On Praxis and Technology. Discussions in the Gramsci Group.

Our Gramsci group met yesterday to discuss Gramsci’s Notebooks 16 to 18.  I want to share a page from Heidegger I have just run across which bears heavily on yesterday’s discussion, and this in reference not just to Gramsci and his uncanny representation of the integral State (in Notebook 17), defined by Gramsci himself as a totalitarian endeavor indistinguishable from a “total world conception” akin to religion and from the Party (the jointure of Party, State, and World Conception [itself organized by the philosophy of praxis and its pedagogical projections] is the integral State), but also in reference to Marx’s notions in the Preface to Contribution to a Critique of Political Economy, which means, indirectly, to whatever is meant by “practice” in the Theses on Feuerbach—that is, practice as the endless enactment of material forces enabled by a historical unfettering, which might for the first time produce history, as opposed to the pre-history of the former modes of production.  And it will be productive practice or no practice at all.  The historical-materialist reduction of the notion of praxis, far from being a break with and from metaphysics, is in fact the attempt at a fateful enactment of the will to will, before Nietzsche came up with his own formulations regarding the last doctrine of Being (“imprinting Being with the stamp of Becoming,” etc.).  From this perspective, particularly when we understand the philosophy of praxis as the political mobilization of living, productive labor, we understand that the agency here is not really the Communist Party, but rather that the Communist Party is itself a configuration of metaphysical Being, one of the configurations of the will to will in modernity, perhaps one of the most effective (except that it failed everywhere). But then of course its cold-war alternative, which ended up reconfigured as neoliberalism, has also failed and is now driving our planet into self-destruction.  Here is the quotation from Heidegger’s 1944 Seminar on Logic (Heraclitus’s Doctrine of the Logos):  

“the sciences of inanimate and animate nature, and also the sciences of the historical and its works, are ever more clearly developing themselves in a manner akin to how the contemporary human uses explanations to gain mastery over the ‘world,’ the ‘earth,’ ‘nature,’ ‘history,’ as well as all else, in order to then use these explained sectors according to plan (or need) for a securing and bolstering of the will to become master of the world in the sense of ordering it.  This will is the ground and essential domain of modern technology: a will which, in all planning and examining and in all that is willed and attained, only wills itself, all the while equipped with the ever-increasing possibility of this self-willing.  Technology is the organization and the enactment of the will to will.  The varied forms of humanity, peoples, and nations—these groups and the individual members of whom they are comprised—are everywhere only what is willed by this will, and not themselves the origin and caretaker of this will.  Rather, they are merely its often unwilling enactors” (Heidegger, Heraclitus 147). 

For a long time I was puzzled by Heidegger’s seeming unwillingness to take on the task that in Letter of Humanism he claims as our most important task, the most important task of the age: a confrontation with Marxism.  I am now coming to realize that, from a certain perspective, Heidegger did nothing else.  It is up to us to extract the consequences. 

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