On the one hand the community clap began as and, we can assume for the sake of argument, was felt to be a good faith gesture by those who genuinely feel grateful. But, at the same time, it is not entirely their, individual, or our’s, the people’s, gesture – it is a gesture that was instigated by an other (a woman in South London), and was then rapidly appropriated by the media, politicians and celebrities – and it began to be imbued with moral exegesis, it became normative – and morphed into a kind of political religious ritual as a paen to the sacrifice others make for our lives, in the name of the NHS, the remnants of a tattered welfare state. It becomes a tool that invades the consciousness to induce the belief that the NHS exists as a publicly funded welfare scheme for all, that the government will keep the NHS safe, that the government is in control and retains its full might, power and determination. The clap in reality becomes a mass hysterical homage to the state that is destroying the NHS, and cultivates a deeper obedience and deeper repression of the knowledge of the destruction of the NHS and the harms inflicted to the welfare state and the vulnerable by neoliberal capitalist ideology. In short the clap cultivates a totalitarian mentality on the fertile ground of subjective wastelands for the benefit of the Egos of those in power.
“The creation of new symbols and rituals to evoke belief in a higher cause are central to the concept, ‘political religion’, prevalent in fascism studies for at least two decades.”
In addition, of course, the idea of worthy sacrifice for the lives of the many has been mooted as a common fascist trope and fits with the idea of a certain and absolute instrumentalisation of both identify and the very fabric of the body as embodying the Law of the Leader or the universal master myth. Trump lauded the essential workers as if they were selflessly “running into a hail of bullets”, headlines in the UK lauded and encouraged the sacrifices of teachers and other essential workers, and calls have been made for the elderly to sacrifice their lives for the sake of those yet younger. This idea emphasizes that the true totalitarian psyche is totally instrumentalised and given over to the sacred Law, so that no sacrifice of the self, and no destruction of the other can be too much.
Mass ritual and the associated joint binding excitement, represents perhaps relief, the mutual benefit of the atmosphere created functions almost like a release of suppressed sexual energy, the lack of ‘jouissance’, compelling psychic work to create surplus orgasmic jouissance that excites but also sustains the elite’s power