Capital has weaponized the ideology of its critics to support its aims
Sinclair Lewis once told us that when fascism eventually comes to America it will be promoted in the name of freedom and justified via appeals to the dominant tribalistic/cultic "god"
That having been said if this project obtains the necessary political power to enforce its all-inclusive agendas then, in my opinion such a scenario will have finally manifested.
It has the deep-pocket backing of at least 72 right-wing think tanks etc.
I was reminded of the critique of capitalism in this article while I recently watched this documentary:
There hasn't been true, free-market capitalism in the US for more than a hundred years. Demonizing it through the lens of what we've seen and lived in our lifetimes is absurd.
A better understanding of capitalism might be what can be gleaned from the diary of the pilgrim William Bradford, which may not describe capitalism specifically, but does draw powerful conclusions about the psychological underpinnings that support it.
The above documentary illustrates just how far capitalism has been distorted by the government from the fundamental human nature of Bradford's observations:
Exactly 400 years ago, 102 Pilgrims were staring down what promised to be a brutal winter, after first coming to shore, and setting up a tiny village in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
The industrious, God-fearing Pilgrims decided to pull together and pool their resources and efforts to better survive winter. They created a commune, and elected a Governor to call the shots.
By the spring of 1621, half of the Pilgrims had died from starvation, disease, and exposure.
One of the Pilgrims, William Bradford, explained in his journal that communal living “was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort.”
Young single men found it unjust that they had to do all the hard work, but received no more reward for it. And wives “deemed it a kind of slavery” to be forced to do chores for men besides their husbands.
Clearly, this little experiment in collectivizing society had failed. So they reversed course, and tried something new; every man for himself.
This might sound harsh, or even counterproductive. But on the contrary, Bradford explained:
This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use... The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.
On fire. Love the succinct delivery.
Very interesting analysis. You are so right that postmodernism has infected every aspect of society, especially the academy.
What I wonder about is why so many people on the left who were not authoritarian before March 2020 suddenly took on that mantle. Many of that ilk whom I know were not communists or Stalinists, they didn't identify with any authoritarian movement or ideology, but rather were very much in the anti-racist, pro-transgender camp, inclusive, envisioning a world where everyone had a place of honor and respect. They didn't seem likely to become Nazis about masking and getting four or five jabs.
So maybe there's some kind of psychology that explains the left's predisposition toward authoritarianism. Or maybe it's some kind of synchrony between postmodernism and authoritarianism. If the only truth is my truth, and I can't let you have your truth if it makes me unsafe, maybe that gives me the right to force my truth on you? Just thinking out loud. It is one of the biggest puzzles to me of the past 3.5 years that so many kind and gentle people on the left went full on for the narrative, while a small handful sharing most of the same ideological space did not.
So so on point here Toby! Well stated sir! Thank you!
You captured it all in these three statements:
"Capital follows the logic of a cancer cell — endless expansion, no matter the results for the system as a whole."
"Now capital has figured out a new gold mine — the exploitation of the body itself. The organs, cells, and genetic material of the body can be enclosed, captured, enslaved, 'legally' stolen, harnessed, and otherwise made to serve capital."
"Under postmodernism, any form of toxic injury is made to disappear, never to be investigated, and the injured are celebrated but not actually supported in the weirdest display of internal mental colonization in history."
Spot on, as usual, Toby!
as a politically homeless, liberal atheist, I never in my life thought I would be aligned with conservatives, let alone evangelicals. the past years have brought me a new appreciation for people with unwavering spiritual beliefs. I used to think such people were closed-minded but apparently they busted through the cognitive dissonance better than anyone else. who'd a thunk it? not me.
while at the same time, the sheer dogmatism of the majority of the 'liberals' out there, seemed to phase seamlessly into acceptance of tyranny, Wokeism and extreme polarization. if you question the current dogma, you are automatically 'anti-whatever'; there's no middle ground. it is nonsensical. its like saying since I am not a 'pet person', then I am anti-pet. I made that analogy to someone a few days ago and it went completely over their heads.
is it a hopeless situation? probably not but will I see a turn-around in MY lifetime (I'm 62)? I kinda doubt it. however I am scared shitless for my developmentally disabled teenager; he definitely is at the bottom tier of the 'useless eaters'. (sigh...)
Speaking of Brownstone, Toby, any thought of going to their gathering in Dallas this coming November?
Certainly major ideological factors in explaining current government/societal dysfunction. Perhaps all a part of a general ideologic uncertainty - perhaps, for example, we are susceptible to massive global campaigns - such as anti-COVIDism - anti-global warming - anti -etc - because of a deep need for a crusade - any crusade - to quench that need for religious fervor. I wonder too, if the rise of the machine - machine thinking - is a contributing factor to this sense of insecurity.
This is a thought provoking piece, Toby but if I had one small critique it would be that like many attempts to try and make sense of these deeply complicated areas, it does gloss over 2 points - the idea that pre-colonial societies weren’t veritable gardens of Eden, free of war, famine, death, destruction and deprivation, or that capitalism is a uniquely vampiric system, when totalitarian communist regimes are likely at least as predatory in nature. Turns out human beings are bastards, and any system organised around an agenda will attract gangsters, sociopaths, grifters and megalomaniacs.
Your focus on postmodernism is exactly over the target, however the nihilism and resentment that it has engendered on the world and on academic pursuits must not be overlooked.
I think you have the big picture. Although I think the bad guys are just offering slavery but they really want 95% of us dead. Just enough technicians to fix their robots.
Actually, I think there are more sane people than crazies, whatever political names they have. A recent Harvard Caps Harris Poll shows RFK Jr. with 47% in the favourable column, higher than Donald Trump at 45%, Elon Musk at 44%, Bernie Sanders a 41%, Ron DeSantis at 40% and Joe Biden at 39%. I find it shocking that Biden has as high a score as 39%, but I find it very encouraging that RFK Jr. is at the top of the list.
Instead of autumn, we can call it autism, as we approach the season of treachery, and as the Incidence approaches one in four, let's celebrate the death of all life with a renaming of fall to ...autism.
Excellent article, Dr Rogers! And (of course) I have a few points of exploration.
1) you say that you are "not criticizing capitalism per se but rather the sort of predatory monopoly capitalism that always makes a mess of things." Could you please explain how capitalism, beyond "mom-and-pop entrepreneurism, is ever not predatory? The chart you shared is quite self-explanatory
2) THIS!: "Now capital has figured out a new gold mine — the exploitation of the body itself. The organs, cells, and genetic material of the body can be enclosed, captured, enslaved, “legally” stolen, harnessed, and otherwise made to serve capital. As I have observed previously, mRNA shots turn every cell in the body into a miniature concentration camp engaged in forced labor for capital. This biological capture extends to the natural world too as the genetic material in our food is patented, manipulated, and tortured to produce more wealth for the ruling class. And then all of the human health harms caused by the genetic and chemical manipulation of nature can be further monetized by treating them, ineffectively, with more pharmaceuticals. It’s a perfect business model — until the entire system collapses. " I 100 percent agree! Colonization has now gone from land, to bodies, to our very cells.
How can the "anti-colonialist" left not see this? And how can we use this as leverage to have more meaningful conversations with our left leaning sisters and brothers?
3) While I agree with you regarding how postmodern thinking is being used. I also have a hard time accepting the concept of one objective reality upon which all thought, morality, etc is based. Who gets to decide what that might be? I personally have always thought reality was way overrated.
And finally, this is not a disagreement but a strategic consideration. From my perspective, the Health Freedom conversation (and by extension, the RFK campaign) will never gain significant ground until more voices from the left feel they are welcome at the table. I think that there are no potential gains and multiple potential loses by entering into the whole extreme trans conversation of surgeries etc. Seems to me that that conversation should just be left alone.
All good points! I've written extensively on the scam of postmodernism in my essays, while others have devoted entire books revealing how the US national intelligence agencies used postmodernism as a tool to brainwash the artistic elites (and through them, the public), for example, in Joel Whitney's book: Finks: How the CIA Fooled the World's Best Writers. The shock for me was just how naive artists and writers proved to be in swallowing this bait, since postmodernism not only empties art of any actual content, it alienates artists from their audiences, who typically are seeking some sense of meaning through art. As I've written, we are meaning-making animals. Jung said it first: without a sense of meaning, life is unbearable. Take that away and you have nihilism and despair. Postmodernism was thus a highly effective tool in de-fanging the political insurgency often contained in works of art, something the CIA was anxious to accomplish in the post-WWII era. Here's my review of Whitney's excellent, highly-researched book: https://seanarthurjoyce.substack.com/p/how-the-cia-fooled-the-worlds-best
Systems Theory described principles and laws about systems dynamics. If the metamodel is correct, these insights count for every dynamic system, from organisms to organisations up to society. It's all about the web of life. It's a universal language. Laws about governance to obtain a dynamic equilibrium is an example of this universal language. Economic rules and principles should follow natural, biological principles instead of ignoring or, even worse, counteracting them.
Like uncontrolled growth in a living organism (cancer), unlimited and uncontrolled wealth for a limited number of people is destructive for society and has cannibalistic properties. Unbridled power inevitably leads to an excess of power like in dictatorial nations.
Correct functioning control (negative feedback) is a fundamental cornerstone of democracy. So the need for an independent judiciary, press and a parliament that genuinely represents the nation's people is not just a conceptual part of democracy but is a fundamental principle in a balanced society and should not be underestimated. A healthy community needs these basic principles like every healthy organisation or organism.