Saturday 23 January 2021

Alexandre Kojève and the End of History

It might even be said that, from a certain point of view, the United States has already reached the final stage of Marxism ‘communism,’ since all the members of a ‘classless society’ can, for all practical purposes, acquire whatever they please, whenever they please, without having to work for it any more than they are inclined to do so.

These are the words of Alexandre Kojeve, a Russian philosopher who became French and a believer in the European Economic Community. He believed that the United States represented right-Hegelianism and the Soviet Union represented left-Hegelianism. Victory by either side in the Cold War, he argued, would result in a classless, bureaucratic society.

I had not heard of him until today when I read this essay about him.

...the logical exhaustion of homo economicus as the homogenous understanding of humanity is what is at the heart of “multiculturalism.” Multiculturalism is not really about the celebration of the diversity of cultures but, rather, the eradication of the past socio-cultural distinctions which prevent, for all practical purposes, the non-European peoples of the world from the easy and equitable life they seek: the free-going, comfortable, and easy life already acquired by Europeans and their diaspora descendants. The elimination of the supposedly artificial barriers and distinctions erected by culture must occur for the end-state to be reached and human desire to be recognized and actualized.

The United States—with its rapidly dissipating Northwest European Protestant heritage and culture, alongside its universal “creedal identity”—again leads the way in prefiguring the future of the communistic end-state Kojève envisioned. A classless society is also a cultureless society. Cultural distinctions serve as barriers imposed over humans to the equitable life of easy consumerism and happiness that comes from such a life. Hence why, today, it is the European-American culture that must be dismantled—not to replace it with another but to dismantle it so all cultural and social distinctions are swept away in the tidal wave of universalizing progress and the homogenization of all into a universal culture of dignified consumerism and infinite free choice.
Quite a number of people on the left and the right wanted Europe to avoid both domination by Communist Russia and by the USA and saw parallels between the two societies. In the end Soviet Communism was defeated but Europe, which dominated the world until 1941 has been defeated too. It's economy is in relative decline, though it has never been richer. It looks to an increasingly indifferent USA for protection against what it sees as its enemies and takes its ideas from the USA too.

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