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The Fallacy of Homo Economicus and the reconstitution of the labour and cultural movement PDF Print E-mail
The Labour Movement-Economy
homo_catanaloticusThe twentieth century brought to prominence the economic field as the field of shift of the anthropological deficit into the dynamic of the economic system and the binding of man to it.

Our individualism as a field of socio-psychological expression of our personality has been invested primarily in the economy. Our personality has been consumed in the theatre of consumption, both by the ostentation of the brand-name of the products acquired and the ostentation of wealth more generally.

In this way, we displace our inner deficit of entity and entification on to our incorporation into a market. We have come to regard products, brands, and names as our soul, whereas their usefulness is located in the satisfaction of which are existent. There is 'manufactured' usefulness which is addressed to the psychological part of us. Proof of the magnitude of cultural distortion and of cultural play-acting - both of the self and of the economy - is the fact that marketing has incorporated psychological knowledge to a much more advanced degree than the educational system has done. The educational system should equip us with self-knowledge, with antibodies against the distortion of the market - which is termed 'marketing' - and which micro-economic theory provocatively ignores, in spite of the fact that it is the principal function of the market, and is also to be found in entrepreneurship, as in the capital and securities market.

In contrast with what is going on in education, management has incorporated all the advanced dynamics of knowledge. For example, management has incorporated knowledge and peak fields from Maslow's hierarchy of needs. By way of contrast, although education and politics should have made this incorporation into the logic of the development of democracy, the human entity, and human civilisation, have not done so.

Another example is provided by the theories about 'memes', 'holism', and 'systemic' theories. It is interesting that, as regards the field of scientific management, lines of thinking which are moving in constructive directions have been disguised.

It is indicative that the problématique of Norbert Wiener and other thinkers on the need to make use of cybernetics as a field of self-knowledge for human beings has been suppressed. Disguising of this kind has resulted - both in management and in marketing - in a theatre of substitution for the soul of man being practised.

The drama of Faust with Mephistopheles has been displaced completely to this field. It is also the field of the 'portrait of Dorian Grey', in which we want to represent the play-acting conquest of the world as a soul, as we seek to escape from the dilemma posed by Christ: "what will it profit us if we gain the whole world and lose our soul?" This also applies to the 'Protestant ethic of capitalism', or any other ethic, including that of turning the Holy Spirit into a banking item, and any other terminologies of a religious or ideological-developmental alibi of the economy.

The gap between ethics and reason, and life and action
Single-dimensional magnification is neoplastic and starts out from the psychological field and from the enigma which we cannot solve in depth and which culminates even in figures strong in self-knowledge who expressed their thinking in the form of drama, such as Oscar Wilde. In Wilde’s life, we see, on the one hand, an outstanding thinker, but, on the other, a prolonged and total divergence between his creativity and his thinking, informed by self-knowledge, and his everyday lifestyle. More specifically, his everyday life exhibited many characteristics of an ostentatious eccentric consumerism.

It is that strange gap between ethics and reason and life and action with life as a vital psychological field and action as a field of relationships. In the first place, this problem stems from our inadequacy as to reality, the truth of love, and as to sacrifice as a field of our entification - as a field of the drawing or fulfillment of the soul within us, as a field of grouping or socialisation and cost - and the truthfulness of freedom. This enterprise of substituting for all our needs and the serving of them, and, above all, our psychological needs, through the market and products, through names, which is the main dynamic and the strategy development of advertising and of economic models and values, is developing into tragic hubris, in the fullest sense of the term.

The destruction of the market by brand-names
In a strange way, our economic culture is an ostensibly rational plunge into the irrational, a titanic return to animalism, which, in the end, conceals barbarity - as Carlyle said - and which will tear us apart us. It is a displacement which is animalish, barbarous, and psychological, alien to reason, philosophy, deeper substantiveness, or to the models and the quality of civilisation and the spirit, and which promotes the tragic economisation of everything through us.

Our self is divided between the consumer, who is the addressee of marketing, and the worker, who is the addressee of management. Mankind is divided between consumer paradises - where wealth is ostentatiously destroyed and where the irrational seems like fame, like power, like a narcissistic crescendo - and the hell of labour in other synonymous and neighbouring, or distant, latitudes and longitudes.

The 'immortality' of the brand -name seems to play a tragic, Shakespearean role of many faces, without there being the self-awareness of the vanity of riches as a conclusion of Timon of Athens, or as a trial of the merchant of Venice. We play-act without the self-knowledge of the actor, and the name of the role becomes our god, glory, whereas the self has been lost. The substitution of the name for Being, as dominating and as a basis and as a bed of surplus value, points to the real, and fundamentally distorted, model of the market.

Consequently, there is no competitiveness of names. The competitiveness which does exist is confined to the offer of prices. When there is a name, the market no longer holds good. Why has the science of economics not revealed this? Because it is divided between the unrealistic oracles of economic theory, of management, and of marketing in the running of enterprises, and the reality of the paternalism of the markets.

However, the time is inevitably coming when the name will pay, like the ghost in the machine, the price. It will return to tragic catharsis, because our imagination must reckon with the reality of our self, and there is no system which evades reality for a prolonged period, nor even a system of completeness of mathematics, still less of completeness of a one-dimensional civilisation.

How can an economy and a market which plays with senseless sensuality maintain that it possesses the key of reason and how can it claim exclusivity in legislating for the world?

The economy as theatre
The economy is an ontological barbarity which we must sooner or later control, and the brand is the flag of our psychological barbarity. It is only in anonymity that we shall find our self. Only in an anonymity of products will the market really work; an anonymity which will be truly evaluated in the whole course of production of the product and will assess the real value. This includes cultural, social, and environmental value in a cycle of integrated quality - to use the language of the economic and legal sciences.

We must put an end to the economy as theatre. We are in a position to enjoy theatre from the ancient classics and the world's great epics, from Shakespeare to our own time. We have no need of the economy as theatre, even though, unfortunately, this is the nature, the hidden fascination, and the obscure object of the economic desire and the prestige of the leisured class.

The core in this prestige is an ontological idiocy. Andrew Carnegie was right when he said that the man who dies rich dies disgraced. On the other hand, the school of the 'creation of a consensus', of 'public relations', and of the 'utilisation of the subconscious and the impulses' (of Edward Bernays,[i] Walter Lipmann, and others) has nourished 'monsters' and has had all the accompaniments of tragic drama. As it is descended from psychoanalysis, one would expect it to have turned to self-knowledge and to the re-thinking of the self, as well as to freedom from negative influences from the cultural environment. Instead, however, synchronised with the Crash of 1929, it turned its energies to 'visions' of the future, such as 'Futurama',[ii] at the time of the World War. Total vanity, which the funeral speech of Ecclesiastes befits. "The company and the product as man's identity."

This was the tragic affinity of Sigmund Freud himself.[iii] Just as Freud's theory started out from the tragic myth of Oedipus, it was in the end assimilated to the tragic applications of a market which cannot on its own maintain prosperity and which is unable to be the soul of man. For that reason, in man's politics, there needs to be a reconstitution of the labour and the cultural movement, in order to provide a new identity, to shape new relations and a new system, to cleanse the Augean stables, to end the defective 'identities', the titanic idiocies and atrocities which survive in our civilisation and in our psychology.

Here it must be noted that in this way the 'moral sentiments' of Adam Smith, and liberalism will be reborn. By liberalism is meant here what Adam Smith wanted it to be, and not as it is intended by those who divide us into consumers and workers in order to cause misery and tragedy between Scylla and Charybdis, and crush our soul in the passage through the Symplegades, assigning schizoid roles within us, to society and to mankind, and stage-managing the loss of our self, through roles of self- subservience and coercion, of the tragic vicious circle, with our fantasising as consumers and suffering as workers.

From the individualism of homo economicus to the societalism of homo politicus
It is high time that we looked at the world and ourselves from the beginning. For us to enter upon a path of learning and change, to augment the dimensions of life and to give it again the real human magnitude, by dealing with economic materialism by the power of the spirit and of a political right from positions of spiritual security and political freedom.

It is only by shifting our vitality from the individualism of the homo economicus to the societalism of the homo politicus to the spirituality and creativity of the homo universalis that we shall be able to be liberated from the slaveries and from the totalitarianisms in which we are stage-managed by the theatricalists of the economy. Only in this way will there be a healthy market and a sound public economy. Privatism requires a measure of health, because without this it turns into power and exploitation of man - even for those who think that they rule over the world, whereas they are unable to rule over a single one of their own cells.

The theatre of the economy and the loss of freedom
Never will ignorance and non-understanding of the world be an alibi. The age in which we live has had all the opportunities for us to understand it. We can understand where we are making a mistake and where we commit hubris. All the means which will permit us to understand the law of cause and effect at the human level is free. Our individualism, expressed in the field of economic materialism and economic theatre, is marked by the loss of our freedom, both our psychological and our political and cultural freedom, and this loss of freedom will deepen unless we change course.

Division is not only between us and others, but also within us, and no one can be viable with such fundamentally schizoid characteristics, which are constantly intensifying and increasingly and permanently diverging.

Collapses will become much more extensive than they have been in the past, both psychologically and systemically. As long as we are indifferent to the working conditions for high yields on capital and large surplus value, we shall be faced with the loss of our own social rights, in a field which does not function on terms of liberal competitiveness, but on terms of power competitiveness, as a power game and not as a game of equality and freedom.

Until our self and our social organisation are, tragically, 'exhausted' and we discover that we must exchange our luxury and wealth for a handful of dust of the wilderness, we shall not find sanity either about the economy itself or its sustainability, either in relation to its operation, or as regards ourselves, society, and nature. On nature itself, we function as pirates and not as ennobled parts of it.

 
Ioannis Zisis, Writer


[i] Gore, Al, The Assault on Reason (Greek edition), publ. Kathimerini.
Bernays, Edward : If we understand the mechanism and the motives of the group mind, is it not possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing about it?  Recent experience from the use of propaganda shows that yes, it is possible, at least up to a point and within certain limits. p. 122.
Mazur, Paul : We must shift America from a -needs- to a -desires- culture. People must be trained to desire, to want new things, even before the old have been entirely consumed. […] Man’s desires must overshadow his needs. p. 120.

[ii] 'Futurama' was a presentation of the future at the New York World's Fair of 1939, which showed how the planet would be 20 years hence (1959 - 60). Large automated avenues would cross the cities, the suburbs of the megalopolises would be larger and better organised, as would be industrial and agricultural production. Mankind would have vast potential for progress, based precisely on this improvement of the organisation of production. It was the work of Norman Bel Geddes and was funded by General Motors. An envisioning of the future inspired by the myth of the machine. Today's reality, with the wasting of energy which has nothing to do with real quality of life, wars to secure it, and the consequent well-known environmental problems which threaten not only the economy but also the ecosystem reveal the magnitude of the self-deception and the responsibilities of those who nurtured it. Read more on Futurama and watch the relevant documentary.

[iii] Edward Bernays was a nephew of Sigmund Freud.

 
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