|Theory In Practice|
Guide To A Solid Foundation
|Publisher||The House Publishers|
|Publication date||2010 (Lovia)|
|Genre||Non-fiction > Philosophy; Sociology|
|Media type||Print (paperback)|
|Rating(s)|| La Quotidienne|
½ readers' review
The Noble City Times
The Lovian News
|Preceded by||White King/Black King|
|Followed by||Lovian Dialogues (with Y.A. Donia)|
Theory In Practice is a Lovian political essay by Yuri Medvedev, published August 27th, 2010 by The House Publishers. It is a response to the ongoing debates between various people who call themselves socialist in one way or another. The base premise of the work can be summarized as "any (socialist) policy needs a theoretical base in order to be consistent". Medvedev argues that socialism should be more than just a political view. The main reason for Medvedev to write the work was the publication of Californication by Ferenc Szóhad.
Relation to Lovian politics Edit
Medvedev's latest work is like his previous book closely connected to Lovian politics. The first chapter of the book can be read as an attack on the ideological claims of the other dominant parties. Fiercely fencing with terminology and definitions. Many Lovian politicians were not amused by the prime minister's tackle of established values and some speculate it might hurt his career. The second chapter focuses on modern capitalism and is even more critical, especially towards the current organization of our society.
Medvedev however contested the idea of his book being an assault and insists Theory In Practice is to be read as an answer to an internal affair of the left side. Ferenc Szóhad only just published his Californication which caused some upheaval with other socialists, most notably Jon Johnson. Medvedev says he used that opportunity to promote a strong theoretical base to underly all leftist policies.
Chapter One: On Ideology Edit
In the first chapter - which is in fact a preface that grew too big - Medvedev begins with explaining the need for accepting what he calls our 'human condition', the fact that our life is without meaning. From this premise he derives that a philosophy should not defend 'an ultimate good' but rather focus on emancipation loose from the nature of the good:
- As I already stated in the final chapter of my previous publication, our lives are initially without meaning. And however this might at first sight sound pessimistic, the embracing of this idea allows us to throw away ideological and religious dogma and replace them by the search for truth. In stead of trying to define 'the ultimate good' we could work with operational definitions of what is good, in the sense of 'better than'. Ultimately, the question of the validity or invalidity of human emancipation is of no importance; except for the focus on that emancipation as a condition for responsible philosophy.
The chapter concludes by defining individuals and their notion of 'the real' as products of society as a whole. Medvedev even goes as far as saying that it is 'not natural for us to behave as responsible individuals nor (is it) unnatural'. We simply learn to be individuals as society forces that view upon us, argues Medvedev:
- Ideology is to be seen as the symbolic representation of the imaginary relation between an individual and its real conditions. Try to think of it this way: when is someone a religious person? Is it sufficient to take the person's word for it or would you expect him/her to 'commit acts of religiousness'? In other words, we construct reality in an ideological way; by means of ritualistic acts and symbolic concepts. This implies however that our notion of the real is more than a product of our interaction with or analysis of our environment; it is society itself that shapes our ideas and desires and only by understanding the underlying principles steering society, one can discover truth. The most important lesson we need to draw from this is that a theory of what people are like can never be prior to a theory of how they come to be that way.
Chapter Two: Capitalism As A Result Of Endued Rationalism Edit
The second chapter focuses on how Western civilization has always been dominated by an instrumental rationality. This worship of Logic has, according to the book, caused a huge impact on the way we perceive reality. The principles were already explained in the previous chapter, here Medvedev continues on the contrast between old theories and the contemporary situation:
- Classical marxism, still the mother of all socialist theory, predicted the collapse of capitalist society due to its internal contrast between the creation of wealth and the exploitation of the masses. It never happened. Today the capitalist structures are still dominant, though less visibly present. The emancipating momentum of the Enlightenment - which was a mutual base for liberalism and socialism - had come to a stop. The vision of a society entirely organized by logic was highjacked and used to conceive new forms of slavery. Reasonability was robbed of its perspective and thus became Reason enthroned.
Further on, chapter two makes a detailed analysis of the stronghold behind capitalism. It pinpoints the locations of modern suppression mechanisms, linking logic positivism and pragmatism to everyday conformism:
- Capitalism, the modern state and its bureaucratic dominance are all expressions of Western rationalism. The economic structures have fortified themselves by taking out the objective basis for revolutionary practice; the individual has been isolated and his critical thinking was put to an end. The 'individual freedom' we are all so proud of is nothing more than a hoax, we all have always-the-same. All of this was possible through the cultural industry which is affirmative in nature. Mass culture is used to suppress the negation of the status-quo by implementing a false consciousness. This definition of freedom which is forced upon us is characteristic for a society of mass consumption, where people recognize themselves in the goods they posses. Consumerism, which the whole cultural industry is part of, is used as a form of social control through a cult of status symbolism. One is what one possesses, so goes the capitalist logic.
Chapter Three: An Alternative Theory Edit
In the final chapter of the book the author proposes to focus theory on society as a whole in its historical specificity; theory should explain how society came to be what it is, give a critical analysis of contemporary phenomena and show us how things can be altered for the better:
- We are in need of a self-aware social criticism that aims to change and emancipate through enlightenment. The old contradiction between idealism and materialism must be lifted by recognizing their interaction, thus combining them into a material theory of social evolution with an underlying mechanism of social construction that follows phenomenological tradition. Such a theory can only work if we break down another barrier put up by agents of instrumental rationality: the division between normative and practical thought. New theory should not only provide us with an analysis of the flaws in current societal organization, it must indicate actors for social change and define clears norms for future change. Only then can men be emancipated from the conditions that enslave him.
Besides the lay-out of an alternative view and the conclusion, chapter three also contains a notable reference to the practice of dialectics that supports the theoretic approach:
- In the theoretical construct behind this book, the practice of dialectics is used as a scientific method. Dialectics make use of the tendency of each system to be driven towards change by the tension created by characteristics ab initio present in that system. Notions should thus be derived from the state of their internal dynamic and their relation with other notions. This view is quite clearly opposed to the isolated abstractions with fixed properties used by positivism, materialism and determinism.