Peter Dudink

Thoughts On Socialism and Capitalism

In every modern state, capitalism always co-exists with socialism to one degree or another. The socialist principles of political equality, honest wages and universal care are practiced in diluted form in all countries with welfare, human rights institutions and respect for the equality of races and sexes. Socialism, far from having died with Perestroika, continues to support the capitalist project. The two feed off each other, as socialist principles prevent social unrest, stress, and excessive pity for the poor, while capitalism prevents sloth and stimulates individuals with the childish hope of becoming powerful. In short, socialism and capitalism depend on each other, living in a mutually parasitic yet profitable relationship.

*

Communism might be the world’s first concerted attempt to remove class differences and reverse the process of humankind’s growing enslavement to work. Its failure was inevitable, and not only because it proposed an environmentally unsustainable industrial/agricultural model. Communism failed because, first and foremost, it was devoid of any notion of culture beyond craftsmanship and never understood that it must do something higher with energies commonly directly into religion, drama, opera and other creative conventions. Like so many other philosophies, cults, utopian and intentional communities, communist made no systemic effort to evolve and integrate all aspects of life, and – in particular – saw no value in humor, death, child rearing and – among other things – aesthetics.

*

A revolution is bound to fail if it does not address and revolutionize all aspects of human life.

*

Beyond productivity: Unfortunately, socialists, like capitalists, tend to view artistic and philosophical production as secondary, or as luxuries. From an elitist perspective, given the abysmal investment developed countries put into these pursuits, perhaps they are secondary. However, today plenty of money is spent on entertainment, and it’s safe to say that no matter how work-obsessed a people is, they will always need some form of art and philosophy – which are, in their commonest forms, entertainment and religion. They may well be opiates, but only insofar as they marked a stage in our development, and we can now do better, not that we can do without all semblance of them.

*

I don’t mind that all the world is a stage, I just wish we had better scripts and better actions. As for the make-believe acting, that is the proper domain of children, whose work I love.

*

The modern model of the arts and philosophy basically follows the energetic production and unenergetic consumption model. This means that the production of higher goods generally requires high levels of industrial energy and very low levels of intellectual energy. Novels are industrial productions insofar as they require an absolute minimum of intellectual
engagement, and even the imaginative element is prefabricated for the reader, who absorbs the author’s imaginative visions about as easily as a sponge absorbs water. And so, any revolution that wishes to succeed must also revolutionize the arts, and turn reading and even music appreciation into something other than acts of passive consumerism.

*

The Marxist focus on the material world and its rejection of idealist philosophy is symptomatic of a failure to appreciate the imagination and our higher love of language games. At the very least, we need to recognize the underlying artistic and imaginative value of all religious and pseudo-religious ideas and develop them beyond anything we have seen before.

*

What else could we expect from Hitler, a complete Romantic and a painter without the energy or courage to be imaginative? Ditto for Stalin, who thought himself a poet.

*
 
The failure of both capitalism and socialism to build a profound relation to death is a startling oversight. Religion has always served as a means of reducing the stress generated by our awareness of death, injustice, and difficulty.

The Nazi socialists offered quasi-immortality through participation in the community; the capitalists ignore the issue and allow religion and atheism to co-exist in muted conflict. A revolution that does not address the primary fact of our mortality and provide a revolutionary relationship to it, cannot succeed.

*

I suggest that, rather than consigning the topic of death to the margins of cultural development, we consider the essence of the thought of death as present in all higher thinking. Wherever consciousness is active, saying “No” to one image or idea (typically in order to freely consider other images or ideas), there death is present, for the thought of death is that ultimate negation, the “No” to everything – all our memories, possessions, beliefs, all the contents of consciousness.

*

The contents of consciousness – through material abundance or consumption – can ever be sufficiently great to plug the abyss. Even we renounce the right to possess private property, say “No” to the entire notion of property, this alone does not create harmony with the No posed by the universe and the future. The challenge is to incorporate No-ing into the arts.

*

The end of specialization should also apply to the arts; but if we are all artists, who will consume our art and save us from the deluge of art – a deluge that already exists? Every possible taste must be invented and satisfied by the modern marketing machine; every taste, the matter of nutrition does not enter into their calculations.

*

The notion of plurality and infinite consumer choices eventually undermines humanism and equality. The way out is to accept all cultural products as equal in value (provided no one is insulted, deceived, or hurt) shows a lack of discernment. If a state of delusion already exists, some amount of painful disillusioning is good and necessary.

*

Different philosophical schools continue to multiply, each with its own, undoubtedly unique perspectives and methods. One way to overcome this annoying cacophony of philosophy is to make a meta-critique of pure philosophical patterns; a delineation of the abstract patterns described by philosophical methods and ways of thinking. Afterwards, the patterns could be measured for their complexity and intensity (clarity). Finally, they could be evaluated according to their ability to produce optimal and sustainable happiness in one of the following two ways: 1) by producing such happiness as texts and reading experiences, or 2) by providing readers instructions for producing happiness.

*

Like so many daring juveniles, modern artists, poets, musicians have experimented with everything, producing a vast assortment of very unique and very different STUFF. For consumers of the arts and amusements, the world offers an infinite smorgasbord of cultural goodies. The romance genre has split into super-romance, gothic-romance, Muslim/Hindu-teenage-romance, palliative-romance and whatever. In the interest of creating some kind of cultural unity, let’s divide the various genres and sub-genres their respective levels of intelligence. Or, categorize them all according to the five means of stifling intelligence: emotional stimulation (hope, fear, horror, etc), sensory stimulation (videography, tourism, etc.), hormonal stimulation (violence, extreme daring and sex), and information over-stimulation (news, academic research) and pure confusion (please guess). And there may be other means of intellectual and artistic suicide: for today even gardening, interior decorating, automotive design, advertising, jewellery and figure skating are making claims to beauty. And let’s not forget pot boilers and predictable plots, everyday objects and elitist gimmickry, as well as our emotional and oh-so predictable music – none of which require more than an instant of thought from their absorbers. Attention spans may well be decreasing because tolerance for inanity in the arts and irrelevancy in education is decreasing.

Peter Dudink © 2008