Chapter 6
History after Marx

Marx's philosophy was that of enlightenment, of which we have just recalled that the dominant initial characteristic was the emancipation of the citizen through access to education. Then, his aversion to the bourgeois system of which he was a part, however, is largely due to the failure of the social revolt of 1848 which aimed to concretize part of this ideal of enlightenment. From there, Marx advances two paths. At first, in The Communist Manifesto, he advocates the outright overthrow of the bourgeoisie, and the collectivization of productive assets. Then, in The Capital, he advocates a more moderate path, namely a state intervention of the social democracy type, to simply counter the excessive exploitation of workers by the capitalist bourgeoisie. Let us now see what history has unfolded, and the lessons we can learn from it.

The 20th century and its unfruitable experimentations

The additional knowledge linked to the development of the whole of the 20th century allows Thomas Piketty to show that without the support of wars, social struggle is not enough to ensure the reduction of inequalities. In other words, the system of regulation of the excesses of capitalism by the law proposed by Marx in Le Capital is not sufficient. What Marx already notes at the end of The Capital, namely the deficiencies in terms of its implementation, are systematic. We will see this in more detail in chapter 7.

In the same way, we must stop seeing the Thirty Glorious as a kind of lost golden age to which we could return, for example by a nationalist withdrawal. Indeed, this period is not the result of an irreversible social progress, but as Thomas Piketty shows, it is a simple transitory positive effect, a by product of the two great wars of the 20th century. And as a result, the current years are an inevitable return to normal, that is to say a shocking level of inequality, exactly as in the period of Marx.

Then, the experience of Soviet communism has shown us that the proletarian revolution advocated by Marx in Communist Manifesto did not solve anything by itself, that is to say that the basic problem was not that which exerted power, but how power is exercised. What underlies this error is to have considered that the class struggle, that is to say a particular form of the "us against them" struggle, was a constituent of human nature. However, as we saw in chapter 2, what is a constituent of human nature, inherited from our genetic evolution, is the struggle for social position. In other words, if we forcibly merge the two groups that were in intense struggle, namely the working class and the employers, the struggle does not stop, but other groups are formed which start to fight on another modality of "us against them", for example those of the party against others.

Conversely, the emergence of fascism has shown us the danger of the too weak regulation of capitalism by law. Indeed, this results in the inability to bring social organization to a morally satisfactory level vis-à-vis the expectations of the populations, which has increased as a result of technological progress. The result is a gradual distrust of the elites which fuels a rise in power of the populists, then their access to power, and finally the use of the dictatorship to maintain themselves there once the facts do not follow the promises. . This fatal escalation is underway again as we write this book.
When we compare this explanation of totalitarianism with the tripartition presented in the previous chapter, we see that a switch of social organization generally has two sources: on the one hand the real conditions of life, and on the other hand the symbolic representations.

Finally, May 68 can be seen as a dogmatic counter-reaction, aimed at imposing Rousseau's vision of a naturally good human whom society would corrupt. Hence a rejection of the symbolic social structures in place, namely the first two functions of Dumézil, the priestly in both its ecclesiastical and its academic form, martial in both its police and its capitalist form.
The problem with Rousseau's admittedly pleasant vision of humanity is that the scientific experiments in emerging sociology, which we mentioned in chapters 2 and 3, have definitively invalidated it in the 1950s.

More precisely, in the sixteenth century, geocentrism was the point of fixation of the revealed truth which opposed the birth of modern science, that is to say of the dogma which opposes reason. This led as an example to the conviction and execution of Giordano Bruno for heresy, and what shows that this is a fundamental problem and not the result of particular unfortunate circumstances is that four centuries later, Giordano Bruno has still not been rehabilitated by the Catholic Church. Today, Rousseauism has become the other form of dogma which opposes reason. In this new form, dogma is that of the idealized man of the Age of Enlightenment, and emerging science is sociology. The new religion is called coaching; it also promises us happiness, but starting during our life, on condition of replacing our critical sense with the religious application of cognitive behavioral recipes.

When we put together all these elements of experience brought by the 20th century, what appears is that the left political side, whether moderate or communist, is no longer a credible method or alternative to regulate in the duration, or to replace capitalism. But it must also be understood that capitalism itself is not a system capable of regulating its own excesses, therefore that it involves regular periods of war or totalitarianism. This amounts to saying that Marx does not provide a solution, but that letting it happen or pretending to reform the capitalist system without changing its nature is just as illusory.

In the end, the 20th centery appears as a century where we discover what is not working, but not really any solution beyond the invalidated proposals of Marx. The only significant advance is brought by Keynes who taught us that not only must we protect individuals from the perverse effects of capitalism, but also protect capitalism from itself by regaining control at the political level as soon as the system enters crisis. The problem is that this protection is effective in the short term to avoid rapid and massive collapse, but not in the longer term to avoid the sequence loss of confidence, then populism, then totalitarianism.

The 21th century and social networks

One of the highlights of the beginning of the 21st century is the emergence of social networks. We will not elaborate on the commercial purposes of the companies which provide this infrastructure, nor even with the risks which the massive profiling of people creates in out societies in the long term, but with the motivations of the individuals who take part in these social networks, and with the potential effect of these on social organization.

It seems clear to us that the main motivation for joining social networks, whether conscious or not, is the strategy of alliances, the engine of which is the objective of social advancement mentioned in chapter 2. The power of this instinct inherited from our genetic evolution explains perfectly why the membership in social networks was fast and massive, and that the problems of generalized profiling were ignored by the individuals.
Then, what seems striking to us about the potential effect of social networks on social organization is their similarity to the real world.
The documentary Caribbean Primates showed that individuals can either favor a benevolent network, which Chester did, or an aggressive network, which Tony did. We find exactly the same phenomenon at the level of social networks, where on the one hand there are networks of exchange of gossip or crowdfunding, and on the other of networks whose base is a common hatred.
Then, we saw that social exchanges in order to establish alliances, whether benevolent or aggressive, ultimately resulted in rhesus macaques by a permanent struggle. Again, social networks seem to us to have the same dynamic as the one in the real world. Either people adopt popularity as a criterion for social success, or they use the social network as a tool to make alliances in the real world, that is, to develop their network to ensure their social success in the real world. However, those who adopt popularity as a criterion for social success are in constant struggle for it.
Finally, one of the problems related to cognitive dissonance is that individuals tend to select their source of information according to their beliefs, which often leads them to maintain false convictions. Again, social networks are problematic, but the selection of the press we read or the TV channel we watch previously produced the same type of bias.
Finally, social networks have this apparent novelty that everyone can express themselves, which the print press and television did not allow, but which already existed at the level of any political or associative meeting.

In the end, social networks simply appear to us as a new media, which like the press, then the radio, then the television in their time, simply accelerates the speed of propagation of information, and therefore decreases the level of critical step back.
Should we therefore conclude like Gérard Bronner in The Democracy of the Gullible that the mass of information linked to the development of the Internet is reducing the level of veracity? In our opinion no, as long as we adapt the functioning of the professional media, as we will propose in chapter 20.

Our time

Before starting the description of the proposed solution, let us specify more precisely the context of the problem we are trying to solve, and for that, let's start by better defining what characterizes our time.


The most singular element of our time, compared to all the previous ones, and therefore also compared to that of Marx, is that the Earth has suddenly become the limiting factor of our development.
Now our current social organization, which we recall corresponds more or less to Marx's recommendations in The Capital, namely a regulation of capitalism by law, is also trying to settle the new ecological problem by law. This is the practical side. On the symbolic side, ecological sensitivity corresponds well to the expression of the need for a new social organization to master the consequences of the technological revolution, but this aspiration struggles to find a proposal for practical modalities. We find in ecology the same split that we had encountered in social justice. On the one hand, the hard guys who want to get out of capitalism, and on the other, the moderates who just want to amend it. In this sense, even if it speaks relatively little directly of ecology, we can see this book as a radical ecological proposal in the sense that its central object is the establishment of a social organization adapted to the modern technological level.


Conversely, once the major difference, that is the resilience of the current terrestrial ecosystem which has become the limiting factor of human development, has been eliminated, many elements of the present time, that of the second industrial revolution, are in continuity with the time of Marx, that is to say that of the first industrial revolution.

The second industrial revolution (computing and robotics) and the explosion of the means of communication simply amplifies the flip which had already taken place at the time of Marx: the main objective is no longer production but becomes to find at all costs outlets for products.

The chronic instability of the capitalist system persists. Marx asserted that this instability is inherent in capitalism, and despite the optimistic and peremptory declarations of economists convinced that we now understand how the system works, so we know how to regulate it, history, including recent history, proves Marx is right.

Changes are rapid, but contrary to popular belief, they are no faster than in the 19th century. Indeed, the upheavals linked to the arrival of the train were just as violent and rapid as those linked to the arrival of digital technology.

Let us now turn to the social aspect of our time.

The social structure of production has not fundamentally changed. Simply, after slavery and working class poverty, we now rely on the exploitation of a delocalized working class, mainly in Asia and Africa.

Social relations

The elites have become notoriously incompetent because they are digital illiterate. They are therefore unable to think about the organization and largely lose their credibility. This is an important difference from the time of Marx. At the time of the first industrial revolution, a boss who went around his factory could get a fairly precise idea of ​​the situation just by observing the functioning of machines and workers, and the flow of production. Conversely, in the digital age, the boss is very short-sighted. His image of the state of his computing system totally depends on what he is told and not on a direct observation. In addition, as soon as the production flow involves data and no longer merchandise, he becomes unable to organize it without calling on specialists.

The trade union elites are also overwhelmed, digital illiterate, incapable of thinking about the complementarity between man and machine (1). So the claims have gradually shifted from synonymous with progress to retrograde. Because of the unability to propose a model for the future, they have come to claim the return to an idealized past, or simply to seek the status quo.

In the end, before, people were for this or that system, now they are gradually becoming against the system but for nothing else. So we are witnessing, at the start of the 21st century, a return to populism without content, with the associated risks.
The successive phases of such a drift are:
1. No impression of social justice, ie the feeling that the elites do not deserve their position
2. We vote for an alternative man
3. Since he does not deal with the real subject, either he disappears or he becomes a tyrant.


The term "man-machine complementarity" corresponds to the fact that production is today ensured by a mixture of automated operations and manual operations. So, to obtain an efficient and quality production, it is important to ensure a good articulation between the two. However, we see too often that it is the automation side that is the object of the biggest investments, and that this leads to consider humans as simple complements of machines. This ultimately produces a deterioration in working conditions, exactly as Marx observed during the first industrial revolution. See the more complete explanation in chapter 15.