Do the elite despise and want to destroy the poor?
How can we explain political choices, such as the recent UK economic policies of austerity that stagnates growth and increases unemployment, due to cuts in public services and welfare benefits (especially championed by welfare chauvinist Ian Duncan-Smith). This policy doesn’t seem to maximize profit extraction from the masses which one would expect a neoliberally minded elite to do, or try to do.
It is said (by Foucault for example) that USA (Reagan/Thatcher style) neoliberal capitalist ideology minimizes state intervention, and believe in a ‘free’ market. Presumably because this maximixes the potential for self-interested individuals to suck surplus profits out of waged Labour and the mystical financialised markets for debt trading.
But, strangely, politicicans of austerity also claim to ‘worry’ about debt burdens, (see Gilbert Achar for a good summary) paying debt as a reason for not investing and stimulating productivity and demand. But why would they worry about debt?
Debt per se is not limiting surplus profits and growth, whereas reaching the limits of consumption and lack of public investment will limit growth.
So how can we explain a paradox whereby elite capitalists seem to be hemming themselves in by punishing the worst off in society?
The ‘only’ plausible explanation I can think of for austerity carried out by neoliberals is that the mindset driving elite politicians and multinational corporations isn’t just neoliberal capitalism, but also masks hatred. Are the elite irrationally cutting off their noses to spite their faces because they enthusiastically despise the worst off in society, hate them with a passion, and want to ‘enjoy’ seeing them suffer.
These elites seem to be mimicking the acts of historical fanatical elitist racist national leaders such as Hitler and Mussolini that have over-reached and destroy themselves in the past. But they are doing it in less obvious ways.
Authoritarian State controls and surveillance, a disregard for the poorest in society, even a passionate desire to destroy the poorest in society, and to destroy public services. All this forms part of a drift towards the nationalistic creeping fascism slowly destroying societies and the planet.
And, all this is happening, as if under the radar, with the apparent consent of a passive population in the UK sleepwalking into its own destruction, but also elsewhere in the world, accompanied by street protests being violently quelled, and, sporadically, across the world blatant fascist dictatorships, civil wars, ethnic cleansing and military destruction.
The coming extreme post-Covid19 austerity will be less about shifting burden of debt: it’s about maximizing commodity exchange regardless of cost in lives, whilst winning the PR battle for public acceptability for eugenic racist and exploitative measures. The debt has been shown to be an abstract – another ‘futures’ market commodity – and a debt held by those reaping in enormous personal wealth exacerbating poverty and inequality.
Interesting and important questions are:
Why would the elite rulers of today hate and seek to destroy even their own nation’s poorest and marginalised?’ And, ‘How are the elite able to command a mass following willing to enthusiastically endorse and carry out their orders?’
These questions requires a mass psychology of fascism. Reich, Fromm, Bloom and others such as Arendt used Freud and Marx to theorise these questions. Today theorists such as Tomšič have used Lacan and Marx to develop further insights.
The capitalist unconscious powers a consciousness that represses the value of human social bonds and therefore the value of the life of the other as something worth caring about. But, also, forming consciousness and identity is always necessarily accompanied by anxiety: our identities never ‘feel’ secure enough, never whole enough, never self-aware enough. So, in order to minimise this necessary subjective anxiety for this capitalist consciousness the individual must entrench and consolidate his or her consciousness by going an enthusiastic step further – the quid pro pro for not caring about the other is to ‘enjoy’ precisely at the expense of the other.
Or in other words even to have a capitalist identity that must hate and destroy the other. The role of hated-other can actually be fulfilled by anybody, in theory, but political pragmatism demands public acceptability for political choices, so politics chooses others that everybody can ‘enjoy’ hating, namely the poor and marginalized, the unemployed, the mentally ill, the differently abled and the foreigner-immigrant, the Muslim, the Roma, the Kurd etc.
Thus, the capitalist unconscious is also a fascist unconscious. And Covid-19 is provoking a massive sudden economic crisis, globally. The gloves will come off the fascist elite, new authoritarian controls, and surveillance will come into play.
Alongside lack of trust in government there will be little to no organized resistance from the Left (fragmented and weakened by years of slow-burn creeping fascism under the guise of conservative politics), but there will be enthusiastic take up of facism by the atomized human dust of a society for whom there are no longer any social bonds for the foreign other, nor, even now, under Covid-19, the foreigner in our midst, even for our neighbor disguised by his or her face mask.