Happiness versus “Winningness”

The concept of neoliberal capitalism is a competitive race for exploitative control of resources; “greed is good”. This ”western” model predicated on an imperialist zeitgeist is popularized through the top down command and control models of social engineering. Socially, it is a hair’s breadth from the panopticon proposed by Jeremy Bentham in the 18th Century.

The preceding sentence offers a view of a “sustainable” paradigm based on appropriation, patriarchy and power relations up to the point that the biosphere no longer supports this process of dregradation.

Tempted as I am to follow with Aristotle’s golden mean and some neat quotes about “the pursuit of happiness,” I will instead cover the concept of “winning.” Simply put winning posits a competition, a game.

Ideological devices which constrain thinking are probably hard wired into the ten thousand year old ancestor in whose body and brain weconcurrently exist. Winning offers a “prize.” Chomsky makes the point that this particular colonial game has existed for at least 500 years.

At this point I should list the facts, demonstrate proof of unsustainable inequalities, predation and destruction, but why? Many are clear and evident without me spray painting another layer of lacquer. I will not address issues of inequality as subtext for the premise based on competition for resources, predicated as it is on competing models of “scarcity.”

Instead I will focus on what is attainable. What is possible. The qualities addressed in this essay are aesthetics, harmony and potential for truth. To begin with, a basic assumption; the idea that truth underpins reality.

In the poetry of Keats; “beauty is truth, truth beauty – that is all.

Buadrillard (1994 p79, 80) makes the point that the current increase in accessible information is correlated to a diminution of meaning. A signification point echoed in the construction of this hypothesis is that socialization is measured by exposure to media messages (argued by McLuhan). Tom Peters, quoted by Rifkin, neatly ties the strings,” the new operative words are myth, fantasy and illusion” Rifkin (2000 p164).

Plato in “the allegory of the cave” offered a similar view 1600 years earlier. The principle is not new, formed as it is in the communication of ideas. A key signifier in technological thinking is the advance that occurs through thinking as language and language as writing. As each one distances itself from the preceding moment and is caricatured in form, shape and substance, it deconstructs its original meaning, encapsulated later in what Derrida calls the “grapheme.”

There are many constituent parts of this idea grouped into the “exteriorality” of social groups, but to paraphrase and end this process of deconstruction; “rationality …no longer issues from logic” Derrida (1997p97), being based on the external form. This process evinces most clearly in the boxing of identity into “application forms,” standard forms”, “programs” all concerned with the exterior simulation of normalcy.

McLuhan argues, “civilized man has uniform attitudes, habits and rights with all other civilized people through the “authority at a distance” of words as “agents of aggressive order” McLuhan (2008 p89-90).

“The phonetic alphabet sacrificed worlds of meaning having no means of translating the magically discontinuous traditional world into the cool and uniform visual meaning,” McLuhan (2008 p91) …”a mobile exterior, commuting cool and modern-an interior shriveled by the same old values,” Baudrillard (1994 p63). It is a key conceptualization regarding capitalism, the constant reinvention of the “new” which runs concurrently with the destruction of the “old.”

In essence all absolutist regimes hold this key potentiality. The colonial exposition of “free trade” mandated through statuesque and burlesque entities such as the world Bank, the UN, WTO and the IMF needs very little explanation when counterpointed with realities of international corporate culture. These days you would need to be an active fool to be fooled by it.

While I am leaving broad spaces between the various strata of my argument, starting from beauty, truth, word to decree and corporate governance, the ideas are closely related. Word is the governance of an idea, a box containing prescribed functions, a metaphysical structuring of form into human terms.

The planet is outside. It is real. We have heaped many miseries on it, mostly because we see our game of life as the “game” of life.

This is the central conceit. The planet is external to our domination. Our destruction is not a game, it is a destruction of life. What appears to have happened is that we have lost the “meaning of life.”


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