Sociopathic Socialism?

Is this an endorsement? President as terrorist, sociopath, villain? Socialism as sociopathology? Of course, the Joker would not be going to such remarkably dangerous (from a campaigning standpoint) lengths to rescue a floundering economy. He would joyfully revel in its catastrophic implosion. And without a hint of irony, this is precisely what so many right-wingers in this country say they want – let the market handle it. The market, of course, does not care in the slightest if you have a job, a house, health insurance, or even food to eat. If there is a dollar to be made in your misery, then it will be made.

Obama’s ‘socialism’ is a bizarre spectacle of ‘socialism’ stepping in to rescue capital, whose insane march to the very edge of history has fallen just short of successful suicide. Only a socialist can rescue capitalism…

Yet identifying capital with the Joker is no more appropriate. Capital will do anything to make a buck, given the alternative of making less. The Joker also sought to accumulate great wealth…for the purpose of destroying it.

The Obama/Joker mashup makes a bit more sense in this light – Obama’s bailout as accumulating massive amounts of money through taxation, only to destroy it. Of course, Obama was quite late to the bandwagon. Conservatives should remember under which administration the massive bailout program began, and whose Treasury Secretary pleaded for it.

The Joker really falls outside of these coordinates. Neither saving capitalism from itself, nor endulging in its solipsistic expansion-at-all-costs, he aims for a bizarre inversion of conspicuous consumption – conspicuous destruction, perhaps. A sociopathy distinct from that of capital? The Joker was less a sociopath than a sort of joyful nihilist, reveling in the ruins – especially the psychical ruins of schizophrenia – rather than exploiting them for his own control. This is the clear difference between Nolan’s Joker and Burton’s – the latter was himself the exemplar of mafioso capitalism, a crimelord, whereas the former made himself intolerable to such an economistic opportunism.

Obama is rather not unlike Batman – shouldering a burden that is by no right his. He refuses to plainly state that it was Republican (pro-(extreme-)capitalist) policies that brought us to the brink of disaster. Rather, he continues to silently endorse the notion that his policies are responsible for the current state of affairs. Socialism – taking responsibility.

Capitalist ideologues seem bent on holding government responsible for economic failure, while simultaneously denouncing every attempt of government to take responsibility. They want it to let go, relinquish responsibility, and for what? For the benefit of opportunistic corporate mafioso, who continue to wonder about the dangerous deal they’ve struck with the happy nihilist, the joyful sociopath.

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5 Responses to Sociopathic Socialism?

  1. Pingback: Misrepresenting capitalism (?) – false symmetry

  2. Kowalsky says:

    I would like to state my opinion on this topic, if you don’t mind, and say that i do not mean to be harsh. Well, this is, somehow, naive. This discourse about capitalism is the same discourse employed by all left wing revolutionary movements of the 20th century. I’m not indulging capitalism, communism or any framed political positions, but i think that what made communist regimes crack (some of them cracked towards the same capitalist pattern of production, like the chinese regime) was the error of not seeing capitalism, and all its potencials, in full complexity. The embracing of the basic antagonism between the social good and the market exploitation has failed to see that capitalism has shown the capability of accept its own critic in the benefit of itself. That the political power, as a form, gradually, of course, was no more acting in the “bodies” and much more through a fluid “normatization” of all society, by creating lifestyles, urban tribes, acceptation of brands as a symbol of belonging. In a more radical point we view, we may even see a society emerged in some kind of delicate, but complex, cloth of control. Capitalism has achieved an esthetic level of existence that is imbricated not just in the everyday routine, but in the intimate life.
    I can’t say i’m one hundred percent sure of what i said, but maybe this point of view can be a lane to understand how communist icons turned into an enjoyable and harmless product in today’s america. And, maybe, to understand the Obama/Joker mashup.
    At last, hope i made my point clearly in this brief space and would like to apologize for my bad english.
    Cheers,
    Kowalsky, from Brazil

    • reidkane says:

      No need to apologize, Kowalsky, and know that criticism is always welcome here so long as it is respectful.

      Your position is that the demonization of capitalism is naive, failing to take into account its true complexity, which has proven to create very beneficial modes of life. Is this correct?

      I agree completely. But you are leaving out something crucial. Capitalism can be beneficial for many people, but only insofar as many, many others are ruthlessly exploited, repressed, and maintained in dire poverty. You can of course argue that this is not necessary and it can change, but frankly, there is pathetically little empirical evidence to support such optimism.

      Capital’s ‘brain’ is the corporation, whose motive has absolutely nothing to do with human prosperity. Corporations will always make maximum possible profit regardless of its impact on human life, society, culture, or ecosystem. If a corporation could be run by machine intelligence, it would. If its investors were exclusively other machine intelligences, it would be in principle fully autonomous of concern for humanity.

      Now this may sound like paranoid sci-fi daydreaming, but have no doubt, the possibility of this is far closer than we want to recognize. And even if it weren’t, the cold indifference of the unrestrained profit motive has consistently proven its destructive power – whoever its avatars may have been – for centuries.

      The only way to make the profit motive compatible with general human prosperity is to restrain and regulate the former to protect the latter from it. Yet capital pools have proven again and again their evasive capacity in this regard: they will either migrate to more accomidating legal zones, or intervene in the laws themselves using their massive influence, or construct public opinion in their favor, despite the obvious evidence of objective antagonism.

      • Kowalsky says:

        Hello reidkane.

        I was not talking about the glory, the victory or the benefits of capitalism. In fact, i wrote about a darker side of what i perceive in capitalism nowadays. Darker than the trivial discourse about capitalism employed by the revolutionary movements of the 20th century.

        Let me rephrase what you said you understood about what i said: my position is that the demonization of capitalism is naive when it fails to take into account its true complexity, because when the old antagonism is used as the central argument it will create a criticism that is totally absorbed and predicted by the modus operandi of capitalism today.

        Yes, billions of people are being exploited around the world. I’m a brazilian, i live in Brazil, i see this exploitation with my own eyes everyday. And i’m sure that both imperialism and capitalism systematically produced this reality. But the gravitation of forces, economical or political, the issues about capital and production that maintain this large global regime of exclusion is a far more complex and wide discussion.

        In some circumstances it’s still very simple: a guy exploits another guy and this first accumulate capital in order to exploit even further. But what i think is that we can’t picture capitalism, or this new type of aesthetical capitalism that we live today, in this simple frame anymore. The public politics employed by governments in order to deal with social issues, are not a central matter to capitalism anymore. The large scale incorporation of social life, intimate life, imaginary, human relations, all that is imbricated in life itselt, is a matter to capitalism. Nokia can take a rebel culture, like hip-hop culture, to itself in order to promote its brand of cell phones. IBM can take a humanitary action in Africa to aggregate value to its brand. People pay money to waer someone’s logo in front of their chests.

        In order to produce, i don’t know if this is the right words, a more lethal criticism, we have to unfold the complexity, the new modes of power, control, esthetics, the intangible values, the delicate ways to penetrate everywhere, the sensible worlds that capitalism creates.

        • reidkane says:

          Kowalsky,

          I misunderstood your first comment. I agree with everything you say here. The OP might be a bit superficial, but I think my overall treatment of capitalism on this blog is evidence of something far more complex than its 19th and 20th century ancestors. This post was really a short polemical burst. My understanding of capitalism might not be the best, but I don’t think its neotenic.

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