In the Age of Corporatism, Repression attacks Our Minds First
One of the concluding arguments in Lenin’s “The Revolution Summed Up”, states that “Imperialism – the era of bank capital, the era of gigantic capitalist monopolies, of development of monopoly capitalism into state-monopoly capitalism – has clearly shown an unprecedented growth in its bureaucratic and military apparatus in connection with the intensification of repressive measures against the proletariat both in the monarchical and in the freest, republican countries” (emphases added).
It is on these conclusions that I want to expand.
We are currently living in a time far past state-monopoly capitalism: a state of such unhinged and unrestricted capitalism, that Business, having gone through such an “unprecedented growth”, has turned to Big Business; that is, into Corporations that have effectively gained the upper-hand (POWER) in the sphere of influence over the government and society. In fact, Corporations – by somehow managing to dupe the legal system and, by extension, the world, into granting them full legal human-status, with all the rights and responsibilities this entails (though the latter is much more dubiously interpreted) – and even with their own “military apparatus” – evidenced by the growing use of Mercenaries in state-wars: privately hired soldiers – have gained all the means with which to both undermine the working class’ interests, and overtake the state in matters of policy-making, most notably today in regards to environmental issues.
We are living in the age of Corporatism.
Lenin mentions the “intensification of repressive measures against the proletariat”. Surely, due to the historical context in which he wrote this, I assume Lenin thought of repressive measures in the sense of military or armed force against the proletariat; he also must’ve included democratic repression in the sense of limiting suffrage, participation, etc., to the higher classes in the regular bourgeoisie-democracy. But I doubt that he or even Marx or Engels could have foreseen the level of mental repression that this system would resort to in order to perpetuate itself.
Today, repressive measures, though still obviously palpable in the regular democratic process through the coveting of influence over policy making, resulting in environmental degradation, economic dominance over weaker countries through free trade zones and the like, the cutting of benefits to injured workers, the precarious pension situation (in many countries of the First World), and in the million of other ways that Corporations influence the government in their own favour – despite all of this abuse inherent in the bourgeoisie-democratic system, today repressive measures can also be witnessed in the type of Social Neglect and Detachment that, while masqueraded as “individualism”, has in actuality alienated human beings from each other through unrealistic portrayals of Fashion and Beauty (aesthetics); through Hollywood and the growing influence of Television over our lives (our critical- and world-view); but, perhaps most effectively and subtly acquired, through the massive expansion of the technological-electronics field.
In the Age of Corporatism, Social Alienation and Detachment Begin at Home
Today, it is almost unnatural for a kid 10 or 11 years old (what we now call a tween), to not have an I-phone, a Tablet or any other such gadget. In fact, some schools in the United States are apparently making it mandatory in every class. The ingenious cunning of the Corporation, of course, is that while this type of gadget alienates the kid from both his nature as a child and from his peers (as I will momentarily describe), it also makes it practically indispensable for the child’s education and culturalization process, as today’s level of “success” is heavily linked to our technological know-how. So while he shouldn’t have it, he should. The news talked not about whether the children should use the Tablets at school or not; they were concerned with how long they should use it for.
Why does a kid that is 10 years old need so many gadgets? With enough lucidity, it can even be argued that adults carry/own too many gadgets that, for the most part, they can do without (as I contend, indeed, but not the focus of this paper). But for a child? Good God, Man!!
Well, now let’s look at reality, and how alienation begins right at home.
As soon as the gadgets become mandatory, every kid demands and “needs” one (yet another example of Manufactured Needs), even those whose parents are “mere” labourers – proletarians – and can therefore barely afford one, if they can at all! This tension, at least in close families, antagonizes the dynamics as the parents either A) have to work longer and harder to make the money to afford the gadget, which leads to physical as well as mental turmoil and which, many times, even leads to fights or discomfort at home; or B) the parents feel impotent as they cannot afford the gadgets, either because they cannot get more hours, or even despite getting them; this type of mental depression, however temporary, afflicts the best of parents as much as if their kid had died.
Class Antagonisms now also become a much more real battle.
Now the kids whose parents can’t afford one are either rejected by their peers, or sneered at, or are simply made fun of, which in any culture demoralizes a young pup. Even the parents who may not be able to afford one for their kids may feel smaller in front of their counterparts. Furthermore, the kids feel a monumental type of social alienation, which, particularly in these countries (First World) is nothing to be sneered at. The type of violent, psychotic crimes (or border-line psychotic), that sees social pariahs raping, mutilating, assassinating, killing in series (serial-killers), sexual predators, and a thousand other such atrocities occurring at an alarming rate in the more developed countries (First World) is no sheer coincidence.
The amount of social neglect kids grow up with at school, as I have just described, is just one way – one of the most “modern” ways. Social Neglect, today, also begins at home, as parents either A) have to both work to support the family and therefore leave the kids alone at home or to grow up with a nanny; B) succumb to divorce – which in these countries, again, not by coincidence, the rate is of over 50%, or one of every two marriages – and therefore become absent parents, letting their kids grow up seeing various “boyfriends” and “girlfriends” come in and out of their lives, particularly in this “modern” world of Internet-Dating; or C) are social pariahs themselves that unfortunately had kids, but to whom they pay no attention at all (if not outright mistreat). The effects on the children’s social lives – even when they don’t culminate in psychotic, violent behaviour – are undeniably monstrous.
The Capitalist Machine – The Corporation, in our time – so cunningly gets us to fight among ourselves, among our family, our friends, our co-workers, and hate or, at the very least, envy those who can afford what we cannot. IT separates and divides us, the masses.
In the Age of Corporatism, The Family has Broken Down
Moreover, the breakdown of the Family – the real collapse of the type of family-values that are expected to be instilled at home to subsequently be expanded onto society – is another grim reality in our modern world of “Individualism” and “Modernity”; in our Age of Technology and Internet.
The “Modern Family” today looks very much like the sketch we saw above: at best, the step-parents are nice, and the new family, with step-children and step-brothers, gets along fine, perhaps even occasionally visiting with the other parent on weekends. In other cases, the single parent is a modern parent, a liberal parent, who dates various people, hoping perhaps to find another “the one”. The parent strives first to be the kid’s friend; then to be his parent.
Meanwhile, the children, at home, are just how society teaches us we are outside of home: by ourselves, on our own. They grow up with nannies, in the best scenarios, and no real parental control (and in this concept is included the type of love, attention and vigilance that parents need to exert over their children). Sometimes, to compensate for their absenteeism, the parents become too lenient, almost embarrassed to tell their kids not to do certain things since they themselves are doing it. Nothing is wrong anymore. Everyone is either a “liberal” or “antiquated”.
Nothing is indecent anymore: some of the “Best T.V.” consists of shows depicting broken families, cheating husbands and wives, young drug-addicts, etc. And anything that can still be deemed “indecent”, perhaps under irrefutable circumstances, can at least be “justified”. Thus, more and more husbands and wives (or boyfriends and girlfriends) cheat on each other, “just to get their attention”, having felt “neglected” or “not loved”. Everything is ok! Nothing is wrong! Morality, Truth, Virtue and Justice are all Subjective. Nothing is absolute. Plus, we see it depicted in every movie, T.V. sitcom and “reality show” as “normal”, as “part of life”, as something to try to avoid individually, but which inevitably exists socially, making it therefore something inescapable.
Another way kids grow up alienated from each other is manifested in their obsession, as we’ve seen, even at an early age, with having/owning tech-toys like Tablets, Cell-phones, I-pads, etc. Thus, children play with their “tech-toys” first, then go outside to play with other children (many times, even while they are hanging out, they are playing on their own individual gadgets).
And thus we see how the Corporation has, from a very early age, taught us dependence, not even on one another, but on a virtual world outside of ourselves. We become experts on using technology practically before we develop the ability to think for ourselves and think critically; the Corporation thus teaches us enough to simply reproduce (not evolve) ourselves and our immediate interests (before, in Marx’s time, Capitalism merely paid us enough); the ‘individual’ thus grows up “barely [casting] [his] goals beyond the day”, as Nietzsche’s Zarathustra puts it, looking only to the most convenient way he can get by, make money and “live well”.
In the Age of Corporatism, the Masses get “Trickled” On
In the Corporatist Society (most notably in the First World), the individual grows up realizing the ease with which he can make fast money. Parents send their kids to work from early on (15 or 16 years old), so that they may “learn the value of money” (I’m not even mentioning the social aspect of “taking away a kid’s youth”, though it is something to talk about). And we do: we grow up learning both how hard it is to make money and how pleasurable it is to spend it – also how good and important “IT” makes us feel, whether in actuality or just in our own perception. Those same parents then push their kids to go to school and “make something of themselves” so that they may become “successful”, which in the coldest fashion, they measure by the amount of money they will make.
We thus grow up adoring money – exulting it – so those of us who choose (or rather who have the means) to go to University prefer to take Finances, International Business and Economics, at least as serious, “hard” majors; we choose Political Science and Literature as “soft” majors, often when we’re “not sure of what we want to do”. Our priorities have switched – our sense of Culture has taken second place, though far, far back, to our Love and Need for Money.
(I’m excluding from this analysis those who choose to go to school and who choose their careers based on Ideology: People who love their field, whatever it may be – Journalism, Medicine, Law, Education, Etc. Reality has shown that this group – in the First World – is the minority.)
Those who don’t go to university or college try to find the best job they can – that is, whatever job pays more money. Thus you see kids that are 19 and 20 years old beginning the long and arduous career in the construction field. As adults, or simply when they’re a little older, though physically exhausted and beaten, many times in unhappy marriages, they still revel in the fact that they can “buy themselves anything they want”: the supposed cornerstone of “Freedom” and “Liberty”.
The Corporation, thus, revels!!! IT wins when we Love Money, because IT knows that we’d do Anything to Get IT (“money makes the world go ‘round”).
And the Human – with inherited Real Human Status, as opposed to granted – is left at the mercy of the Market. If he/she were lucky and studied Finances and Business, or – in the case of other professionals like Journalists or Lawyers or Artists, etc. – if he/she plays by the rules, that is, if he/she doesn’t ask the questions that mustn’t be asked, or rattle the cages that mustn’t be rattled, or express the massive social discontent/alienation through art, music and dance that mustn’t be seen, heard or felt; that is to say, if they adhere to the laws of the game, they will become a “success”.
For the rest – for the Proletariat – for the working class – for the engines of all that production and “success” – for the masses…They’re lucky if they allow themselves to be “Trickled” On…