The Reillusionment

 

 

 

 

 

Being a revelation of the Subduction of the Enlightenment beneath the Omnipotent Global Corporate Technical Empire and the transformation of the Freethinking Individual into the Intelligent Corporate Agent fascinated by the Spectacle of the Illusion of Progress while producing and consuming the coy Objects of Desire


 

>Globalization

Globalization harnesses the free-thinking, self-interested individual into the team hauling the imperial war wagon into the future.  The figure of the individual, that mighty singularity who pondered up the Self in the time of Shakespeare and Moliere and Descartes, who exceeded the ancient tyrannies in 1776 and 1789 and 1917 and became god-like in the post-modern democratic ideal, was appropriate for the time and is even now devolving into a creature merely useful to the global commercial oligarchy. 

>The Election Industry

If political parties were responsive to and drove progress for the electorate, we would see progress in the metrics of gross domestic product, public debt, household debt, murder rate, number of countries invaded, well-being and population as one party replaced another. 

In the 38 elections since Abraham Lincolnís victory in 1864, possession of the White House has stably oscillated between Republicans and Democrats. 

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US GDP has grown steadily, financed by public and household debt, in what can be interpreted as an ongoing stimulus package that benefits the aristocracies around the world.  The American middle class has experienced flat growth since the 1970s while the lower class is increasingly impoverished. 

Irrespective of the party in power, American has invaded about 1 country per year since 1890.  During the 20th Century, Democrats presided over the most destructive wars, Wilson bringing the US into WWI, Roosevelt WWII, Truman the Korean War and Lyndon Johnson Viet Nam.  Abraham Lincoln was the only Republican to bring the US into a very destructive war in terms of American casualties.  Both parties were destructive to the American Indian. 

While President Obama pulled US troops out of Iraq, he continued US involvement in Afghanistan, ordered the bombing of Libya and Syria, looked the other way at the suppression of democracy in Egypt and Bahrain and continued drone strikes throughout the Middle East, keeping the hatred burning at every opportunity. 

Irrespective of party in power, the United States attacks countries that are politically, economically or militarily vulnerable and whose government or people defy American foreign policy.  In an effort to homogenize world opinion, American policy produces enemies so that military, economic and political power can be called in to punish the defiant.  The military-industrial complex conscripts human resources, buys goods and services from contractors and creates enemies and patriots to fight them. 

Despite oscillations of party-in-power, US public debt has climbed to $20T, about 100% of GDP.  While the concept of austerity is forbidden in America, we are subject to intensive belt-tightening as middle-class wages flatten, youth is increasingly without meaningful work, total unemployment increases, more people join the informal economy, government services whither and unions fail to represent workers, irrespective of party in power. 

Driven by the high cost of housing and college education, household debt has climbed to 100% of GDP.  The combined $40T public and household debt generates a froth of bubbles in the American economy, acting alternately as a stimulant and a depressant.  The Federal budget is spent on entitlements and the military and the household money on housing, cars, revolving credit and college, all of which appeal to the consumer, a personality created by advertising.  Public debt is owed largely to foreign investors who have a surplus of capital with a shortage of safe investments. 

US inequality has increased since 1985 driven by the flattening of middle-class wages.  Wealthy Americans are getting wealthier while the poverty rate for Americans without children has almost doubled since 1979 despite several switches in party-in-power.  The affects are felt most severely by younger workers with minimal education with depression-era unemployment rates the norm for this group, ignored by the Democrats and exploited by Republicans. 

One driver of American decline is the export of entry-level manufacturing jobs, especially to China, although consumers recover some of this loss in lower prices, a phenomenon affecting Europe as well. 

The election industry benefitted from the 2016 election.  Democrats torment each other with hateful slogans, eagerly transmitted by the press.  Democrats accuse Republicans of stupidity, insanity and evil, which is what every party always says about its opponents.  Democrats and Republicans are the exactly same in this light.  People might get excited enough to vote in 2020 and perhaps parties might exchange places again while underlying trends continue. 

Humans do not live in nature but in our own mendacity.  We live in culture, which tries to homogenize us into useful roles.  Today, most of us improvise on themes of neoliberalism broadcast by the homogenizing techniques of business while living in social and economic bubbles. 

When we become aware of the contradictions, we are detoured by books and entertainment, cerebralizing and defusing the issues.  The rebellious slogans are sold back to us on tee-shirts and in pop-music.  Those who still read newspapers count themselves well-informed, putting aside the news with an ironic sigh rather than taking action.  The American bourgeois will never act on its own ideas until action is in its own financial interest, which will be too late.  We practice only the most ineffective modes of dissent. 

Voting rights have been extended to include the unpropertied, women, teenagers and felons yet the turnout remains low despite the urging of the media and the noble example provided by the candidates themselves as if voting was a grand public duty of no small sacrifice, conveniently recorded for the nightly news.  The election industry delivers voters to the ad campaigns to ensure that only Democrats and Republicans are elected.  The media industries profit from the advertising they sell to their corporate sponsors and profit again from the sensations freely distributed by the campaigns as they appear at celebrity events. Business offers citizens the remote possibility of becoming the kind of people they envy while minimizing the costs to business.  Like everything in business culture, the process is begins as a carefully engineered cost-benefit analysis. 

The central problem of culture is crowd control and its solution is the dynamic construction of the homogenized and docile cultural subject. Diverse individuals enter the industry as raw material and are extruded as processed partisans. The 2 teams of cheering voters are created by advertising and line up with their chosen parties in the smug certainty that they have made a reasoned choice. 

The electorate manufacturing process is composed of thousands of contributors donating $6B annually.  Some contribute to both major parties and almost none contribute to third parties. In aggregate, the money is evenly split between the two, creating a 1-party system with 2 flavors. The outcome of this mythical exercise in democracy is a continuation of the status quo which is a slowly-changing vector-sum of all its financial influences, who are renting the government cheaply and making a great profit on their investment. 

This legalized corruption is not necessarily a bad thing, as it contributes to stability.  The reliable billions pumped into campaigns contribute an inertial factor, like a flywheel, that keeps the nation going in the same direction irrespective of intermittent stresses in the economy and party in power.  However, only pennies trickle down to the general population while millionaires become billionaires. 

The emasculated populace, ever infatuated with current trends and celebrities, imagines that it has a comfortable role to play despite the lack of economic progress.  The industry stabilizes American culture, resolves national crises politically, legitimizes the sense of national citizenship for many, and provides a means of control of the multitude by the few. 

The election industry is a very bad thing as it deceives the public it pretends to serve, secretly bowing to the monied class. 

The election industry in concert with the many other systems that reward the big capitalists is a good thing as it provides an organized structure of business that employs and distributes goods and services to billions, indirectly provides tax revenue to governments who in turn reward the financiers, provide infrastructure and minimize some of the more obvious excesses at the behest of business. 

The business practices that conserve institutionalized capitalism are thoroughly evil, their charity contributions notwithstanding.  Their well-publicized greenwashing offsets the shallow guilt of their stockholders, to which the boards of directors are ostensibly beholden. 

We cannot trust the monied class to operate the national and international economies as they have failed to prevent destructive recessions and wars.  Nor should we trust them to look out for their employees, who have become mere commodities to be rented and discarded.  The 1% in control of the United States are parasites living on the body of the citizenry.  Paradoxically, the business class regards the citizenry as a bloated parasite feeding off the wealth, intelligence and organizational skills of the business class. 

That decentralized-neoliberalism might be superior to all other possibilities can only be temporary.  Similar to biological evolution, the system does not strive for universal perfection, reaching a stable utopian plateau, but only for survival in the present circumstance, which necessarily changes as business exploits it, typically using short-term payback cycles to modify its practices.  Extinction, which is the failure of survival, is common in species, businesses, nations and empires. 

A people gets exactly the government they deserve and always pays the price.  People have all the power and yet fail to exercise it. 

The industry produces candidates who serve their monied constituency or they would not get contributions from the invisible coven of financial witches and warlocks hovering over the process.  At the end of their terms, the candidates will have obediently advanced the neoliberal cause at the expense of the citizenry.  Defeated politicians become lobbyists and consultants because they know who has the monetary pull. 

During the passage of time, a society is not merely cyclical and circular, returning again and again to a beautiful spring of survivors following a deadly winter, but a chaotic spiral, sometimes widening, sometimes narrowing, crashing, changing direction, trying to serve its powerful constituency, spinning off billionaires and starvelings.  Life on earth is characterized by predation and symbiosis.  Mass extinctions mark geological ages.  If there is a social evolution of personality and government, its motion is as chaotic and pointless as biological evolution. 

The 2016 election amplified the engineered polarity of the American electorate and ensures an exciting 2020 election.  The body of the electorate, already fascinated by the spectacular red-and-blue herrings of their respective victims, will continue to be oblivious to the slower creep of the underlying economic metrics.  Inequality, cost of education, national debt, and foreign and domestic wars will continue to undermine the very security incessantly invoked by the oligarchy in its public harangue, ever exhorting the multitude to produce and consume in the face of manifest enemies. 

The White House and Congress have already betrayed the electorate in the 2017 Tax Bill.  Democrats are disingenuously chanting up their slogans.  If there still is a pendulum in 2020, the political left will be in position to swing it the other way, electing a liberal president and congress, derived from and obedient to the same oligarchy eternally safe in their gated communities.  A new pair of fictitious champions will take the field to entertain us.  Change is vanishingly possible and yet is held in front of the nose of the voting consumer like the tenderest and most desirable morsel ever. 

The personalities are fascinated by the institutionís products, and, being products themselves, are fascinated with themselves. People who are not crushed by the institutions more or less support them.  The whole chaotic process is ridden by its parasitic symbionts who assume that their profit-taking will not kill the beast upon which they feed. 

Globalization harnesses the subjectivity of the individual to the team of draft animals hauling the imperial monolith into the future.  When worn as a fashion accessory, the postmodern individual takes to the harness eagerly to the generous applause of peers.  Increasingly compromised, individuality as a mode of existence will evaporate when its last member, the last keeper of the stories illustrating our absurd myth, finally dies.  Only then can the tragedy of the individual be written, not the usual story of he who cannot get what he wants, nor of she who is prevented from being all she can be, but the story of the last of our kind, the individual disappearing completely, replaced by a yet-to-be-named human of unimaginable consciousness. 

In countries where elections could actually change things, they are illegal.  What is actually happening in the US is independent of the party in power.  The metrics continue their inexorable creep irrespective of election results, apologists and commentators left and right notwithstanding. 

The Closing of Culture

A sustainable culture consists of a persistent network of approximately closed, self-funded, self-justified, and self-constructing institutions.  The institutions create and are created by their constituent personalities, who adapt to changing circumstance. 

Instabilities threaten the personalities and the cultures they support.  The institutions dynamically compensate their members for the instabilities, providing adapters that allow adjustments, driving the not-necessarily-progressive evolution of culture.  As an institution succeeds, it improves its techniques, becoming more like other institutions including its mass-production of producers and consumers. The success of techniques tends to reduce the number of techniques by eliminating less optimal techniques.  In the age of the global commercial oligarchy, it must be done cheaply. 

It is not that we must create stable institutions for our culture to survive but that we and the institutions create each other simultaneously, with no purpose, meaning, or destiny other than what develops in the moment, convenient to the relationships.  The cunning intelligence of the institutional leaders permits them to see what works best in manipulating their domains. 

The individual is a type of personality devoted to independent self-serving ideologies that is in fact a creation of advertising, or parenthood, which is a creation of advertising.  The successful creation and herding of personalities closes society, restricting real choice in favor of group-thinking redirected to the inanimate and animate products for sale.  It is possible for parasites to kill its host. 

The election industry is funded by the captains of other industries who invest some of their profits in candidates who will likely act in the interests of the funders, enacting laws that favor them with tax advantages, competitive edges and governmental deregulation.  The latter effort has been so successful that American business now regulates government, effectively renting the Federal government at bargain prices.  The harnessing of government at all levels reduces the freedom within the system, trivializing democracy in favor of a broad oligarchy devoted to their own privilege, which narrows the scope of the society, eliminating channels of freedom and threatening the closure of the society. 

Mass-produced voters dutifully repeat the slogans of the corporate funders.  Everyone tribes up, hears the same thing from everybody they know, ignores their political enemies, and thus guarantees a plentiful absence of change.  A successful advertising campaign creates an accelerating desire for the candidate, forming a unified cultural firestorm that draws everyone into the event. 

The victors glibly justify themselves while disdaining their victims, tightening the noose. 

The election industry resembles the industries of entertainment, incarceration, and the military, which use all the techniques of corporations, creating producers and consumers, the regular customers so highly-prized by marketeers. An obvious analogue of the national election is the annual Super Bowl where the long buildup culminates in the championship involving millions of more or less excited people and changes nothing whatsoever.  Society threatens to close into one single spectacular event. 

In totalitarian societies, the people are ruled by coercion and spies.  In a free society, the producers and consumers are herded by advertising, with coercion lurking surreptitiously in the background.  We do not have expensive cameras in each room spying on our every move, monitored by expensive overseers.  Instead consumers buy cheap projectors displaying what to buy and how happy to be with your purchase.  There is only production and consumption of mass-produced goods produced and consumed by mass-produced people.  

It is incorrect to justify an industry and its customers as a society of knowledgeable free agents, choosing among jobs and locations and products.  We create and are created by our institutions.  They are not under our control.  We are passive participants in the system of control that requires our passivity. 

It is incorrect to describe advertising as information for a free citizenry because this information is produced, monitored and quantified demographically to identify patterns that seek the creation and manipulation of desiring personalities under the advertiserís influence.  Advertising creates not just the desire for a product but creates the consumer as a self-interested creature trying to acquire the advertised objects of desire. 

The product of advertising is the consumer, the devolved individual, the far-removed descendent of the conflicted Shakespearean character brooding profoundly over his dilemma, the Jeffersonian patriot watering the tree of liberty.  The postmodern individual is a deceived creature tasked with educating the future generation.  This criticism is not a conservative position, yearning for prior greatness, because there is no going back to the modern.  Past, present and future are constructed presently.  There is no exit from the postmodern. 

The controllers of the industries naturally try to minimize the cost of labor, making agile, short-term plans to manage the effects of the business cycle.  When down, they lay off and when up, they hire. Meanwhile they integrate processes, merge, spin-off, bankrupt and package corporate components for sale.  Layoffs excrete corporate liabilities.  The paradox for corporate economy is the dilemma of minimizing labor while keeping them as customers.  Doing more with less reassures the shareholders.  Will the parasites kill its host? 

Every large corporation has an infrastructure-improvement effort that asks middle-management for suggestions on how to decrease workforce time, increase customer satisfaction, and maximize production and sales. The best projects are selected on a cost/benefit basis and scheduled, implemented and the results measured against expectations

Periodically, the accumulating person-hours saved enables a reduction in force. The most valuable employees are retained to do all the work and the rest are cast into the unemployed labor pool. Those who canít find work within a few months drop from the unemployment numbers.  In a time of continuing decline in business, there are plenty of unemployed and the average wage declines. All entities that behave like corporations implement this technique and minimize their responsibilities to the people. 

The oligarchy fears the masses of people, who produce and consume the products and who might look up from their personal electronics and become conscious of their circumstance.  The oligarchy approaches this problem by dividing and conquering, pitting one segment against another, race against race, region against region, young against old and party against party. The election industry neutralizes incidental angst by selecting candidates who publicly pretend to oppose each other.  After each presidential election, despite the acrimonious debates and fulminations in the news, the candidates get together with the press and ridicule the campaign.  The October 21st 2016 Wall Street Journal front page displayed a photo of Hillary and Donald having a good laugh.  The press gets the joke and then insists we vote anyway. 

The money finances candidate and staff travel, publicity, political consultants, and additional fundraising campaigns.  Campaigns try to amplify the slightest scandal into earth-shaking revelations to be multiplied by the news.  Newsrooms benefit from the scandals, which draw the public attention to their sponsors.  Money is extracted from corporate profit to finance the election campaigns of the winners of the Democratic and Republican beauty contests.  No other parties receive significant contributions. 

The big spenders have to finance only 2 parties and, in aggregate, the parties split the income evenly.  While elected candidates publicly pledge open access, large contributors have secret expectations.  Bills are constructed to run the congressional maze by adding riders that buy support, giving the moneyed constituency the advantage that rewards their investment.  Democracy is thus auctioned off to the highest bidders. 

Outside of elections, there is no shortage of pretentious oppositions, fringe groups, shock-jocks, lunatics, crackpots, and tiny parties on the wax or wane.  Because of the proliferation of published opinion on the web trying to break into mainstream media, there is great cacophony of anger, a fragmentation of allegiance into quarreling pieces such that unity becomes even less possible, a situation that begs demagogic would-be emperors to step in with an iron hand to clean up the mess in government and end the stressful, chaotic babble of end-stage democracy.  Meanwhile Democrats and Republicans wait in the wings of the political stage for the more or less annual adjustment. 

A culture, like a person, does not exist in a single stable state but instead participates in the social creation and destruction of possibilities that it creates.   

Opening of Culture

Closed societies are brittle.  The natural rebelliousness of some of the people can be amplified by their poverty and tight constraints.  Institutions continue to optimize the techniques needed to control their domains but the workforce must be paid enough to stabilize their participation and to purchase what they can afford.  Police and military repression can make it worse.  Disloyal and disgruntled are fired.  Some of the conservative leadership stupidly think that if a little forceful repression is good a lot will be better.  How[J1]  much can the people take without breaking into rebellion? 

Liberal democracy controls by minimizing coercion, giving the people the illusion of freedom from oppression.  Variations in effectiveness of the control can accumulate to where a substantial number of the governed fail to be reassured by bread and circuses.  Repeated recessions, real estate prices falling because of climate change, declining cities, lack of job and educational opportunity, frequent wars and disappearing industries leave accumulating residues of impoverished and resentful citizens.  For government, the challenge is how much profit can be extracted from the society without causing the revolutionary destruction of the institutions and, for business, how to minimize labor and maximize customers, how to undermine revolutionary leadership, propagandizing the people against them, passing laws to imprison tm and recruiting police and armed forces to kill them. 

When control fails, accurate prediction becomes impossible.  The system of institutions is no longer an engineered control system, no longer a predictable machine, but a chaotic open-loop system wildly trying to respond to its many input demands. 

The government can reply with other ploys, such as foreign war, which tends to unite the polity against the foreign enemy and to provide the agile oligarchs with yet another source of income.  Wars are financed by public debt, which the consumers and producers must pay down at the cost of killing and dying.  Continuous war and states of emergency drain the confidence of the multitude and some people detach from the imagined social body, becoming social critics, third-party members, graffiti artists and saboteurs smoldering in the wings of the political stage. 

Because the system contains humans, whose culture is both fundamental to its existence and simultaneously its victim, society includes mutating uncertainties, estimates, guesses, desires, hatreds, lies, fantasies, myths, diverse histories and demonstrable facts.  Systems that insist on closure become brittle.  The earlier constructed truths tend to disintegrate under the onslaught of physical and political reality.  The oligarchy must continue to prop up its institutions by reinventing new slogans, passing new laws while selling tickets to the circus. 

Personality is constructed during imperial ascendency and deconstructed during decline. At the leaving behind of empire, facing reductions in fortunes and impending social catastrophe, the stories we tell each other become songs of woe in the language of decimation, reflecting the disintegration or pretty fantasies designed to contain the disintegrating subject, and finally evaporating entirely to be replaced by the songs of triumph invoked by the new personalities created by the new social order.  New gods are added to the pantheon while the old gods sulk. 

Democracy, the collected intelligence of the people, is progressively trivialized to the enthusiastic cheers of the electorate.  Dissent and opposition are marginalized and dismissed.  Eventually, power fails to homogenize its subjects in the face of chaos. 

Although the imperial monolith has 14 billion eyes, it is blind.  Although the gigapede has 7 billion brains, it has the intelligence of an amoeba and yet it employs us.  It is us. 

Stresses exceed the ability of the institutions to handle them.  Inefficiency and corruption of those in control, the immunity of the enforcers of law, the concentration of wealth at the expense of the producers of wealth and the growing hatred between classes undermine the personalities of consumers and producers ultimately responsible for the creation of wealth.  Subjective confidence fails, rebellious personalities spontaneously emerge and civil solutions yield to physical coercion as the powerful try to protect their investments.  The development of new illusions only succeeds if there is a perception of progress.  Gentler techniques of crowd control wither away and the avalanche begins. 

Can the aristocracy sustainably feed 7 billion?  Well-informed people are talking global famine, warning of the greatest extinction event in the history of the planet as billions of starving humans scourge the environment, accelerating the breakdown of the food distribution system in the most vicious cycle imaginable.  The Anthropocene could be the shortest of all the geological ages. 

In a globalized revolution, only the most brutal will survive.  Books will be burned for fuel. 

Loyalty does not equal obedience.  Be all you can be: work for justice. 


The Reillusionment will be published in 2018 in book form. 
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