The Evolution of Socialist Strategies

hicks-ep-chart-56-evolution-of-socialist-strategies-200x283Or: “From Marx to the Neo-Rousseauians.”

The flowchart is from the end of Chapter 5 of my Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault, summarizing the argument developed in that chapter.

Click the image to enlarge.

More excerpts are available at the Explaining Postmodernism page.

[This is an excerpt from Stephen Hicks’s Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault (Scholargy Publishing, 2004, 2011). The full book is available in hardcover or e-book at See also the Explaining Postmodernism page.]

10 thoughts on “The Evolution of Socialist Strategies

  • November 17, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    Marxism claimed to be a “science.” In science, when a theory doesn’t work out, when predictions made from that theory prove false again and again, the search begins for new explanations. But if you have a religious belief in the absolute truth of your theory and you want to believe it at all costs, you have to Move the Goal Posts.

    As you showed in “Explaining Postmodernism”, many Marxists simply abandoned reason. Since the collapse of socialism, they no longer have a positive program. All that is left is their hatred of the capitalist system and their desire to destroy it. That leads to another line of action: Environmentalism.

    A search for environmentalism+”social justice” yielded 898,000 hits. Van Jones, the Obama administration’s “Green Czar” who was forced to resign when his membership in radical organizations became known is just one of many.

  • November 17, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    Is there a place somewhere in most of those stages for:

    Disregard the “values” [pl.] of human life;

    Subordinate those values?

  • January 10, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    I’ve never seen anything ANYWHERE so hilariously fallacious. This is nothing but a direct attempt at discrediting the evolution of modern society (e.g. environmentalism – realising that traditional, wasteful Western industry/processes is unsupportable – and equality – i.e. the Civil Rights movement and Women’s Lib) are nothing more than “the latest trick those sneaky Reds are up to”.

    Your analysis reminds me of Plato or Aristotle. You are a self-described philosopher, and not a historian or sociologist. You simply “think for a living”, and have somehow come up with the idea that “terrorism” is (implicitly) synonymous to “communism”. It is arrogant for you to talk outside of your field of expertise.

  • February 15, 2010 at 12:33 am

    lol this is the worst post ever, seriously? If marx were alive today he would say that material conditions were not sufficient to enable socialism.

    Notice how the internet HAS enabled some forms of socialism (piracy), now if and when that happens to matter and energy capitalism will evolve to the next level and marx will come back into vogue once again.

    The future will be determined by technology and not ideology.

  • April 26, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    Never mind the ad hominem criticism. Marxist thinking is ingrained in millions of public school graduates. They haven’t objectively studied the horrific fruits of Marxism/Leninism/Maoism from 20th century history, and they often fall for the phony assertion that socialism is a Christian invention.

    Christ never encouraged government confiscation of wealth for redistribution. God commanded the children of Israel to make a provision for the poor to glean. From Genesis to the Epistles, the Bible teaches the one who can work for his sustenance should do so. What was given as law in the Old Testament is commended to us an act of love in the present age, not for nations but for individuals of good conscience.

    Marx’s god was human will. That god has failed miserably and wrought destruction for millions of people, but that won’t stop millions of dialectically-minded American materialists from trying to synthesize a Utopia from that insane logos.

  • May 24, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    What is amazing to me is the seemingly inherent ability for mankind’s own ability to self-servingly delude itself at will.

    Ir does not matter to which camp you personally subscribe, from Nietzsche to Freud, Socialism to Communism….. they all share the same error in critical thinking. The error being simply that all inconvenient evidence not supportive of the view is ignored. I shall pick on Nietzsche, as his viewpoint is both prevalently accepted and logically inept.

    To Nietzsche…. Neither herbivores nor carnivores made it to the top of the food chain, or are even dominant as a life form on this planet… Those sharing traits of both are…. Omnivores.

    Unlimited carnivore populations are inherently unsustainable as is demonstrated EVERYWHERE in nature, and therefore are a trait which those whom believe in evolution would state are a trait to be on the whole weeded out by natural selection. Carnivores are more liable to die out in an ecology BEFORE the herbivore. Omnivores tend to outlive both. The number of carnivores supported by the ecology is strictly dependent upon the number of herbivores upon which it preys.

    Neitzsche viewed the world as an “either or”, comparing men to carnivores (lions) or herbivores (lambs), ignoring the traits he viewed as weak to actually NOT be herbivorous in nature, but OMNIVEROUS.

    We, as humans are dominant NOT because of rational thought, but because of our ability and desire to be individuals whom will cooperate as a group.

    IE the ability to think as BOTH the individual AND the herd at the same time. What Neitzsche failed utterly to recognize was that the traits he hated in mankind, are demonstrably the very traits that make mankind dominant, combining the survival traits from both predator and prey.

  • May 25, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    To Frank Firth: What does the concept of socialism have to do with the evolution of modern society? Socialism, economically, is a planned economy. Politically, it is the age-old attempt to place the interests of society above that of the individual, for which MANY crimes have been committed in the name of.

    The Age of Reason and Enlightenment pioneered sociology and showed humanity a new way, where individuals are responsible for themselves, not society. It is a simple application of reason. Only individuals are capable of will. Society is not. Ergo, only individuals can make the best decisions for themselves, not society, or any group or organization, including church and state.

    Socialism is a reactionary attempt to undermine the Age of Reason, a reactionary movement from Eastern Europe. It is nothing new, but archaic, and very ancient, practiced more so by the Romans and Greeks and Persians, all states they held society’s interests above that of the individual, and that society is best controlled by inellectuals that are qualified.

    That is the old idea. The new idea is that evolution works, natural selection is proven, and the individual by the rules of evolution is best suited to run his or her own life without any higher authority. The new idea is that laws are created to protect individual property, and retrain the institutions (government) that enforce the will of the individuals of society.

    Nor is socialism the opposite of capitalism. I disagree with some aspects of the post as well, because capitalism is a form of socialism, or rather, micro-socialism, where the means of production is controlled by the few. Macro-socialism would be the USSR, where the whole state was the corporation as well.

    Neither is effective, or new, or even desirable in a modern liberal society that respects individual liberty. Frankly, Frank, you’re not thinking outside the box, and are posting with equal ignorance to the one you attack.

    And it is arrogant for you to even suggests that this subject is too complicated for the layman. It is not. No “field of expertise” is necessary. That is blatant elitism on your part.

  • May 25, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    Paul, no, thinking is not done on a herd level. The actual act of will is exclusively and demonstratively individual, not collective. (What happened to critical thinking?) While some animal instincts may cause a cascade failure of willpower amongst the masses, this is my no means suggests the “herd” is capable of thinking.

    The rest of your post is an interesting idea, but nothing more. Carnivores weed out the herbivores, or the herbivores would overgraze and overproduce. You’re not thinking on a macro level, the big picture, nor is this even very applicable to human sociology, which is well above such notions. When the weak can use a complex mathematically engineered weapon (a gun) to contend with the strong, all bets are off.

    And no, it is rational thought that makes us the dominate species. Animals can cooperate in a group, and are stronger for it, thus a pack of wolves. They require no rational thought for this. It is entirely rational thought that makes us dominate.

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