Modernity being based upon the philosophy of Descartes takes the human as a radical individual whose meaning and existence cannot be defined in relation to external contexts or tradition born into, and as such philosophical and political thinking has to try and justify why these individuals live together without a web of society within which they are born, and are an intrinsic part of.
It is in the light of this that the likes of Hobbes, Rousseau, Locke, Smith, Kant, Hume etc can be seen. The entire philosophical heritage from the Enlightenment onwards can really be lumped together as the Liberal tradition (or anti-tradition tradition.)
So, once you have these bizarre individuals you have to then explain why they come together in society. So we have the development of the state of nature, social contract theory, the Hobbesian state etc. My thinking on why this occurred is linked to de Jouvenel’s mechanism and the rise of bureaucracies, which makes Descartes an intelligent rationaliser of order’s destruction and replacement with leftism, not a fountain head.
The problem is, this gets worse, because all of those social groups now taking over governance as part of the Enlightenment (the bureaucracies, universities and the rising elite,) now have to make sense of this process which they don’t even understand themselves, and from this you get all of the philosophy of the likes of Kant, Hume and Smith – they are trying to make sense of why these radical individuals should live together, and how they function. So we see Smith’s invisible hand and Smith’s and Hume’s ethics determining that society is comprised of individuals operating on desires (see modern consumerism.)
Then, to make things even worse, you have the fact that this rising class of bureaucrats did so in conflict with the monarchical governance system and hierarchy of society (whilst being promoted by the very same monarchy – see De Jouvenel) which meant that they operated in constant conflict with the idea of reason lead governance, and in place put forward scientific governance AKA republicanism and democracy, and then socialism and communism. Now, these political systems by default select for a specific set of metaphysics and assumptions that are inescapable, these are determinism, materialism, atheism and a rejection of reason (reason in the classical sense.) That this is so is because to have a system which operates on rules as governance, or on any other form of algorithm, the constituent parts must be mechanisable and predictable. So, when you look at the early proponents, then all subsequent proponents, of democracy and republicanism, there is a strong streak of determinism and materialism. That you can get from Descartes to the likes of Karl Marx by stripping it of all its unprincipled artefacts (such as dualism) and then adding British Empiricism is not that difficult, in fact Marx and Engels make this point here in an essay which has to be read to believe. I will provide some select quotes below for the reader to get an idea of what the essay is saying:
“Mechanical French materialism adopted Descartes’ physics in opposition to his metaphysics. His followers were by profession anti-metaphysicians, i.e.,physicists.”
“Materialism is the natural-born son of Great Britain. Already the British schoolman, Duns Scotus, asked, “whether it was impossible for matter to think?”
In order to affect this miracle, he took refuge in God’s omnipotence, i.e., he made theology preach materialism. Moreover, he was a nominalist. Nominalism, thefirst form of materialism, is chiefly found among the English schoolmen.
The real progenitor of English materialism and all modern experimental science is Bacon. To him natural philosophy is the only true philosophy, and physicsbased upon the experience of the senses is the chiefest part of natural philosophy. Anaxagoras and his homoeomeriae, Democritus and his atoms, he often quotes as his authorities. According to him the senses are infallible and the source of all knowledge. All science is based on experience, and consists in subjecting the data furnished by the senses to a rational method of investigation. Induction, analysis, comparison, observation, experiment, are the principal forms of such a rational method.”
“In its further evolution, materialism becomes one-sided. Hobbes is the man who systematises Baconian materialism.”
“Hobbes had systematised Bacon without, however, furnishing a proof for Bacon’s fundamental principle, the origin of all human knowledge and ideas from the world of sensation.”
“It was Locke who, in his Essay on the Humane Understanding, supplied this proof.”
“Just as Cartesian materialism passes into natural science proper, the other trend of French materialism leads directly to socialism and communism.”
Communism and socialism as you see have every right to call themselves scientific as they apply the very same precept of human cognition and existence present in the philosophy of science to human governmental affairs, there is no escaping this.
From the essay, you can also get a strong sense that Marx is fully aware all of these thinkers and this enlightenment tradition is seeking for confirmation for what they are already doing:
“Locke’s treatise [was] welcomed enthusiastically like a long-awaited guest”
“His followers [Descartes] were by profession anti-metaphysicians, i.e.,physicists.”
“ The positive sciences broke away from metaphysics and marked out their independent fields. The whole wealth of metaphysics now consisted only of beings of thought and heavenly things, at the very time when real beings and earthly things began to be the centre of all interest. Metaphysics had become insipid. In the very year in which Malebranche and Arnauld, the last great French metaphysicians of the seventeenth century, died, Helvétius and Condillac were born.”
The image most people seem to operate from with regard to philosophical and intellectual trends is that something occurs which is evidently correct and to which everyone else then acquiesces to, but in reality this is absurd. For any orderly development of philosophical systems, you need a single person or organisation to monitor the internal consistencies and rationality of the thought; the enlightenment was, and still is, a protestant like splurge of justificationary nonsense tacked together to legitimise destruction and idiocy; simply no one was and is in charge so the internal motion propelling Liberalism is destruction of order and cancerous growth.
So once you are part of the rolling chaos called Liberalism which is undirected and mindless your options are to oppose it by seeking to end it though the restoration of reason to governance or to legitimise it though unfounded gibberish. That it is all unfounded by Liberalisms own rules is fully acknowledged by postmodernism.
If you seek to end it, you have to restore classical reason as noted by the likes of Strauss. If you wish to legitimise this nonsense, you have to develop materialist and determinist nonsense based on “science” to justify why no one can be in charge. Of the latter route, modernity is full of it from all angles, and attempts are underway to develop new versions via such things as Blockchain governance which will be lapped up by the existing roiling chaos of Liberalism the minute it is reformatted to provide academic jobs for Liberals. The other option is to push it through as a conservative revolution and to repeat the experience of the American revolution and the Reformation. All Liberal conservative revolutions lead to greater pozz due to the systemic anti-reason “don’t tread on me” bullshit they apply. So it is great that neoreaction is pretty much materialistic and deterministic – goodbye Carlyle! Hello Marx!
Tell me again…why does it have reaction in the name?