Spiritualization became precisely the vehicle of authoritarian directives at the same time that it urges followers to embrace narcissistic individualism.
We’re really setting ourselves up for fascism, because as we empty more and more kinds of values – motivating principles, spiritual principles almost – out of the culture, we’re creating a hunger that is eventually going to drive us to the sort of state where we may accept fascism just because the nice thing about fascists is that they’ll tell you what to think, they’ll tell you what to do, they’ll tell you what’s important — and we as a culture aren’t doing that for ourselves yet. [ David Foster Wallace, 11 April 1996 ]
I am alone in this (with all these others) to defeat those who think otherwise. I alone will ascend upon the day of all days to the better place. It’s all about ensuring that I alone am picked for the afterparty. I know this because they told me so: that I am an individual and I only do what I want to do.
Thesis. The narcissistic individual is an empty contradiction: so hungry for meaning that he fills himself with the longing for transcendental absence; so convinced that any attempt to change the ways of concrete, cold reality falls only into the evil of human overdetermination (i.e., socialist barbarism), that all efforts at working for togetherness are suspect; thus so thirsty in proving that this individual relation with the One is all that there is, and all that there will ever be, that he will deny efforts by others to improve the situation of life on earth, in the hope that he will become one of the chosen few to experience true togetherness.
Indeed, proof of loyalty to the absent one consists precisely in organising against those who wish to live (and labour) through togetherness. To the work of togetherness is contrasted the promise of a very selective and chosen togetherness to-come, in which only those worthy and devoted enough to be together will be chosen by the master selector himself. To increase one’s chances, the task is to work together against those who seek to further the togetherness of work. Why is this?
1/ Contemporary fascism makes the individual believe s/he is part of a movement to take back control (from a representative structure, no less, i.e. government), when the matter is that the individual is a dead & dumb pawn in a powergame fought by nongovernmental powers, ie authoritarian entities, for control over the gameboard itself. Ironically, most individuals self-empowered believe that they know more of the truth of the situation and its levels of control (i.e., that Obama is a nonAmerican Muslim, that reptiles are fighting with/against the Illuminati — the realm of conspiracy theory).
2/ The structure of absence as a ruling power, and of the reward to-come, is operational perfection. Think about it. As a structure for control in which the Machiavellian wishes to convince the other to ultimate work against his or her interests, nothing can compete with having God on your side. Or rather nothing can compete, as nothing is precisely the ultimate weapon in the war over “hearts and minds.”
Strategy. Empowerment is deployed as the lure. The myth of the individual is the seductive strategy. The reward is believing oneself empowered (and possibly eternal), when the strategic result is that one has embraced long-term disenfranchisement. Spiritualism offers the conveniently unprovable and ultimate guarantee that the fight can indeed justify the sacrifice, the violence, the force. In various places on this planet, one sacrifices collective betterment (i.e. Health Care, good governance, democratic process), in others, one sacrifices life itself (enough said), both in exchange for a chance at the ultimate proof that one is, indeed, absolutely right about it all — that one is in control of one’s relation to ruling absence, and that this forever absent absence will, in the last word, reveal itself as the gift.
Yet what are the characteristics of this gift-giver? Or rather, given its absence, what are the effects wrought? For all there is of the gift-giver is not even its effects (for they too are absent), but the interpretation and archeology of their suspect signs.
Machiavelli today: what public relations firm has so warped the effects of the gift-giver that its signature trait can only emerge, today, as the force of violence? Or is violence the only possible trace, the only confirmation of the ultimate absence in its power? For anything else cannot be but anything less.