The regnant ideological doctrine in theory if not praxis of this nation’s particular incarnation of post-welfare capitalist democracy can be described as a neo-liberal technocratic plutocracy suffused with a Constitution-transcending or constitutionally defiant legal ethos defined by an institutionally entrenched insecurity and paranoia that generates panoptical surveillance ambitions and totalizing information-gathering practices by both public agencies and private firms within the terms and constraints of a feverishly financialized turbo-capitalism on the one hand, and a colossal Orwellian National Security State on the other hand.
We might begin to fill out the “bread and circuses” component of the society ruled by this ideology as implicated in a network of “looping effects” of “human kinds” (Ian Hacking) with Werner Sombart’s notion of cultural immaturity (discussed as the peculiarly modern values intrinsic to mature capitalism): “The child possesses four elementary ‘values;’ four ideals dominate its existence. They are (a) physical bigness, as seen in grown-ups and imagined in giants; (b) quick movement—in running, bowling a hoop, riding on a roundabout; (c) novelty—it changes its toys very quickly, it begins something and never completes it because another occupation attracts it; and (d) sense of power—that is why it pulls out the legs of a fly, makes Towzer stand on his hind legs and beg nicely, and flies a kite has high as it can.” As my former teacher, the late Raghavan Iyer explains,
“[Sombart] referred to the tendency to mistake bigness for greatness; the influence on the inner workings of the mind of the quantitative valuation of things [Americans everywhere and always exhibiting the ability to ‘prefix to every commodity its monetary values’]; the connection between success, competition, and sheer size; the tendency to regard the speediest achievements as the most valuable ones; the connection between megalomania, mad hurry, and record-breaking; the attraction of novelty; the habit of hyperbole; the love of sensationalism and its effect on journalism; the concern with fashions in ideas as well as clothes; and the consciousness of superiority through a sense of power that is merely an expression of weakness.”
Image: Grace Lee Boggs (b. 1915) by Robert Shetterly