The Spirit of Capitalism And The Religion of Dehumanization
The soul of manThe individual person is no more. The independent, creative, personal, individual life exists only as romantic idea: a quality of life lived only the imagination of fantasy, movies, literature and myth. The real existence of the individual is that of a thing, a statistic, a quantum of labor, and market unit of disposable income. Capitalism's quest for profit and consumerism ethos has reduced every aspect of society- family, community, church, culture- to pure economic function and thereby defining what is reasonable, real, possible, good, and permissible. Theodor Adorno said of modern Capitalist society, "Life does not live."
From heaven it cometh,
To heaven it soareth.
And then again
To earth descendeth,
Capitalistic society has no real respect for what are uniquely human qualities and a priori destroys any basis for valuing personhood because of its ideological view that everything is analyzable, manipulability, and can be controlled by technological reason. Facts replace values, and goal setting replace individual purpose and meaning. This materialistic presupposition helped achieve Capitalist domination over all aspects of society by utilizing mathematical science, technology, and capitalist economics as its industrial-educational institutions formulated them. Philosophy, History, Psychology, Sociology, Art, and Literature are given lesser status, but still are forced into a positivist scientific model.
Economic struggle takes precedence over all other societal concerns. The ethos of struggle for economic survival overtakes every other individual human concern, even in an affluent society. "Things" are awarded rights and privilege and are the truly valued members of society. War as economic competition between every person is the first principle of community and is played out repeatedly in all other human relationships. Society is divided by vocation and then divided by class. Labor must battle against Capital. Wage earner is pitted against manager. Emigrants are in struggle against natural citizens. Renter is against owner. Family is against family. Woman is against woman. Man is against man. The Other becomes the means for the Self which requires necessarily the negation of the Other. So all relations with the Other is a relation with the enemy thereby transforming society into a contest of tyrannies. And even time itself is divided between free creative time and wage earning time . Every economic relationship inherently destroys any natural, or organic tendency to form community. The spirit of Capitalism encourages, rewards, and perpetuates through this social-Darwinist model of struggle sociopathic and antisocial behavior of every conceivable kind throughout civil societyThe belief in the necessity of social struggle and conflict is a rational view in an irrational context. This need for economic struggle is not the hallmark of individual dignity, independence, and freedom, but instead preserves total dependence and furthers the destruction of the human spirit and happiness. This universal false struggle for freedom is only necessary for keeping power concentrated in the control of capital interests and not of meeting real human need. Artificial dependency on fossil fuel is engineered, not because there are no alternative fuels, but because fossil fuel commodity production preserves capital, and therefore the power of a narrow economic interest. Even the nature of Labor itself in its present historical form is obsolete and the wage earner vs. Capitalist relationship is maintained not out of economic scarcity and necessity, but out of the need of Capitalism to maintain a false dependency of the individual on the exploitation of his, or her labor. Periodic "overproduction" of commodities result in cyclical unemployment in addition to deliberately maintained structural unemployment. Herbert Marcuse writes in One-Dimensional Man about the need, and even absurdity, of considering an alternative kind of economic organization, or mode.
(Aggressiveness in Advanced Industrial Society, Herbert Marcuse).
"New modes of realization are needed, corresponding to the new capabilities of society. Such new modes can be indicated only in negative terms because they would amount to the negation of the prevailing modes. Thus economic freedom would mean freedom from the economy-from being controlled by economic forces and relationships; freedom from the daily struggle for existence, from earning a living. Political freedom would mean liberation of the individuals from politics over which they have no effective control. Similarly, intellectual freedom would mean the restoration of individual thought now absorbed by mass communication and indoctrination, abolition of "public opinion" together with its makers. The unrealistic sound of these propositions is indicative, not of their Utopian character, but of the strength of the forces which prevent their realization. The most effective and enduring form of warfare against liberation is the implanting of material and intellectual needs that perpetuate obsolete forms of the struggle for existence."
ONE-DIMENSIONAL MAN: STUDIES IN THE IDEOLOGY OF ADVANCED INDUSTRIAL SOCIETY (1964); page 4.
How is the desire for liberation suppressed? Ideological rationalizations of the status quo are the most effective means of control. These rationalizations include scientific theory, social theory, and ethical-religious orthodoxy. Scientific and social theory is positivistic, inherently uncritical and conservative- and approaches all things with a materialistic assumption, but in the process human beings become objectified and dehumanized. Ethical-religious orthodoxy is used to legitimize these rationalizations of actual social conditions as natural and reasonable. Any alternative explanation of society, or organization of society, is deemed "unscientific," "Utopian," and "unethical."
We are witnessing today the mobilization of particular sects of American fundamentalist nationalist religious cults within both Protestantism and Catholicism (Bush, the Neocons and Evangelical Christian Fiction) in support of a government exhibiting the classic profile of a fascistic State ( The Despoiling of America) by engaging in foreign imperialistic wars, death squads, torture, assassinations, coups, and manipulated elections (the relationship between Italian and German fascism is complex. A good article addressing this issue is by Roger Eatwell in regarding 'clerical fascism' and 'fascism' as a Political Religion (Reflections on Fascism and Religion).
This political alliance is antithetical to the spirit of Christianity (Consumerism, Economism, and Christian Faith). Christianity was identified by Christ by example as the religion of the impoverished, but now exemplifies the impoverishment of religion. It has instead become a bureaucracy of religious institution (Faith-Based Fraud, and Once They Were Cults) reaffirming the dehumanization of the individual--created in the image of God--by uniting with the concentrated power of Corporatism. There are further points of contradiction.
Faith and the Will to Power:
Ron Suskind quoting a Bush aide in an interview:
''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''Ron Suskind interview Arnold Schwarzenegger:
If any, it could only be that I'm not as experienced in details as some of the more typical politicians are. But, if this is a weakness is really questionable because we have seen warehouses of details in Sacramento and they ran the state into the ground. So, actually, it could be an asset not to know everything and to...what is the most important thing? It's will. The most important thing is will.
Evan Solomon: That's it. What is the most important asset? Is it intelligence?
Schwarzenegger: No. It's will."
"The true decisions of the Duce are those which are simultaneously formulated and executed."In Western epistemology there is a division between thought and action; fact and value; mind and reality. Italian fascist ideology collapsed these dichotomies by proclaiming that practice is truth. The only reality is action because, as Gentile would say, "The true is what is in the making." Thinking and doing are united as one. Critical thought can no longer appeal to reason for truth and oppose the social status quo. The Christian doctrine of faith is one of trust in an infinite God. Fascism is grounded in the finite world and finite beings and can only be an idolatrous object of Christian faith. However, Christianity has always been tempted to interpret faith as irrationality, or as anti-reason and fall victim to mysticism, or at least anti-intellectualism which dissolves the opposition between truth and belief. This element of irrationalism and certainty in fascist ideology is attractive to authoritarian right-wing Christian cultists resulting in radicalism and despotism (Confrontational Evangelism). Wilhelm Reich wrote in his analysis of authoritarian personalities, "The Mass Psychology of Fascism", fascism is "organized mysticism" (On "Moral Values" Code Words for Emerging Authoritarian Tendencies in Americans). Also, see ('The Psychology of Christian Fundamentalism').
The Foundations of Fascism, page 33.
Ideological irrationalism forms the basis of a cult of action. Umberto Eco writes of this aspect of fascism:
Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation. Therefore culture is suspect insofar as it is identified with critical attitudes. Distrust of the intellectual world has always been a symptom of Ur-Fascism, from Hermann Goering's fondness for a phrase from a Hanns Johst play ("When I hear the word 'culture' I reach for my gun") to the frequent use of such expressions as "degenerate intellectuals," "eggheads," "effete snobs," and "universities are nests of reds." The official Fascist intellectuals were mainly engaged in attacking modern culture and the liberal intelligentsia for having betrayed traditional values.
Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt
Autonomy and Heteronomy:
First century Christianity emerged from Christ's pacifist liberal protest against established orthodox belief. According to first century Christians, by rejecting dogmatic authority, he was fulfilling the true meaning and purpose of Judaic Orthodoxy of his time. This protest also extended to the State's claim to power and authority. We see this historical cycle of autonomy (Protest) and new heteronomy (established authority) over and over again in the secular and religious realms. Christianity first appeared as a critique of Authority. Christ was a heretic of Orthodoxy.
Christian Subjectivity and Objective Materialism:
"Verily, I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living." Mark 12:43.The essence of Christian truth is subjectivity: that is to say truth is found in the intention of the subject. The widow offered her sacrifice with greater intention and meaning than those that donated a greater objective amount of coins. This concept of truth is the opposite of objective positivistic truth in which the subject must necessarily be excluded in the evaluation of truth as fact. Approaching spirituality from the standpoint of passionless objectivism reduce all religious acts to meaningless ritual and legalisms (Kierkegaard: Truth is Subjectivity and Beware of the Crowd). Promoting Capitalist production--with objective materialism in the form of technological reasoning at its service--as the sole concern of society is the true inhibitor of spirituality.
The Struggle 'of' Life and The Life 'for' Struggle:
Soon after the publication of Charles Darwin published 'On the Origin of Species (1859)' his theories of natural selection and evolution where applied to social theory and economics. Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) in Britain, and William Graham Sumner in America where the first to propose and defend the concept of 'Social Darwinism.' William Graham Sumner was the American apologist for Social Darwinism in the 1880. American historian John Fiske and American naval strategist Alfred Thayer Mahan advocated foreign expansion and a strong military based on a version of Social Darwinism called, 'The Struggle School' of sociology.
Herbert Spencer is famous for the phrase, 'survival of the fittest' to describe human activity in Capitalistic society. Understanding the 'universal applicability of the law of evolution,' Spencer argued that the struggle of economic competition for survival is the natural inherent tendency of human beings. This 'natural ' of human behavior benefit society as a whole if not interfered with by State regulation. This doctrine is an assumption of Adam Smith's 'Invisible Hand' that guides Capitalist production of commodity supply to meet market demand.
This socio-economic theory was very popular with American Capitalists. Andrew Carnegie hosted Spencer when visiting American in 1883. Social Darwinist advocated unregulated 'laissez-faire' Capitalism, industrial monopolies, financial speculation, identified captains of industry as the 'fittest' of society, and identified the working class poor as "unfit." This capitalist ideology, based on Darwin's evolutionary theory, provides the justification for exploiting labor and the rule of capitalist power. A life "of" ordinary struggle is used ideologically to justify a life "for" struggle in a monopolistic Capitalist economy.
Christian Creationists are opposed to Darwin's evolutionist theory, but defend Capitalism as an economic system compatible with Christian ethics and beliefs. Why? This apple from the Tree of Knowledge: knowledge used to justify Capitalist society: has a Darwinian worm inside which the Christian cultists consume blissfully. Creationists reject Darwinist's materialistic biology and cosmology, but fanatically accept materialistic Darwinism applied to socio-economic issues and problems. Is this inconsistently the result of unclear fundamentalist Theology, or egoistic self-interest, or just plain ethnocentrism?
Freedom and the Culture of Exploitation:
Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and prophets.The theologian, Immanuel Kant, summed up Christian ethics in this work "The Critique of Practical Reason," as this law of conduct: "Never act toward others as a means, but only as an end in themselves." Exploitation of another person is antithetical to Christian ethics by almost any interpretation of its tradition whether informed, or uninformed.
"one should act in such a way as to regard humanity in oneself and in others as an end in itself and never simply as a means. ..But one must never treat another as a means only, as a thing or mere "object." At the same time as one gets the help of others, one must treat them and respect them as ends in themselves. One must regard them as possessing humanity equal to one's own and possessing the same absolute worthâ€¦Exploitation means treating others as means rather than as ends, as things rather than as persons. Exploitation even violates one's own humanity, for treating others as means or things goes against the moral law."
This moral imperative is based on the sacredness of the person:
"God's will is given to us in the way we are created, which means it is given through our true nature, our essential being. It is not something arbitrary that falls from heaven; it is the structure of our true being that speaks to us in the moral command. If we were united with our essential being, there would be no command. We would be what we should be, and do what we should do.Treating another person as an object violates every commandment, every principle, every meaning implicitly and explicitly of what it means to be an authentic Christian, much less a moral human being. Organized Christianity in America today is a sham, an insult, a cruel joke, and an ugly sickening illusion on a grand scale that boggles the imagination. How does one unify the institutionalized Sadism of Capitalism with the religion we name Christianity? That Christianity has even been thought to be compatible with the Spirit of Capitalism, the spirit of total systematic dehumanization, is the result of centuries of indoctrination, lies, and the use of brutal violence. Capitalism is the source of violence and suffering at every level of society; violent action and suffering can at anytime becomes a generator of revenue in the mass media communication market. Even "entertainment" has evolved into the display of pseudo-torture sessions in "reality-based" television programming (Fear Factor Pin Torture Session). Human suffering whether accidental (as in natural disasters) or engineered (in professional sports) is just another commodity for mass media profit and further contributes to the "objectification" of others. Prisons that incarcerate over 1.3 million Americans have been converted into profit generating private corporations earning 50 billion dollars a year, and pay kickbacks to the State and local governments (Cashing in on Cons). This prison-industrial complex is one example of dehumanization that is accepted as normal in a culture of repression.
From the point of view of the holy, we do not belong to ourselves but to that from which we come and to which we return -- the eternal ground of everything that is. This is the ultimate reason for the sacredness of the person and, consequently, for the unconditional character of the moral command not to destroy our essential being which is given to us and which we may disregard and destroy."
My Search for Absolutes by Paul Tillich
Capitalism is using the State as an instrument to dismantle the legal infrastructure for protecting human freedom and dignity. Domestic police forces have gradually become hyper-militarized by developing Special Weapons Attack Teams (SWAT) units, who now wear masks, with chemical weapons and electric stun guns:the equivalent of electric cattle prods:to enforce the conventions, and customs of the powerful, or just for the desire to exercise rulership over others (Commandos Get Duty on U.S. Soil). The State is developing and utilizing electronic "Verichips" to implant into the human body to tract all activity of its population-- a microchip "marker" that reduces the human being to a beast. And the American Judicial system is following the pattern of Nazi law after 1933 when there was an increase in the departmentalization of jurisdictions (the CIA, DEA, FEMA, Homeland Security, FBI, military courts, Immigration Police, Special Project Committees) replacing a unified system of criminal law and becoming more susceptible to the ideological service of those who rule (The Emergence of the Homeland Security State).
No protest! No counter movement! No resistance from the Christian icons of morality-only submissive acceptance. And this is because Christianity has long lost its ability to resistance the demonic assault on Human Being. It's true vocation is to stand as only a symbolic representation of Human freedom and dignity while sanctioning the domination and sacrifice of the individual life for economic activity alone.
Spirit may be defined [in contrast to matter] as that which has its centre in itself . . . This self-contained existence of Spirit is none other than self-consciousness - consciousness of one's own being . . . It involves an appreciation of its own nature, and also an energy enabling it to realize itself; to make itself actually that which it is potentially.
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel