Friday, April 16, 2010

corporatist domination exists because it's an immortality project

As frequent readers of this blog will know, I'm keen to better understand the ways that domination shows up in the economy.  It's my contention that domination and its twin, violence, play a large role in our economy (even in "white collar" jobs); that domination/violence has been at the core of wealth creation for thousands of years; and that the goal of any sort of progressive movement is to move society away from systems of domination and towards systems based on love.  With that in mind...

I stumbled across this quote in Erich Fromm's, "On Disobedience and Other Essays" and thought it relevant to this discussion:

"Man can attempt to become one with the world by submission to a person, to a group, to an institution, to God.  In this way he transcends the separateness of his individual existence by becoming part of somebody or something bigger than himself and experiences his identity in connection with the power to which he has submitted.  Another possibility of overcoming separatness lies in the opposite direction: man can try to unite himself with the world by having power over it, by making others a part of himself, and thus transcending his individual existence by domination."  Erich Fromm, On Disobedience, page 2.

I think Fromm is really on to something quite profound.

I would argue that no one is a corporatist by nature.  No one comes out of the womb desiring to serve the interests of capital.  Babies want to be in union with others (primarily the mom, but also with dad, brothers, sisters, grandparents, the dog, other kids).  Thus, by definition, all babies are communists. If you want to base your politics on natural law, the only choice is communism because in nature, capital doesn't exist.

But later, as a child hits 7 or 8 years old, and becomes conscious of him/herself and becomes aware of the fact that he/she is finite, perishable, vulnerable, and mortal, he/she begins to search around for immortality projects. And capital, or rather, the pursuit of capital through the control and domination of others (either through slavery or wage slavery or off-shoring of production) becomes a popular immortality project.  Which explains then why corporatists fight against any attempts to regulate or restrict their actions -- as if their lives depended on it. If they ever stopped to think about it, common sense would tell them that their actions are immoral, that paying someone 80 cents an hour violates basic norms of human decency.  But corporatists can't stop -- because the domination of others -- whether it is people within their own household or factory workers 5,000 miles away is their immortality project, the means by which they transcend their individual existence and their fear of death. 

Update #1: Honestly, the more I think about the quote above, the more it seems to me the perfect description for the dynamics within the Republican party.  Namely, the Republican party consists of two blocks -- a handful of overclass corporatists who thrive on domination + large numbers of undereducated white males who submit to the corporatists -- and feel united with them through their acts of submission.  It's a perfect closed loop, an immortality project for both the dominators and the dominated.

No comments: