the more things stay the same, the more i want them to change

Capitalism and Spirituality and Humanity's Future

"If consumers found fulfillment at any meaningful level," she extemporized, "Corpocracy would be finished." Thus, media is keen to scorn colonies such as hers, comparing them to tapeworms. Accusing them of stealing rainwater from Rain Corp, royalties from Veg Corp patent holders, oxygen from Air Corp. The Abbess feared that, should the day ever come when the board decided they were a viable alternative to Corpocratic ideology, the tapeworms would be renamed terrorists. "Smart bombs will rain, and our tunnels flood with fire."

I'm currently listening to the audible book version of Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. The movie made quite an impact, but there were questions that I wondered could they be answered by reading the book. I have had my questions answered, but am sobered by the knowledge that, at least so far, it seems the book is not as optimistic as the movie. You see, the story is one of interwoven lives over hundreds of years, of reincarnated lives actually, and the backdrop is the evolution/de-evolution of human society.

In the far distant future, humanity's last great civilization is a corpocracy of astonishing technology and brutality. The words "citizen" and "consumer" are used interchangeably. It is a frightening glimpse into our possible future. A future I see as much too plausible. Hence, I have been ruminating darkly this past week.

Today, I was linked to two articles within minutes, their inter-connectedness with each other and my current thoughts leaving me breathless with unease.

The first, "Perhaps Culture is Now the Counterculture", A Defense of the Humanities, a commencement address to Brandeis University graduates by Leon Wieseltier of New Republic. Here is a quote:

"The machines to which we have become enslaved, all of them quite astonishing, represent the greatest assault on human attention ever devised: they are engines of mental and spiritual dispersal, which make us wider only by making us less deep. There are thinkers, reputable ones if you can believe it, who proclaim that the exponential growth in computational ability will soon take us beyond the finitude of our bodies and our minds so that, as one of them puts it, there will no longer be any difference between human and machine. La Mettrie lives in Silicon Valley. This, of course, is not an apotheosis of the human but an abolition of the human; but Google is very excited by it."

Then the second article, Is Google God ? by Karthik Karunakaran at Armed With The Truth. To quote:

Google is the closest thing to an Omniscient (all-knowing) entity in existence, which can be scientifically verified. She indexes over 9.5 billion Webpages, which is more than any other search engine on the web today. Not only is Google the closest known entity to being Omniscient, but She also sorts through this vast amount of knowledge using Her patented Page-rank technology, organizing said data and making it easily accessible to us mere mortals."

As I said, I have been thinking quite darkly these past days about the plausibility of our current culture evolving into one of Corpocracy. It's been in the back of my mind for awhile now, after reading the book Jennifer Government, and then the Supreme Court granting personhood to corporations. My conservative friends talk about jobs going overseas because there are too many restrictions on corporations here, the implication being that corporations be given free reign in pursuit of the All American Dollar. Daily, it seems conservatives would see our capitalistic form of economy grow to become a corpocratic form of government. Does this not frighten them? They worship the dollar with one face, and the Constitution with the other, but they don't see how the dollar could take over and abolish that other half so easily.

Economics not being my strong suit, I must leave those thoughts there as half-formed ponderings. This morning what strikes me is my near-complete aversion to the commencement address by Wieseltier. Why should I respond so negatively?

The lesser reason is the attack against technology. If I am a slave to the American Dollar, I am a willing supplicant to Technology. It is my friend, my lover, my parent, quite possibly my god? Not quite.

The greater reason, the real reason I dislike this piece, is that it rails against the elevation of Science to religion.

Owing to its preference for totalistic explanation, scientism transforms science into an ideology, which is of course a betrayal of the experimental and empirical spirit. There is no perplexity of human emotion or human behavior that these days is not accounted for genetically or in the cocksure terms of evolutionary biology. It is true that the selfish gene has lately been replaced by the altruistic gene, which is lovelier, but it is still the gene that tyrannically rules. Liberal scientism should be no more philosophically attractive to us than conservative scientism, insofar as it, too, arrogantly reduces all the realms that we inhabit to a single realm, and tempts us into the belief that the epistemological eschaton has finally arrived, and at last we know what we need to know to manipulate human affairs wisely. This belief is invariably false and occasionally disastrous. We are becoming ignorant of ignorance.

Did I mention that my Facebook feed has become inundated with posts by my Atheist group? Someone posted a list of "fight the government, fight capitalism, fight the status quo" talking points. A very angsty member went on a tirade against it. Here's a juicy bit:
No - fuck you! Change your fucking attitude and learn to respect history. Change your stupid hippie pink glasses and put something more realistic there. I will keep working and consuming and enjoying my existence because I want and because fuck you. My work is valuable, my time is valuable, and it costs money. And I am glad to be a part of it. I can get debts and then I use them to make more money and bring them back. Because you are incompetent, doesn't mean debt is slavery. It means you make shitty decisions with your money and you blame someone else for it.

He wants to consume. Consume!!! I can only imagine he means more than food. He wants things. And today, that means technology.

I am taken aback. I don't want to be a blind consumer. I don't want to be a worshiper. But I don't like this whole spiel being testified by Wieseltier either. Why. Why?

Have you guessed yet? All of the worship talk I've been interweaving should be a clue. On my mind is not just the dollar and technology but worshipfulness and spirituality and morality.

My problem with Wieseltier is not necessarily his message, but in the manner he is delivering it: a subtle undertone of spirituality. He talks of good and evil, he calls evolutionists "cocksure", he includes a bit about a philosopher who "wondered why God, if He wanted us to know the truth about everything, did not simply tell us the truth about everything." Did you catch the part where he growls at liberal "scientism" for the way it "arrogantly reduces all the realms that we inhabit to a single realm"?

Another article today, this one I didn't bother to read, Kathleen Taylor, Neuroscientist, Says Religious Fundamentalism Could Be Treated As A Mental Illness. Did you hear my jaw drop?

My problem with Wieseltier is that it has drawn out a problem I have within myself. This dancing on the fence between Atheism and Agnosticism. In mixed company, I defiantly proclaim myself as an Atheist, spouting its dogma with passion and no little amount of anger. When I am more myself, I admit that I am instead an "Agnostic", an I-don't-knower, with varying amounts of idealistic whimsy about the possibilities that may exist instead of "God".

Why? Because religion terrifies me. I have seen its works, past and present and imagined future, and there is no better way to describe my reaction to it. Why? Because of what it does to people when they are weak, it takes them over, gives them the strength of self-conviction, turns them into prosthelytizers and skull crackers and Inquisitors and Jihadists. What non-believer can step back and not fear that kind of power?

And so I rally against religion in all its forms publicly. I want it to have no place in my world. I don't even want it to have a toehold. At my worst, I am capable of becoming just as irrational as what I fear. To the extent that I could react with distaste and suspicion to a beautiful and powerful commencement address that should speak to the very heart of me.

I need to remember that place in me that questions all dogma, even my own. I need to remember that place that questions existence and belief and information. I need to remember myself.

That atheist group is currently bickering about true definitions of atheism, not eloquently or rationally, but by name calling in the middle of discussions of the possible existence/non-existence of spirits.

It astonishes me how all of these things so tied into my current psychological/philosophical earworm have appeared in front of me in the space of minutes. This happened to me a few weeks ago, and I let it all slip through my fingers without writing down my response to it all. I let go of something very powerful that could have defined my future so clearly, and I am so angry with myself for letting it go. So I just had to catch onto this smaller re-enactment before that too slid away.

I only hope others out there can follow my thinking. Tying capitalism and atheism and spirituality and technology all together in this rambling piece comes straight from my head where I can see the glowing chords of connection. I hope I've illuminated those connections enough for others to see them as well.



Visit my Etsy Shop

About Me

My photo
Seattle, WA, United States
I love beads! Let me make something unique just for you...

The Histories


Reader beware, I make no apologies for speaking the truth, no matter how shocking. So here's a list of taboo you might see here: sexuality, bisexuality, lesbianism, atheism, ex-Catholic ranting, stories of childhood abuse, wacked-out left-wing theories and philosophies, and feminist thought. And I like the words "cunt" and "fuck" a lot.