marxism, platonism, and the phenomenology of the blue pill
June 15, 2015 § 1 Comment
It’s actually a shame that libertarians in the manosphere so often confuse Marxism and what they call “cultural Marxism,” because, weirdly enough, Marx’s theoretical framework actually provides a pretty elegant and compelling explanation for what the blue and red pills are.
As Althusser explained, “ideology is your imagined relationship to your actual conditions of existence.” I can’t think of a better description of the blue pill. An argument could be made that the blue pill was Marx’s “superstructure of belief” which once explained your experience of biological and material reality, or what he called “the material base.” The blue pill was simply yesterday’s superstructure which explained your experience of gender and the sexual market place.
According to Marx, we participate in a system in which our basic needs are met, but what we believe about that system will always be at odds with what is objectively true about it. This is how it must be since at no time can we ever have perfect and complete knowledge which would entirely explain a given social arrangement. To do so would make us omnipotent. We participate in a wider system at all times whose big picture is never fully comprehended, not by anyone. Instead of actually understanding it, we have an abstract map of our social universe which we confuse with our actual social universe.
We could call this “ideology.” It is a representation of reality that we confuse with reality itself in much the same way that we might confuse a trompe l’oeil painting of a window with an actual window if we viewed it from far away. If this seems reminiscent of the allegory of the cave and the prisoners who confuse the shadows on the wall with the things which cast them, that’s because, in my interpretation, they describe precisely the same thing.
Since the means of production and everything else which conditions our actual and immediate experiences of biological and material reality will evolve and change, our beliefs about it will veer further and further from the underlying reality until the point where our abstract map can no longer adequately explain our experiences or provide a means for us to integrate successfully and have our needs met. At this point, revolution, of whatever kind, becomes “inevitable.”
Think about what the blue pill provider ideal is like for the chump who buys into it. Think back to the experience of your own conditioning. He experiences an actual objectively quantifiable relationship both to women and to the wider society in which he participates, but that actual condition is obscured behind the screen of ideology. All his experiences are contextualized according to cultural myth and an elaborate system of ready-made rationalizations, and this provides not only an explanation for what he experiences, but an explanation of who he is in relation to it. It supplies him with a set of socially acceptable identities and this structures his entire life. He’s like the proverbial fish in water who doesn’t know it’s in water because it’s never left the pond. He is the prisoner in the cave who has never turned his head around and so he never suspects that the shadows are not the real itself, but the artifacts of the socially constructed models of reality.
Ideology or the superstructure of belief, we accept Althusser’s definition, is never recognized as ideology by the ideologue, but is mistaken for reality itself. It is not a system of normative ethical doctrines or conscious beliefs, but quite the opposite. It’s not the beliefs he has consciously and deliberately chosen by way of reason, but the unexamined and unnoticed background against which those conscious beliefs were adopted. It’s what he takes for granted and assumes to be “real,” meaning that it is never questioned or noticed at all. It is the foundation on which his conscious beliefs are adopted, or maybe we could say that his conscious beliefs, opinions, convictions and so on are predicated and determined by ideology.
For men in a modern post-industrial and contraceptive revolution West to begin to question their conditioning and their previous understanding of themselves and women is really no different than the emerging proto capitalist middle class of feudal Europe who, having over generations evolved from serfs to prosperous yeomen to merchants and property holders, finally came to realize that their theology which had once explained their condition as a serf could no longer adequately explain their new reality as merchants. The protestant reformation attempted to reinterpret Christian theology in a way that would accord with their new interests and experiences. The superstructure of belief which had explained feudalism had to be revised in order to explain an emerging capitalist political and social modernity. It’s the same shit.
Marx’s theory of the superstructure, if we dispense with some of its more questionable particulars, coincides nicely with Platonic epistemology contra Aristotle (and thus Randian) epistemology as well.
What do women and relationships look like to a blue piller? He experiences them directly, a la Aristotelian epistemology, so he must know women and relationships for what they truly are.
Or could we say that the blue piller experiences, not women and relationships, but their shadows, a la Platonic epistemology? Plato is arguing that the red pill exists and can be taken, the actual woman can be known once the woman he experiences is recognized as an abstract shadow which he mistook for the actual woman. Aristotle, or somebody like wittegenstein, is arguing that the only woman that exists is the one the blue piller experienced. There is no red pill to take.
In the example I’ve given you, is the red pill sensory or non-sensory?
The point here is that you never experience reality directly, you only get an image of it, reality’s recreation by your senses which appears on the stage of your mind, a representation of reality, not reality itself, at least to the extent that it is merely seen rather than understood. It is partially seen and partially understood. Outside of the cave we find the forms, or abstract patterns which explain the seen, inside the cave we find the shadows, which are what is seen but not understood. Everything we behold is the synthesis of seen and understood, a contradiction, or two opposing dialectical opposites collapsed into one space when the synthesis, or phenomena, is confused with the reality it represents, or noumena.
Look at an optical illusion like an the image of the old woman that is simultaneously the young woman. If you hadn’t seen the old woman or the young woman, think about what happened there. The illusion isn’t in your eyes, but in your brain. It’s a logical illusion, not an optical one. What you *understood* limited and determined what you could *see* in physical reality either on a page or on your computer screen. You had to understand the image before you could see it for what it was. That is how only one woman can appear at first and not the other.
Well it’s the same for blue pill experiences of women. To have relationships with them but to view them through blue pill conditioning is to only see the old woman without suspecting the young woman is there. What you understand limits and determines what you can see and therefore experience. If what is actually there is never seen by anyone because it is not understood, like prisoners in the cave who know only the shadows and can never turn their heads around, then for all intents and purposes, we would never know it exists, the shadows of women or anything else would be mistaken for reality. But the reality exists all the same and can be known even if nobody ever knows it.
So how could we argue, as Aristotle (or Ayn Rand) does, that concepts are intrinsically a derivative of reality? Reality itself cannot even be seen, let alone known, without an a priori conceptual framework. Sense data is organized into a pattern of information by the machinery of consciousness. It’s a version of reality that humans get, not reality itself. Reality as we are capable of experiencing it begins as much in the mind which attempts to perceive it as it does in the world external to the mind. All that we experience as it is experienced does not begin outside of the mind or inside of it, but rather is what emerges out of the interaction of mind and the world it perceives. Experience, of women or anything else, is thus an emergent property of the relationship between what is perceived and the faculty of consciousness which perceives it.