Consumerism’s constant pressure on the pleasure button has fermented a nihilistic culture driven by a plutocratic system calling itself democracy. Our anti-human civilisation has embedded this nihilism with a deep, grass-roots pessimism. Modern life and its emphasis on individual fulfilment has fabricated a depressive tone with uninspired muscle. Underneath the pristine glamour of the consumer society, lies the internal suffering of he or she who always wants more. Achievement is never enough – each acquisition creates or finds another lack that will open the doors toward another subjugation.
Psychologically we are an adolescent society, torn by narcissistic desires and paradoxical notions of conforming in rebellious ways. We hate the father-figures of power that govern us and will be quick to show our disdain for the present in the next elections, but, nevertheless, we are happy to receive the protection offered by that same parent without giving anything other than grudgingly back. The paternal power maintains its hold over us by creating our dreams and desires, but the Disneyworld factory of dreamworking is the system’s greatest instrument of repression. The anti-human civilisation can exert its power and control over all because the system tells the individual that he or she can also enjoy the same power. What the system promises each individual is the chance that they too can be a leader: a president or king of their own company, or at least a fascist parent.
Here we arrive at the same psychological root to the problem as Deleuze and Guattari: our society is Oedipal.[i] We submit to power because we ourselves are dreaming of achieving that power. The message manifests itself in positive thinking “You can do it!”, “Yes, we can”, “Just do it” etc.. The Fisher King is waiting for you to take his place. Laius must succumb to you eventually, no matter how cruel he is to you now, no matter how much he wills your destruction. You are destined to step into his shoes and become the King of Thebes and, “Everybody loves a winner.”
Deleuze and Guattari argued[ii] that to fight the system one first of all had to become anti-Oedipal and become an orphan (breaking family ties), an atheist (without beliefs), and a nomad (without ties to any particular region, state or culture). To that list we would like to add a but – but without submitting to nihilism.
So, in our terms, the revolutionary must learn to be an orphan, an atheist, a nomad and an anti-nihilist believer in necessities.
Of course there seems to be a contradiction here: how can an atheist – the non-believer – also be an anti-nihilist moralist redeemer, the kind, let’s say, who believes and who can distinguish between good and evil. In order to resolve this apparent contradiction we would need to analyse what belief and non-belief is, starting with the premise that the pure non-believer does not really exist and the second, seemingly absurd proposition that it is possible to believe and not-believe at the same time. Here we don’t have room for such an analysis but … meanwhile, let a quote from the anti-Oedipal Nietzsche act as post data …
Nietzsche believed, like us, that the future survival of humanity required “another sort of spirit than those we are likely to encounter in this age.” What he called “the redeeming man of great love and contempt, the creative spirit who is pushed out of any position outside or beyond by his surging strength again and again, whose solitude will be misunderstood by the people as though it were a flight from reality – whereas it is just his way of being absorbed, buried and immersed in reality so that from it, when he emerges into the light again, he can return with redemption of this reality … This man from the future will redeem us, not just from the ideal held up till now, but also from those things which had to arise from it, from the great nausea, the will to nothingness, from nihilism, that stroke of midday and of great decision that makes the will free again, which gives its purpose and man his hope again, this Antichrist and anti-nihilist, this conqueror of God and of nothingness – he must come one day.”[iii]
Our redeemer must be Antichrist, Anti-Oedipus and Anti-Nihilist. The old edifice must be pulled right down to allow a new foundation of true, human reality to be laid. A foundation rooted in human purposiveness and a renewal of our necessary partnership with the world that is so important for our existence. Only from this completely new foundation will be able to reconstruct anything truly meaningful. Only from the ruins of our anti-human civilisation will be able to build the Human one.
[i] SEE Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, Capitalism and Schizophrenia
[iii] F. Nietzsche, On the Geneology of Morality, II, xxiv