The new cultural trends that have been emerging since the outbreak of the pandemic combine apocalyptic messages and an exacerbated drive for commodification.
Table of Contents
- The horror of a life-shredder…
- … fueling the flames of atomization with the oil of commodification
The horror of a life-shredder…
There have been almost 4,000 suicides in Spain during 2020. That is, 85.67 times more fatalities than those caused by the misnamed “gender violence”. It is not a matter of opposing one statistic to another, they are part of the same thing: suicides, heinous crimes, murders of partners and ex-partners and “private” or diffuse violence, are not things that “happen”, they are socially produced. And there is no doubt that the grinder of lives that has become a system that makes growth antagonistic to human development is at full throttle.
As we know, the state’s response is to fractionate the attribution of causes so that the overall framework is lost and the real causes are rendered invisible.
“Gender violence” is attributed, via feminism, to a sort of ideologically-driven terrorism of “males against females”. Suicide is shamelessly invisibilized. The heinous crimes become media spectacles of “irrationality”. Diffuse violence is adorned with identitarianism and fascistizing overtones about “youth”. And mental health is perverted into a discourse on “vulnerability” and guilt in order to deny its social causes.
But the root problems remain, they become more evident every day. And ideology comes to their rescue.
… fueling the flames of atomization with the oil of commodification
As the atomization and individualization that the system carries at its very root are an evident driving force behind the social meat grinder, the press is encouraged to highlight “solutions” against “loneliness”… which take atomization for granted with all the naturalness in the world.
Cynically, they peddle the products of a nascent “loneliness industry” as a solution: conversational robots and “friends” and even rental families. They don’t even notice the contradiction in terms: for a conversation to exist, there must be at least two subjects, two intelligent, self-aware beings, which a device like Alexa or the Roomba vacuum cleaner are not.
The worst: calling a “care” service agency that sends some “friends” to your home after payment by credit card, may provide company but certainly not friends. The friendship relationship is by definition decommodified and disinterested.
It may sound ridiculous, but this is not innocent. The radically commodifying and atomizing discourse comes bound once again to feminism. Since the 1970s a part of American feminism redefined prostitution as “sex work” in a world where instead of class antagonisms they saw a pervasive antagonism between the sexes. Commodifying human relations to the limit, they argued, would protect women by virtue of becoming subjects of commodified relations and would thus be “empowering.”
The result, an anti-human and ultra-capitalist morality, which begins to take its toll as soon as feminism is adopted as a state ideology and permeates the educational system.
Two nearby cultural examples: the total commodification of parenthood in a trendy Belgian “reality show” and the explosion of underage prostitution in France, which has grown by 70% in just 5 years.
The high school girls in question do not talk about prostitution, but about sexual liberation and freedom to dispose of their bodies. Sometimes they do not hesitate to involve their “girlfriends” in their “good business”. They become pimps without being aware of it.
A vision of feminism that makes the commodification of the body an element of emancipation can bring down young women. By charging for their relationships, they become slaves to their clients. But most of the time they only realize it later.
In his practice, Claude Giordanella sees young girls who have been desensitized and depersonalized. “You have to see everything they go through to get money,” the sexologist sighs. “Deep down, they know it hurts them, even physically. But they set up coping mechanisms to cover their suffering.” On the ground, professionals continue to work to treat these young women.“In ghettos and bourgeois neighborhoods, the boom in prostitution among girls.” Marianne
Now the French state is launching a plan to combat underage prostitution, but when specialists dig a little under feminist morality they find, not surprisingly, the old individualistic and mercantile ideology of a lifetime: life goals centered on accessing luxury consumption as a way of overcoming the personal complexes… created by the vendors themselves.
It’s not that the ideologues of the system don’t realize it, but it is impossible for them to think beyond it without minimally confronting the capitalism under which we live.
Even when they note the disasters of the prevailing anti-human parenting model, and seek alternatives for their own children, they don’t know how to go beyond. From the model in which the objective is the “happiness” of the child understood as the immediate satisfaction of all their desires, they go on to say that it is important to teach them to resist frustration when it can’ t be that way. Nothing about providing them with autonomy and awareness of the world in which they live, nothing about providing them with the capacity to resist the social and industrial creation of “wants”. Of course!
But there is something else. Something that is presented to us in a brutal way when El País announces the rediscovery of the bible “from the viewpoint of secularism or feminism” or when Le Monde is at ease presenting Catholic exorcisms as “complements” to medical or psychological therapy.
These days the German press kept asking themselves why vaccination had stagnated at 68%. They were amazed about the fact that even the new wave of infections did not encourage more people to get vaccinated, especially among that “middle class” that represents the virtues of the “German model.” How could it be that the modern and supposedly educated German petty bourgeoisie was so sensitive to the denialist propaganda of the self-styled “lateral thinkers?”
Der Spiegel answered with a sort of uncomfortable confession: discreetly, under an appearance of contemporaneity and progressivism that make the outsider assume a minimal scientific culture, movements like Antroposophy are still extremely influential in German-speaking society. They were always there through brands such as Waldorf schools, Welleda, biodynamic products or Triodos’ “ethical banking”. But no one imagined that they would lead a large group of “respectable people” to the Covid slaughterhouse out of sheer anti-scientific irrationalism.
What the article does not tell is that in most Waldorf schools, especially outside Germany, children’s vaccine schedules are adhered to half-heartedly but without conflict.
It is not that this old petty-bourgeois para-religion has made the fight against vaccination its banner. It is that the agitation of the petty bourgeoisie in the face of the crisis whipped up by the pandemic has brought to light and given vigor to the most decadent and darkest background of this para-religion among its members, overwhelmingly belonging to that class.
Perhaps anthroposophists are less reluctant to take refuge in superstition and indulge in anti-vaccine conspiracies, but the phenomenon goes much deeper than that. It is class-based, not worship-based. Other current cultural phenomena such as “climate angst” among children and teenagers or the identification of the “highbrow” press with the social Darwinism of “The Squid Game” tells us of a class that feels on the verge of frustration… and turns despair into social culture.
In fact one would have to wonder whether the ideological-cultural responses of the petty bourgeoisie to this phase of the crisis are but a slightly exaggerated cultural expression of the increasingly apocalyptic mood of the ruling class itself.
One thing is clear: the ruling class is not even able to present vaccines or the Green Deal as promises of a possible better future. They need to present them as necessary concessions of “freedom” in the face of disaster. Culture, that inverted mirror, thus tells us how the permanent disaster that this system has become is increasingly reluctant to “grant” freedoms for anything other than commodifying our own bodies and relationships.