On June 5, Pablo Iglesias hosted Perry Anderson on the interview show Otra Vuelta de Tuerka. Reversing the usual format of the show, Anderson posed questions to the host on the "specificity of Spain as a country, as a political culture, and as a situation today."
The catastrophic collision of two dissolving anterior modes of production — primitive and ancient — eventually produced the feudal order which spread throughout mediaeval Europe. That Western feudalism was the specific result of a fusion of Roman and Germanic legacies was already evident to thinkers of the Renaissance, when its genesis was first debated. Modern controversy over the question dates essentially from Montesquieu, who pronounced the origins of feudalism to be Germanic in the Enlightenment. Ever since, the problem of the exact "proportions" of the mixture of Romano-Germanic elements which eventually generated feudalism has aroused the passions of successive nationalist historians. Indeed, the very timbre of the end of Antiquity itself frequently altered according to the patriotism of the chronicler.
Historical materialism at its strongest has always been defined by its supersession of the antithesis between Romanticism and Utilitarianism which News from Nowhere, for all its splendour, reiterates. Marx wrote in the Grundrisse: "It is as ridiculous to yearn for a return to an original fullness as it is to believe that with this present emptiness history has come to a standstill. The bourgeois viewpoint has never advanced beyond this antithesis between itself and the romantic viewpoint and therefore the latter will accompany it as its legitimate antithesis up to its blessed end." This sense of the dialectical complementarity of Utilitarianism and Romanticism is what distinguishes classical Marxism from the many attempts by socialists at one time or another to construct an opposition to capitalism from either standpoint: denunciation of its irrationality or inhumanity alone. For each is capable of either progressive or reactionary "derivations" — Mill or Zola can be set against Carlyle or Barres, just as much as Shelley or Ruskin can be set against Ure or Spencer. There is no one "logic" of either tradition, each of which has proved capable of a rainbow of political metamorphoses. The duty of socialists today is not to pit one against the other yet again, but to set both intellectually in their changing historical settings and to prepare practically the conditions for the long-awaited blessing of their mutual end.
Western Marxism as a whole, when it proceeded beyond questions of method to matters of substance, came to concentrate overwhelmingly on study of superstructures. Moreover, the specific superstructural orders with which it showed the most constant and close concern were those ranking "highest" in the hierarchy of distance from the economic infrastructure, in Engels’s phrase. In other words, it was not the State or Law which provided the typical objects of its research. It was culture that held the central focus of its attention.
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