How to Fight an Information War

What is information? What is thought? Is emotion separate from thought? To what extent is an information war also physical?

What is an information war, and how would we even begin to fight it?

These are questions I don’t have an answer to. But they are questions which I think we should be asking ourselves, and in this brief essay, I would like to try to outline some basic concepts, which might get us started thinking in this direction.

Data is the new capital

Let’s keep it simple. Information is data. And data is the new capital. Capital was in the most basic sense the primary means of controlling populations throughout our modern centuries. Now data has become more valuable than that previous form of control, and as such, we must understand that data in the context of an information war, is really the means by which populations are exploited and controlled.

So data is and will be the primary means of domination of us oppressed classes; therefore fighting an information war is no less than a liberation struggle to free ourselves out from underneath the boot of oppression.

In a recent speech in Cuba calling for the beginning of a new Non-Aligned movement, Yanis Varoufakis elaborated on his concept of this new economics of data, by what he calls “cloud capital.” This “is a produced means of behavior modification.”

The accumulation of data, perhaps as it has always been with the accumulation of say wealth, is about an accumulation of power, through the means by which to manipulate and control populations.

Cloud capital is data employed as a means of control, and it defines the economics of a neofeudalism.

New feudalism

Let’s pause for a minute and assume we already live under a New Feudalism. What exactly does this mean. It means something initially paradoxical, but which makes sense when you actually consider it. On the one hand it means that we are now living through a historical regression. It is as if what was progressive in capitalism became so resistant to the concept of what might proceed it, that it actually ended up becoming atavistic. Then if we can accept this idea of a deep regression out of capitalism backwards in a sense, but forwards into a neofeudalism; we may also be able to understand that we are still living in a kind of capitalist modernity. This is a particular kind of modernity that is only one potential form of it and that has paradoxically led to a neofeudalism. It could also be understood as a modernity which wasn’t willing to give up its new traditions. It was a new society that got there through revolutions but then undermined all other potential for a following revolution, and thus became a reactionary institution built on a prior revolution, that has now after all these centuries, finally betrayed itself.

The order of New Feudalism would appear to be a regression within capitalism but is still within the confines of capitalist modernity. In this way it is also deceptively, a technological leap forward. It is only that this technological leap has been used to consolidate a greater degree of social control.

There is no reason to fret however, because if we are ultimately able to wield this technological leap better, and in directions which are emancipatory, then we should have no problem in the end winning out over this tremendous societal regression into a kind of new dark age of the future.

First step in the fight

While the new feudal order is historical, capitalist modernity is cultural. It is still a historical production, although as a culture, it exists more deeply ingrained in the social organism. That we have entered a new feudalism, may speak largely to the ultimate limitations of this cultural mode. Because it would appear that it is a cultural mode that will eventually spell the end of humankind as a species, if it is not brought to an end, and a new cultural, economic and political order, brought into being.

It is thus crucial to understand capitalist modernity, which is a form of authoritarian civilization. The baseline culture of it could be seen as the creation of an indoctrinated mindset. This indoctrinated mindset is basically analogous to the conditions of not being free, or perhaps more accurately, to living under severe material conditions of social coercion. It is this general condition that requires no less than an information struggle to counter. It also requires it goes without saying a correlated material struggle.

The information struggle is like a liberation of mind and body, in which this is not grasped as a dichotomy, and indeed the way our general condition may be split like this, I would contend, is a general fact of being submitted to conditions of social coercion. The indoctrinated mindset or a correlating subject of oppression, is created and reproduced, through a process of psychological warfare. But all other forms of warfare apply here as well. However it is psychological warfare in particular that is struggled against when one fights an information war.

This “information war,” this mental and psychological, but also materially social struggle, takes place in the context of an indoctrinated social environment. An indoctrinated social environment is at its core one conditioned on a process of behavior modification.

It is crucially not only about ideas, but in a way also emotions. It is about no less than motivation; about the narratives which drive us.

This is where one of the first steps in fighting an information war might be in understanding that a primary ideological effect of capitalist modernity, is the creation of a system which is one of slavery but perceived as the opposite of that. It is perceived as “freedom.”

This fundamental inversion of basic values, reveals the real violence it is based on, because only an act of violence can so compellingly alter such a basic distinction, as say that between truth and lies. And so indeed, perhaps the first step in such a fight, is in identifying the connection between the truth in freedom.

Perhaps we may come to realize that in a certain sense, authoritarian civilization itself can only operate through the total dissemination of a lie. And we contend that such a lie, is basically the representation, of social coercion in practice.

Truth is agency

What is truth, and what is real freedom?

These are crucial questions for an information war, because the war is on the one hand, about what is true and what is a lie; as well as existing in a context in which, what those definitions ultimately spell, is why we do what we do, what is worth living for, fighting for, and so on. Coming up with answers of this sort should begin to help us start generating basic practices of resistance.

For our baseline is that these impetus will be manufactured unconsciously, such as through the medium of cloud capital.

The data of cloud capital, as a form of behavior modification, essentially moves to coerce populations, in ways not fully within their knowledge. It is a covert form of authority, acting on populations in ways that are in a certain sense transparent, like in the way advertising works, but which is also completely total in the society, and presents no real alternative from opting out from, such as in the full spectrum dominance of the state.

But there is an obvious weakness within this civilizational model.

Coercive society must be based on a fundamental illusion.

This is because it is premised on a contradiction. For instance take for example the coercive model working in the United States, what has been called a “propaganda-managed democracy.” The self-evidently contradicting aspect of such a formation should be clear. A democracy in which the people are controlled or manipulated, or coerced, from above, through techniques they aren’t fully aware of, but which to some degree they are cynically deeply familiar with, is no true democracy. Another way of thinking about this would be that there really can’t be a proper moral or virtuous, or at any rate, democratically functional, form of politics, without some mechanism for transparency, truth, and ultimately, real freedom or agency.

This is where we can see that, philosophical questions regarding agency aside, in a state of political economy in which the data of each subject, is at the full control of a technocratic class, or even worse, grasped through the automated machinery in their possession, such as through algorithmic production; access to data, means very simply, access to the bits of information which demonstrate what thoughts and emotions are relevant to a person, especially insofar as what motivates them. This is a “truth” in a certain sense. The data in its raw form, is simply a representation of raw “truth,” or simply information. However, the value to which this information is being put to use, is for no noble purpose beyond further increasing social coercive capacities. As well, this basic “truth,” or data, can then be manipulated, through a propagandistic process, brought to bear on people in ways that direct their emotions and thinking patterns, to conform towards predetermined ends—such as going to war, supporting disastrous class, and climate policies, and so on—in short, the information, the collected data, is used to coerce, to manage, to direct the subject towards certain ends one isn’t fully aware of, and hence is a basic hijacking of the autonomy of social individuals.

To be able to turn against this, is a simple matter of gaining awareness. However, since fighting an information war takes place within a general context of social indoctrination, individual awareness isn’t enough. The information must spread, and not only spread, but proliferate in ways which begin to form alternative networks of information. These networks too must then grow in size and scope and power, to the degree that they become capable of challenging the dominant sources of propaganda, indoctrination, and manipulation within the society.

This is a real challenge. This is because the propaganda process which begins at birth with a process of indoctrination, that is then reinforced over time through consistent messaging, is not only so deeply ingrained, but is being feed every new day. It is also not a simple matter of withdrawing from the messages of society, however, because this is to then become uninformed—which is not precisely the same as being disinformed—but nonetheless, isn’t capable of building enough counter-power to one day challenge the dominant, socially coercive, lying narrative.

Yet resistance can become a simple matter, of simply becoming aware of coercive forces, both within society, and within interpersonal relationships, and beginning to subvert them. On a very real level, coercion is analogous to a lie. For, if one is truly acting in accordance to one’s beliefs or desires, there is no need for manipulation. It is only when a person would ultimately act otherwise, that the big lie, the social coercion, becomes a necessary component in maintaining governance over that particular subject.

Ideology tells us ‘why’

Fighting and resisting are the same, in themselves they are like “truth” or information, neutral, until deployed towards some ends. Social coercive pressure hijacks the general ends of the organism, and deploys their capacity towards the ends of authoritarian civilization. In capitalist modernity, this is the redirection of general agency into a consumer society, in which that aspect obscures its form of domination. Indeed, the way the consumer society of capitalist modernity functions, is essentially as a way of obscuring the forms of domination and exploitation at work in the society. To understand this is also to understand the way that a propaganda-managed democracy ingenuously frames conditions of social coercion as conditions of freedom.

Capitalist modernity indoctrinates its society, and propagandizes it, into a form of consumer society, which obscures its coercive apparatus as one of liberty. But agency is a natural biological impulse. It is the condition of striving for life, for thriving in a mode of life, and this general truth can easily be apprehended, as that degree of pressure one can feel, and indeed later experimentally confirm, by becoming aware of the various degrees to which the natural capacities of the organism are hijacked, and deployed towards ends which are actually alien to the natural desires and agencies of a life-affirming social organism.

Ends in society are generally set by the ideology, as well as the means, although the means are more generally a structure set in place, while the ends are narratives that justify how those got there, why they must stay there, and so on. In short, the ideology is what is established through the process of indoctrination, in capitalist modernity or our propaganda-managed democracy, and what gets reinforced through a constant propaganda messaging, and what sort of keeps the organism from becoming more aware, that while the means set before us are solid and seemingly permanent, they aren’t that way naturally, or unalterably, and over time could be impacted, through processes of resistance, and fighting.

The point is to reclaim agency over what we resist, what we fight for, and why.

If one remains unconscious to the social coercive forces operating in authoritarian society, then one very well may find themselves fighting for something horrible, or resisting something good. One may find themselves enslaved to a consumer society that they believe actually represents the highest form of human freedom. They may come to view fascism as patriotic, or antifascism as fascism. Any number of inversions of values are possible under conditions of constant psychological warfare, that degrades the general power of truth, comes to make truth seem irrelevant, and indeed to actually make conditions under which the truth is grasped, come to seem deeply uncomfortable, and undesirable, and even hated.

Resisting psychological warfare

The good side in the information fight is to contribute to the overall emancipation of all, oppressed under the general conditions of authoritarian civilization, capitalist modernity, imperial domination, and propaganda-managed societal coercion.

This must be a liberation from the indoctrinated mindset, as well as the material reinforcement of life-affirming, truer forms of freedom and democracy, equality of relationships, economic liberty, that is, the right of all to well-being, and, ultimately a social revolution, and the total transformation of society, for the better.

The constant force attacking the very notion of this, is psychological warfare, which is a kind of prefigured terrorism. When used in war, it is the technique of attempting to get a population to surrender before it has even begun to fight. When used domestically, it is in effect, a way of preventing revolution. Probably its most dominant message would be that action is hopeless.

It is also a longstanding image implanted from early on in life, that seems to set up a certain imaginary of the current social order as fixed, and unchangeable. The idea is one of pure ideology, and doesn’t represent a material fact about what is possible, and hence its general “truth” is in effect a delusion. But the power of such a delusion is immensely strong, and when backed up with terroristic examples of what happens to those who do stand up and dare to resist the current social order, it has tremendous prefigurative effect in killing resistance in its cradle. Ultimately, I would contend that implanting such delusions into the general narrative consumed by the subjects of capitalist modernity, is an essential part of the current operations of psychological warfare, that is a temporal process which occurs within a long view, so again begins with a process of indoctrination then in need of conditional reinforcement by propaganda.

To resist this condition, we need very simply a social revolution. This means we need to demand the right to well-being for all. Why this is tantamount to fighting an information war, to me, is because on the one hand; if there was the right to well-being, social coercion could not exist. For, to me, a society based on social coercion, is in effect, a society made up of indoctrinated subjects, whose worldview must be reinforced through propaganda, and who are effectively controlled in this way, in how they use the forces of their organism, and thus are subjects lacking fundamental agency. On the other hand, this lack of agency, under the current social conditions, is construed as natural, or seen as only being possibly sublimated through the consumer society, which presents itself as a form of freedom, but which is really an obfuscation of the total domination at work in such a social formation.

It leads to an important question in this context of thinking about “information war.” What is it that indoctrinates us into the idea, that society is impossible without social coercion, and that a society based on voluntarism could not exist?


Another way of life is possible.
It takes organizing, it takes fighting, it takes resistance, in short, it requires force. As such, the current social order requires restraint on force, that takes the form of the coercive social pressure it exerts on its subjects, to obey, and even more crucially, not even to think about not obeying. The very premise of resistance must be systematically destroyed through a long form process of psychological warfare, that begins with a baseline indoctrination, but which must be constantly reinforced if not to eventually break down, and be replaced with updated information.
That updated information, is the knowledge that another way of life is possible, and the material practices which demonstrate this, and keep demonstrating it, eventually institutionalizing it as a new society, along the lines of what in my view, starts from a very basic ideological commitment, to institutionalizing the right of well-being for all.
For it strikes me that if the right to well-being was institutionalized for all, that not only could social coercion no longer exist, but that it would mean the society we had was one in which voluntarism was a fundamental premise.
And that is nothing less than the actual conditions for freedom. So, it is such a peculiar fact of our time, that the actual factual conditions of freedom, would be construed as a myth, and a purely mythological form of freedom, that was actually slavery, would be seen as all that there is.

Art as a Prefigurative Politics that Struggles Against Propaganda

Might we actually see propaganda, with its prerogative to lie and distort and manufacture consent, as analogous with the secondary drives of neurotic organisms?
What are the secondary drives of neurotic organisms, and what do we mean by secondary drives and neurotic organisms?

By secondary drives we mean the antisocial unconscious of humanity that civilization is supposed to tame, but which is actually produced by the social coercive forces of authoritarian civilization. Similarly by neurotic organism, we mean the precise kind of subject produced by the social coercive forces in authoritarian civilization. It is the result of what Wilhelm Reich called “secondary impulses.” In his own words: “The antisocial element in the human structure, is a secondary result of the repression of primary biological impulses,” (Preface to the Third Edition of The Mass Psychology of Fascism).

If we consider the birth of public relations, and how it comes out of a sort of instumentalized Freudianism, the idea that propaganda works on the neurotic secondary drives of humanity, actually starts to seem like a fairly plausible hypothesis.
Furthermore, if the “manufacturing of consent” is one of the crucial forms of social coercion repressing the possibility of social revolution, what might that mean for how we think about practically confronting this major front in the battle for a better world?

The revolutionary versus the reactionary “character”

Let us begin by opposing two possibilities of the human character.
We shall use a “characterological” concept of Reich’s.
In a previous essay, “Escapism, Entertainment, Society,” I considered a desire for escape—as in the experience of seeking out escapism in media or entertainment—as being rooted in a particular social context of essentially learned helplessness. I proposed a possible alternative to the negative desire for escape, as in that magnified into a type of addiction, in the commitment to social or political struggle. In this way—in short—since social and political conditions create the desire to escape; rather than consent to this addictive inaction, one rather commits to the difficult, though ultimately more worthwhile, struggle to confront those negative forces in society.
From henceforth, it also seems possible to formulate this basic opposition, in terms of what Reich saw as a “revolutionary” or “reactionary” character.
The “revolutionary” character, is one who faces existential anxiety, political anxiety, through healthy confrontation. The “reactionary” character faces these modern forces, through escapist forms of behavior, such as scapegoating, retreat into illusions, etc.

The secondary drives are commanded in propaganda

We shall posit that the same drives within a character that motivate the desire to escape, are at work in what makes for an effective manufacturing of consent or indoctrination through processes of propaganda. This is because the secondary drives as above defined, in their very nature, essentially represent a character structure which arises out of the imperatives of social coercion, and which is a functional thwarting of the primary drives within the organism. Another way of saying that the individual is acting out of compulsion, and not voluntarism. In this way, please see a basic opposition stated for compulsory versus voluntary action, in a previous short essay, “A Theory of Mutuality.” In short it is to say, the degree of voluntary versus compulsory action is conditioned on the degree of equality of relationships within a unit.

The point to do with equality of relationships, or the absence of arbitrary hierarchies of command, is to suggest that the secondary drives seem to come out of a character structure which is essentially indoctrinated into conditions of social coercion. On the contrary, a better world or more free society must then by necessity be built on the precise opposite, that is to say, conditions of voluntary action. But for the purposes of this current hypothesis, I want to limit myself to considering the ways in which the secondary drives, or the human structure conditioned by social coercion, lend themselves to control or manipulation by forces such as propaganda. Indeed I am willing to go so far as to assert, that the presence of secondary drives in the human organism, seems to be the metric by which the human structure has been conditioned by social coercive forces in the sense of having been indoctrinated into an authoritarian form of civilization.

An authoritarian form of civilization by definition must be coercive. Social coercion must work through the proliferation of certain messages, because the human organism is a communicative species. When we are in conditions of command relationships, these messages originate from a center, a top, and proliferate outwards and downwards, in an essentially hierarchical structure. This type of structure is the basis of what we call an authoritarian form of civilization.

In modern societies, the main way of reaching the entirety of its subjects, is through the mass media. In our day and age, the mass media has become so ubiquitous and intimate, that it is now the primary object most people spend the majority of their waking life engaging with. This other problem in itself aside, the point we are here most interested in, is the degree to which the current forms of mass media represent a command mechanism for interacting with the secondary drives and producing and reproducing the current form of unequal society. We shall here assert, going further that the current stage in global mass communications represents a basic either “utopian” or “dystopian” possibility, for a further evolution in human society; and that furthermore, taking into account our current social conditions, the way one faces this ubiquitous and intimate structure of mass media connectedness, could be construed as following either a generally revolutionary or reactionary logic.

In respect to this question of primary and secondary drives, and how this can be construed as a difference between voluntary and compelled behavior and character, regarding mass media and propaganda in specific, we can also draw an equivalent between conscious and unconscious forms of interpretation. On some level, the difference between the revolutionary and the reactionary character, is also the difference between the indoctrinated subject and the one which plays an active role in the creation and interpretation and proliferation of their own, or some voluntarily chosen, ideology. In short, we are again really talking about whether or not one plays an active or passive role in the shaping of material conditions through the exertion of either a compelled or voluntary ethos.

An ethical contradiction regarding how to live

The secondary drives create an entirely different code of morality. One based on compulsion.
When people talk about how human nature is a certain way, and thus is in need of being controlled, what they are actually talking about, are the secondary drives. Hence the irony is that since these antisocial behaviors are generated through social forms that are repressive in their nature; the code people are speaking of, is actually a solution to a problem it has generated.
In a sense people are made antisocial, through the frustration of their basic needs. But that frustration is also identical to the command to behave.
The human species doesn’t need to be commanded to behave; that is to say, human nature isn’t inherently antisocial. Far from it. The human species simply couldn’t have evolved without a central degree of sociality.
The idea that the human species is inherently antisocial, competitive to the fault of violence, again seems clearly a preconception of a particular social form which is built on hierarchy, class and command, indeed, authoritarian civilization. In truth the human species is capable of a wide variety of social forms; and an innate sense of sociality, of cooperativeness, of a desire for and belief in structures of mutual aid, is as human as its potential for violence, domination and enslavement. This fact is clear enough to the revolutionary character, or subject who plays an active role in their own ideology, and whose sense of morality and drive is based on voluntarism; yet it must be denied by the reactionary character, who will view the current social and material conditions as immutable, necessary to the point of being “eternal,” and incapable of being altered.

We can see this same conflict play out in view of the basic problem in our current world of anxiety. A conflict is generated of whether to confront or escape from it. These two modes contradict one another, especially if embodied by two different people in a single unit. So for the one who wants to confront, it bothers the one who wants to escape; and when the one escapes, it makes it impossible for the other to confront. It becomes a “moral” problem. For the one who will confront the problems of our day, this becomes a big part of what informs their understanding of morality. For the one who will not, they must justify their inaction, through some notion of impossibility, or the idea of taking political action as futile.

As such, they need to relieve themselves of their hard work in propping up the system, in two ways. One way is through escapism, and another it seems is through some other moral perspective. One that can justify its inaction in the political sphere, through some, essentially fantastical, other notion of what constitutes being a moral person.

A new way to think of art in opposition to propaganda

It is here that I want to redirect the essay, back to the problem of escapism, and to tie that into a notion of propaganda which we might oppose through a new understanding of art.
We should probably see art as the domain in which to counter propaganda, especially those operations of propaganda which distort reality or the truth. In this way we may look at this form of propaganda-countering art as a form of prefigurative politics. This is precisely because the degree to which the illusions generated by propaganda are confronted, that opens up a space in the imagination to truly conceive of political possibilities and social alternatives.
This type of art should not consider itself theory. Once it does, it is much more in the domain of propaganda. And in this definition of what propaganda is, that means it is more in the game of obscuring truth, rather than trying to bring that to the light. We should save this type of activity for theory and journalism, science, etc.
Though we should understand some nuance here that propaganda is a “science.”
As such, prefigurative political art rejects art as entertainment which is pure escapism, because this serves the reactionary character. The reactionary character is easily moved through the manipulation of their secondary drives. We see one way that escapism functions in this regard, as the flip side of compulsory work, being “rewarded,” or, at the very least, relieved, through the balmy effect of mental activity which is completely passive, feel-good, and opiate-like in its capacity to numb; to assist in an unthinking form of pleasure.

The difference between the imagination and mere fantasizing

How else exactly might we conceive of escapism?
It is in short, perhaps somewhat poetically, a retreat into a fantasy. Reich talks often about anxiety as a withdrawal into the self, the opposite of his conception of a healthy life attitude, which reaches out and wants to be a part.
I would contend that fantasizing in a way, has some connection to the secondary drives. In this way, we might oppose the idea of fantasizing to that of the imagination. In this case, the action of fantasizing, would be defined more strictly, as a deliberate withdrawal from reality. Where conversely, the imagination can still interact with reality. As such, we might oppose say, a daydream, with that of a performance of a play. We may go further, to stress the differences, of being somehow the difference between the social and the antisocial. Furthermore we might oppose perhaps pornography with the real act of lovemaking. For, fantasy, in essence, becomes something which can be fixated on, at the expense of thinking about reality.
In other words, thinking about politics in terms of a fantasy would become a kind of distraction, or justification for not needing to have to attempt to achieve something in reality, especially something which could fail.
Now, in art, it is actually possible to achieve a fantasy; the impossible so to speak. Although it remains an achievement in an abstract medium.
Yet it strikes me that through such an experimentation, one might be able to begin to interface, with what is actually possible or impossible in reality.
At any rate, if you look at what propaganda is, it is the carrying out of some will, through the act of fabrication, through manipulation of discourse, in short, through the creation of fantasies.


One functional domain of art, could be as a medium in which to prefigure politics. Partly this would be done through the countering of propaganda, and partly through the prefiguring in conceptual form—through the contemplation of possibility—of social and political alternatives. To demand art function in this way, still entertaining, but not as pure escapism, would then possibly grow into a type of parallel—through the struggle that entails—with an actual practice of prefigurative politics.
Another way of thinking about it is that pure escapism serves the reactionary character. The revolutionary character is one who struggles against the falseness of a social order premised on coercion; they oppose authoritarian civilization by championing voluntarism; they do not shy away from the uncomfortable facts of our existence, by retreating into a fantasy, but rather strive to confront these forces in a meaningful way, that is to say, in the world. Art is a way of internalizing problems of the world, and possibly finding prefigurative solutions, through the unique operations of the imagination. This may not lead to the productions of bestsellers; however maybe given enough time, it could lead to more general hopefulness regarding the possibilities of a better world.

Is neuroticism the byproduct of social coercion?

Psychoanalysis is the study of neuroticism. As such it is also a study of civilization, namely, a psycho-sociological account of how the formation of a subject is informed by a cultural paradigm. One implicit premise in this assumption is that psychoanalysis as a study is a historical event, which it is; and that therefore, part of the reality of this history, is that the culture which produced it, was one in which a vast majority of its subjects were mentally “sick,” or neurotic.
We may take the terms neuroticism and mental illness to be synonymous, for our society is still one in which this problem is epidemic. We may no longer think of mental illness in terms of neuroticism, but nor has this society progressed any further in the form of a “cure.” Rather it seems the base underlying condition of neuroticism, has remained; it has simply been addressed through mass medicalization, a way of addressing the underlying problem which actually prolongs it, indeed, prevents it from being overcome, or cured. My argument as to why is because this “cure” would actually take the form of a social transformation.

Neuroticism is a psycho-sociological phenomenon; mental illness is a collective problem. The sickness of mind doesn’t develop in a vacuum, but rather is deeply rooted in a specific political formation and social relation. Part of what makes its “treatment” so untenable in the society is the way it has been individualized. The instance of mental illness is isolated as a singular instance, and often other relevant factors are excluded or minimized. For instance the general alienation of the culture is taken as a given akin to nature, and other basic facts of the naturalness of the organism are made to seem alien to the subject who is expected to subordinate this naturalness to a far more “natural” culture. Nature is made subordinate to culture in a hierarchicalized structure, although the necessary conditions of dichotomy, for a hierarchical structure, don’t exist between nature and culture in actuality. It is the same as asserting that there exists a dichotomy between body and mind. No such dichotomy exists in actuality. Thus to treat mental illness as an individual instance separate from the larger social reality, according to this logic, is simply an error of naked fact. The individual no more exists isolated from the society than the mind exists isolated from the body.
No wonder one of the prime discoveries of psychoanalysis was in the assertion of an etiology of neurosis or mental sickness, in a history of the body; certain bodily patterns, mental associations with the body or certain of its natural functions, and finally of course associations between how the body and by extension, mind, of the individual, or vice versa, is supposed to interact and relate with others and the society. It is my assertion that the dominant political and social structure in the society, our present culture, generates a dysfunctional relationship among individuals, or produces a neurotic body of subjects. By “dysfunction,” we may view this concept as interrelated with the concept of alienation, and the fact of social control. By social control I mean precisely that form of control which originates from without, the externally imposed, compulsory form of control which is often set in a paradoxical relation with anti-sociality, by having the perverse effect, of actually exacerbating it.

Social control or rather social coercion

By social control we might think of how the biological imperatives of the organism are “hijacked” to serve a social imperative. Naturally, the biological imperatives of the human organism, are also social imperatives. However, in modern society, or since the dawn of history and what is called “civilization;” or rather the fixing of authoritarian forms of social formation, in which there is a real poverty of freedom and equality; this “hijacking” of the organism, is essentially to serve ends which benefit this unequal form of society, and enrich an elite class of individuals who control and reproduce this form of society. We may also call his “hijacking” social coercion.

In other words, it seems conceivable that social coercion depends on a systematic redirecting of the natural imperatives of the organism to serve a preconceived structure of society. So for instance the desire for self-preservation, is controlled through the fear of death, the threat of force that backs coercive imperatives in our society. The need of food, shelter, clothing, etc., a sense of belonging, is controlled through the construct of money. Such a construct is clearly ideological, and is associated with numerous other aspects of ideology in the culture, such as nationalism, religion, patriarchy, etc. One way of construing what ideology really is, at least social coercive forms of ideology, in the context of the association between neurosis and our society, is that it represents a kind of schism between the mind and body of the organism. This makes a great deal of intuitive sense when we again consider that social coercion is essentially the putting to work of the body of the organism to serve ends which are in contradiction to the actual health and desires of that organism, or at the very least, represent a thwarted, basically alienated and exploited form of realizing one’s “dreams” or desires. Paraphrasing the psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich, the thwarting of the natural desires in the organism creates a distortion in the psychic life that leads to anti-social fantasies. In his own words: “In its sexual life, the primeval period of mankind adhered to natural laws, which established the foundation for a natural sociality. Using the energy of suppressed sexuality, the intermediary period of authoritarian patriarchal society of some four to six thousand years has produced the secondary, perverse, distorted sexuality of modern man,” (Reich, The Function of the Orgasm).


If psychoanalysis is the study of neurosis, and neurosis is a product of distorted sexuality, a contingent factor of our current form of society, then I would like to make an assertion, perhaps controversial in our day and age. But “sexuality” is not a “preference.” It is an attitude of the organism towards life, towards the world, towards “the other.” Sexuality is thus a measure of happiness and sociality, a measure of purpose, a metric of health.
What we have called here “hijacking” is to suggest that the general ground of social control, or of the ideological coercive force in our society, has to do with a distortion of our natural impulses, and a mode of compelled behavior, through the deprivation of our basic needs. The final point is to suggest that if our desires are manufactured beyond our understanding; to be able to take conscious control over this, would be in a way a social liberation.

A Theory of Mutuality

Compelled versus voluntary action and association, is the essence of the conflict between a group and the individual. Perhaps the main factor that creates the conditions for compulsory or voluntary actions within a unit, is the degree of equality of relationships. The degree of equality of relationships within a unit is what generates the capacity for either compulsory or voluntary actions. That is to say there is a correlation between equality and freedom. The less equality there is in a relationship the more there is an inequality of freedom. When there is an equality of freedom in a relationship, and that relationship is also a cooperative one, we call it mutuality. A state of mutuality is the cooperation within a unit based on voluntary activity. Units can of course cooperate in ways that are compulsory, but this tends to benefit one individual or class of individuals that is enriched; and hence is a state of collective action which is not mutual, for there is a flow of unequal benefit away from some to the advantage of others. This is a command relationship. It is a type of relationship which is valid in certain contexts. But when it is the persistent mode of governing the structure of relationships, we call it authoritarianism.

Under conditions of authoritarianism there is neither freedom nor equality. As such we may oppose mutuality to authoritarianism, and assert that the state of mutuality contains higher degrees of freedom and equality, and the state of authoritarianism lesser degrees. As well we assert the defining variable in either of these is the degree to which there is an equality of relationships.

So what variables condition a greater or lesser degree of equality of relationships? Without question to answer this one needs to look in society. The social and political context, which is in turn conditioned by historical and cultural factors, will play a determining role in what is considered a normal degree of freedom or equality in a particular social unit. Let us take one particularly notable unit, the nuclear family. One initially interesting fact about the nuclear family is that it hasn’t always existed. This social unit is a historical formulation. It is also one rooted in another contingent social arrangement, patriarchy. Patriarchy is a form of authoritarianism. It is a unique form of authoritarianism because it isn’t imposed as a social unit from the top down but rather from the bottom up. Yet it has been pointed out, say by Wilhelm Reich, author of The Mass Psychology of Fascism, that “authoritarian upbringing constitutes the psychological basis in the masses of people of all nations for the acceptance and establishment of dictatorship,” (Reich, The Function of the Orgasm).

By definition one of the main constituent factors of authoritarianism is compulsive deference to authority. This again excludes or precludes an equality of relationships in which there would be the conditions for voluntarism and cooperative mutuality. Furthermore, in the same way there is a general correlation between freedom and equality, there is a correlation between authoritarianism in society and what is considered a norm of authoritarianism in its constituent social units. On some level what this seems to suggest is that society is changeable on two fronts, from the top down, and from the bottom up, because these two positions are obviously linked in what it means to make up a society. The governance structure from the top is supported by the actions of its constituent social units below, however in ways which are compelled under conditions of authoritarianism. We would know if we were living under conditions of voluntarism and cooperative mutuality, if we were able to influence the social conditions which affect us, but we all know that we can’t. And thus the true structure of the type of society we live under should be clear. The radical hope to be found though is to notice that even if we have no influence over conditions from above, we do have control over how we choose to act within our own constituent social units. We can in effect alter the conditions of authoritarianism which exist, if they do exist, within the social units to which we currently belong. There is in effect nothing stopping us from developing conditions of mutualism within our immediate social relations. The only difficulty there lies in needing to try to weed out areas governed by compulsory action rather than voluntarism. It takes first the valuing of an equality of relationships, and then a commitment to trying to carry that out in practice.

Escapism, Entertainment, Society

 By delaying the confrontation with something, the power of anxiety in that object grows. This seems to be a loop or vicious cycle seen in escapism, and essentially addiction. The escapism, or the addiction, is a way of disconnecting from the world, and the problems of the world. These problems, we have been conditioned to believe, are unsolvable. We have been conditioned to believe there is nothing we can do about them. However, by disconnecting like this, it actually makes that object of fear and anxiety, even more powerful. Perhaps on one level, this is why the corporate media stresses escapism so much. It isn’t simply that it sells so well. Although that is part of it. It does sell well. But it strikes me that it sells so well, because people want to escape. And the system as such also wants that. The system does want passive obedient consumers. The more one is a passive obedient consumer, the less one wants to grapple with the difficulty of the world; the more they want the escapism. 

Struggle as an alternative to escapism

Happiness comes from a feeling of thriving, and not at all from escape. 
   How I would describe the desire for escape, is a particular desire in a historical and cultural context. It is one in a political and economic context, in which the modern subject is powerless over their social and environmental conditions; to the degree that their participation in a larger system, has been reduced to the role of a mere worker-consumer. 
   These two back to back functions, worker and consumer, mutually reinforce each other. The role of worker is one of drudgery, it is compulsive. It is mandatory. It is exhausting, to the degree that the mutually reinforcing role of consumer, becomes the relief of that burden; it becomes the justification. It is the motivation in a way, or at least a kind of negative motivation; insofar as the role of worker is compelled, the reward of consumption becomes the basic means of “escape” from this compelled necessity. 

   Entertainment in the domain of media and art, is the general correlate of escape in this idea. Escapism is a product in this view. By product I suppose I mean commodity, created as all products are within a capitalist system, through exploitation and alienated labor. When one consumes the product, they are expecting a certain experience. Usually this is to feel good; and often that will take the form of a fantasy, which could be anything provided it takes one’s mind off of the reality at hand. The main point is that one is occupied with something that excludes considerations of certain problems at hand, and often for being in service of taking one’s mind off of the burdens one is submitted to during their compulsive work hours. What I would argue is that this desire, for escape, is conditioned on the social structure in which a worker-consumer finds themselves and is removed from a more natural desire in humans in which we find a more enduring happiness. The enjoyment of escapism is fleeting, and the happiness it provides is gone, the moment the escaping situation is over. This I would contrast with the more enduring sense of happiness one achieves through activities of overcoming, that is to say, through experiences in which one confronts a source of anxiety, an obstacle let’s say, and one is able to resolve it. This I would call an experience of thriving. 
   Why this thriving experience creates a happiness which is more enduring, is because for the escape experience, one can only anticipate more of the same. Since the problem which is being escaped from, is never confronted, there are never any alternative experiences to look forward to, or better horizons to imagine. There is only always the anticipation that once an undesired emotion or experience of displeasure arises that one will want to escape from it, and will more and more center their desires around spending an increased amount of time in that experience, and a decreased amount of time in anything that serves as a reminder of those unpleasant emotions or experiences. 

Voluntary consumption as an escape from compulsory production

This seems to describe well the amount of emphasis placed in our society on consumerism. It becomes a form of identity. It becomes essentially the main thing that we care about, because it is to a certain extent, the only thing we are really permitted to care about, outside of what is almost the schizophrenic separation and alienation from that other part of one’s life, where one spends most of their time, compelled to work, whether they enjoy what they are doing or not. So especially under conditions where people don’t enjoy what they are doing—which probably constitutes the majority experience; because the idea that someone would like what they do, is conceived of as a kind of rare dream in out society, reserved for only the luckiest—no wonder people escape into the pleasurable hobby of consumerism, the main domain in which one can construct a form of identity that they feel is at least in some degree voluntary. 

A Short Essay from One Year Ago on Bureaucratization

I wrote this essay with the exception of the final paragraph one year ago when I was taking classes from Andrej Grubačić and Rod Driver in Michael Albert’s School for Social and Cultural Change. 

There’s a term called bureaucratization which was theorized by David Graeber. I think it’s important to understand this term, he developed it notably in a book from 2015 called The Utopia of Rules. The way that a society functions is defined by its bureaucracy, basically these are the rules. They are created by government. But increasingly corporations which in theory are supposed to be regulated by these rules, have gained enough influence that through the practice of lobbying, they’re effectively able to influence and even in some cases directly write the rules which regulate them. Some have used the term the revolving door to refer to a class of individual who works first for the government and then later in private industry, and vice versa, as another example of the close interconnection between capital and the state, and Graeber himself has basically stated that the US employs a system of legalized bribery, which in practice creates the conditions whereby people are able to effectively turn their wealth into power, and to use that power to generate more wealth. We should probably understand this to be a complex connection of politics to the economy, which might be termed a political economy. 
   The political economy of our day and age has taken the form of a financialized capitalism. In effect what this means is that the way money functions in our economy is different now than it was in the past. Most notably money is not backed as it used to be by some commodity, but rather is a commodity unto itself, called fiat money. The value of this fiat money is basically created when it is loaned on interest, effectively meaning that the value of this money is debt itself. What that also means is that without debt, the value of fiat money is useless. The question I want to ask is, what kind of a political economy does this create? It seems to me that it is one based on debt peonage. 
   Graeber has argued elsewhere that capitalism is really a transformation of slavery. This starts to make a lot of sense if one begins to see political economy as a process of coercion and control. Bureaucratization then is a complex system for bringing into being what it represents, namely a permutation of one order of social relations. 
   Bureaucratization could be seen as a way that humans create the type of society they have. Crucially this is different from other theories about how society functions which often tend to naturalize some aspect of the operation. What it demonstrates is the way humans shape the societies they live in. Critically, it also shows the way this activity is concentrated in the hands of a few, and is imposed from the top down, excluding the many, who are dominated hierarchically. 
   This is a problem. So what do we do?

   One of the first steps we might take in light of this is to recognize the way bureaucracy appeals to us. Many of us associate the idea of anarchy with a dystopia of no rules. For anyone familiar with the actual political theory of anarchism, however, this is of course a fictionalized distortion which bears no resemblance to the actual political project that anarchists advocate for. If we simply look at the etymology, an in Greek meaning no, and archos, rulers; in essence what anarchism is most concerned with is the question of rulers, and not exactly the question of rules. The idea of a chaos without rules, has no value for anarchism which is actually a theory of organizing; in particular a theory of organizing without a need for coercive force, or hierarchy or domination. One of the primary assertions of anarchism then it should come as no surprise is that peaceful, effective organization without rulers, a society without domination, is possible. 
   What is it that makes us think otherwise?
   It’s probably related to our secret love of bureaucracy, or perhaps a fear of taking genuine control over our lives. 
   There are trade-offs in authoritarian regimes we’re all familiar with where one gives up their autonomy, but is also relieved of the burden to have to think for themselves. 
   Graeber describes how in life its rules are often ambiguous, and hence the appeal of “grandiose cosmological scheme[s]” that make a claim for having the right and wrong answer for everything. 
   Is it that autonomy is so vertiginous to us that we would rather put up with the misery authoritarianism and hierarchy brings?
   If we think about it and determine autonomy is a principle we value, then the next step towards realizing autonomy, is to understand that we can act as if we were already autonomous. It is true that the world we inhabit is everywhere filled with structural violence and the threat of coercive force. However there are still spaces, some theorists like Andrej Grubačić have called them exilic spaces, where there is nothing stopping us from acting differently than we may otherwise feel compelled to act, under a political economy which sees us treating ourselves and others as pawns in a game. Rather we could begin to practice mutual aid; we could begin to form alternative structures from the bottom up, that help us to become more autonomous through cooperation. 
   This leads however to a new problem which we would have to face that is the real problem facing alternative forms of organizing society, and not whether or not these forms are possible; as everywhere in history and even now happening before our very eyes, we can see that they are. The real problem facing movements to create a better world are the authoritarian reactions they produce which overwhelmingly seek to eradicate these movements, not only from existence and any representation in the media, but also from the history books. When these cannot be fully eradicated the reality around them will be distorted; what comes to mind being the popular understanding of anarchy from earlier, or similar notions of any form of emancipatory social project being doomed to failure, or the idea that any possible alternative to the current form of political economy that we have being a nice idea in principle but that in reality it could never work. Broadly, this is how liberals apprehend leftism. So in this way, they share common ground with conservatives. What this seems to show is that ideologies claiming that we can’t be free, bear a strong effect on our ability to imagine alternative social formations other than the ones which currently predominate. 
   This strikes me as a kind of double move, perhaps one that is related to the problem of bureaucracy. 

   In short the problem is that bureaucratization has brought all of society under the total control of capital and the state, in a way that is, for the vast majority of its subjects, totally compulsive and non-participatory. Over time this totality has only narrowed our ability to conceive of possible alternatives to this dominant form of social order. As such less and less energy is devoted to trying to oppose this tyranny and to enact viable alternatives, only fueling in a vicious cycle the growth of more and more pessimism and learned helplessness. There is perhaps something in the potential for conditioning the human animal which can make sentient beings come to accept an awful lot in life. But if we are to guarantee that there is a future worth living in for future generations, we simply cannot give in to such nihilism. It may not be possible to transform society for the better overnight, but it will certainly remain impossible forever, if we remain unable to untangle what is truly impossible from what is simply the sum total of decades on decades of assault on the human capacity to dream, and most crucially to enact, a better world. 

Poetry in the Tradition of Shelley

The poet must be a radical. Shelley knew it. Our poets must remember it today. 
Radical poetry is protest poetry. The aim of protest poetry is to express outrage and instill hope. The poetry part of it is to create beauty through aesthetics, and to generate and circulate power by way of intellectual exertion. 
There’s probably no question that we have a long fight ahead of us. Poetry can thus serve as a way of generating morale. 
What are we fighting for? If you have to ask then you must not know. 
Let the people educate you

The Thought and the Bullet

There is an abstraction in the air
Which lends its form to naked brute reality. 
It is the same abstraction that flags are made of,
As well as money. 
What can I do but wish the opposition
movement in Myanmar fighting the military dictatorship 
would be armed with the weapons they need
to win their struggle for democracy?
What can I do but train myself
not to be afraid of fear, and to remember
how I read the biography of Che Guevara
while I was there. Insofar as to know
there is such thing as a righteous fight,
But that our Western powers of the world
are so often to that the tyrannical bad guy.
You great powers don’t care for the disobedience of your subjects
Only the disobedience that makes your rivals look bad. 
You Chinese Communists don’t care for international solidarity
But for the power to rule the Middle Kingdom
That goes back for thousands of years. 
You liberal internationalists don’t care for liberty and equality
But for the dream of managing the entire world
Like a military junta. 
You Republicans who care about life in name only,
Shift the blame on a geopolitical rival as you are wont to do
While being an extremist party yourself;
Which revels in an anti-democratic dress rehearsal 
Of leading your own country down a path to military junta. 
For what your fascist protesters erected as a joke
Was really used to brutally rob four Myanmar people of their life. 
Your rhetoric will ring hollow throughout the ages
Of human rights and the rule of law, 
For there can be no justice and protections if they remain exclusive
To those with privilege, and the technology to execute—
Our words are always hollow if they aren’t backed up with deeds,
But what can the powerless do,
What can we do when your laws and rights
Are words backed up by the violence of a State
Which has been gutted and rearranged 
To serve only the elite interests
Of the abstract notion that rules us all?
How an idea can rule you
Is a question only the bullet can answer. 
You bullet are no sophisticated point
Though your trajectory is irrefutably compelling. 
The fear you inspire generates discourse,
A freedom from fear in the form of social status
And the peace of mind that comes out of 
A comfortable salary. 
For the ones I hear tend to focus all the blame on foreign boogeymen, 
On anything other than a material analysis. 
That you only arm the struggles which serve your best interests,
Those of capitalism and geopolitical dominance. 
You could unfreeze the US$1 billion in the Federal Reserve
And give it to the Myanmar National Unity Government!
Give it to the People’s Defense Forces!
Or will you continue to act in ways that only serve to reproduce the brute force of rule
Bringing together mutually autocratic sovereignties. 
And capitalism, you are the most autocratic sovereignty of them all;
You complex mixture of the bullet and the thought. 

The Psycho-Sociological Dynamics of Fascist Patriarchy 

A book the premise of which has inspired this essay.

We take the term psycho-sociological to refer to the way psychological and sociological factors combine. This is one way of understanding how the behaviors of individuals can be shaped by the groups or communities of which they are a part. 
We take the term fascist patriarchy to suggest a political structure which is also inherent in personal relationships. In this case, it is a structure which is enforced from the top down, but also from the bottom up. From the top down through patriarchal institutions such as the private ownership of the means of production, i.e. capitalism; or authoritarian structures such as a non-democratic work environment; or more obvious forms of patriarchal control such as oppressive religious institutions, which seek to restrict freedom of control over populations such as women or human behaviors such as sexuality. Then from the bottom up insofar as these same structures are reflected and enforced in individual social units such as the family. 

It is my theory that family dysfunction is ironically a function of social control. 
   The dysfunctional family can be described as such, and echoes the same in a society which is not free and equal: Dysfunction is defined as the inability of a family unit to work appropriately for all its members. 

What is meant by appropriateness and membership

   We should consider the concept of membership and of appropriateness. Membership in this case is not too different from the concept of citizenship, and is the social context in which one finds themselves independently of an individual decision. So for instance the circumstances into which one is born. One is born into a family unit independent of any decision made by the individual, and this intrinsic membership is what is meant by the concept of members of a family. Of course this membership is not immutable and also has cultural constituents. For instance in the way that it’s possible to seek citizenship in a country other than that of one’s origin, or in the ways that families continue to grow and evolve over time. Those considered to be members of a group is also culturally determined and is as much a product of who is considered to be accepted and not accepted into the group that constitutes the membership of that group. 

   As for appropriateness, this is another concept which can find its correlate in social phenomena. Let us for instance consider the concept of exploitation in economics. 
   We shall use this concept as a metric to determine what is meant by appropriateness for all members of a family unit. 

The “inappropriateness” of exploitation

   Exploitation in an economic context is defined by an unequal relationship between capital and labor, whereby in order for the capitalist to make a profit, they must expropriate from the laborer a portion of the value that the laborer creates. The laborer doesn’t receive the full value of their labor, but rather that value is extracted by the capitalist, and only a portion of its value is given back to the laborer in the form of a wage, in order for the capitalist to generate a profit. Profit is the main economic driver in capitalism, and so exploitation is intrinsic to the structure of capitalism. There can be no capitalism without profit, and there can be no profit without exploitation, and so the inequality of exploitation is what constitutes the capitalist relation. Our concept of appropriateness is defined against that. The appropriateness of a relationship is defined by its general equality. So in an economic context, appropriateness would be defined as the absence of exploitation in an economic relationship. In the context of a family unit, it would be defined as the general equality in the relationships between individual members. 

What is meant by equality of relationships

   The absence of exploitation in the workforce is what is known as socialism. Another way of putting this is that socialism is democracy in the workplace. What this means is very simple. While most people in the United States are generally under the assumption that democracy is a good and worthy political value, few seem to question why this political principle is not found in the domain where most people spend the overwhelming amount of time in their lives—besides at home—namely in the workplace.
   Democracy in the workplace basically means that individuals have a proportionate amount of say in decisions which affect them. This is generally what people understand democracy to be in a political context; that in theory members of a democracy are able to participate in decision making, by say, voting on issues which affect them. People in the United States generally find this much more amenable to their sensibilities than say, the political structure of a dictatorship, in which people do not have a proportionate amount of say in decisions which affect them, but rather have commands dictated to them. Yet these same ideological champions of democracy and critics of dictatorship don’t seem to question the way that workplaces in the United States are not democratized at all, but very much operate like a dictatorship, with one class of individuals giving orders that another class of individuals have to obey, lest they would lose their job and be submitted to a state of economic precarity. 

   Democracy in the workplace is a threat to capitalism, because if workers had a proportionate say in decision making, one of the first democratic decisions they would almost certainly make, is to put an end to the structure of exploitation. The only reason that people consent to economic exploitation is because they have no other choice. There is no one who would consent to being paid less than what their labor is worth, if there wasn’t an authoritarian structure compelling them to accept these conditions. There is for instance obviously no one who would voluntarily consent to the conditions of slavery. Rather those conditions must be brutally enforced on a population. 

   If the structure of relationships between people is equal; that is to say no one has a greater proportion of decision making power over the conditions which affect others, then we would say that structure is appropriate. We would say it’s equal. 
   However if a privileged class or individual has a disproportionate degree of decision making power, over the conditions which affect others, then we would say the structure of relationships is not working appropriately. That it is unequal. 
   An unequal structure of relationships in a family unit, is what we refer to as a structure of relationships which is not working appropriately for all members. 
   We have defined the inability of a family unit to work appropriately for all members, as family dysfunction. 

Dysfunction as control

   Just because a relationship or structure of relationships is dysfunctional, doesn’t mean it isn’t functioning according to a certain logic. 
   This is where we may notice the reality of dysfunction is related to the psychological concepts of repression and denial.
   In the case of capitalism, its “dysfunction” undoubtedly operates according to a specific logic, has clear aims and goals, and serves a specific interest. One class in the relationship is repressed—or oppressed—they are exploited, not without purpose; but because it’s in the best interest of the class above them to exploit them. A kind of analogy could be made here with psychological repression. Denial for instance, is the repression of clear basic facts, but not without purpose. In classical psychology, this has been explained as a defense mechanism. In short, when the individual psyche is confronted with anomalous or uncomfortable information which it may perceive as threatening, it is likely to react against that information with extreme emotion which is the action of repression. The initial extreme emotion will then be avoided in the future by making of the content of that anomalous or uncomfortable information the subject of denial. 

   To then return from the psychological to the sociological, we could see another kind of analogy manifested sociologically in a labor movement. 
   An exploited class of workers moves to improve their material conditions, and is repressed—oppressed—by the capitalist class which dominates them. 
   One class fights to bring to light the fact of the injustice of their exploitation and domination, whereas the other class reacts against that movement, in a very real material way, denying the movement of its push for economic justice. Because our theory as a psycho-sociological analysis, attempts to find parallels between psychological and sociological phenomenon, perhaps one of our first most basic assertions, is to note the parallel between repression and oppression. That is, repression in the psychological sense, and oppression in the sociological sense. One common factor we may observe in these separate psychological and sociological instances, is control. 

   The repression of a labor movement is a capitalist exertion of control; it is the denial of workers to assert their agency. To grant agency to the workers would be to implement democracy in the workplace; it would be workers taking control over their own destiny. Instead, that agency is denied them, their movement is repressed, and they are placed back under capitalist control. 
   In the case of psychological repression, the defense mechanism of denial is basically a function of the ego, either insisting on a particular narrative or on the maintenance of a particular state of affairs. That narrative or state of affairs is usually unhealthy or damaging in some way; and hence its continual reproduction is known as enabling. 
   Movements to alter the dysfunctional state of affairs, will be perceived by the dominant factor in the defense mechanism, the repressive ego, as threatening. In this way, uncomfortable or anomalous information which contradicted the dominant narrative—even if provably correct—will be denied. Attempts to alter the unhealthy environment into a healthy one, will be rejected. All this to say that living in a state of denial can be perfectly logical. 
   This is because the state of denial serves some important purpose for the individual ego; it enables the reproduction of a certain state of affairs, or the continuation of a dominant narrative. And so—like the control exerted in a sociological context of a labor movement—so too is there a degree of control being exerted over a particular narrative or state of affairs in the psychological context of repression and denial. 

A psycho-sociological summary of fascist patriarchy

   At this point if we have sufficiently shown what a psycho-sociological perspective would look like, namely, one that finds parallels between psychological and sociological phenomenon, then, we can proceed with making an attempt to define what is meant by fascist patriarchy. 
   This term itself may prove initially triggering, as these words on their own go often deeply misunderstood, and in common parlance, can often simply appear to be synonymous with what is “bad,” or trigger extreme emotional reactions, as a projection of what is perceived to be under criticism. 
   It is thus a necessary burden for this essay to define what is meant by fascism and patriarchy. 
   Before doing so, we can begin by asserting a general structuralism for the psycho-sociological perspective, which takes into account there is a complex interaction between political and personal factors. As such it must be emphasized that in essence fascism and patriarchy are institutional structures or systemic dynamics primarily. Although they do get embodied secondarily in particular individuals. 

   We will begin with fascism and then move to patriarchy. This is not necessarily because one proceeds the other, even though one is more generally enforced from the top down, and the other from the bottom up. This is because the top down and bottom up reinforcement works together mutually. One is not necessarily the cause of the other, but both mutually influence each other. 

   For the purposes of this essay, we will assert a very general, political definition of fascism. We will begin with the general historical assertion that fascism has generally arisen as a political ideology and structure in reaction against socialism. It is generally asserted that the ideologies of fascism and socialism both arise within the context of a crisis of capitalism. Although while socialism seeks to progress beyond capitalism, fascism seeks to preserve it. We limit our definition of fascism therefore to its structural opposition to socialism. For the purposes of our psycho-sociological summary, then, since we have also defined socialism in a specific, general sense, as democracy in the workplace; fascism is the polar opposite view on this issue, that seeks to preserve the hierarchical chains of command which currently exist in the workplace under capitalism, which are in effect, dictatorial in practice. 

   There are many other constitutive elements of fascism that could be gone into, however again for the purposes of this essay, which is primarily concerned with the integrity of relationships, we are mostly concerned with the structure of relationships within a fascist dynamic, that can be broadly defined as hierarchical. 
   If socialism seeks an equality of relationships—according to our definition—then fascism seeks the polar opposite which is to preserve the inequality of relationships currently present in the status quo. Here is where patriarchy comes in. Before offering our definition, let it be stated now to be returned to later, that the psycho-sociological parallel within these structures—such as the one of control from earlier—is the enshrinement of hierarchy. 

   I contend that patriarchy, is a dysfunctional form of control. It is dysfunctional in the sense that it doesn’t work appropriately for all members, and it is a form of control in the sense that it is repressive, and works in connection with authoritarian tendencies. 
   Our definition of patriarchy is thus relational. It is a specific practice and ideology for structuring the relations within a family. In psycho-sociological terms, it is a personal subset of a broader political system, that is reinforced from the bottom up through a top down structure. 

   This brings us back to the structure of hierarchy. Among other things, what the general reactionary politics of fascists and conservatives, and liberals, alike, seek to preserve, is the structure of hierarchy which is an inequality of relationships. To the contrary, what the revolutionary politics of leftists seek to create, is not an equality of individuals, but an equality of relationships between individuals. That is, that each member of a unit, be it a citizen or family member, has a proportionate say in decisions which affect them, and, that by the same token, a privileged class or individual doesn’t have a disproportionate degree of decision making power over the conditions which affect others. 
   In the economic question, to answer to the problem of hierarchy and exploitation in the workplace—the inequality of relationships—the leftist advocates for socialism, for democracy in the workplace which the fascist vehemently opposes. 
   To consider the same in fascist patriarchy, we may want to briefly consider in conclusion, the relationship between workplace and home.

The word “economy” comes from the ancient Greek word for “household”

   We have defined socialism, an alternative way of organizing an economy opposed to capitalism, as democracy in the workplace. We have defined fascism in limited economic terms, as an opposition to socialism in seeking to preserve capitalism, which rejects democracy in the workplace. Insofar as it rejects democracy in the workplace, it champions the dictatorial structure of the capitalist relation. The dictatorial structure of the capitalist relation is hierarchical, which is an inequality of relationships. In practice this inequality of relationships robs the working class of their autonomy, forcing them to submit to life conditions which they would otherwise reject, were they given a proportionate amount of power over conditions which affect them. 
   This powerlessness over conditions which affect us, is in essence a powerlessness over our environment. Said in another way, it is our inability to make a living without submitting to the conditions of capitalism. For capitalists and workers alike, the only way to make a living under capitalism is by consenting to its inequality of relationships. 
   This basic inequality and domination inherent to capitalism is present in every single facet of our society, including in the household, although it doesn’t have to be. Where you would find inequality and domination reflected in the household; it is the assertion of this psycho-sociological theory, that you would also see that reflected in the broader society. In theory, if the society was more free and equal, so too would individual households tend to reflect this. In conclusion, we also assert that where you don’t, you are also likely to find fascism and patriarchy. 


   It is important to understand the ways that human relationships are conditioned by sociological factors and psychological predilections. In the same way that individuals are influenced by the groups or communities of which they are a part, so too are individual households influenced by political and economic structures. The political and economic structures which predominate in the world, and the United States in particular, are fairly obvious to anyone who takes a moment to care. It is the opinion of this writer that the way these work in tandem—as a top down and bottom up structure—could be defined in a broad sweep as a fascist patriarchy. While these two terms in particular carry a lot of extreme cultural reaction, I believe I have made my eccentric uses of this terminology in a way that is fairly clear. 
   It will undoubtedly remain controversial that patriarchy is a family dysfunction. What I think is uncontroversial however is that patriarchy serves a broader authoritarian society as a form of oppression and control. 
   We have here suggested that a “dysfunction” could be defined as simply as a condition within a unit which doesn’t work appropriately for all members. 
   When seen from a psycho-sociological perspective, we simply want to suggest that such a “dysfunction” could possibly be understood as reflective of a broader structure of exploitation and inequality. 

How Cybernetic Propaganda Works

Good ol’ Quasi-Fascist Tucker

Let’s do a quick analysis of how this news-image works. I would suggest it is emblematic of how propaganda works on the internet. The process is cybernetic. Maybe in another post I can try to do a more rigorous analysis of what this means to me. However the short version would be to say that it operates on the phenomenon of attitude polarization.

The caption is a bit small, so I’ll write it out in full.
The main headline is, Russian media, Fox News war narratives converge. Under that, the subhead reads: “Russian media has increasingly seized on Fox News’ primetime segments to paint a critical portrait of the United States and its foreign policy.” Finally, the most important bit to me, reads: Criticism of NATO expansion.
So, what is this bit of cybernetic communication doing?

In short, it is making those who do not identify with Fox News, realize that if they are to hold the right position-the position which is the opposite of Fox News-that means they must not be critical of United States foreign policy and especially of NATO expansion.

I’ll belabor the point a little.
The objective of this bit of cybernetic information, is to conflate two positions, for a specific purpose. That purpose is to try to discredit one position by lumping it in with another.
In this case it is to conflate a far-left position with a far-right position.
I propose the intention behind doing this is to create a specific ideological effect, which will tow the ideological line of Neoliberal fascism.

What do I mean by Neoliberal fascism?

I am using the term neoliberal fascism here to refer in general to the ideology of the United States.

The legitimate, far-left, antiwar position to hold, is criticism of NATO expansion.
However, this article conflates this far-left position, with the far-right media outlet Fox News.

If I have to explain to you that the far-left and the far-right are not at all the same thing then I think it is beholden on you to educate yourself a little more about politics.

The far-left is anti-fascist.
The far-right, at least in the United States, is quasi-fascist, and sometimes it is completely Fascist.
This is the truly nefarious truth about a far-right media outlet like Fox News. It is so far to the right as to represent a basically Fascist, or quasi-fascist media institution.
But those in the United States who are under the delusion that Fox News simply represents the dissemination of conservative ideology, are unaware of how deeply quasi-fascist the institution of Fox News really is. And to be more clear how the ideology which it generates and reinforces is one that is Neoliberally fascist.

Liberals in the United States, are Neoliberal Fascists too, but simply on the opposite pole of the spectrum. This is an ideological perspective which contains within it both liberalism, and fascism.
The liberal side of this polarization is conditioned to identify everything to do with Fox News as bad. By the same token, those taken in by Fox News ideology, consider everything that contradicts what Fox News is saying to be bad.

If you take the legitimate far-left, antiwar position that is critical of NATO expansion, and conflate it with the far-right ideology of Fox News, you will get liberals, or Neoliberal fascists, who think Fox News is bad, to think that criticism of NATO expansion is bad. And hence, this destroys the legitimacy of the far-left, antiwar position, by conflating it with its opposite, conflating it with what it is not.
By conflating it with the far-right, it destroys the far-left. It destroys the semantic consistency of the far-left. It destroys the semantic consistency of these polar opposite ideologies by conflating them. And hence the balance of Neoliberal fascism is maintained. That is to say, the balance of Neoliberal fascism excludes an anti-fascist critique, and brilliantly, by conflating anti-fascism with fascism itself.

In short, these two opposites cancel each other out. And you are left with an ideology which excludes anti-fascism. And if you have an ideology that has an absence of anti-fascism, that leaves you with an ideology that has the presence of fascism. For there is no element of the far-left in American ideology. There is only Neoliberal fascism, which has a far-right side to its polarization. A far-right side that the liberal wing of the ideology, which is simply in the center, is made to believe contains elements of the far-left; a self-contradictory statement that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

So, what do you think about NATO expansion? Do you think it is bad to criticize NATO expansion because Fox News, a far-right media outlet, for some reason or another, seems to be aligning itself with the antiwar position?
Why would Fox News be aligning itself with the antiwar position? Does anyone actually believe that the far-right in America is legitimately antiwar?
Please let me know in the comments below.

End the war in Ukraine,
Free the Russian peace activists,
NATO has got to go we sing.


%d bloggers like this: