Such materialist naivety, ironically enough, is precisely what makes so much of Neel’s initial neo-Marxist analysis of America’s post-industrial cultural wasteland so compelling and accurate, as it strips the more superficial aspects of contemporary “culture” bare to expose the brutal economic logic which frames so much of our “long crisis.” Nevertheless deeper cultural realities exist, even beneath the secondary layer of the economic brute events that Neel believes, incorrectly, are the key to forging a new class consciousness in a post-industrial age.
Neel and others on the left are correct when they diagnose the racial resentments of the far right – resentments that are frequently manipulated by elites to divide cohorts of wage earners who would otherwise be natural allies. These are, to some degree, petty obfuscations of economic reality. But the hard truth is that this economic analysis still ignores the deeper distinctions between groups which inevitably prevent the establishment of genuine “class solidarity.” However, contra the far right, these distinctions are not based upon the superficialities of “blood and soil” – to believe this is fundamentally to affirm something that is just another version of materialism. Rather, the distinctions are based upon the mytho-poetic imagination of particular cultures and civilizations: imaginations which are ultimately derived from peculiar religious traditions and which subconsciously frame the symbolic orders and value systems of particular peoples.
Without shared foundational assumptions of what constitutes “the good,” assumptions which can, when one is being honest with oneself, only be provided by religious revelation, no real and lasting solidarity that transcends the superficial is possible.
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