Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Peasantry, Consanquinity & The Common Good Vs. Capitalism, Broken Bonds & Isolation

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Alan: I was fortunate to live among Mexican peasants starting in 1967 when I was 19. 

Although "the peasantry" had been seriously degraded by the late 1980s (at least in The New World), during the '60s and '70s -- when I spent nearly a third of my time in (or near) vital peasant communities -- it was transparently clear that peasants' lives were based on "the mutual bonding of individuals" but whose individualism was subsumed by an enveloping Whole that was more important than its atomized parts. 

Paradoxically, the overarching matrix of consanguineous society was "The System" that best insured the survival and "thrival" of the individual peasants embedded in "The System."

Radical Individualism, largely wrought by the privatizing/individualizing values of Christian Protestantism has displaced -- and is en route to destroying -- "The Common Good," "The General Welfare" and any semblance of a "Social Contract." 

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The isolationism of conservative Christianity has displaced the essential communitarianism of peasant life, replacing "The Common Good," "The General Welfare" and a "Social Contract" with "the invisible hand of the marketplace" - an impersonal mechanism that is most profitable to The Ruling Class (both economically and politically) when automatic economic mechanisms are left to operate "automatically" in the cultivated absence of any deliberate human input.

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Alan: Christian "conservatives" are eager to criticize any aspect of modernity, except for the corrupting influence of Capitalism itself. Since Christian "conservatives" are fundamentally driven by economic pragmatism, they cannot risk asking any question that might reveal the essential wrongness (aka sinfulness) of their pom-pom participation in Capitalism -- The Goose That Lays The Golden Egg.

Metaphorically speaking, Capitalism's replacement of peasant "personalism" with impersonal capitalist mechanisms is kin to the cynical realization that "spouses" can be replaced by servants, surrogates and prostitute/gigolos.

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Overshadowed by the dominion of Cowboy Capitalism, our "Social" Contract has become a pastiche of commercial contracts individually purchased with "cash on the barrelhead."

How exactly, does "value" degrade into "price?"


The "value" of grandparent baby-sitters (in the traditional "three-generation family") is replaced by the "price" of "live-in nannies" and "the kid down the block" who can use a couple o' bucks.

At bottom, capitalism makes most human interactions money-only-transactions that are as interchangeable as anonymous "worker-cogs" in industrial -- and post-industrial -- society. 

The cornerstone of capitalism -- at least the cornerstone of unregulated "Cowboy Capitalism" -- is a narrow-and-narrowing economic system that degrades social value by substituting  impersonal transactions based on "price" for the rich interactions of healthy society based on interpersonal "value".

"To Raze A Village: The Modernization Of A Thousand Year Old Culture," Helena Norberg-Hodge

Just this week, the state of Oregon ratified capitalist depersonalization statewide by eliminating the legal requirement that gas station employees "fill your tank" for you, and instead devolved this ubiquitous "personal interaction" between "attendant" and "car owner" to the automaticity of "self-help gas-pumping" and "credit card payment mediated by machine."

Donald Trump -- with his trophy wives and passion for impersonal sex -- is The Capitalist Dream come true. 

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In Trump's world, there is no need for interpersonal  relationship, only the solipsistic determination to grab personal pleasure within the gated confines (and non-disclosure agreements) of each individual's Xanadu fantasy.

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Catholic priest and 20th century intellectual titan Ivan Illich described the disappearance of "value" at the hands of "price" - a capitalist battering ram that renders transactions impersonal, if not prostitutional.

Until Cowboy Capitalism "won" The Industrial Revolution, economic transactions -- which had been "look-me-in-the-eye neighborly" -- were now impersonal and merely monetary, the only requirement being to "cross a person's palm with silver" in much the same way that the Chief Priests of ancient Israel "bought" Judas with a sackful of coins. 

At least metaphorically, Judas hung himself when he realized that material rewards mean nothing against the loss of personal relationship.

The functional primacy of Cowboy Capitalism's "merely economic transactions" (between-and-among de-socialized individuals) is effluvium in comparison to the social validation and pervasive nurturance of social relationships that inform peasant and tribal societies from the ground up.

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In effect, peasants and tribaists have always put "the horse before the cart," whereas hell-bent Capitalism puts it the other way 'round.

And so, peasant society -- humankind's dominant social form since the dawn of civilization -- presupposes The Primacy of Society, whereas individualism -- indispensable in its derivative way -- performs a secondary role.

In peasant communities, local society is identical to consanguineous family in which every member of the community is related by blood or marriage. 

And in peasant society The Whole is the synergistic amalgam of its individual parts. 

"To Raze A Village: The Modernization Of A Thousand Year Old Culture," Helena Norberg-Hodge

Alternatively, in advanced capitalism, "rugged individualism" is a narrowly economic (and anti-social) system in which individuals, wrenched from comprehensively meaningful society, have enough money to purchase the consolations of "priced products," whose role is, on one hand, to satisfy humankind's material needs, while simultaneously orchestrating an economic matrix in which "purchaseable products" attempt to fill the unfillable void left by the destruction of humankind's indispensable social matrix. 

In turn, the destruction of social meaning inflames the desire to purchase "priced products" marketed as "fulfilling" but intrinsically incapable of replacing lost social meaning.

In a word, Capitalism insures that "what's bad for society is good for business."

In capitalist society, The Individual is apotheosized and Society is systematically dismantled.

As Episcopalian minister and Jungian analyst John Sanford put it: "Isolation is the breeding ground of evil." 

"Gender," Ivan Illich

Gender And Division Of Labor

Ivan Illich Compendium

"The People's Priest," An Ivan Illich "Obituary" From "The American Conservative"

Evil: What The Shadow Knows
An Interview with Episcopalian priest and Jungian analysit, John Sanford

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