A Lonely Consciousness, and False

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7 Responses

  1. MFarmer says:

    “humans under liberal capitalism are “atomized.””

    And, why is that? Although we aren’t under liberal capitalism, I’m curious.Report

    • JosephFM in reply to MFarmer says:

      To hazard a guess:
      Because a true market economy (or indeed a compromised mixed economy such as we have now) is premised on individual liberty and individual choice, which cannot exist without the philosophical ideal of the individual consciousness as a thing in itself, divorced from society, an ideal which did not exist until at least the 15th century and which was a fundamental break with pre-modern metaphysics.

      Capitalism requires the elevation of the individual will and individual judgement, which alienates us from one another, and from the true nature of the universe – basically, from God.

      I’m not at all sure I agree with this (though I’m inclined to it at more paleocon-leaning times), but that’s the argument as best I understand it.Report

  2. Rufus F. says:

    I think you’re right that I tried to elude- actually intentionally missed- the radicalism of those critiques, mostly out of skepticism that any programs to undo the order of things will work at this point. I think the psychological turn was an attempt to avoid the fact that I both feel that atomization on a personal level that has recently reached a crisis point, as I recently attempted to articulate here, and haven’t the slightest idea what program to change objective conditions offers any hope of actually doing so. And, I suppose part of taking that turn is holding out hope that, while things certainly seem to me to be the way you’ve described them, maybe I’m wrong and it’s just affectual- subjective instead of objective. Certainly, there’s a large mental health establishment dedicated to servicing that hope.Report

  3. Francis says:

    I’m not sure pre-Enlightenment folks spent all that much time worrying about loneliness, anomie and the meaning of life. They were more worried about food.

    That said, there’s plenty about modern America that sucks. How many people are all that secure in their work? (so now, there’s plenty of food, you just can’t afford it. This is progress?) It seems that the fundamental message of liberal capitalism is that you might get fired at any time, and conservatives are trying to extinguish what little remains of social safety nets, so work your ass off and don’t make waves. This appears to be profitable for capitalists, but it’s not so good for labor. (How capitalists have persuaded people without capital to vote pro-capital / anti-labor policies [here and elsewhere around the world] is one of the great mysteries of the planet to me.)

    In addition to being unemployed (back in school), I’m worried about (in no particular order) (a) the unequal distribution of wealth in our society; (b) killing foreigners to get peace; (c) what the Republicans actually want to do if they actually take power; (d) global warming; (e) drought in western states; (f) the destruction of commercial fisheries globally; (g) the deficit; and (h) my ever-expanding waistline. What’s keeping you up nights?Report

  4. MFarmer says:

    So, how should it be? What economic system is necessary to avoid atomization?Report

  5. Simon K says:

    Count me as unconvinced. A lot of the much-vaunted community of the past was involuntary – you had to stay with your band, village, family, army, or whatever or you’d starve. While forcing people to cooperate through circumstance may well produce deep and abiding friendships (and enmities), all the evidence says that given the choice people don’t do it. Consider the closest things we have to involuntary community now – adult children still living at home, or taking care of elderly parents, homeowners associating meetings, the local city council … these are not things from which we derived joy, even if they may involve substantial heroism and deep emotions (okay, not the HOA meetings – those are just annoying). All the evidence says that given the choice, people avoid involuntary community. Voluntary community just produce the same level of drama – a girl ditches you on a date, or someone unfriends you of facebook just doesn’t produce the same depth of emotion as your children starving because the potatoes got blight.

    What changed is that we have an economic system now that produces more-or-less enough for everyone based mostly on voluntary relationships. That is a considerable acheivment.Report