THE PARANOID DEMANDS OF CAPITALISM

Image result for monopoly

Capitalism demands results. For this reason, it begins scientifically and ends anti-scientifically. The experiment in science is an attempt to prove the validity of a theorem, while in capitalism the experiment has to prove the validity of a dogma.

For the capitalist, the Universe revolves around his or her reality, which is how to make as much profit as possible from MY object. The total immersion in and obsession with this MY, which later becomes an insincere OUR, makes capitalism essentially a paranoiac.

Obviously a world dominated by the paranoid civilisation that is global-capitalism is hardly suited to humanism. For this reason, human-rights are for the majority of human beings, a largely deceitful concept. This lack of faith is part of an inverted condition of mutual suspicion because, in capitalist terms, anything that deals with the human is also untrustworthy. The human, for the capitalist, is a malicious concept, designed to undermine and diminish the MY which is “MY OBSESSION”.

But … what is the MY in capitalism?

It is not “me” but rather what I produce in order to obtain profits for myself, with the emphasis on the profits. The MY reality is equivalent to MY PROFITS.

Results in capitalism are, quite simply, PROFIT INCREASE. This is what capitalism demands. To be a good capitalist you must be obsessed with money. When the capitalist system talks of progress it means Maximising Profits.

The big letters manifest themselves proudly in the capitalist mind: P= Profit; Progress; Power and M= Me; Maximum; Money. PM and MP – capitalist fantasies ardently opposed to the letter H.

 

THE GIFT OF COMMUNISM

Communism was a great gift for capitalism because it enabled it to channel its hatred for the human into another term. It would have been difficult for the capitalists to maintain an aggressive dialectic against its real enemy humanity, but communism gave it the opportunity to do just that without the slightest complex of guilt.

It is hard to argue the ethical position that humanity is trying to rob me of my freedom to make profits, but the image of the communist oppression of individuality, easily transferred onto even milder forms of leftist politics like social-democracy, can be a seemingly valid argument to protest against an anti-capitalist tyranny perpetrated by humanity. Human-rights activists or ecologists now become easily slandered as “communists”.

Nevertheless, when the capitalist thinks of the left, he or she is really thinking of humanity. Humanity is the real enemy of capitalism.

 

CAPITALISM’S MONOPOLY DEATH-KNELL

For the capitalist, competition is healthy, it keeps the capitalist on his or her toes. But, how can MY PRODUCTS compete against Humanity? In order to keep the ruthless game of competition alive, everything must remain fragmented – there can be no monopolies.

And here we get to the paradoxical nature of capitalism: the aim of capitalism is to get results; which is to maximise profits; which is to grow; which is to swallow the competitors; which is to create your own competition; which is to become a monopoly – which is the death of capitalist freedom; which is the death of capitalism.

This is the contradiction rooted in the very essence of capitalism itself. the obsessive paranoia of the capitalist, constantly pushing forward to get results, can only, if successful, convert the capitalist – in the focal point of everyone else’s paranoias.

Advertisements

THE WOEFULNESS OF WEALTH AND THE LOTTERY OF LIFE

Image result for woefulness of wealth

Wealth has always been a reactive and cynically pessimistic force, for it essentially raises and protects itself by stimulating and encouraging whilst at the same time destroying or negating the great hopes of humanity. In fact, through its manipulation of all the agents of power, it replaces humanity with fantasies of the national spirit, of religious crusades or jihads, of the glory of Empire, or, in the case of capitalism, with the illusion of individual freedom and the achievements such phantasmagorical freedoms can bring.

All of these fantasies have a common cause – to dehumanise the human and diffuse any common aims through separation and segregation. Wealth is about disconnection, the establishment of differences. The stance of Wealth is of Us against Them; of Master and Slave; of our Gain against their Loss.

The result of the accumulation in Wealth of the Few is an intensifying of the Poverty of the Many. Capitalism has long been successful in creating the mirage of satisfaction through the seeming great progress toward the technological man. But the price paid by Wealth in the mechanisation and digitalisation of society is one of an unveiling of its own trickery. As civilisation falls deeper into an unauthenticity, society becomes more and more scarred by the false, virtual reality imposed on them; a reality lacking in true potentials; where everyone has an opportunity to be successful, whether talented or not, but success depends on it being an elitist concept. Only a small few can be truly successful, even though anyone and everyone has a chance. Life therefore becomes a lottery, and as more players come into the game, the prize swells but the chances of winning it are less and less.

But the mirror of the simulated reality of false potentials that we are facing has formed fissures and cracks. The distortions caused by these cracks allows us to look past the false image in order to discover that everything is mounted on an empty blackboard. Below the fragile surface of the mirror there is … nothing.

POLITICS AS A DESIRE FOR NON-POWER

Image result for abolish money

The cry for Real Democracy demands a reappraisal of the voting systems that undemocratically favour two major parties, nearly always the centre right and centre left. liberal-democratic parties, who themselves ensure a continuation of the dominant capitalist-economy of the global world civilisation. Most Western-style democracies have cheating mechanisms which are designed, according to their supporters, to provide “strong” governments.

From a point of view of political comfort, the cheating mechanisms seem to be necessary for maintaining a desirable stability. We have seen in the last few years how the arrival of more radical parties into the governmental scenario (e.g.: in Greece, Spain and Italy) has done little to make any fundamental changes to the system. Anti-capitalist parties have been castrated by the global capitalist-economy. Because of this, the System falls into an impossible paradox in which winning power becomes political suicide for radical parties.

But what if the objectives of winning the elections were radically opposed to power itself: that instead of gaining power, the objective of the radicals is to create non-power? Can we imagine a political party with an anti-power ideology? Of course this sounds like anarchism, but let’s ask why anarchism is so scarcely seen in democracies? Why do we think we need power so much when, over and over again, we see how greedy and selfish it is?

The reason is that Power in our economics-driven society is inextricably tied to the flow of money. Power makes and distributes the wealth. It is an underlying belief in our society that without money we would die, and this means Power is related to survival, and only when Power threatens our survival, as it did in 18th century France or 20th century Russia and China, will major revolutions take place. That Power is inextricably aligned with Wealth is no secret, but when that alliance is seen as a threat by societies to our welfare and as an endangering force in our lives, it starts to be questioned, and the seeds of revolution begin to sprout.

However, a real revolution can only truly hope to succeed if it attacks the real source of the problem, which is the relationship between Power and Wealth, and which stems from the inextricable bond between Power and money. In other words, only by questioning monetarisation and envisaging societies in which money as we know it no longer has to play a part, will successful revolution or purposeful political change ever come about.

But for this to happen, political activists have to enter the political scene not with a thirst for power, but with a desire for non-power.

Fear of Frankenstein

The birth of the 21st century has seen societies infected by a collective Frankenstein Fear psychosis, in which Civilisation has to deal with the terrifying monsters of its own creation.

We are lost in the abysmal condition in which the exportation of our own values, creates and inspires an importation of monsters fabricated by those same values.

In the culture of competitiveness, a society of winners and losers is created. In the culture of competitiveness, the losers fall into exclusion zones. In the culture of competitiveness, it is logical that the losers will want to revenge themselves on the winners, but to do so, the excluded will have to invade the realm of the privileged.

Because of this, terrorism and all other revenge-wreaking monstrosities, have to be formulated as a logical consequence of, and, as such, as an integral part of a culture of competitiveness. It is not a cancer in the system; it is a logical result of that system.

Terrorism is evil, but the culture whose nature logically inspires terrorism is evil as well.

 

THE CRIMINAL NARRATIVE

Albert Camus made a differentiation between two kinds of crimes: crimes against capital and crimes against logic.[i] In actual fact, the second crime supports the first. In order to get away with a major money heist the blue-blooded criminal knows he or she must first create a narrative that will turn their crime into something normal; and to do that they need to simply distort logic. It is behind smoke-screens of bent rationality that the most audacious crimes are committed over and over again. They call these smoke-screens, “The Economy”.

In order to ensure that the money always rises to the top of the pile, the ones behind the levitation act feed societies with an Economy Narrative that is completely based and reliant on a logic of deception. It is a logic that justifies their greed, and it does so with total approbation from the greater part of society, even though it is degrading, debilitating and harmful for the vast majority of human beings. To achieve this lying distortion, create their own reality, and convince the masses to support that reality, the first thing that is done is extract “humanity” from the argument. Instead of using exchange to benefit the whole of humanity, therefore, the Economy Narrative talks about what is good for “The Market”.

The criminal distortion of logic in the Economy Narrative cannot function within an authentically human society. Its logical crimes are immediately stripped bare when shown against the backdrop of humanity. When seen from the human point of view, the crimes are immediately revealed for what they are – crimes against humanity. If we change “Market” for “Humanity” the whole Economy Narrative falls apart. And so, the criminal of capital knows, the human point of view has to be eradicated. Once this is done, the crime against logic creates a kind of story that will encourage the victims of capital’s thieving to think like criminals themselves by indoctrinating them with criminal dreams and fantasies. Once society itself has bought this dream, the smoke-screen is up and the real pillaging of all capital can take place in earnest.

With humanity out of the picture, society becomes a herd of individualities, each one mesmerised by his or her unique condition of being an individual within the Market, but driven by the barking sheepdog who pushes them together, inculcating fear with his barks of anything outside of the circle that might threaten the Market enclosing the herd and which is so absolutely necessary for its well-being.

Whilst the individuals are busy watching their neighbours and praying for the health of the Market, the big picture, and the awesome crimes that take place there, can be well hidden. And once the bigger picture is veiled it is easy to carry out the great systemic robbery: a tremendous magic trick that provokes an uncanny levitation of all wealth.

“We are living in the era of premeditation and the perfect crime,” said Camus.[ii] Economic measures, the so-called economic reforms, are anti-cholesterol remedies to ensure the upward movement of wealth. The term reform is criminally distorted so that it justifies the criminals selfish aims whilst seeming to mean something that is necessary for all of society. And yes, Camus is also right by naming our age, the era of premeditation. It is all carefully planned. What seems like economic chaos is simply a manifestation of pure criminal logic.

[i] Albert Camus, The Rebel, introduction, p. i

[ii] Ibid

FEAR AND FREEDOM

Image result for armed police guarding shops

Our global, capitalist civilisation is starting to feel like a training ground in fear and freedom that could be conceived as a deliberately engineered, vicious circle of social manic-depression.

Tests carried out in the 1990s showed that there was a link between depression and compulsive buying. Fear makes us neurotic and depressed, which is good for the consumer-based economy. In this way, bad news is profitable in the long run, especially if the bad news is propagated to as many potential consumers as possible.

Living in a city policed by heavily armed guards, is depressing; but at least it protects the way out of that depression, guarding the way to the ever-open doors of our next shopping spree.

And so, Civilisation tells us: “Fear the worst, but rejoice in your freedom to shop!”

ON NEUROSIS

Image result for the scream munch

For the neurotic, reality is an intrusion. The neurotic is the one who says: “Life is awful; it is so full of reality.”[i] There is a paradox here: Is the neurotic disturbed because of his or her rejection of reality, or is reality itself something that actually makes life awful, and, therefore, creates the neurotic who finds it intrusive? The neurotic lives an illusion: but that illusion is that things should be better.

From a moral perspective, the neurotic is right – things should be better. But, if this is the case, why can’t we learn from the neurotic? If we listen to the one who thinks things should be better, we might be able to see how better things can actually come about. Instead we nullify the neurotic mind, tranquilising its Utopian-born anxieties with drugs. Civilisation tells us that neurosis is a terrible illness, not a path to enlightenment.

But, how is neurosis an illness? According to Horney the neurotic’s problem is that he or she makes claims on things that they are not actually entitled to.[ii] The result is indignation.

It is here that we see how neurosis seeps into the very fabric of society; through the fantasy of entitlement, which is itself created by the ambiguity of that same entitlement that is fostered by civilisation. How far do our rights go? How extensive are our entitlements? What does our democratic freedom provide us with? Once one starts to attempt to answer these questions, one is pushing oneself ever closer toward a neurosis.

But inspiration itself is a neurosis forming phenomenon. The illusionary reality of the neurotic is encouraged by the System itself: “You deserve that car that you can’t afford, and because you deserve it we will give you the finance for it – all you have to do is pay us back with interest.” The luxury car, in the neurosis creating system, becomes a neurotic need. Of course it isn’t an authentic necessity for anyone, but the system tells us that it is.

The neurotic is a passive creature, “all the good things in life, including contentment of soul, should come to him,”[iii] and the neurosis creating society must also fabricate passivity. A passivity which is linked through neurosis with consumerism.

[i] K. Horney, NEUROSIS AND HUMAN GROWTH, p. 40

[ii] Ibid, p. 41

[iii] Ibid, p. 50

OUR THYMOTIC PATHOLOGY – 1: Fukuyama and Sloterdijk

The ancient Greeks had a concept called thymus which, they believed, explained our unconscious impulses to act. In the Iliad, Achilles does not act consciously, but rather it is Apollo who inspires him to go to battle by stimulating his thymus.

Of course, as a subconscious driving force, thymus can be likened to will, or a physical, personal receiver and motivator of will. Julian Jaynes’, in his book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, argues that the meaning of the word evolved in its classical usage from an original concept of motion or agitation in the unconscious bicameral man, to eventually become something like our emotional soul. Perhaps in its original meaning we could sometimes associate it with energy – when a man grows tired of moving it is because his thymus leaves his limbs – but it must be given a spiritual or psychological quality as well which seems to come and go and even gives us directions. It speaks to us. The thymus can tell a man to eat and drink, or to fight. Diomedes in the Iliad says that Achilles will fight: “when the thymus in his chest tells him and a god rouses him.” Thymus then, is associated with passion.

Fukuyama introduces thymus to us through Plato. From the Republic, Fukuyama tells us that Plato envisaged the soul in three parts: desire, reason and thymus, which Fukuyama translates as spiritedness.

What Fukuyama is looking for constantly in his book is a handy definition of human nature. Definitions which can correspond to liberal-democratic intentions and thus prove Fukuyama’s thesis that liberal-democracy is the most perfect system because it reflects human nature far better than any other. Plato’s triumvirate-soul is perfect for Fukuyama and capitalism: a will to spirited desire that also has a sprinkle of reasonableness to it. Plato of course saw the triumvirate working in a different way. Its tri-nature being an explanation for the constant moral dilemma between our reasoning and our desires. Plato asks: shouldn’t we subject our desires to the judgement of reason against the danger of allowing it to be subjected to passion? Capitalism of course would argue NO. It’s better for the consumer to desire with a passion and consume with a frenzy. Capitalism wants a passionate element to reign in our souls. The kind of passion propounded by the Romantics, the kind advocated by Nietzsche.

To act with passion the consumer needs freedom, and so the liberal-plutocracy encourages it, or at least a hallucinatory version of that freedom. While you are allowed to consume with passion, you will be fully motivated to work in our system, the one, the only one that can provide the drugs one needs to feed one’s consumer-addiction – which is making the few who are pulling the strings get richer whilst the rest sink deeper and deeper into their addiction. Welcome to Huxley’s Brave New World.

For Fukuyama: “Desire and reason are together sufficient to explain the process of industrialisation and a large part of economic life more generally.”[i] But what room is there for reason in a soul that is driven by a spirited, passionate desire? How much reason can we see in an industrialisation which has scarred the planet? How much reason behind those ideas that created a slave-class of factory workers that are now abandoned to unemployment as the system mechanises the same industries? Instead of the noble concept of reason, we see only egotistical ambition. Only selfish reasons based on greed and desire.

Fukuyama perverts Plato’s idea of the soul by associating it with a singularity that is human nature. Plato himself, however, does not make this association, and in the dialogue Socrates is searching for the best individual natures to fit certain positions (e.g. what would be the right soul for an ideal guardian of the city). Plato’s argument is that the appetitive part of the soul that is desire needs to be controlled, not unleashed as capitalism does.

Fukuyama seems quite liberal (no pun intended) with Plato’s thymus. In Republic IV, 436a ff., Socrates asks: “Do we do things with the same part of ourselves or do we do them with three different parts? Do we learn with one part, get angry with another, and with some third part desire the pleasures of food drink, sex, and the others that are closely akin to them? Or when we set out after something, do we act with the whole of our soul in each case?” Or in other words the three parts that Fukuyama refers to are: that with which we learn (reason), that which gets us angry (thymus), and that which fills us with desire. Here Fukuyama’s translation of thymus, spiritedness, would probably be better rendered as passion, for thymus here is the faculty for arousing anger. Drawing this same line of argument Socrates says that he prefers the term appetite to desire, for appetite implies both desire and non-desire. Non-will is just as an important concept for Plato as will. My revulsion at the idea of eating shit is stronger than my love of eating shell-fish. My will for wanting one thing is often measured alongside a will for not wanting something else. It is between will and non-will that choices are made, and preferences. Only a monster will desire everything, and there is another perversion: the culture that wants everything is a monstrous abomination. The natural thing (and this was Plato’s point), the authentically natural thing is that desire should be moderated by a courageous will to not-want, or want-less.

Nevertheless, in Fukuyama’s perverted misreading of Plato, thymus becomes a perfectly positive drive and one necessary for human satisfaction, in fact it is related by Fukuyama to human dignity.

 

Peter Sloterdijk sees thymus, and capitalism, from another angle. After locating the origin of the word thymus in a kind of receptacle through which the gods activated mankind, Sloterdijk suggests that we are still subject to thymotic power. But now it is via the State or the system that thymus returns to its receptacle like function. Instead of being activated by gods it is now programmed by the system. He says: “Current consumerism achieves, in a significant way, the same elimination of pride in favour of the erotic without holistic, altruistic and elegant excuses, by buying from man his interest in dignity, offering material favours in exchange.” The system now functions not as a body-snatcher, but as a dignity-snatcher: “In this way, the construct of the Homo-economicus, at first totally incredible, arrives at his goal of becoming the post-modern consumer. A simple consumer is he or she that doesn’t know or doesn’t want to know different appetites that… proceed from the erotic or demanding part of the soul.”[ii]

For Sloterdijk the rediscovery of the neo-thymotic human image in the Renaissance played an important role in the rise of the Nation State in terms of that which referred to its output. He lists Machiavelli, Hobbes, Rousseau, Adam Smith, Hamilton and Hegel as they who considered men’s passions as their most important qualities: their lust for fame, vanity, self-love, ambition and the desire to be recognised. All of them saw the dangers in their passions but most of them still dared to sell these vices as positive, productive aspects for society.

The thymotic drive is a creative, productive one, but it is also an angry, jealous, violent one. The will-to-want-more (Nietzschean) thymus coupled to the will-to-be-recognised (Hegelian) thymus is a pyrotechnic combination, an act of madness, throwing gunpowder into the fire. But it is what our system has always advocated. Sloterdijk makes a connection between Thymus and the Hippocratic temperament of Choleric. Both the will-to-want-more and the desire for recognition are areas in the thymotic field of psychology. They are questions of appetite and pride, of longing for success and fortune. Dreams: American Disneyland Dreams, fomented by the surplus-consumer society, our dynamic civilisation creating dynamic individuals from thymotic fantasies.

The greatest effect of the French Revolution, and the American War of Independence that preceded it, was not freedom, brotherhood and equality, but the creation of a dynamic civilisation based on the power of competitiveness, constantly fuelled by personal pride, needs for recognition, greedy ambition and motivating envy. It is these drives, applied to politics, which forces us to question our civilisation’s greatest apparent virtue – our liberal democracy.

“For the people, by the people”: by – to a certain, virtual extent; for – hardly.

Our party system is a reflection of our System, which is made of the essentially thymotic so necessary for making the market work in a dynamic way. Thus our parties are passionately competitive, power-hungry machines made up of power-hungry individuals. The parties themselves are divided into hungry factions, and each faction in ambitious individuals. How could we ever expect these vain-glorious competitors to even really care about those who voted for them except when it is useful? For the party to win it needs succulent policies and needs to sell those ideas seductively. It also needs the competitive, power hungry individuals to appear unified, and to seem to believe in the party principles. Principles that even the most utopian democrats will sacrifice to pragmatism. Over and over again the democratic politicians surprise us by their lack of vision, lack of principles and constant bowing to pragmatism.

Pragmatism is really the emergency exit out of all radical ideologies. In the great global liberal-free-market civilisation, political parties function very much like corporate groups. Voters are like customers for Coca-Cola or Pepsi: once they have been won to one side they will be more or less loyal forever. A loyal Coca-Cola consumer will rather have a Fanta than resort to Pepsi if there is no Coke. But more importantly than the loyalties it can create, modern politics is corporate through its internal competitiveness.

If Fukuyama would have been right and the triumph of liberalism had created a politically perfect system, there would no longer be any need for politics. But this is an absurd paradox. The liberal economic system needs competition. It is no surprise that the fall of communism left liberalism euphoric, but also momentarily crippled, and it was actually spiritually wavering until the Twin Towers came crashing down and the War on Terror began. It sounds like a conspiracy theory but for a system based on competition, struggle and ambition, war seems a logical necessity. And since the collapse of the Berlin Wall we have seen the liberal-democracies rushing headlong into almost any conflict that half-rears its head.

On a superficial level Fukuyama’s general thesis that liberal-democracy has triumphed as the only really viable and desirable political system is correct. Even those who don’t vote in the liberal-democrat systems would, if offered a choice, opt for the choice to vote. The grand majority of humankind want the voting option and therefore we can say that we want democracy. We also want all or some of the liberal ideas of freedom, although here we seem to split if we take the ballot-results as a fair measure between market-freedom and human-rights. The bi-partisan system of democracy is liberalism’s finest invention. By possessing its own inner competition it provides itself with its own self-criticism and its own renewal. Apart from the major options of right or left, the liberal-democratic system can offer a multitude of options for more socially complex societies: liberal-nationalism or liberal-catholicism, as well as free-market extremists and soft-core neo-fascisms.

On the surface it seems like a perfectly desirable system. Perfectly?: no, nothing is perfect. Triumphantly waiting it is, for the few last dictatorships to collapse and drop into liberal-democracy mode as well. When that happens it will be able to pronounce, with absolute conviction, that it is the perfect, and now the also the only system. But, ironically Fukuyama himself points to the liberal-democracies’ most dangerous foe. As the political systems to have fallen in the last half century have collapsed so suddenly, often without any pre-warning, taking us all by surprise, could the same happen to liberal-democracy?

[i] Francis Fukuyama, THE END OF HISTORY AND THE LAST MAN, p. xviii

[ii] Peter Sloterdijk, ZORN UND SEIT, author’s own translation from the Spanish edition, p.27

PART TWO:

https://wordpress.com/post/pauladkin.wordpress.com/2485

PROGRESS, NEEDS and THE BEAUTY OF HUMAN MINDS

If we gauge progress according to the fulfilment of life’s needs through the satisfying of pleasure, then we could say that civilisation seems to do very well. This is a most hedonistic society, surely pleasure triumphs. But actually it doesn’t succeed at all. It tries hard but ultimately fails on the biological level of human life, and ignores over and over again the potential for creating pleasure on the psychological (artistic, spiritual and/or intellectual) level.

At the biological level civilisation operates in a rather perverse way. The needs to eat, defecate and reproduce have to be satisfied in a “balanced” way, whilst the civilisation of the homo economicus demands excessiveness and surplus. This in turn creates its own psychosis, as moderation is also a necessary part of the art of pleasure.

On the other hand, and this seems ironic, our psychological space needs to be constantly expansive in order to fulfil human potential. The art of psychological pleasure and the defeat of boredom has to be fundamentally concerned with finding the best way to unleash the creative and intellectual potentials of our minds. We have four areas to do this in: art, philosophy, science and technology. Four areas which are therefore interrelated as perpetrators of the art of pleasure at the psychological level, and which are retarded by the tools of Wealth.

The Big Economy reality that we live in deprecates the enormous wealth of creativity and know-how contained in the vast resource of the billions of thinking brains that make up the human race. Diverse thinking minds, all with an enormous potential that is unappreciated by the system of wealth-accumulation-for-the-wealthy that civilisation protects and propagates. The great cost of this is the enormous lack of exploitation of creativity. Yes, we do see enormous technological advances, but they are self-interested ones, and because of that “limited” advances, veiling the real technological progress that could be made if human creativity and thought were properly unshackled.

The culture of the homo economicus revolves around the cult of money. It disdains art, philosophy and science, except when it can ensure the continuation of the movement of wealth to the wealthy. In the place of these three elements of psychological pleasure we are fed another three more malleable ones: pornography, religion and sport.

But real pleasure is anchored in meaning, and the pleasure of meaningfulness is built through our humanity (unity, love, kindness and social intelligence); justice; transcendence (through hopes, humour, creativity, objectivity and spirituality); intelligence (curiosity, open-mindedness and love of learning); temperance (forgiveness, humility, self-regulation) and our courage and integrity. And in all of these ingredients lie our real potential to be authentic human beings.

The Psychology of Capitalism (1) DEMAND – NEED = DESIRE

quote-i-am-like-any-other-man-all-i-do-is-supply-a-demand-al-capone-31128

This formula (Demand – Need = Desire) comes from Žižek, after Lacan’s Love – Appetite = Desire. But how does this work?

For Lacan, love is a demand, and he talks of the demand of love and the appetite for satisfaction. But not all demands are love and not all love is a demand. Is the appetite for satisfaction the same as need?

At the immediate level of needing to satisfy our physical appetites, the answer would be yes – I am hungry → I have an appetite for food = I need to eat something. A plate of spinach is given the hungry individual. He or she doesn’t particularly like spinach but the hunger is dominant and he or she devours the insipid dish to satisfy that hunger. After the hunger has abated, what is left over? Nothing. There might still be spinach on the plate, but the hunger has gone and the hunger was everything so there is no need to finish the spinach. If it is eaten it will certainly not be with any gusto, for after the hunger is satiated there is no desire left. On the other hand, give the individual a plate of his or her favourite food. The ration is ample enough to satisfy the appetite, the need for food and the hunger is quelled. Nevertheless, the individual is left wanting more. And … this is desire.

In this way we see that desire is a going-beyond need. In its essence it is a demand for more than one need.

Now, by understanding desire this way, we reveal how capitalism works in the realm of desire and needs.

In a mechanical sense, capitalism is a motor for desire which is a transcendence of the relationship between demands and needs that pulls us into a yearning for the unnecessary.

I love pizza. I am hungry. The pizzeria offers three sizes: individual, medium or family size. The family size is enormous; the individual ration is small but sufficient. Desire, however, entices me to buy the middle-size pizza. It will leave me stuffed, feeling unwell even, but … such is desire. The pizza lover after me buys the family sizer. He is alone and won’t be able to finish it, but … he also likes cold pizza. Or he’ll reheat it for breakfast tomorrow.

In this case, the equation is not Demand – Need = Desire but (demanded)Supply – Need = Desire. For capitalism to work, supply must create demand. It is not enough for a business to estimate what people want, it has to create that want. It has to create the market for itself. The realism of consumerism is not that we can have what we would like, but only that which is there. The illusion is that we can get whatever we want in the market place or the department store. Reality, on the other hand, is that we want what we imagine we can get there. What we really want is very often not to be found. One just has to look for a certain style that is no longer in fashion, or a replacement for a broken part of an old machine, or even a pair of shoe-laces for an old pair of shoes or a tooth brush that will slip into one’s old toothbrush-holder, or … a lightbulb that won’t have to be replaced every year, or a medicine to cure one’s arthritis, or a tomato that tastes like the tomatoes we had when we were kids …

For the capitalist market to exist there needs to be obsolescence. The shorter the life-span of a product the better. In the equation Supply = Need + Desire, it does not matter what the values of Need and Desire are as long as both of them have some degree of positive value. The real value for the capitalist is determined by the value in Supply itself, which is really the factor of availability. The greater the availability value is, the more likely it is to generate the Need and Desire necessary to make it a successful business proposition. The main aim is to fill the shelves with your products and leave no room for competition. This is why companies create their own competition – they are filling the space of Supply which determines our Desires and Needs.