I sometimes wonder what is wrong with me. I mean there must be lots of things wrong with me, but what is the main thing?
I have decided, as of this morning, that it is my lack of a very common need – the need to oppress others, or to be oppressed by them. I hardly need say that this need has not been recognized officially – so I am taking it on myself to make it official.
This need is the driver of all that we consider sacred in our world – the world of business. Without this, no one gets anywhere in it.
I hope your realized that I used the world sacred in connection with business. In case you didn’t, I want to make sure. This has been the big shift in Religion – in American religion, at least – and that is all that matters. Business has become its new religion – and to survive, any religion has to accommodate itself to this big shift.
The religion I grew up in realized this, somewhat vaguely. And just barely survived a remake of itself. It is trying to say two things at once – it has changed completely, and it has not changed at all. For most of my family members, this makes perfect sense. Since what they want most – to dominate and be dominated – has not changed at all.
This is closely related to the need to be or not to be. The oppressors always assert that the oppressed do not exist – they cannot be. And therefore can (and should be) oppressed. Why be boss if you cannot enjoy the benefits of your position? If you do exist (perhaps by accident) you immediately stop being – because you know you are going to be shot down in flames.
I can refer to other authorities who say the same thing – more or less. Mumford refers to it as the machine and Foucault refers to it as disciplinary technology - or disciplinary control. Its aim is to produce:
A docile body that may be subjected, used, transformed and improved.
This technology – basically a military technology – was necessary before the Industrial Revolution (and therefore Capitalism) could happen. The improvement part is important – because people now believe (especially after the Computer) that they are super-people – and above ordinary morality. Just like the gods.
I am listening to A Visit From the Goon Squad – and it makes the same point (very cleverly). Time has messed us up. This makes the metaphysical argument that time is socially-dependent. We have the awesome ability to mess up the whole world – or at least our world – which, for us, amounts to the same thing. Since we have no way of knowing what the rest of the world is like.
Our little world will disappear – like many others before it. Can we, as people, change it so that we can survive? I think it unlikely. Because for society to change, the people in it must change.
But they no longer exist.