To the degree of determinism [Pt. 2]
[Find Part 1 of this blog here]
“No being that is absolutely bound by causality, could have a concept of causality. I am bound by causality to recognize I am bound by causality.”
This, I think, is the most important sentence in the reddit post I posted in part 1 of this blog.
Materialism can be dangerous; depending on the flavor of materialism you are versed in. The most dangerous flavor of materialism is absolute determinism. That is nothing but the idea that everything in the world is determined. Everything. There is no such thing as ‘choice’. There is no such thing as ‘decision’. For any decision you are making, or anything you are ‘choosing’ to do has already been determined by the material forces acting upon and have acted on you till the point. Basically if a certain thing, let’s say X, happens in your life, then X was the only possible outcome at that point in time in your life.
Funnily enough this sounds ridiculously similar to when religious people describe their version of idealistic determinism; i.e., the higher power has decided everything already. Nothing we can do to change it. And if we are able to make seemingly subversive changes, those changes were also determined by the higher power.
This determinism gives rise to worldviews where everything in the world is ‘determined’ by systems. Because the systems (read superstructures) are the “highest order material forces, with control of media, ideological hegemony leading to brainwashing of our minds; and they have all the power to ‘control’ us.”
Such line of thinking is (unfortunately) extremely popular in progressive, socialist and the broad-left circles online. Since politics and economics are the most powerful superstructures in the modern world, anything ‘wrong’ happening in the world is either due to political malfeasance or economic class domination, or both.
There is little scope for free-will in the world and in life, let alone the capitalist world. But the conscious understanding that capitalism limits your scope of free-will can lead you to conclusions that anything happening in your life and in the world is determined. “Love”, “Kindness”, these just sound like buzzwords when you gain this kind of consciousness, even though the beginning, and the end goal, of any socialist thinker is love, kindness, peace and end of all exploitation in the world.
Of course there is a choice. Whatever you do at a moment X is chosen by you and nothing else. The superstructures affect your mind overall. But at any moment, it is your “choice” to do or not do something. Ultimately, it is quite determined how lives pan out in the long run, based on the superstructures, but in every moment, we have to consciously internalize the fact that whatever decision we are taking, or whatever way we are behaving, that is our ‘choice’. And if someone cannot grasp this concept of the difference between abstract choice vs the determinism of long run of our lives and the world, then they will be so caught up in understanding this difference that they will never be able to live even normal Bourgeoisie-ethical lives, leave alone revolutionary lives.