The Subject of Freedom at the End of History: Socialism Beyond Humanism
19 Pages Posted: 8 Dec 2007
The postmodernist turn in theory left the status of humanism in some doubt. This chapter argues that a recuperation of a specifically socialist humanism is both possible and desirable, but only by overcoming the anthropocentrism of radical humanism. Renaissance and Enlightenment conceptions of the subject were rooted in an untenable dichotomy between the human and the animal, in ways that vitiated the idea and ideal of universal freedom. By conflating subjectivity as such with human subjectivity, humanism created a diremption in the world that placed the knower (human consciousness) on one side, and the merely known (objectified Nature) on the other. Marxism and socialist humanism reproduced this error in ways that have undermined the socialist vision of universal emancipation, misconstrued the nature of the subject, and overlooked the significance of human domination of other animals. The author advocates a new approach, what he calls metahumanism, to affirm a two-sided freedom in which the liberation of other animals from human oppression, and the emancipation of ourselves as animals - that is, the restoration of the sensual dimension of existence, free sexual expression, and valorization of the labor and love of the body - would become central features of a new movement for civil and cultural reform.
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