, respectively, either irrelevant or necessarily inherently constitutive. The task, however, is not merely to take the best of one perspective and mix it with the best of the other, purely on the level of method, but rather to carry out what the Marxists (because they believe that they have the monopoly of philosophy-permeated social science) believe is impossible and what the sociologists believe is unnecessary. That is, to argue as this study does dialogically against one in terms of the other to raise them to a higher standpoint, a strategy made possible from a higher stage of social development. To argue against Marxist theory as a socio­ logist is to appeal to empirical evidence and demand the development of a new reality-adequate, less philosophical theory appropriate to a higher stage of development. And to argue against sociology in the scientistic mould in a Marxist manner is to mount the earlier critique on the level of method and to relate what ‘Ought’ to be, where neces­ sary, to the newly investigated ‘Is’ of society after that first (i.e. next) empirical step has been taken in what can only be an unending socioscientific process as long as there are men living in societies on the earth. (Thus future generations will inevitably carry out a similar transcending critique of this study itself to incorporate its present concerns and polemics into the overall historical process.)

24 After Lukacs, through the young Marcuse to the Dialectic o f Enlightenment and elements of the New Left the reconciliation of men to social reality has been deemed compatible only with false conscious­ ness and/or conservatism. But once the intimidating mythology of an absolutely pathological, untrue, insane, inverted reality is jettisoned, this problem assumes a different character. In the terms of the dialec­ tical view itself the social world cannot be totally ‘irrational’, sick, manipulated or alienated, so one does not have to be a liberal to affirm that elements of developed societies are already ‘rational’ and progressive. After Lukacs, however, the perceived urgency of pro­ letarian action at that time led to radical intellectuals fudging over what Marx termed the “civilizing aspects of capital” ,2 which achieve­ ments were conceived purely negatively as concessions gained in spite of the anarchy of bourgeois society. This thought pattern dies hard. But it is by no means politically conservative, based on an adequate analysis of reality, to exalt in the progressive positive achievements of civilization compared with earlier periods which can and should endure : in short, optimistically to exalt in life and human happinesss

here and now instead of espousing the dreary pessimism of sacrifice, renunciation and denial of the possibility of fulfilment now in favour of the deferred deeper fulfilment ‘over there’ in the better reality of socialism which so characterizes post-Lukacsian Marxism; whilst at the same time fighting against dogmatism, irrational blind forces, superstition, inequality, obscurantism, unenlightened action, etc., towards their greater removal or appeasement without implying that their total Utopian abolition is possible. It is this very belief in the possibility of a final state of human bliss which is potentially a politi­ cal danger because it tempts and justifies Procrustean action towards it in the present, providing a source for what Weber called an “ethic of ultimate ends” .3 But one is inexorably part of a historical process which continually throws up (both blindly and consciously) complex new social configurations and thus new challenges to fight on various levels. The routinization of charisma must be fought by charismatizing routine if it jells into reification.