Monday, December 30, 2013

A preliminary attempt to articulate succinctly the ruling ideology


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
(People are aware that they cannot continue in the same old way but are immobilized because they cannot imagine an alternative. We need a vision that recognizes that we are at one of the great turning points in human history when the survival of our planet and the restoration of our humanity require a great sea change in our ecological, economic, political, and spiritual values.)

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