Monday, December 15, 2014

Few Thoughts on the Occasion of December 15: On What Matters Most, On Capitalism, and the Nearly Lost Wisdom and Cunning of the Ancients

A sketch of few ideas for December 15:
1. Capitalism is an interesting term. It points to "head"--a principal of a loan or debt, which is to say, that the key capitalist institution is not "the market," but the central bank. Misidentifying the system is "helpful"--it helps or allows for misidentifying all of us.
2. The "cap" in capitalism, however, also points to head and to head in several related meanings: becoming the "head" of our heads or instead (in the place) of our heads, but also capture, captivity, de-capitation, and deception ... all of which are derived from "cap" as is the key action or process of the action of capitalism and the whole Western civilization according to Hegel--aufheben (lifting, taking off the head literally).
3. So where is the rest of the body, so to speak? Well, it is the so-called labor, which means that capitalism is a binary, dual system, which, like Aristophanes' "original" spider-man, is cut, split into two, thus "beheading" the one and leaving the corpse be ruled as if in memoriam by the head(s) of capital (i.e., by money or some other program or calculation). The process of psychological, cultural, and political beheading and concomitant deception (the greatest deception ever?) thus not only defines the action and the nature of capitalism as a radical trans-formative process, it also stands for the most sophisticated form of man's captivity invented so far.
4. Kant admired the stars and the moral law within, and the US took from the Third Reich its two most important "gifts"--rocket science and mind control, psychological research (the latest from the techniques of enslavement). Not only these two things were essential in the victory of the US over the USSR, but the latter also set the base for capitalism's new pregnancy with fascism (which was in the state of incubation and gestation), which is thus now coming back to life after some 50-70 years and is rising again its ugly, beastly head--in Ukraine, but not only in Ukraine and not only in the West.
5. But returning to the (decapitated, captured) body (captured by capturing or taking off the head first; hence the foundational, almost religous symbolism of the guillotine). Unlike other civilizations, the West and capitalism went in the direction of developing materialism to the furthest, which is to say, the idea of soulless and headless matter to the furthest. In this regard, the West is the most radical and one-sided civilizational project. This nihilistic reductionism is part of the duality "capital and labor" or "the mind (the mind of the elite) versus the matter of the masses."
6. What is interesting and unknown (except perhaps for some political theorists) is that this divide, which defines capitalism and the West today, is progeny and evolution of the original Greek idea (which, in itself, seems to depend on the clever Egyptian priests and their system--"out of Egypt"), which, as we (those of us who take Aristotle seriously) know, is the formula of slavery. As Aristotle teaches, slavery is in its essence a state of the mind and the soul (which can be produced). In particular, slavery does not mean merely "division of labor" and/or division of mankind, but, first and foremost, division, that is, beheading or decapitation of the soul. By splitting the mind/the soul into the rational (genuine mind and soul) and the irrational (the mind and thought of which is received from without--from the masters, i.e., the media, from someone else's head). The process of this cutting off (separation) is usually preceded by deception, is followed by deception and is accompanied by deception. For deception, literally, means depriving man of his head. The possibility to divide the mind or the soul in this way and this dichotomy has been taken up/sublimated into capitalism.
7. Since with the second coming of fascism (though someone, I think, it was Fyodorov talking to his attentive assistant, correctly said that imperialism and colonialism have always been essentially fascism), the West and our system is reaching some sort of end (almost a dead end, it seems), and Ukraine literally means "the end," we too are being pushed to new limits, some of which might be an edge of an abyss, while others a new perspective, a new horizon, and new possibilities. We can either grow our head back or, at least, demand its return so that we might become whole again. Otherwise, Westernized mankind looks more and more like either heads without bodies (a small minority) or headless bodies.
8. Interestingly, a headless knight, a ghost who is walking with his head in the hand, is one the obvious symbols of the Western man as he was emerging or just emerged from the Middle Ages into the modern world. Putting one's head into the hand suggests to me not only the desire or fact of "manipulation" (i.e., mishandling), but also the cultural fact of and desire to place the head where it does not belong, but mainly to lower it--toward the midriff ... In a sense, a headless knight is also a vanquished knight. A figure of the moribund and decayed aristocracy in the age in which knights were replaced with headless masses. In this regard, one should not try to bring the ghost back to life, but let the ghost and the past go. Indeed, Thoreau somewhere says (speaking of the heroism of US abolitionists) that many people have never ever really lived. For to be truly alive, one has to truly die first. In this regard, the West seems to pin his hope too much on the limbo, a very slow, infinitesimally moderate progression where being stuck in the dirt water one calls it cleansing and ablution. (For Bulgakov and his Master and Margarita, such limbo is the destination point of their happiness at the hands of Satan and a great alternative to Soviet communism). Out of spite and vengeance, Catholicism reserved the limbo for all ancient philosophers, and Protestantism, in its bourgeois optimism born out of extreme pessimism, was originally led by a spirit of rejection of the limbo. In truth, the limbo looks like an idea of a very moderate or even slightly, liberally progressive Hell. Liberalism (and its form of socialism) is thus basically a belief that if one thinks moderately or within certain limits, then Hell does come with a remote control and it is possible to pause it (at leas t for oneself) for an infinitely long time.
9. But since we have identified that, at the heart of the system, is some fundamental deception (i.e., "beheading" or loss of the head, which again is rather the loss of one's own mind and the soul), the question of our salvation seems to require that we understand and identify the meaning of a possible curative, healing action. After all, "capitalism" can also be rendered as the system of the "main, principal thing"--of what matters (or "heads"?) most. In a word, all what one needs to do is what matters or should matter most for us and then we need to install it and truly care about it.

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