The decline of the West – to the left Ruthless Criticism

The decline of the West –
turned to the left

From left wing friend of the workers to pessimistic-optimistic philosopher of history

Robert Kurz:

Der Kollaps der Modernisierung [The Collapse of Modernization], Frankfurt 1991 (I),

Honeckers Rache [Honecker’s Revenge], Berlin 1991 (II)

[Translated from GegenStandpunkt: Politische Vierteljahreszeitschrift 2-92, GegenStandpunkt Verlag, Munich]

After the “end of communism” and the discrediting of everything associated with the left, someone who calls himself a Marxist shows up on the bestseller lists; he is reviewed by Trampert, Hickel and even Raddatz – not just in left wing papers, but in Zeit and FAZ. Robert Kurz is important this year because he serves a need of the times: he offers guidance for all those who ask the stupid question of whether they can still remain on the left today, and if so how. The fact that one does not necessarily need to remain on the left (if one has no more complaints about capitalism) might be a liberating discovery for some. Kurz, however, does not criticize this stupid question, but gives it an answer: if one refrains from “enlightening,” agitation and political activity, if one forgets about the working class and the class struggle and becomes a pessimistic philosopher of history, then one really can still be on the left. In spite of everything, and with Kurz’s help, one can come to the expectation that things will not go well forever for capitalism, perhaps even not for that much longer.

Who can confront the thesis of the “end of history”? Kurz can!

Kurz’s two publications considered here, which appeared in 1991, are expressly based on the now famous “thesis of the end of history” which was put forth by a Japanese-born American professor after the defeat of Real Socialism: with the end of the alternative system, the democratic societal form and the liberal economic mode are generally accepted as ultimate, unsurpassable and alternativeless. The thousand year Reich of capitalism can now begin. Kurz does not criticize the cheap idealism of the Western triumph – because it no longer has an enemy, it considers itself invincible; because there are no longer any critics worth mentioning, it considers itself irrefutable – as a self-adulation free of argument. That a higher authority than all the powers in play, that a higher purpose than the antagonistic interests of all parties – namely: history personified as a distinct subject – decides victory and defeat, the right and wrong of social and economic formations, is so familiar to left and right wing followers of this religion that it really is difficult for them to have any reservations about the winner when faced with the impressive “judgment of history” over Real Socialism. The once so optimistic historical philosophy of Marxism-Leninism, which is acquainted with objections to capitalism only as expectations of its imminent failure, also takes the proven historical durability of this system of exploitation to be a difficult-to-refute argument in favor of it. Quite impressed by the “end of history,” Kurz offers a “reevaluation of Real Socialism” that permits opposition to “the thesis of the end of history”: he accuses the bourgeois cheerleaders of not knowing the true train schedule of history, and announces its real terminus.

An historical-reflective thinking, which does not assign large social movements and political- economic formations with the predicates ‘right’ or ‘wrong,’ ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ is rather more likely to approach the problem in such a way that it asks which developmental task is carried out with this epochal break. Only such questions can give an idea of what may then come afterward and what is ‘next in line.’” (Kurz, “Die Intelligenz nach dem Klassenkampf,” in: Widerspruch, Münchner Zeitschrift für Philosophie, No. 22, p.16)

If Real Socialism was capitalism, then its collapse was also a collapse of capitalism, an indication of its decay and a reason to conjecture an end of history. Kurz is always a herald of the collapse of the system, and the East gives him – if he leaves out the political intentions and idiocies of Gorbachev and his team and sticks only to the difference between the reform ideals of 1985 and the results of 1991 – an excellent example for the unintentional, not externally forced, almost picture-perfect subjectless system-collapse, just as Marxist prophets since Rosa Luxemburg had always predicted for a decaying capitalism that is incapable of reform. Unfortunately, a breakdown of the wrong system. Kurz now proposes – and this is the core of his whole theory – to regard the system fought by capitalism for 70 years, and built by its creators to overthrow capitalism, also as a kind of capitalism. The breakdown prophecy rises yet again: according to Kurz, the October revolution and its upheaval of property relations did not abolish capitalism, but rather established it in a late developing nation through violence and revolution.

Thus Communism became a proletarian legitimation ideology of a forced catching-up with bourgeois modernization.” (I, p. 52)

So the breakdown theorist who sees only a version of capitalism as having collapsed in the East, can apply the “judgment of history” to the epoch of Real Socialism without reservation. He spews more malice towards the “real-absurd old man’s regime of a potemkinist state economy” (II, p. 7) than his bourgeois opponents, thereby proving how little he is affected by the victory of the West in the Cold War and how much he is in harmony with history.

The principle of competition … actually ‘functions’ better than the barracks socialism which is impotent from the start; it is better able to ensure use-values as well as productivity, has accordingly created more needs and enjoyment of life, and has released a greater emancipatory potential. It is senseless to want to obstruct this insight and to hold on to an irretrievably bygone constellation – a socialist conception of a ‘planned market’ – with an uncomprehending doggedness, as the remains of a pseudo-radical Left in the West currently demonstrates, who are seeing the collapse of the GDR and the former socialist camp in an only negative and pejorative way … instead of seeing this collapse as the negative liberation which it actually is.” (I, p.159f)

In spite of this harmony he is not simply marching in the celebratory parade of capitalism’s victory. Indeed he can now – freed, via the course of events, from a socialism-illusion – attribute to actual capitalism an enormous potential for progress and humane achievements. If, however, the weakest link in the chain of capitalisms was broken with the collapse of the “capitalism of forced modernization,” then maybe no healthy and durable links are left. Then this only announces the unholy mess of the perfectly complete world system – that’s simply the logic of the breakdown.

If, then! No explanation of Real Socialism is on offer here, and certainly not a critique of the errors on which this system was based – a world-historical high flyer does not lower himself to the object of his historical condemnation – but rather a categorizing of Real Socialism in the world-historical epoch of capitalism. The classification is not exactly difficult: capitalism and Real Socialism are the same, as long as one ignores everything that distinguishes them. And with the false sociological abstractions of “modernization,” “industrial” and “work society,” Kurz avowedly and deliberately lumps them all together. The fact that Lenin once cited the German postal service as a model for socialism and Stalin spoke of a “primitive socialist accumulation” serves well for circumstantial evidence of sameness, as does the fact that the political-economic textbooks of Real Socialism are full of the very categories of capitalist wealth that Marx criticized – commodity, money, value and surplus value. Lenin and his successors wanted to plan value, free it from the anarchy of the market and the inequity of competition, and in this way make it more useful for the working population. They even knew a just and socialist use of the surplus value extracted from the socialist workers. That these old Marxists had obviously misunderstood Marx’s Capital, that they did not read it as a critique of capitalistic wealth but rather as a textbook of proper economic management, that Marx wanted to abolish value as the measure of wealth and did not wish to see it “consciously applied,” that ultimately the project to plan value is nonsensical and contradictory – Kurz points all this out, and rightly so. Only he doesn’t deal with the contradiction of planning value and does not want to know what then comes about when revolutionaries abolish private property and competition, seize political control over production and use their planning powers to mimic the calculations and performance criteria of capitalistic wealth and make a duty out of a production which is no longer private and no longer aimed at profit. Kurz’s schematical classifying of Real Socialism as capitalism is therefore blind to the fact that such a thing no longer has anything to do with value as it is found in Marx’s Capital. However, it is also not a socialist planned economy, but rather a new, third thing: an incorrect critique of capitalism turned into a system. He accuses this false critique of capitalism firstly of being capitalism, and secondly of being an absurdly inhibited and adulterated form of it:

It behaves like a capitalism whose blood circulation has been interrupted.” (I, p. 119)

If he harps on the fact that the planning bureaucrats calculated purely artificial prices and pocketed the self-defined profit, then he would also have to remember that they only had to bear self-defined losses and suffer artificial deficits that they could just as well have ignored, like their profits. But Kurz criticizes Real Socialism not as a perverted planned economy, but rather as a falsified value production – just as do all bourgeois observers of this peculiar system who can’t get over its absurdities, ranging from the “more is better” ideology to job security. Under the proviso that capitalism cannot be the last word of history, Kurz together with Mrs. History rejects Soviet socialism from the standpoint of the survival, and thus superiority, of capitalism: not that they did not construct a sensible planned economy, he accuses the Real Socialists rather of not having achieved a successful capital accumulation. Although this was altogether “irrational and senseless,” up to that point in time it was historically the most advanced that history had to offer. No wonder then that even Fritz Raddatz admires Kurz’s critique of Real Socialism – it’s the same thing one could read in der Spiegel and Zeit and other papers – and is only unappreciative when Kurz includes the historically superior West in his picture of doom.

If the failure of “catch-up modernization”removes the first stone of the capitalist world system, then the rest must come crumbling down.

Kurz does not argue to this extent; just like Cassandra, whose foresight will only be revealed to the unbelievers at a later date, he suggests his conclusions more than he proves them. He takes steps with the frequent use of “perhaps,” “and if it were completely different …” and with his right to “expect” something from clues that are then immediately certain. In a pinch he simply “infers” a contrary from a contrary:

The historical moment of the collapse of Real Socialism created a highly peculiar ideological climate in which the fading, in reality always merely relative, East-West antagonism appears absolute, where the most obvious facts are systematically suppressed or perceived in a completely distorted manner. The doggedness with which all ideologues in the West worship, defend and swear by the categories of the market-economy, as if … someone who had ever attacked them fundamentally can only signal their own imminent demise. Only in this way can the hysterical and downright barking apologetics of money across all political and ideological camps be explained – precisely at the moment of its supposedly highest triumph.” (I, p. 172)

The frenetic triumph of the market-economy reveals its instability! They have already noticed what Kurz has handed down to us – they just won’t admit it. The most obvious facts prove the impending doom: “Honecker’s revenge” is that the changing of systems in the East – and Germany in its new zone – with the introduction of capitalism does not even bring about private or national success, but rather the need to continue the “sins of subsidy-, debt- and state-economy.” The (provisional) failure of the Germans, absolute in the East, the ongoing destruction of all civilization, the deindustrialization and the approaching of third world conditions, where entire populations starve and states sink into debt – all this shows Kurz not how capitalism functions on a global scale, but rather that it functions less and less:

This fate which ever more nations share, the further back the mirage of economic recovery and free market prosperity moves for ever larger masses of people, the clearer and more inevitable the negative perspective becomes: the system of the modern commodity is at its end, and with it the bourgeois monetary subject, because this system in its productivity overshot itself and is no longer able to integrate the majority of the world’s population into its logic.” (I, p. 228)

As if it would be the task of capital to “integrate the majority of the world’s population into its logic” – and indeed not as it actually is “integrated”: through the destruction of any other type of economy, but rather with an upswing and prosperity. The domination and utilization of the world market by a handful of highly capitalized nations and the degradation of the rest into a hinterland whose raw materials are sometimes of interest, whose populations are entirely dependent on being used capitalistically, but without being used: this is the normality of global capitalism, from which it is not at all foreseeable why it should no longer “function,” as long as the people involved still put up with it. Poverty, even the ruination of masses of people and entire states, is no shame for a system of exploitation and no sign of its failure. Here Kurz is much closer to the thinkers of Real Socialism he so frequently mocks than he wants to admit: he sees capitalism constantly failing at social purposes it does not have.

Kurz would never polemicize against this mode of production simply on behalf of its worldwide victims. He only allows hunger and misery to count as arguments against it if he can interpret them as a harbinger and indicator of its failure. The fact that the shit ultimately doesn’t work is the only argument that occurs to him against it. Therefore it can’t continue: onward to the final collapse!

Thus the crisis of the commodity can step into social consciousness and evaporate the final illusions, but it needs a loser in the end: and that can only be the thoroughly capitalistic West itself, which must choke on its own victories.” (ibid.)

With heavy emphasis, the symptoms of the current cyclical crisis of the world economy are cited: the “gigantic mountain of debt” whose interest and payment are more and more out of proportion with the profits made in the productive sphere, the redistribution of the winner and relative loser nations within the OECD states – however, not to show that once again too many commodities have been produced, too much credit drawn on future profits, too many factories built, in short: too much capital has been accumulated in order to still be suitable for further profitable use. In crisis and its resolution, Kurz does not denounce the capitalistic purpose, but the inability of capital to realize its purpose: he regards crisis to be the critique of capital. His interest is not what is functioning here, but rather the assertion that it is not functioning. The fact that once again material wealth is destroyed, factories and workforces lie fallow and so become cheapened to the point that their usefulness again pays off for profit does not show him how ruthlessly this purpose of production subordinates the material wealth and all the reproductive needs of society to itself and count for nothing if they cannot be used for this purpose; it shows him how difficult it becomes in the cyclical crisis for profit to bring about the reproduction of society.

So just like his predecessors a hundred years ago, he does not think of a crisis as a recurring stage in the cycle of capitals. Rather, he uses the familiar real socialist technique of comparison to “the” crisis of the commodity form to conclude the last, final, historically necessary peripeteia: “fewer and fewer winner nations stand opposite more and more loser nations,” “more and more capital can use less and less abstract labor,” “capitalism becomes tendentially incapable of exploitation.” (I, p. 262)

It is on the one hand only a theoretical error when Kurz posits capitalism and its ability to survive as the victims of the falling rate of profit and the wave-form of accumulation and not the people, employed and unemployed, who have to pay the price for it. It is also a question of practical intention, whether one wants to prove to those involved how much they damage themselves when they put up with capitalist economic activities, or whether one plays a modern Nostradamus for a shuddering public and, in a picture not to be outdone in terms of drama, tears away certainty in the future, to announce that we, whether we like it or not, whether we do something about it or not, are facing an unprecedented historical turning point.

It is therefore to be expected that the bourgeois world of total money and the modern commodity, whose logic has constituted the so-called modern era with ever ascending dynamism, enters into a dark age of chaos and disintegration before the end of the 20th century, as has never before been seen in world history.” (I, p. 257)

In the level of his pessimism about the bleak future ahead, the prophet expresses his left wing optimism, because the charm and imputation of each picture of disaster is that people have it too good and that it still needs to get much worse in order to make radical critique credible. Thus any breakdown theory logically contains a compliment to the previously functioning capitalism, which allegedly satisfies the materialism of its victims to a large extent and, were it to carry on, would actually be above all criticism. But it also contains an elitist argument about the dumb, unconscious, system-integrated masses who still must experience much more damage in order for their eyes to be opened so they can then assume their responsibility for the organization of society.

Alienation philosophy rather than political economy

Kurz’s use of Marx’s critique of capitalism to depict an inescapable disaster scenario does not leave much of that critique left: capital – an economic relationship – turns into an almost religious conception of a nameless doom. His radical painting of history as an automatic subject completely misses the fact that value, money and capital are forms of wealth that certainly have their interested parties, and for those parties who dispose over it, everything their hearts desire is accessible; a wealth which, where it prospers, supplies states with all the means of power and enforces their political will worldwide; a wealth which brings nothing to the vast majority of people on the other side but a life of work and a permanently insecure existence, and still others who are not even allowed to earn a livelihood by serving the wealth of others. Kurz does not want to know anything about all this. For him, this is in the past; the “workers’ movement Marx” is dead.

With the end of an era, as it has been sealed by the downfall of state socialism, only the element of Marxist theory bound to this epoch expires, but it is by no means exhausted or has been exhausted.” “The ‘class struggle,’ which was nothing other than the implementation process of capital in its pure abstract form-logic against historic-empirical individual capitalists, is now finished.” “The ‘value of the commodity labor-power’ in the sense of a capitalist normality, of a ‘contentment in capitalism,’ has been exhausted.” “No longer is ‘exploitation’ in the value-form the problem, but rather abstract labor itself, i.e. the economic use of man and nature.” (Kurz, “Die Intelligenz nach dem Klassenkampf,” p.17/18)

For Kurz, it is one and the same whether the class struggle has ceased in the successful nations of the West because contentment in capitalism has become limitless and there can be no more talk about exploitation, or whether there is no longer talk about exploitation because class struggle has been abandoned in favor of political representation. At any rate, he no longer finds it suitable to begin with “exploitation.” Since as long as capitalism was criticized and fought as exploitation, we were still in the emergence phase of modern capitalism, as our epoch-classifier opines: the workers simply wanted a larger share of value, but did not want to abolish the law of value. Kurz does not regard this opposition, which applies to the founding era of the trade unions, as a mistake that takes its revenge in the fact that the objective of a bigger share of value for the workers is never achieved, but on the one hand as a very rational thing in the material interests of the workers and on the other hand as a fundamentally irrational thing from the standpoint of abolishing the system: as long as a material interest is unsatisfied in capitalism, and workers want to get more for their labor, these materialists will always search for advantages in capitalism rather than engage in the higher task of abolishing the system. Only when no more damaged interests in capitalist society can be found at all, which give a good reason to abolish this shit, does space open up for people who have the higher standpoint that stands outside from the outset – space for radical critique without interests, for the anticapitalism of philosophers:

‘Work’ has lost its dignity; as occupational therapy, modern pyramid building, job fetishism and ruinous production only artificially keeps the globalized capitalist system, with its increasingly disastrous costs of business, running.” (ibid.)

The “completely senseless production for production’s sake” (I, p. 270) produces totally absurd stuff that nobody needs and is of no use to anyone, but also does no harm – other than its own cost of doing business; there is just as little of an exploiting ruling class to be seen as an exploited working class. Rather the victim is only work itself, i.e. its dignity: it potters about without meaning and purpose, indeed more and more without an actual product. The victim is secondly the nation and the politicians that believes it has everything under control with its power, but is actually “making reality unreal,” a ridiculous and frantic mechanism, which increasingly effects the society which it ostensibly governs (II. p. 160) The victim is ultimately the person caught in the subjectless end-in-itself machine of “capital” and thereby actually deceived only in one respect: he is hung up on the “bourgeois illusion of the subject” and believes he is a subject, who could be doing something right or wrong and imagines that it matters. Value is the real subject of this world: state and subject, capitalist and proletarian, are its “desubjectivized” puppets. For Kurz, people do not make themselves into tools of capital valorization through incorrect calculations about the economic means for their livelihoods, which are actually not at all their means. They do not have a false consciousness about their situation, but rather are unconscious puppets of value.

This painting of a more comical “desubjectification” and self-delusion of humanity is alleged to be the “value-form and fetish critique” of the “other, obscure, esoteric Marx, who by no accident the entire workers movement could never do anything with” (“Die Intelligenz nach dem Klassenkampf,” p. 17/18). In fact, the comments of the fetish fanatic Kurz read at first glance like an exaggeration, a pleonastic dissertation overloading Marx’s metaphors – but they aim at something entirely different than what the old economics critic wrote:

In the context of the Marxian critique of political economy, this economic value is determined purely negatively, as reified, fetishistic, divorced from any concrete sensuous content, an abstract and dead embodiment of past social labor in products, which in an immanent form-movement of exchange relationships, develops money as an ‘abstract thing.’ This value is the hallmark of a society which is not under its own control.” “In the production process … value operates … tautologically towards itself: the fetishism has become self-reflexive and thereby constitutes labor as an end-in-itself machine.” “The entire process of social and individual life is thereby subordinated to the horrible banality of money and its tautological self-movement.” This “is something hideous in and of itself. These monstrosities … ” (I, p. 17-19)

This is simply not correct. Value is quite positively determined in Marx’s theory: it is the capitalistic measure of wealth, which measures the quantity of expended labor, rather than what it would reasonably be from the standpoint of the usefulness of the labor: the ease of production and the relative superfluity of labor; with this measure of wealth it is determined that the only purpose of production and benefit of value-creating labor is the exclusive private access to social wealth, its augmentation and therefore the command over the labor of others. But that is not what matters to Kurz, even if he once noticed it somewhere; for him value is extreme abstraction, reification, the deprivation of conscious control. The law of value is actually an objective constraint generated by the private subjects themselves, which then redirects their economic activities. This led Marx to the metaphor of the commodity fetish. In Kurz’s presentation, it is not value that rules, but the fetish, not money, but the abstraction; and it does not interest him at all that to be “subordinated to the self-movement of money” means an 8 hour day, piecework and physical wear and tear. He finds it terrible that humans are subordinated to a banal thing. In the end, lives, vitality, pleasures and security of people are not the victims of capital, but solely and exclusively the dignity of the personally accountable philosopher’s subject: humanity. Contempt for the gnomes that humanity has become is clearly expressed: they play the undignified role of mice in the wheel in a “homicidal mad system” (I, p. 271); their vices – hedonism and consumerism – and their absurdly outdated virtues – workaholism and pride in their work (especially of people in the Eastern Bloc, II, p. 22-34) – chain them to this superfluous nonsense. Capitalism – a gigantic character weakness of its victims.

But wait! The historically reflective thinker does not condemn, he understands! – Even if he is presented with nothing but degeneration. For this he develops the art of looking at things from two sides.

Superfluous and elitist elucidation about the right moment in time

Everything Kurz talks about – value, money, Real Socialism and capitalist competition – is dreadful, monstrous, absurd, irrational and maniacal. Historically seen, everything is at the same time necessary, rational (relative to the developing conditions) and conducive to progress: the abstract monster Money is a “crutch of mankind” that now, but also only now and/or soon, will be discarded; the capitalistic end-in-itself machine has a “twofold nature” and is at the same time not an end in itself, but rather a “dynamizing emancipation machine,” and not even the harshly condemned Real Socialism can be called a mistake.

The statist sins of command- and subsidy-economy were also not ‘mistakes,’ but rather forced necessities in order to at least survive for a time in the shell of a commodity-producing world system. Were these structures dismantled, only a further and worse collapse process could follow … ” (I. p. 206)

The Soviet politicians with their “theoretical blindness, which takes an unreal Being of market categories for their non-existence” (I, p.77) “had to” “transform their fossilized war economies ... into a pile of junk incapable of reacting to stagnation” (I, p. 66) – and nevertheless always did everything right at the same time: the Mensheviks of 1917 get a seal of approval from Kurz, who regards the capitalist development of Russia as an historical necessity, as did Lenin’s Bolsheviks, because catching up with capitalist modernization was only to be carried out by revolution, statism and sealing itself off.

Indeed Lenin’s funeral orators, of whatever political hue, misjudged the historic nature of the October revolution because they shared the Leninist illusion and therefore projected alternatives into the past as if it were a matter of the ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’ willful intent of the acting subjects. The liberation from the coercive laws of the commodity form, i.e. the abolition of a blind conditionality which lies outside the subjects, is itself conditional.” (I, p. 53)

If in general everyone has always done everything correctly, or talking about correct and incorrect is pointless anyhow, because an absolute necessity leads any dispute about the right direction ad absurdum, politics as well as criticism are equally superfluous – as is the Kurzian. Until the “blind conditionality” is itself overcome, every criticism and correction is fruitless and misguided; but if one day the conditions for blind conditionality disappear by themselves, then criticism is again out of place.

The problem ultimately consists in the fact that the abstract logic of profitability, as it is inherent in the modern commodity and with it the so constituted world market, can not know and can not permit something like a politically induced strategy, i.e. one borne from merely willful decisions. … Because here it is a matter of the objective laws of the commodity logic … it is anyway senseless and absurd to want to argue and reason, as one would with a conscious subject, with the structural laws of commodity production. That it would be ‘reasonable’ to produce for the gratification of material needs, and not according to the abstract laws of profitability … the logic of the money form involves nothing that must therefore flout all pious wishes with that relentlessness, as it now simply follows ‘laws.’ ”(I, p. 196f)

The false theory of absolute unfreedom thrives on a confusion: in actuality one can not simultaneously have capital, world market and competition on the one hand and full employment, nutrition, development and whatever other high hopes there are about the social purposes of capitalism on the other hand. But that one could – once you no longer find it “rational” – altogether get rid of “commodity logic” and the international competition in which the various states and capitals impose accumulation and productivity increases on each other, the Real Socialists behind their iron curtain thoroughly demonstrated. Their labor and their products were removed from the capitalistic productivity comparison and the law of value was for a long time suspended, just as they wanted.

Kurz criticizes errors which are no longer made – and he criticizes them because they are no longer made. Conversely, he takes all the stupidities which are still in effect and shields them from criticism: the time for deeper insights is then apparently not ripe: “the system of commodity production is still a long way from the thresholds of crisis and abolition.” (I, p. 266)

Whoever today still represents the “labor movement socialism” historically condemned by Kurz – and everything he includes in this category from the critique of exploitation to class struggle – must allow himself to be told that he is a “glacier coming to a stop” from a bygone time and unable to comprehend the deeper ideas of Marx. But whoever had dared this yesterday and possibly communicated Kurz’s insights about the “inauthentic existence of the commodity category” to the supporters of a still Real Socialism is berated as a “bourgeois enlightener” who wants to ignore and skip over the historical necessity of the whole shit.

Addressing a left wing audience, Kurz engages in the pointless debate about the permissible moment for correct ideas: so long as they were needed because errors were believed and lived, correct thinking was prohibited: utopian rationalism; criticism is in its proper place and time when it is no longer needed because the believed error has dissipated anyway. When is the right moment to change the critical paradigm, none other than Kurz informs us: now! The man proclaims epochs. And he who first makes it, gets to name it. In relation to the rest of humanity he has thus a very elitist view of an allegedly absolute and hopeless entanglement in uncontrolled conditions; a position from which he can label as irrational the idiocies and dirty tricks which occupy humanity and which they engage in, designate and condemn them as such. His denunciation needs the same and he can not communicate it to those denounced like this. At the moment, they might in any case not see what he sees; later, the catastrophic development of crisis will make it impossible anyway for them to carry on as before. As long as they do not do that, the idiocies and dirty tricks apparent to him are for other people the appropriate way of processing the tasks set by history. His whole theory is supported by the low opinion of people, which for this disappointed workers’ movement optimist, has grown over time. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, once esteemed as the guarantor of the “possibility of socialism,” after the politics of the socialist states and parties and the uprising of the people have so shamefully abandoned their left wing interpreters, after the “subjective factor” has so fundamentally disgraced itself as a beacon of hope, he finds it in the “objective factor” that already unconsciously teaches the unconscious rabble that it can not go on this way: a very embittered theory of hope.

It is the sequel to Marxist-Leninist historical optimism, by way of its last resort: philosophy instead of politics. He avowedly no longer wants to educate the victims of capitalism about their lousy conditions so that they can get rid of it. His undiminished urge to communicate is aimed at a different audience and offers different “insights”: instead of critique with a practical intent, Kurz offers perspectives with impractical intent. For an audience that wants nothing more, he becomes the Hegel of our day: “the consciousness of our time”: if capitalism will historically destroy itself, then the only thing that matters is to stay on a mentally elevated level and to consciously witness the inevitable failure of unreason.