5. The Antagonistic Whole

Such a notion of the dialectic raises doubts about whether it is even possible. To anticipate non-stop motion within contradictions, in however modified a form, would seem to proclaim the totality of Mind or Spirit, precisely the now invalidated identity thesis. The claim would be that the Spirit reflecting unremittingly on the contradiction within the thing would have to be that very thing, if indeed it were to organize itself in the form of a contradiction. The truth that in the idealist dialectic  pushes beyond each and every particular, because particulars are one-sided and in this regard false, would have to be the truth of the whole; if this truth were not thought out in advance, the dialectical steps would relinquish propulsion and direction. The proper response to this is to say that the object of the mind’s experience is itself the antagonistic system, and this in some exceedingly real way, not only when it is mediated by the knowing subject that finds itself in the system. The task is to discern the constrained and compulsory constitution of reality, which idealism projected into the region of subject and spirit, and to translate it back from the latter. What remains of idealism is the idea that the Mind’s objective determinant, society, is as much the epitome of subjects as it is their negation. In society, they are rendered indecipherable and powerless; hence society’s desperate objectivity, hence its status as concept, both of which idealism mistakenly regards as positive. The system is not of the absolute Mind; it is of the entirely conditional Mind of those who command it without even knowing how much it is theirs. The subjective preformation of society’s material process of production, fundamentally different from its theoretical constitution, is that process’s unresolved term, the thing that is not reconcile to subjects. Their own rationality—which, unconscious like the transcendental subject, generates identity via exchange—remains incommensurate with the subjects that it reduces to a common denominator: the subject is enemy to the subject. The preceding universality is true and untrue at once: true, because it is the “ether” that Hegel calls Mind or Spirit; untrue, because its rationality is not rational; its universality is the product of a particular interest. It is for this reason that the philosophical critique of identity overtakes philosophy. And yet something that cannot be subsumed into identity—use value, Marx calls it—is equally necessary if life is to go on at all, even under the dominant relations of production; such is the ineffable quality of utopia.  Utopia intervenes into what is being plotted in order to prevent it from coming to pass. In the face of utopia’s concrete possibility, dialectics is the ontology of the wrong state of things. A right state of things would be set free from dialectics; neither system nor contradiction.

 

-Translation updated, April 11, 2019

One response to “5. The Antagonistic Whole

  1. You’re my hero.