Friday, October 15, 2010

The modern idea

We must remember that capitalism imposes its authority and establishes a value system at the same time. Controversy erupts over "values" anytime the imposition of authority is assumed; this is why we have "culture wars": we want our values to prevail in an environment that cannot tolerate others.

But in every instance we are encouraged to formulate our ideas in ways that do not betray our economic requirements. Liberals can rail against the private sector on election day while dutifully comprising its professional tier; conservatives can endorse a populist rebellion in "defense" of capitalism only to be mocked by its ruling class. In either case, it is the practice of independence combined with the deviation from prescribed values that is absent.

It is important to understand, as Marx often emphasized, that capitalism is an authoritarian system of progressive values. It contains within it the modern idea.

The story of our world today is one in which people are responding to the authority of global capital. They are responding to the authority, and they are responding to the values that this authority imposes. Moreover, they are responding to those values in a particular way because they are being imposed.

We have to be able to look at our relationship to authority, especially dominant authority, before we can congratulate or condemn ourselves for holding particular values. A free society would let people maintain whatever values they want, so long as they are not imposed on others. Consequently we are enjoined to oppose that imposition, not "values" in and of themselves.

3 comments:

Charles F. Oxtrot said...

We have to be able to look at our relationship to authority, especially dominant authority, before we can congratulate or condemn ourselves for holding particular values.

WHAMMO!

That oughta give pause to a reader or two. Nicely done, JRB.

Beyond the Pwoggiedome said...

Yes, exactly. The state imposes its will on all of us, even though we were born free. The idea we need to fight for our "rights" is ludicrous. We are free, and always have been. That's why the "legal system" is a farce. It is just a justification for the elite to impose their destructive "values" on us.

C├╝neyt said...

I like this.

I would like to see you apply it to some relevant groups or movements of our era.