Voltaire's Bastards Anonymous 2022-03-13 (Sun) 09:06:55 No. 10040 [Reply]
I have recently started reading "Voltaire's Bastards, the Dictatorship of Reason in the West" by John Ralston Saul and I would like to start a thread to further discuss the book. I haven't read too much of it, however it does seem to possit a rather unique worldview and critique of modern (and by modern I mean last 200 years modern) political theory.
The book mainly possits that Reason, which first rose as an ideological tool to combat the divine right of the absolutist rule of the feudal monarchs, had mutated over the years into becoming the same type of tool of social control, a modern cult to justify the divine right of the technocrats. According to Ralston, this extends to all modern ideologies, as in his eyes communism, socialism, capitalism, fascism or nazism are all the same sort of ideologies of absolute solutions, trying to enforce their own types rationality and reason onto the world, while in the end reinforcing the same sort of rule of technocrats, be they soviet politburo or western business elites. The book seems to be written from a rather idealist position, as to Ralston the main feature of the current age is the absolute dominance of Reason, which prohibits any critiques of the current order by either making it seem irrational and thus mute, or by entangling it into its own language of rationality. The book states that the worst part is that other perspectives of human thought in decision making that lay outside reason have all been marginalized - things like humanism, common sense, emotion or faith - and deemed lower than the perspective of reason. I originally started reading the book as it seemed like it makes a good attack against the technocratic mindset of capitalism deffenders, which I rather struggled in arguing against when I encountered it, however from what I read, the book also raises claims against the validity of Marxism, and is set to lump it in together with the capitalist ideology. So, I was wondering, are there any Marxist replies to Ralston? Because what I read right now seems like a really prophetic critique of neoliberalism (the book came out right after the fall of USSR), thus its making me want to at least revisit my Marxist positions and see if they hold up.