Forgive me for my continual harping on Corporatism, but it is such a turn-on, a sort of economic porn. I’m sure you find it just as stimulating. (In a trunk tucked away in a dusty corner of my attic I keep a stash of tapes featuring St. Milton. What a great way to get off!)
Every great empire has believed itself to be the end point of history. Every great empire has believed itself eternal. Every great empire has gotten it wrong. We are no exception.
In the past, an empire maintained its illusion of the eternal now by the hubric assumption that the gods favored it. A strong belief in divine destiny makes wholesale slaughter possible. However, there are two ways in which America has shored up this belief, thus feeding into our conviction that we are forever.
I don’t know whether it is cultural or whether it is hard wired into our DNA, but the fact remains that the American public is morally dead to the butchering of natives. It is what I call the “African Syndrome”. The only real acquaintance Americans have with Africans is on the tube where the Africans they see are either starving, sick, dying, or dead. After a while, this seems to be part of the natural order of things. It also helps that we are thoroughly indoctrinated in the belief that the White male represents the final step in the evolution of the species. All others are lesser life forms.
The second reason is our wonderful talent for superficial abstraction. In our heady world of abstract ideology, we have no use for the concrete. There is neither suffering, nor starvation, nor death in the ethereal world of theory. How well I remember sitting through many a social science course and reading of Dail’s critique of Swanson’s critique of Whitmore’s critique of Crafton’s critique of Sweeny’s original model of who the fuck knows what because the original concrete object of Sweeny’s study was long ago swept away by a tidal wave of critiques.
Abstraction is the womb that gives birth to ideology, that insane thread of linear reasoning with which we garrote the poor and those of a brownish hue. Ideology is based on a closed temporality in which the past is the future, or what Istvan Mezaros has called the “future of the status quo ante.”[i] In this pure world, there are no external forces strong enough to permanently change the ideology. If things get a little hairy and deviations from the true faith are necessary, they are seen as both temporary and strategic, and it is understood that when these external pressure are lifted, the ideology will be restored in all its glory.
Despite their impression of unchanging immortality, ideologies do change over time. Adam Smith spoke of the invisible hand of the market. Economist E.K. Hunt speaks of the invisible foot of the market. Now we are safe in speaking of the malevolent heel of the market. Before long, we will be speaking of the loving Taser™ of the market.
No, Big Guy, we sure as hell aren’t the endpoint of history. But it is a great turn-on acting like it.
[i] Istvan Mezaros. Beyond Capital.