Blue Right and Fuchsia Left: Two Wings of the Neoliberal Eagle

According to the non-linear trajectory that connects 1968 with the new Millennium, the Left now finds its tone, no longer in the red of utopian passion, but in the fuchsia of sectoral demands on the terrain of capitalism. It finds its symbol of reference, no longer in the “hammer and sickle” of labor and its anti-capitalist redemption, but in the rainbow of the whims of individual consumption for the privileged classes, behind which hides and legitimizes the gray of capitalist reification. Inappropriately called “civil rights,” rainbow rights redefine public morality on the basis of cultural and psychological references consistent with the profit strategies of the liberal-globalist entertainment industry.

The displacement of the issue of social and labor rights to that of consumerist whims and environmental protection is one of the hegemonic strategies of turbo-capitalism and the neo-liberal left as a complement. Back in 1995, in Sinistra senza classe (The Left without Class), Leone De Castris vindicated—vox clamantis in deserto—the need to reinitiate in the Left that class struggle that has now disappeared from the radar of the programs of the new Left in all its gradations. The triumph of “civil rights” as the monothema of the left quadrant represents, however, the apotheosis of the liberal anthropological conception, which thinks of man as a competitive atom (“The only one and his property,” as Stirner said) and human freedom as the whim of the consumer in the market. Subsumed under capital, the Left becomes a privileged place of symbolic reproduction and ideological justification of capital itself; and this, in the form of the elaboration, organization, and defense of the “single thought” and the “new mental order” as superstructural complements of the authentic balance of hegemonic power. Thus, PC, once the noble acronym identifying the Communist Party of Gramsci and Togliatti, is today only the acronym of the Politically Correct code of which the post-communist “sinistrash” rainbow hodgepodge has set itself up as the custodian.

Compressed elastically between 1968 and 1989, the phase of the formal subsumption of the Right and the Left under capital is characterized by the fact that the two sides of the dichotomy have been gradually integrated into the neocapitalist system. A sort of “cultural Yalta” is taking place: on the Left, the increasingly marked adherence to the cultural liberalism paradigm of ethical progressivism coexists with some vague hints of economic regulation, while on the Right, faint vestiges of cultural and moral regulation coexist with the increasingly evident adherence to economic liberalism.

Since 1989, with the real subsumption under capital, Right and Left have been fully integrated into the turbo-capitalist paradigm. The Left is increasingly freeing itself from economic regulation, celebrating the rationale of the competitive market. And the Right is increasingly distancing itself from moral and cultural regulation, embracing neoliberal progressivism. The traditionalist Right and the communist Left are disappearing, swallowed up respectively by the ultra-capitalist neo-right and neo-left. At most, they survive as testimonial folkloric residues or, more often than not, as entertainment and ideological alibi of the neoliberal system, playing into its hands to be pointed out as living proof of the ever-latent presence of fascism and communism, or what is the same—without distinction of any kind—as the now useless traditionalist Right and the now evaporated communist Left. If the neo-liberal Left is not even a shadow of red, the surviving sectarian and folkloric groups of the “pure Left” have only a faint red shadow left. And the same could be said of the black shadow in the right quadrant.

With the real subsumption, Right and Left come to coincide—paraphrasing Sartre—in considering capitalism as “the insurmountable horizon of our time.” The Right, with a few noteworthy exceptions, very early on began to identify in the status quo of the capitalist market, the existing to be defended and promoted, often pretending at the same time—as Giddens, among others, pointed out—to fight against its effects (homologation, dissolution of traditional links and identities, etc.). Its adherence to the market gradually pushed it to “dissolve” into integral liberalism.

The three pillars of what Roger Scruton has identified as “conservative thinking”—authority, loyalty and tradition—have been neutralized by the market. The latter, substituting tradition for progress, recognizes the commodity form as the only authority and free trade as the only loyalty. From this point of view, the Thatcherite vision is emblematic of the liberal-Atlantist neo-right—it aspires to the moral regeneration of the family, the individual and the nation, but founding it on the free market, that is, on the root cause of their disintegration. And, in order not to have to admit that it is the free market which denies what they want to affirm, the Thatcherite neo-liberals must invent, by way of explanation of this degeneration of values, the propaganda of the perfidious socialists trying, in the dark, to undermine the foundations of society.

The Left, for its part, as Michéa pointed out, criticized—at least until the fall of the Berlin Wall—the capitalist balance of power and the very idea of the capitalist free market, while enthusiastically adhering to those “illusions of progress” which are among its main successes (degrading values and traditions, rejecting sovereignties and material and immaterial frontiers, achieving the integral fluidization of the world of life). Its acceptance of cultural progressivism led it to gradually reconcile itself with the market, which generated it in its image and likeness, following a process that already began in the 1990s of the “short century.”

This is the only way to explain, for example, the French socialist program of 1992, entitled, “Un nouvel horizon: projet socialiste pour la France” (“A New Horizon: Socialist Project for France”). This program textually states the following: “oui, nous pensons que l’économie de marché constitue le moyen de production et d’échange le plus efficace. Non, nous ne ne croyons plus à une rupture avec le capitalism” (“Yes, we think that the market economy constitutes the most efficient means of production and exchange. No, we no longer believe in a break with capitalism”). Back in 1985, Hollande—future President of the French Republic, of declared gauchiste orientation—published, under a pseudonym, a left-liberal manifesto entitled, La gauche bouge (The Left is On the Move); one of the main chapters is entitled, “Competition is Left-Wing!” We have, in the two cases just mentioned, the most specific feature of the post-1989 liberal-libertarian neo-left glamour.

Political-social relations and their conflictual dialectics remain permanently off the radar. And the image of the hegemonic world, in the form of a single thought that does not admit deviations, keeps repeating that we are all in the same boat, mobilized in the common enterprise of our individual entrepreneurial success. Further confirmation, among many others, can be found in Aldo Schiavone’s book, Sinistra! Un manifestoThe Left. A Manifesto (2023), in whose pages, in addition to defending the need to put aside Marx and everything that still vaguely refers to Red history (in primis, the class struggle), the author proposes an idea of the Left that makes it, in fact, indistinguishable from neoliberalism, of which it becomes the most progressive and most radical wing. This fulfills Del Noce’s prophecy of nihilism as a necessary landing place for leftist thought.

In the fin de siècle consciousness, the reconversion to the neoliberal reason of the world can be considered completed. The Left fades and becomes “decaffeinated.” From anti-capitalism it passes to “alter-capitalism,” beginning to fight, not against the fanaticism of the free market, but against those traditional bonds that still slow down its development. It becomes openly anti-communist and anti-Marxist, adhering, among other things, to the double neo-liberal vision according to which: a) criticizing capitalism leads to misery and the denial of human dignity (to which, paradoxically, capitalism itself is effectively leading); and b) the market must be left alone (laissez faire!), since today’s profits will create tomorrow’s jobs.

In short, in the formal subsumption phase, the Right criticizes the effects and cultivates the causes, while the Left celebrates the effects and fights the causes.

With real subsumption, Right and Left end up glorifying both effects and causes, sanctifying the turbo-capitalist mode of production at both the symbolic and real levels. Since they now coincide, their political opposition is essentially based on reproaching each other for the red or black past, and disputing the primacy of representing in government the interests and vision of the neoliberal oligarchic bloc. In de Benoist’s syntax, the Right of money has contributed more than the Left to destroy the values it claimed to preserve; while the Left of the suit has contributed more than the Right to prevent the advent of the redeemed society, to whose project it formally declared itself faithful. Naturally, this situation never presents itself in historical reality in a “pure” way, without cracks and contradictions. What is certain, however, is that gradually right-wing economic liberalism increasingly saturates the field of the Left as well, just as left-wing cultural liberalism increasingly colonizes the sphere of the Right—and ultimately leads them to become indistinguishable. The Left adheres to economic liberalism, since it embraced cultural liberalism; and the Right surrenders to cultural liberalism, since it has embraced economic liberalism. In an unprecedented game of mirrors, each now sees on the opposite side only a mirror image of itself.

Neoliberalism, Or Governing for the Markets

The foundation of turbo-capitalism is consistent with the neo-liberal vision that Foucault condensed in the formula of government not “of the markets” but “for the markets”. In von Hayek’s language, the government and the state have properly only one task, which is not to “produce certain services or goods for the consumption of citizens, but rather to control that the mechanism regulating the production of goods and services is kept in operation.”

Right and left, subsumed under capital, now share the same neoliberal economic vision, following the banner of free market fundamentalism, consisting in the simultaneous reduction of the state and government to the status of mere servants of the market. Adherence to the dogma of free cannibalism, as the free market might best be defined, is the claim of the economic right that has become so widespread that it has been transfigured into Weltbild, the ubiquitously shared “image of the world.” Essentially it coincides with the “freedom to send each other to ruin”—according to Fichte’s definition in The Closed Commercial State—and with the suppression of any external limitation to the power of the strongest (ius sive potentia).

If Keynesianism can be understood lato sensu as the attempt to place capitalism at the service of the social ends established by politics, it can be rightly affirmed that, on the contrary, neoliberalism marks the historical epochal transition from an economic policy with a Keynesian basis to one with a Hayekian matrix: social justice and market justice will no longer coexist, for the only one that will survive is market justice, converted—in fulfillment of Thrasymachus’ theorem expressed in the Republic (338c)—into “the right of the strongest,” τὸ τοῦ κρείτττονος συμφέρον. According to Hayek’s canonical view, the concept of social justice is, from the neoliberal point of view, a mere “empty and meaningless” ens imaginationis.

As Harvey points out in his Brief History of Neoliberalism (2005), this perspective originates in the right quadrant and particularly in theorists such as von Hayek and von Mises, later finding its operational strongholds in Reagan and Thatcher. The general idea, explains Harvey, is that of a deregulation of the market, judged capable of regulating itself; a deregulation through which the economy becomes superiorem non recognoscens and the de-sovereignized State becomes a mere “policeman” who watches over the markets and defends them when necessary. The neoliberal ordo has reinvented the State with an anti-Keynesian function, as an “armed guard” of the disorderly order of competitiveness and as the ultimate guarantor of the interests of the borderless neoliberal oligarchic bloc and its hegemony.

The neoliberal State intervenes in the economy; but—this is the novelty—it is structured in such a way that it can be managed unidirectionally by the cosmopolitan elite for its own benefit, thanks to the overturning of the relationship between politics and economics; and this, in a range that extends from the bailouts with public money of banks and private companies (with the redefinition of the State as an immense insurance company, issuing policies for the benefit of the cynical wolves of Wall Street) to the police repression of protest movements led by the national-popular Servant against the globalist order (from the G8 of Genoa in 2001, to the French plazas with the yellow vests in 2019).

The disavowal of politics by the market is being completed by the gradual erosion of the basis of legitimacy of the democratic state and its social foundations, which were the result of the Keynesian compromise between the political and the economic: politics must now be subjected to a subordinate role, unable to interfere in the economy, acting exclusively as its servant and its “bodyguard.” This is what we propose to call “the neoliberal depoliticization of the economy.” In its essence, the Keynesian compromise was the delicate device constructed to redistribute wealth from top to bottom and thus guarantee an acceptable balance between democracy and capitalism. Since the end of real socialism and with the absolute subsumption of the left under capital, the gradual decomposition of the welfare state has continued in its main determinations (from pensions to compensation, from pregnancy to illness), all evidently incompatible with the “challenges” of competitiveness without borders, id est, with the requirement to produce as much as possible, at the lowest possible price.

Connected with the vertical reorganization of the balance of power made possible by the triumph of the techno-capitalist paradigm in 1989, de-democratization is based, as noted above, on de-sovereignization and, together, on supra-nationalization, that is, on the displacement of the center of power from the dimension of democratic sovereign states to post-democratic transnational entities. As Costanzo Preve emphasizes, “the ‘public’ political decision is emptied and rendered marginal through its ‘private’ transfer to the great centers of the financial oligarchies,” with the consequent transition from national parliaments to private boards of directors. By this route, which is legitimized as a liberation from the belligerence of national States and which, in reality, aims at the neutralization of democratic sovereignty (which implies citizenship and representation) and the convergent strengthening of the cosmopolitan financial oligarchy “for superfluous peoples,” the disjunction between the devices of popular representation and decisions of a macroeconomic nature is achieved. The economy becomes depoliticized as it is increasingly freed from democratic control, just as politics—or what we continue to call it—becomes “economicized,” insofar as it becomes simple followership of the economic interests of the dominant groups (“business committee of the dominant classes”, to borrow Marx’s formula). L’etat c’est moi is today the formula no longer pronounced by the king, but by the neoliberal oligarchic class as a whole.

The tax reliefs implemented by the liberal governance for the benefit of the lords of capital are also inscribed in this horizon of meaning, among others, in coherence with the undemonstrated motivation, according to which they originate generalized increases in the levels of employment and income. The stateless “hoods of finance”—as Federico Caffè called them—and the borderless capital giants are, in fact, tax evaders according to the law—the e-commerce giants, for example, pay a tax of about 3%–while the middle and working classes suffer a fiscal hyper-pressure that, in fact, represents a permanent expropriation.

From an examination of the balances of power of turbo-capitalism it is clear that “market” not only does not rhyme with “democracy,” but proceeds by emptying its content and eroding its spaces. Herein lies the true essence of the post-1989 “Second Restoration,” as Badiou called it in The Century: victorious capital takes all. And it goes on the offensive, de-sovereignizing the national states as the last bastions of resistance to the domination of the global economy, attacking the middle and working classes and deconstructing the spaces of the still perfectible noucentische democracies.

Increasingly, especially since the 1990s, neoliberal governance has debased electoral democracy in the name of expertise—and that “expertise” to which they refer is never that of the workers and the national-popular masses, but, on the contrary, coincides with the exclusive expertise of the “technicians,” as they are piously called, using an anodyne and falsely super partes term, the bankers and top managers. This was pioneered by Frank Fischer in Technocracy and the Politics of Expertise (1990). According to the order of liberal discourse, the power to decide will not be vested in the sovereign people (which is, after all, another way of saying “democracy”), but in the “committee”—or task force—of “experts,” i.e., bankers and top managers. In other words, beyond the glassy theater of appearances, it is the economy, the market and the ruling class who really decide, and in a way that is anything but democratic. And it is also for this reason that neoliberalism can also be understood as the hijacking of common experience through expertise.

As has already been recalled, even with regard to the aversion to the people as a sovereign subject (crystallized in the category of “populism”), the new left and the neoliberal oligarchic bloc create a system. And such an involution is synthesized in the following formula—since the people do not have the capacity to decide and choose, it is necessary to annul them, so that without the people—and here comes the paradox—democracy can function better. It was as a result of the conclusions drawn in The Crisis of Democracy: Report On the Governability of Democracies, the 1975 study jointly prepared by Michel Crozier, Samuel Huntington and Joji Watanuki, commissioned by the “Trilateral Commission”—that the dominant groups have been searching for new conceptual tools to govern the people by regenerating the “just distance” between above and below, threatened at that stage by the growing democratic participation and by the not yet fully anesthetized critical capacity of the subaltern classes.

The reduction of trade union power, the piloted reduction of popular participation in political life and the spread of generalized apathy, openly appeared as some of the privileged strategies for the vertical readjustment of the balance of power. The very devaluation of the people as an essential part of democratic life has been, to an ever-increasing extent after 1989, the high point of this post-democratic reorganization characteristic of neoliberalism.

Diego Fusaro is professor of History of Philosophy at the IASSP in Milan (Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies) where he is also scientific director. He is a scholar of the Philosophy of History, specializing in the thought of Fichte, Hegel, and Marx. His interest is oriented towards German idealism, its precursors (Spinoza) and its followers (Marx), with a particular emphasis on Italian thought (Gramsci or Gentile, among others). he is the author of many books, including Fichte and the Vocation of the IntellectualThe Place of Possibility: Toward a New Philosophy of Praxis, and Marx, again!: The Spectre Returns[This article appears courtesy of Posmodernia].

Featured: Capitalism, by Jack Andriano; painted in 2020.

Has Christianity Evaporated in the Consumer Civilization? Pasolini’s Prophecy

Pasolini, with his usual prophetic gaze, was among the first to lucidly decipher the real scope of the telluric change that society was undergoing ab imis fundamentis. In particular, he understood how the consumer society was not only not founded on Christianity, but had to annul it in order to impose itself as the only permitted religion. When, in 1973, Italian cities were literally invaded by jeans billboards with the overtly desacralizing formula “you will have no other jeans but me,” Pasolini commented on the incident with a scathing article entitled “Linguistic Analysis of a Slogan.

In particular, the photos used for the advertisement showed respectively: a female belly and blue jeans unbuttoned in a provocative way, accompanied by the inscription “you won’t have any other jeans but me;” and a woman’s butt with the slogan, “he who loves me follows me.” Finally, “Jesus jeans” was the name of the product advertised in such a disruptive way for the time. The Christian creed was twisted and manipulated to promote one of the many products of the new atheistic and consumerist creed of capitalist civilization which, precisely in those years, was abandoning its dialectical-bourgeois phase to move on to the absolute-post-bourgeois one. It was moving from a “market” society, still founded on religious auctoritas, to a “market” society, centered solely on the auctoritas of the commodity form which, as such, had to reduce everything—including religion itself—to the rank of circulating merchandise. The original Christian message was not only immanentized, profaned and deprived of its peculiar reference to the sphere of transcendence—with a synergistic movement, it was refunctionalized in a liberal-consumerist sense, evicting de facto the God of the Heavens and replacing Him with the new divinity of the markets and the cornucopia of goods marketed by it in the sphere of capitalist circulation.

In fact, Pasolini’s article does not dwell on the images used for the posters and, therefore, on the properly erotic aspect of the message, although “sexual consumerism” and bourgeois hedonism were undoubtedly themes he treated with precision elsewhere. In this case, Pasolin’s analysis is directed towards the words used in the posters and the messages conveyed by this rhetoric. The language of market civilization is homologized and hypersimplified, since it must be accessible to all in the reified form of a consumer good—the slogan thus stands as a privileged register of the culture industry and the society of spectacle, which reduces language itself to stereotyped and technified expressiveness. Every particularity and every nuance are destroyed for the benefit of an undifferentiated and homogenized subculture, which reduces and simplifies everything in the name of an apparent interclassism for qualitatively indistinct consumers. The civilization of capital justifies and promotes homologation by calling it “equality” while, paradoxically, making society increasingly unequal, subsumed under the alienating homologation of commodities.

Advertising expressiveness coincides with the abolition of all expressiveness. The new violent linguistic model, stereotyped and homogenized, has dissolved any kind of social and cultural diversification, so that it can become universal and usable by all. In the specific case of blue jeans, the advertisement uses, in the form of slogans, concepts and formulas taken from a deliberately distorted and profaned religious imaginary, in which Christ himself becomes a commercial brand, an expressive function of that one God—the Market, precisely—that consumer civilization recognizes and venerates. Although the billboards were quickly withdrawn by the public authorities, after an article of protest by Catholic institutions appeared in L’Osservatore Romano, the tendencies and coordinates of the future development of capital were fixed. The fabula docet has shown that the Church, which initially could have the illusion of being able to stop the advance of consumerist nihilism, would soon be overwhelmed until it disappeared, becoming itself an advertising brand among so many others. In Pasolini’s opinion, the Church was seriously mistaken, deluding itself with the possibility of being able to take advantage of the liberal-consumerist regime as it had taken advantage of the Fascist one. No equivalent of the Lateran Pacts was possible with the neo-Hedonist civilization of consumption. That led Christianity to its dissolution. The liberal-consumerist world, in fact, was ready to found itself on itself, on its own structural nothingness, freeing itself completely from the support of the Church, on which the empire of capital had also been founded up to that moment.

The previous bourgeois capitalism, which found one of its superstructural legitimacies in the Christian religion, and with it established that nexus of mutual recognition and support that culminated in the Lateran Pacts of 1929, was evolving towards a new figure: specifically, towards a post-bourgeois absolute capitalism of “nothing but commodities and nothing but consumers,” which was preparing to “give a free ticket” together with the bourgeoisie, also to the Christian religion. In Pasolini’s words, “fascism did not even scratched the Church, while today Neocapitalism destroys it.”

In the advertising poster for blue jeans, Pasolini was able to recognize one last piece of evidence to add in support of his thesis, according to which consumer civilization was even more totalitarian than fascism: the black shirt inside which the latter constrained bodies, unable to conquer souls, became superfluous in the alienated kingdom of consumerism, where the soul itself is controlled in a totalitarian way. If fascism had had to make a pact with the Church and with Christianity, trying to make use of both and, in any case, unable to get rid of them, the civilization of consumerism could now banish them definitively, profaning their symbols and their messages. Not only did the new liberal-consumerist hedonism of anarcho-capitalism for uninhibited consumers no longer need Christianity—it could easily mock and ridicule it, manipulating its vocabulary and imaginary in advertising form. There was no longer any need for an “alliance” between throne and altar, between religion and power, since consumerist power, intrinsically totalitarian, no longer needed it—it could itself also play the role of religion by “divinizing” its products, just as it had done with blue jeans advertised using the traditional Christian lexicon. From that moment on, the war declared by consumerism against the religion of transcendence and the Church itself was open and unstoppable, destined to pass through profanation and culminate in desacralization:

“In fact, there is no contradiction more scandalous than that between religion and the bourgeoisie, the latter being the opposite of religion… Fascism was a blasphemy, but it did not undermine the Church internally, because it was a false new ideology. The Concordat was not a sacrilege in the 1930s, but it is a sacrilege today, because fascism did not even scratch the Church, while today Neocapitalism destroys it. The acceptance of fascism was an atrocious episode; but the acceptance of bourgeois capitalist civilization is a definitive fact, whose cynicism is not only a stain, the umpteenth stain in the history of the Church, but a historical error that the Church will probably pay for with its decline.”

According to Pasolini’s analysis, the Church is guilty of having underestimated neocapitalism and of having failed to foresee the Epochemachend character of such a change (“a definitive fact”). The new power, in fact, has not limited itself to acting externally, finding a balance and an agreement with the altera pars. On the contrary, it has infiltrated the consciences and the weft of the social fabric, dominating and profoundly modifying them, triumphing where even the repressive and authoritarian power of fascism had failed. Pasolini recognizes in the particular case of the Jesus blue jeans slogan, the prodromal signs of a growing weakening of the institutions of the sacred, which are indignant and firmly opposed to offensive advertising posters, but which no longer really have the power to stop the advance of the new desacralizing spirit of consumerist nihilism.

This advance, which has barely begun, for Pasolini is destined to lead to the complete annihilation of Christianity—the Church seems doomed to lose its relevant role and to survive, in the best or worst of hypotheses depending on the point of view assumed, as a folkloric and ceremonial element, deprived of its own autonomy and capacity to colonize consciences and a society in a phase of de-Christianization. The fact that, in 1973, the blue jeans posters were withdrawn from circulation after the Church’s complaint, was only a momentary setback, in no way interpretable as a possible reversal of trend. The path of profanation and desacralization had already been taken and the coming years would only represent an acceleration of this process.

From another perspective it could be argued, following in Pasolini’s footsteps, that not even the historical communism of Noucentisme managed to eliminate the Church, at least not with the success that the radical atheism of consumer civilization is achieving. Suffice it to recall that Stalin himself, on the one hand, authorized the election of a patriarch in Moscow (demanding, however, the collaboration of the Orthodox Church with the political system) and, on the other hand, openly exploited religion as a national cement. Unlike fascism, which had to seek a compromise with the Church, and unlike communism, which is itself a secularized Church, which projected salvation into the immanent space of classless society, absolute-totalitarian capitalism—and it alone—has no internal or external need for religion and the Church: it has no “internal” need for either, because it is based on a complete relativistic nihilism and is, in this respect, self-sufficient and thus intrinsically hostile to the idea of truth, both in its philosophical and its religious sense; moreover, it has no “external” need, since its power is now so persuasive, omnipresent and unrestrained that it no longer has to depend on the support of other forces that have not yet been subdued.

In accordance with the process already observed by Pasolini, the new nexus that characterizes the regime of capital absolutus in its ultimate evolutions, takes shape according to the inclined plane that leads the Catholic religion itself to desacralization and perverse friendship, and in a subordinate position, with the consumerist regime. “The case of the ‘Jesus’ jeans,” wrote Pasolini, “is a sign of all this,” of how the new power—no longer clerical-fascist, but hedonistic and consumerist—can now discard spiritual power: “Power has no more need of the Church, and consequently abandons it to itself.” In fact, Pasolini writes again, “the world has overtaken the Church;” it has gone even further.

Pasolini saw in action the assault on heaven, undertaken by the market system not only in the jeans ad, but also in the partisan figure of Christian Democracy (CD). In it, the reference to the Church and to transcendence was, in fact, purely nominal, since it was a party totally integrated in the new immanentist order of pragmatically capitalist power. With CD—it is argued in the Lutheran Letters—”the Catholic votes will finally be Christian democratic; that is, no longer guaranteed and managed by the Catholic Church, but directly by the economic Power,” which can still formally, for the sake of convenience, call itself Christian. And Pasolini continues: “deprived of any shadow of political thought, Christian Democracy has governed according to the pragmatic—and therefore evidently mimetic, generic and inert—models of Western capitalism: devilishly mixing these models with those of the spiritual models of the Church.”

In short, with CD and its liquid atheism, a political force becomes operative that uses the call to transcendence as a simple instrument to hide and legitimize its own integral adhesion to the model of capitalism on the part of the masses still educated in a Christian sense. It is according to this hermeneutic key that the so-called “defeat” of that anomaly that was the pontificate of the recently deceased Ratzinger, accused of not assimilating and not being in tune with the new marketing of a Catholicism without transcendence and without a theological vocation, can be interpreted. By way of synthesis, as I have tried to demonstrate extensively in my book, La fine del cristianesimo. La morte di Dio al tempo del mercato globale e di Papa Francesco (2023) (The End of Christianity. The death of God in the Time of the Global Market and Pope Francis), the “crossroads” prophesied by Pasolini are currently embodied, on the one hand, by Ratzinger’s Church, which resists the nothingness of consumer civilization and does so by defending tradition and transcendence; and, on the other hand, by Bergoglio’s post-Christian and liberal-progressive neo-church, which dissolves Christianity into low-cost faith and smart masses, effectively causing the suicide of Christianity to which Pasolini alluded.

In confirmation of Pasolini’s prophecy may be cited, among other cases, a 2012 judgment of the European Court of Human Rights. The Court legitimized and upheld the use of religious symbols in advertising. Specifically, a Lithuanian company had used the image of Jesus and Mary to sponsor its new clothing line, receiving a fine for it—this judgment was judged by the European Court as harmful to the freedom of expression of the company itself.

With this, Pasolini’s prophecy can be considered fulfilled: the Christian Jesus has been defeated in the confrontation with the capitalist Jesus. The new spirit of hedonistic and desacralizing capitalism, ready to mutate the divine itself into an advertising strategy, was already implicit in that apparently provocative and easily neutralized slogan, which Pasolini had been able to decipher with prophetic lucidity and which today, in the post-1989 world, multiplies hypertrophically in a kaleidoscopic variety of posters and advertisements, representing in fact the new symbolic system within which Western man moves in integral reification. It is for this reason that, again according to Pasolini’s analysis, the new spirit of power, which at first had shown itself to be “competitive with the religious,” was destined to “take its place in providing men with a total and unique vision of life,” stripped of all sacredness and of all connection with the reasons of the soul and with the regions of the eternal.

Diego Fusaro is professor of History of Philosophy at the IASSP in Milan (Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies) where he is also scientific director. He is a scholar of the Philosophy of History, specializing in the thought of Fichte, Hegel, and Marx. His interest is oriented towards German idealism, its precursors (Spinoza) and its followers (Marx), with a particular emphasis on Italian thought (Gramsci or Gentile, among others). he is the author of many books, including Fichte and the Vocation of the IntellectualThe Place of Possibility: Toward a New Philosophy of Praxis, and Marx, again!: The Spectre Returns[This article appears courtesy of Posmodernia].

Featured: Sekmadienis Ltd poster (2012). Slogan reads: “Dear Mary, what a dress!”

Resilience: The Word of Power

A phantom haunts the ruins of technomorphic and pantoclastic civilization: it is the new species of Homo Resiliens. Freed from the remorse of an unhappy conscience and satisfied with the misery of the reified present, the “last man” dedicated to resilience knows nothing great to fight for and to believe in, to strive for and to hope for. Child of postmodern disenchantment and the end of the belief in grands récits oriented towards a redeemed future, the Homo Resiliens is content with what there is because he thinks it is all there can be. His is an ontology as primitive as it is depressive, which resolves possibility in the given reality, the future in the eternal repetition of the present. Conforming himself to the vulgar pleasures offered to him by the civilization of consumption (“one desire for the day and another for the night,” it is suggested in Thus Spake Zarathusta), the last man of resilience has no supérstite resource of value to oppose to the nihilistic maelstrom, which has exhausted all meaning and abandoned the godless world to the nothingness of production and exchange as ends in themselves.

A desperate expression of a purely passive nihilism, a serial member of an amorphous and shepherdless flock, Homo Resiliens views with the icy pathos of distance every yearning for true freedom, every project for the renewal of the world—he is convinced that this is no longer the time and that, in the twilight era of the decline of idols, there is no other way than conciliation and adaptation to an order of things that, however much it is questioned, admits of no alternatives and no escape routes. The imperative of ne varietur is accompanied, almost in a compensatory way, by a hypertrophic work on the self, aimed at making it more mature and stronger so that it is finally ready to accept without blinking whatever it is.

In the physiognomy of the last man, the most vulgar mediocrity imposes itself as the dominant factor, one perceives the integral contraction of the creative power of the human essence, now devoid of enthusiasm and passion—the Resilient Men, “wretches, who never lived” (Inferno III, v. 64)—resign themselves to what is there, adapting themselves time after time and striving to silence any inner voice of dissidence that might still subsist. The subversive force of the transformation of reality is expelled by the withdrawal into themselves of the last men, who live economic fundamentalism and its scenarios of ordinary misery as an irreversible destiny to which they pay submissive obeisance. The stoic imperative of amor fati, understood as adaptability to the logic of the real, constitutes the essential recipe of their mediocre happiness, in which the will of individual impotence coexists with the fury of the will of omnipotence of the technocapitalist production system.

The figure in which the new gregarious spirit of the last men seems to be best condensed coincides with that of the servitude volontaire proposed by La Boétie, which could be translated as the obscure desire to serve in order to be left in peace, to be dominated so as not to see the unlimited enjoyment derived from the flow of circulation of services and merchandise interrupted. Unlike the Resister, that is, the naturaliter nonconformist subject with the gregarious spirit and perhaps even willing to associate in revolutionary forms with his species, the Resilient Man fits the prototype of the ideal slave, who does not know he is one and who ignores the existence of the chains he carries or, alternatively, confuses them with unrepentant opportunities for inner maturation.

The hellish “malaise of civilization” sinks its roots in the elimination of both the Ideal and the social bond; and congruently produces the desert landscape of the mass hermits, of the Resilient who, socially estranged, try to survive by adapting, biographically overcoming the systemic contradictions almost as if they were only nuisances of the unreconciled self. The Revolutionary Man lived in the perpetual hiatus between reality and his dreams; the Resilient Man lives in the inextinguishable absence of dreams that allow him to think reality as something amendable.

A smart and elusive concept, elusive and capable of adapting resiliently to any context, resilience is, by right, an integral part of the constellation of new virtues incorporated into the managerial civilization of business—from empowerment to motivational practices, from problem solving to mindfulness—and of that neoliberal governance that has now saturated the world of life, commodifying it and reifying it without restrictions or free zones. It is, first of all, the existential attitude, but then also political and social, today systematically demanded of the subjects of the market civilization; that is, of consumers without a homeland and without roots, without critical substance and—Gramsci would say—without residue of the “spirito di scissione“: the mandate, in the form of an omnipresent imperative, comes mainly through the falsely polyphonic chime of the mass-media system, which is the megaphone of its master’s voice. The latter daily exhorts the sad tribe of the last men, the “lost people” of the shirtless of unhappy globalization, to become docile and submissive, to abandon all inopportune antagonism and all redemptive fickleness: in a word, to become resilient, to work on themselves to rise to the level of the world in which they live; that is, to endure on a daily basis, without the return of red heat, and without extemporaneous awakenings of the “spirit of utopia.”

Therefore, the dominant imperative, reaffirmed urbi et orbi by the cultural industry and by the officials of the superstructures, is the one that preaches the disenchanted adaptation to the existing as the only possible reality (Peter Sloterdijk, “Psychopolitics of Schizoid Society,” in Critique of Cynical Reason). From whatever perspective one observes, the resilient subject seems to be the ideal in vitro product of the system of production and of the totally administered civilization. Following the robot sketched by Antonio Trabucchi in his work, Resisto dunque sonoI Resist Therefore I Am—(2007), the resilient person is optimistic on principle, tends to read negative events as circumscribed and in any case as an opportunity for improvement, continues to believe that he is capable of controlling and governing his own life, and does not see any defeat, however thunderous, as arousing the will to fight to change the order of things.

His fundamental predisposition, congenital or conquered through hard work on himself, is “emotional agility,” that is, a kind of precariousness of emotions and feelings, called to express itself in the ability to adapt chameleon-like to the most diverse contexts and the most adverse situations, finding the right resources and the right spirit each time. Du mußt dein Leben ändern (You Must Change Your Life), the title of a successful book by Peter Sloterdijk, crystallizes in its most effective form the postmodern rehabilitation of the stoic endurance of the order of things and the glorification of the cynical reason of those who, after all, aspire only to their own individual salvation in the midst of collective tragedy.

Metabolizing the systemic imperative of adaequatio to the order of things, elevated to the status of “evidence” to be scientifically determined and stoically accepted, the contemporary Homo Resiliens makes no effort to understand and, even less, to rectify the order of things—it starts from the assumption that in case of conflict between Subject and Object, it is in any circumstance the former—for him alone in this lies the secret of a happy life—that has to adapt to the latter, overcoming the traumas and discomforts that untimely led him to such divergence. The transforming passion open to the future, which belonged to the revolutionaries, is annihilated by this contemporary form of disenchanted adhesion; a form whose ductility, in any case, easily tends to unveil the farce and ideological ballast.

The heroic mot d’ordre of courage and its reasoned indocility (frangar, non flectar) is overthrown by the vile adage of resilience and its unlimited willingness to suffer in silence (flectar, non frangar), pretending that traumas and injustices are to be welcomed as moments of overcoming and as proofs of fortitude. Note, en passant, that the adjective “fragile” has as its root the Latin verb frango, which means “to break,” “to rupture,” “to shatter”: the resilient is, therefore, the “fragile” who, as long as he does not break, adapts himself to everything, becoming liquid in the liquid society and, therefore, assuming “fluidity” as his own essential quality in all spheres.

Nietzsche’s famous aphorism, according to which was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich stärker, “what does not kill me, makes me stronger,” does not seem to be taken as a definition of the spirit of resilience: in fact the resilient is an intrinsically weak subject, whose acting or, better to say, whose practical inactivity arises from the preemptive recognition of the superior strength of the object in front of him. Varying on the Hegelian theme, he is more a servant than a master since, preferring to bend in order not to break, he is unwilling to run the extreme risk of his life in order to reverse the order of things and gain freedom.

Like the trampled grass, which is always ready to return to its position, so the resilient one absorbs the blow each time, probably grateful for the precious opportunity of maturation he has obtained from it. He is required apertis verbis to cultivate that “mental flexibility” which consists, at bottom, in the ability to adapt to everything and everyone, which, not accidentally, represents a not inconsiderable variant of the universal flexibility of the era of precariousness and the evaporation of all figures of solidity—from family ties to labor relations, from links with communities and territories of belonging to grounded and structured worldviews.

In fact, one can do whatever one wants with the motto, “resilience,” since, in one way or another, it adapts to everything—such is, paradoxically, its degree of resilience. A paroxysmal profile of the postmodern liquid self, Homo Resiliens can be so in the psychological sphere, if he overcomes traumas by modifying himself; he can be so in politics, if he adapts himself cadaverously to the imperative of ne varietur, carved in capital letters in the neoliberal theologomenon; there is no alternative; he can also be so in economics, if he manages to make a virtue of necessity, living as opportunities the scenarios of ordinary exploitation and daily inequality proper to the fanaticism of the market.

De Mauro’s Dictionary of the Italian Language explains that “resilient” is one who manifests the “ability to bounce back from difficult experiences, adversities, traumas, tragedies, threats or significant sources of stress, maintaining a sufficiently positive attitude when facing existence.” In short, one who suffers misfortune and gets up as if nothing happened; one who in the face of injustice, instead of rebelling, finds the strength to go his own way, even if this means a daily dose of mortifying abuse.

Variant of the current fanaticism of tolerance, resilience is naturally a psychological profile. But it is also, inseparably, a political behavior in keeping with the era of techno-capital absolutism and the austerity desired by boss groups, jubilant at the prospect of being able to govern oppressed and resilient masses; or what is the same, masses capable of absorbing without blinking and without returning to the red heat, the daily violence on which a system is structurally based whose basic premise is the exploitation and misery of the majority for the benefit of a few. Let us not forget then that, as Federico Rampini (La Repubblica, January 23, 2013) showed, “resilient dynamism” was the slogan launched in 2013 by the World Economic Forum and by Obama—therefore in places and by people who fully inscribed in the order of the neoliberal hegemonic bloc of Atlanticist traction.

The Homo Resiliens falls and gets up potentially to infinity, but without ever questioning the objective world that always makes him fall again. Successor of the ignavo confined by Dante in Hell, the Resilient Man does not hinder the march of the world and, in fact, seconds it in all its dynamics, even if it is the most fiendishly unjust. He does not even condemn it with the weapons of criticism or subject it to scathing interpellation, trapped as he is by the smug satisfaction of having succeeded in working on himself to the point of finally accepting the unacceptable.

The resilient is the helpless self that sees personal hardships but never real contradictions and who, in case of disagreement with reality, prefers the psychologist’s couch to the square of the communal revolution, the variation of the self to that of the not-self, as Fichte would say. Its privileged sphere of action and life is individuality in the shadow of power, the disarmament of any critical spirit and the preventive mutilation of any project for the future. He is the ideal subject of the passive and homologated masses, in which everyone thinks and desires the same thing (since no one really thinks or desires anymore); but simultaneously he is also the isolated individual of the new era of telematic solitudes connected through the Internet and disconnected from reality and its throbbing contradictions that ask to be resolved in praxis.

In short, the Resilient Man is the ideal subject of the reifying prose of the new post-1989 capitalism and, a fortiori, of the very developments it is undergoing in the first decades of the new millennium—Homo Resiliens has treasured the appeals addressed to him from all points of the unified networks by the monopolists of discourse and therefore, via mediata, by the neoliberal oligarchic bloc. He has accepted to be submissive instead of revolutionary, adaptable instead of contesting, and has even internalized the need to change himself in order to adapt to a status quo of whose unchangeability he is intimately convinced. In short, he has chosen to speak the language of his class enemy, believing in progress—and therefore in the uninterrupted sequence of conquests of the dominant groups—and above all meekly assuming the behavior that the masters have always dreamed of from the slaves. Is it not the unconfessed dream of every master to rule docile and submissive slaves, in a word resilient? Is it not true that every shepherd has always had the desire to be able to lead a meek and obedient flock, ready to do whatever he is ordered to do because he is convinced that there is no other possibility?

That is also why resilience is, among all, the most propedeutic quality for the success of the neoliberal oligarchic bloc, the virtue that is propitious and expected from the massa damnata of the defeated. It is an integral part of the new mental order, politically correct and ethically corrupt, which serves as a superstructural complement to the structure of the asymmetrical diagram of the balance of power in the epoch inaugurated with the burial, albeit provisional, of the Marxian “dream of one thing” under the heavy rubble of the Wall (9.11.1989).

Diego Fusaro is professor of History of Philosophy at the IASSP in Milan (Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies) where he is also scientific director. He is a scholar of the Philosophy of History, specializing in the thought of Fichte, Hegel, and Marx. His interest is oriented towards German idealism, its precursors (Spinoza) and its followers (Marx), with a particular emphasis on Italian thought (Gramsci or Gentile, among others). he is the author of many books, including Fichte and the Vocation of the IntellectualThe Place of Possibility: Toward a New Philosophy of Praxis, and Marx, again!: The Spectre Returns[This article appears courtesy of Posmodernia].

Featured: Resilient Weeds, by Dimitri Sirenko.

Beyond the Right and the Left: Against the Financial Oligarchy

As Nietzsche had the courage to undertake Jenseits von Gut und Böse, (Beyond Good and Evil), so the theoretical-practical challenge of our time coincides with the will and the capacity to propel ourselves “beyond right and left.” Beyond intellectual and political agoraphobia, and overcoming nostalgic fidelity to conceptual maps and identity symbols incapable of shedding light on the present, theoretical courage and creative passion must prevail, capable of recategorizing reality on new cognitive bases and theorizing new scenarios from political philosophy. In specie, it will be necessary to count on a “hermeneutic surplus labor” that alternatively conjugates the dichotomy of Freund und Feind (“friend and foe”), coessential to the political sphere, and which does so in such a way that it can once again take hold of the magmatic reality of the politics of market globalization.

The latter, which is the humus of the new absolute-totalitarian capitalism (turbo-capitalism), cannot be questioned, understood and, even less, practically “solved” by means of the traditional categories of right and left. On the contrary, it requires the mise en forme of new conceptual figures which are currently lacking; and which, in practice, as has been underlined, neoliberal power, with its centrist extremism, diligently strives to prevent from maturing, mobilizing for this purpose the intellectual power and the proscriptive semantic archipelago of the Neo-language. Recalling Gramsci, the old world is dying, the new one is slow to appear, and it is in this chiaroscuro that the most insidious monsters come to life. De facto, the absolute-totalitarian capitalism of globalization is accompanied by a symbolic organization of political space, which is unilaterally managed from the top down, by the global-elitist Lord against the national-populist Servant.

The image, used by us, of the neoliberal eagle with both wings open, appears, at this point, heuristically fruitful—in fact it alludes, on the one hand, to the organicity of the right and the left within the dominant power; and on the other, to the vertical movement of the unidirectional class struggle waged by those at the top against those at the bottom. The class war in the epoch of turbo-capitalism, as it is set forth, is presented as a univocal massacre. And it is iconically represented by the rapacious gliding of the eagle over the middle and working classes, over peoples and nations. In short, over the dominated pole which, from below, passively suffers the aggressions of the dominant pole.

In particular, the symbolic organization of the political space is managed today in a monopolistic and pro domo sua manner from above, on the basis of a symbolic rent accumulated in the social imaginary of previous generations. And the antithesis between right and left is an integral part of this symbolic inheritance, capillary managed in such a way that the really existing opposition between above and below is never manifested. And since—Gramsci docet—the class struggle is always also a cultural struggle, this concealment of the really existing dichotomy between high and low, by diverting the gaze to the now fictitious struggle between right and left, is itself part of the cultural class conflict, directed in a unique sense by the high against the low.

On the stage of the falsely pluralist “great theater” of the system, the blue right and the fuchsia left, totally subsumed under capital, stage a representation that produces, at the same time, distraction and dissociation with respect to the vertical conflict univocally managed by the dominant pole. Right and left, as has been evidenced, represent indistinctly top versus bottom. Thus, the dichotomy, on the one hand, is emptied by the subsumption under capital of the two poles, now redefined as prostheses of the neoliberal single party and as wings of the capitalist eagle; and, on the other hand, it is artificially reimposed from above to innocuously organize the symbolic space of politics, so that the latter ratifies flatly and without inopportune interference, the sovereign decisions of the market and of the borderless neoliberal oligarchic bloc. This inoffensive organization of the political space is obtained by creating the sense of the possible alternative (which, of course, is always resolved in an alternation without alternative), and preventing those from below to structure themselves in a potentially revolutionary way against capitalist globalization, that is, by giving a compact outlet, in a vertical movement, to their own anger, teeming with good reasons against the sky of neoliberal plutocracy.

From another perspective, the neoliberal high triumphs, to the extent that it imposes its own conceptual maps and its own political symbology on the low, ensuring that the latter always orients itself towards the interior of the steel cage of capitalism, without ever becoming aware of the necessary exodus. In this respect, the dyad of right and left coincides with an artificial political prosthesis of consensual adhesion of the low to the project of the high, of the dominated to the hegemony of the dominant, of the Servant to the tableau de bord of the Lord. This prosthesis is forcibly imposed, thanks to the symbolic violence organized by intellectual groups. The objective is, on the one hand, the capillary control of consensus and dissent within the steel cage of the capitalist mode of production; and, on the other hand, the vigilant and supervised maintenance of identity ideologies of belonging for electoral periods, so that the latter, under a false pluralism, allow the neoliberal order to reproduce itself imperturbably without any electoral possibility of really questioning its integrity.

In this way it is guaranteed that the electoral periods are controlled and domesticated, so that what is already decided from above, in closed rooms and in a manner that is anything but democratic, appears to be consensual and democratically elected from below. Specifically, in elections, reduced in the age of turbo-capitalism to the rank of mere choreographic performances, designed to cover up the undemocratic character of the management of public affairs, time after time they turn out to be “freely” and “democratically” chosen by those from below, oligarchic variants of the same management of reproduction of the neoliberal order that guarantee the univocal domination of those from above. To paraphrase the title of Arnaud Imatz’s study (Droite/Gauche, 2016), that of the antithesis between droite et gauche (right and left) is now only an equivoque from which it is necessary to escape as soon as possible; ultimately, it would be—in the words of Costanzo Preve—an “incapacitating myth aimed at breaking the popular resistance to oligarchic crystallization.”

As Alain de Benoist and Costanzo Preve have corroborated, democracy in the age of neoliberalism is thus reduced to an intrinsically undemocratic game, to the self-government of the possessing classes. The latter, from above, generously allow those at the bottom to choose among political forces, candidates and programs that, in a falsely plural form, express equally the same interests, objectives and class views of those at the top. The plural options that can be chosen from time to time in elections are preemptively passed through the sieve of the neoliberal order. This demonizes, ostracizes and delegitimizes any possible formation that is not organic to the liberal order itself and its fictitious division according to the right-left dyad.

Also—but not only—for that reason, the neoliberal order of turbo-capitalism legitimizes itself ideally as democratic, but in essence turns out to be a plebiscitary oligarchy of financial brand. It uses the procedures of democratic legitimization to impose contents that are not democratic, and that only reflect the same interests and sovereign decisions of those at the top. It autocratically decides, in the “closed rooms” of the neoliberal plutocracy and in its very private summits (Bilderberg Group, World Economic Forum, etc.), the paths to follow, the “reforms” to carry out and the priorities to be implemented; and causes them to be implemented by the alternation, without alternative, of the blue right and the fuchsia left, legitimized through elections in which the peoples are questioned and called to choose “freely and democratically,” which of the two wings of the neoliberal eagle should carry out the decisions taken upstream from the neoliberal apex. Thus, Mark Twain’s saying that power would not allow us to vote if, sic stantibus rebus, the vote really served to change the order of power relations becomes true.

Thus, in the time of absolute capitalism, universal suffrage itself is emptied of all efficacy. And it mutates into a simple acclamation of dramatis personae which, both on the right and on the left, must preventively prove to be “credible,” that is to say, coherent waiters of the order of market globalization. These dramatis personae of politics, increasingly indistinguishable from influencers and advertising actors, must attract behind them the necessary consensus, so that the undemocratic class project of the plutocratic elite, from above, appears to be democratically shared and, moreover, sovereignly elected from below.

For this reason, consensus is of fundamental importance, so that the power of the dominant groups is exercised through hegemony, which is precisely a class domination not imposed by violence, but consensually accepted also by those who, because of interests and positioning in the scheme of balances of power, should oppose it. The intellectual power and the superstructural force administered by the heralds of the single thought must, in any case, prevent the dominated classes from acquiring true consciousness of themselves and of the effective conflict between the high and the low. And it is mainly in this direction in which they are oriented, finding in the cultural and political contraposition assumed by those from below, according to the antithesis between right and left, their own and most relevant weapon of division and, at the same time, of mass distraction.

The distraction of the masses means that the tele-dependent and techno-narcotized people do not realize that decisions are taken punctually and outside them, in private spaces and far from parliaments, which simply ratify these resolutions, giving them a semblance of democracy. Berlusconism, in Italy, has created a school: besides marking the decline of politics, replaced by the figure of the entrepreneur who treats the State as a business (the “Italia business”), it introduced the model of television and the “society of the spectacle” into the sphere of politics. According to what Stiegler has defined as la télecratie contre la démocratie (telecracy against democracy), the citizen-voter, from that moment on, has come to be understood and treated as a spectator-consumer (homo videns), guided without solution of continuity, from the television in the living room to the electoral booth, choosing, both on the screen and on the ballot, the figures and faces he finds most agreeable.

The electoral choice is at all points fictitious, in the same way as the choice between the various commodities that, highly differentiated in expressing the same order of things, populate the reified spaces of the civilization of consumption. Whether one chooses commodity X or commodity Y, the horizon of market civilization is always reconfirmed from zero. Similarly, the choice of the blue neoliberal right or the fuchsia neoliberal left equally validates the dominant order. Politics itself, therefore, ends up being marketized, as is evident from the way in which candidates and parties advertise themselves like any other commodity. And it is also for this reason that politicians, as waiters of the dominant global class, are systematically blackmailed by special unelected staff; a “staff” that, using judicial or intellectual power, must always be ready to intervene when necessary, even in the remote case—Costanzo Preve insisted at length—in which the aforementioned politicians in fuchsia or blue livery would dare to try to escape the control of the sovereign plutocratic oligarchies. The “politics of the parties,” antagonistic to each other, typical of the dialectic phase, is replaced in the post-1989 scenario by the “politics of the markets.”

Diego Fusaro is professor of History of Philosophy at the IASSP in Milan (Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies) where he is also scientific director. He is a scholar of the Philosophy of History, specializing in the thought of Fichte, Hegel, and Marx. His interest is oriented towards German idealism, its precursors (Spinoza) and its followers (Marx), with a particular emphasis on Italian thought (Gramsci or Gentile, among others). he is the author of many books, including Fichte and the Vocation of the IntellectualThe Place of Possibility: Toward a New Philosophy of Praxis, and Marx, again!: The Spectre Returns[This article appears courtesy of Posmodernia].

Featured: The Munitions Girls, by Alexander Stanhope Forbes; painted in 1918.

On the Incompatibility of the Sacred and Finance

The destruction of the element that Rudolf Otto defines as the tremendum, that is, that perception of the sovereign majesty of the divine that generates in man a feeling of creatural finitude, is indispensable for the unfolding of the absolute subjectivism coessential to the will to power and its presupposition of man as an omnipotent and limitless entity. For this reason—Otto explains—the sacred is the authentic mirum, since it shows the “totally other” (Ganz-Anderes), sending back to a different and superior dimension, with respect to that of only human things. The sacred—Otto writes—coincides with the “the emotion of a creature, submerged and overwhelmed by its own nothingness in contrast to that which is supreme above all creatures.” The seductive, as well as treacherous, promise of the serpent—eritis sicut dii—allows us to fully understand how the most desacralizing power, that is, capital, pretends to become more and more similar to God, as omnipotent, unlimited, inscrutable, above everything and everyone. In this meaning, the θέωσις, the “divine becoming” thus emerges as a figure of the unlimited and of pride, quite distinct from the deitas theorized by Eckhart.

At the mercy of techno-scientific Prometheism, and an order of things in which “sudden gains/pride and immoderation have generated” (Inferno, XVI, 72-74), man ceases to recognize himself imago Dei and pretends to be himself Deus-homo homini Deus, with the syntax of the Feuerbach of The Essence of Christianity—in the fulfillment of the ancient temptation of the serpent. Herein lies the arrogant boldness of the man who wants to elevate himself “Who opposeth, and is lifted up above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself as if he were God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4).

Prevailing over the entire horizon, prefiguring ever new disasters of instrumental reason, is the Promethean will of human self-management of the world with no further links to transcendence and, at this point, guided only by the nihilistic logic of the will to power of the planetary technocracy. The biblical image of Noah’s Ark, which saves the living in the name of God, is contrasted with the Titanic, as an image of unbridled technology and Promethean imperialism, which causes the whole world to sink under the deceptive promise of its liberation.

In the reified spaces of techno-form civilization, there are no longer the limits of the φύσις of the Greeks or of the Christian God—in the age of the ἄπειρον, of the “unlimited” elevated to the only horizon of meaning, there survives exclusively the factual limit, id est, the limit that the uncontainable techno-scientific power finds every time in front of itself and that it punctually surpasses, in order to be able to fully deploy all its premises and its promises. The technoscientific Gestell, the “dominant system” of Technik in the sense clarified by Heidegger, does not promote a horizon of meaning, nor does it open scenarios of salvation and truth—it simply grows without limitation. And it does so by surpassing all limits and by self-empowering itself without end. It emerges, therefore, fully justifying the fear of Zeus, in Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound, when Zeus fears that man, thanks to the power of τέχνη, can become self-sufficient and autonomously obtain that which previously he could only hope to achieve through prayer and submission to divine power.

As Emanuele Severino has shown, if technique is the condition for the implementation of any end, it follows that not hindering the progress and development of technique becomes the true ultimate end, in the absence of which no other can be implemented. So, following Severino’s syntax, with the decline of truth there remains in the field only technique, i.e., the open space of the forces of becoming, whose confrontation is ultimately decided by its power and certainly not by its truth. In addition to this, the techno-capitalist system reduces the world to the limits of calculating reason, so that what cannot be calculated, measured, possessed and manipulated is, eo ipso, considered as non-existent. The logic of the plus ultra, founding of techno-capital, is determined in the ethical and religious sphere according to the aforementioned figure of the violation of all that is inviolable, which presupposes achieving the neutralization of God as a symbol of the vόμος. The libertarian instance of the Enlightenment is reversed in its opposite, as already evidenced in Adorno and Horkheimer’s Dialektik der Aufklärung. The annihilation of every taboo, of every law and of every limit, gives rise to the new taboo of life that is sufficient unto itself.

Freedom without limits; or rather—more properly—the anomic caprice and the “infinite evil” of self-referential and deregulated growth, precipitates into the slavery of the compulsion to transgression and the violation of all that is inviolable; hence into the falsely emancipatory imperative that prescribes enjoyment without impediment or delay, aiming only at individual self-interest and the unreflective rage of growth as an end in itself. In this way, calculating reason—the “arid life of the intellect” of which the young Hegel wrote—sets itself up as the judge that distinguishes what is real from what is not real, what is meaningful from what is meaningless, what is valuable from what is worthless. To allow techno-capitalism to develop without limits of any kind, be they material or immaterial—this sounds like one of the most implausible definitions that could be postulated of the regressive myth of progress, civilization’s unreflective cult of integral reification, whose members are increasingly converted, Heidegger emphasized, into mere “priests of technics” and simple apostles of capital’s march of claritate in claritatem.

To provoke the disjunction of Desire with the Law, so that the former can develop without limits and inhibitions, according to the figure of that violation of all that is inviolable on which rests the essence of the absolute chrematistic system as metaphysics of the unlimited, is one of the falsely emancipatory cornerstones of the disordered order of the civilization of the markets. It is what was already glimpsed in Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov: “But then, I ask, what will become of man, without God and without future life? Is everything then permitted, everything lawful?” Tod Gottes points to the fulfillment of nihilism as a process of devaluation of values and the twilight of the foundations. It coincides with the “transvaluation of all values,” the Umwertung aller Werte enunciated by Nietzsche.

The nihilism of the death of God seems to be concretized in four decisive determinations, which trace the contours of the epoch of the existing anomic society of the evaporated father post mortem Dei:

  • on the ontological level, if God is dead, then “everything is possible,” as marketing strategists keep repeating endlessly and as the mechanics of the technical reduction of being to an exploitable depth reveal;
  • on the strictly moral level, if God is dead, then everything is permitted and no figure of the Law survives;
  • his means, therefore, that everything is indifferent and equivalent, without a hierarchical rank or an order of values, in the triumph of a generalized relativism by which everything becomes relative in the form of commodity (the “dictatorship of relativism” thematized by Ratzinger);
  • at both the moral and ontological levels, if God is dead and everything is possible and permitted, it follows that every limit, every simulacrum of the Law and every barrier are, as such, an evil to be overthrown and a limit to be violated and surpassed.

The death of God as the dissolution of every order of values and truth (Nietzsche) and as the evaporation of the very idea of the father (Lacan) is, for this very reason, coherent with the dynamics of development of capital absolutus—in the globalized perimeters of the total and totalitarian market society everything is licit, subject to there always being more and more, and to the availability of the corresponding exchange value, elevated to a new monotheistic divinity. The desertification of transcendence and the depopulation of heaven are coessential to the dynamics of the absolutization of the mercantilized plane of immanence, whose most appropriate figurative expression seems to be identified by the desert, as Salvatore Natoli has suggested.

On the basis of what has been underlined by Heidegger and by Hölderlin, the epoch of economic nihilism corresponds to a Weltnacht in which darkness is so dominant that it makes it impossible to see the situation of misery into which those of us who find ourselves living in the epoch of the fled gods have fallen:

“The default of God means that no god any longer gathers men and things unto himself, visibly and unequivocally, and by such gathering disposes the world’s history and man’s sojourn in it. The default of God forebodes something even grimmer, however. Not only have the gods and the god fled, but the divine radiance has become extinguished in the world’s history. The time of the world’s night is the destitute time, because it becomes ever more destitute. It has already grown so destitute, it can no longer discern the default of God as a default” (Heidegger, “Wozu Dichter?” “What are Poets for?“).

The death of God announced by Nietzsche and evoked by Heidegger corresponds, in effect, to that complete nihilistic de-divinization of the world that produces the loss of meaning and finality, of unity and horizon. The ongoing de-divinization—which, with the Hegel of the Phenomenology, we could also understand as a “depopulation of heaven” (Entvölkerung des Himmel)—corresponds to the emptying of all meaning and of all ulteriority with respect to the capitalist market, which has become the exclusive horizon—capitalist mono-mundane immanentization dissolves any point of reference other than the commodity form, before which everything becomes relative. Things and men, more and more interchangeable, cease to be “gathered” in a framework of meaning. And they are projected, as isolated and unconnected fragments, into the dark infinite space of the global market, hypostatized in the sole sense of petrified universal history.

With Heidegger’s syntax, the “splendor of God” as a value of values and as a symbol of symbols has been extinguished and, with it, the very idea of a sense of the flow of universal history and of a meaning that exceeds mere exchange value. Everything wanders in the cosmic void of fragmentation and global precariousness, ready to be manipulated by the will to power of infinite growth and the déraison de la raison économique. Following Pasolini’s analysis, this is the essence of the new “Power that no longer knows what to make of Church, Homeland, Family”—and that, moreover, must neutralize them as so many obstacles to its own self-realization.

The death of God corresponds to the post-metaphysical nihilistic relativism proper to the unlimited extension of the commodity form elevated to the only horizon of meaning and to the unlimited will to power of technical endeavor. According to the teaching we draw from Weber and his considerations on the Protestantische Ethik, a fully functioning capitalism no longer needs the superstructural system—the “mantle” over its shoulders, in Weberian grammar—that was initially indispensable to it. Taking the discourse beyond Weber, it must precisely discard it, given that now the absence of that powerful support of meaning is as vital as its presence was before.

Post-metaphysical consumerist relativism prevents the recognition of the veritative figure of limits (ethical, religious, philosophical). And, with synergic movement, it empowers the infinite tastes of liberalized consumption, and detached from any perspective of value. Along with that, it draws a reified landscape of monads exercising their will of unlimited consumerist power, free to do whatever they want, as long as they do not violate the will of power of others and, ça va sans dire, as long as they have the corresponding exchange value.

The fanaticism of economics cannot withstand the axiological, veritative and transformative power of philosophy. It is founded, instead, on the power of technoscience, which serves it to produce always new commodities and new gadgets destined to increase the valorization of value. Compulsive consumerism itself, which has become the ordinary lifestyle of the inhabitant of the integrally reified cosmopolis, is nothing more than the subjective reverberation of the techno-capitalist paradigm and its fundamental structure.

The new techno-capitalist power, in Pasolini’s words “is no longer satisfied with a ‘man who consumes,’ but pretends that no other ideologies than that of consumption are conceivable.” It allows the permissiveness of “a neo-secular hedonism, blindly oblivious to any humanist value” to prevail ubiquitously and without any free zones. The new power, with respect to which nothing else is going to be anarchic, does not accept the existence of entities that are not so in the form of merchandise and exchange value: “Power,” Pasolini explains, “has decided to be permissive because only a permissive society can be a consumer society.” Man himself, reduced to the rank of consumer, ends up being himself consumed by the techno-capitalist apparatus.

Diego Fusaro is professor of History of Philosophy at the IASSP in Milan (Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies) where he is also scientific director. He is a scholar of the Philosophy of History, specializing in the thought of Fichte, Hegel, and Marx. His interest is oriented towards German idealism, its precursors (Spinoza) and its followers (Marx), with a particular emphasis on Italian thought (Gramsci or Gentile, among others). he is the author of many books, including Fichte and the Vocation of the IntellectualThe Place of Possibility: Toward a New Philosophy of Praxis, and Marx, again!: The Spectre Returns[This article appears courtesy of Posmodernia].

Featured: Untitled, by Zdzisław Beksiński; painted in 1978.

“God is Dead”

Aphorism 125 of Nietzsche’s The Gay Science is the epiphanic place of nihilism, connected with de-divinization, with the Gottes Tod, with the “death of God.” Unlike the scientific and anti-metaphysical discourse that developed in the space of the modern, Nietzsche did not affirm the non-existence of God, arguing it perhaps more geometrically. On the contrary, he alluded to the death of God and, therefore, to his decline; or, more correctly, to the evaporation of an order of values and ontology that found its ultimate foundation in the figure of God. In the words of The Gay Science:

“Who has given us the sponge to erase the horizon completely? What have we done to unhook this earth from the chain of its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Is not ours an eternal fall? And backward, sideways, forward, to all sides? Is there still an above and a below? Are we not wandering as if through an infinite nothingness? Do we not feel the breath of emptiness upon us? Is it not colder? Does not night keep coming, ever more night?”

The Nietzschean phenomenology of the death of God alludes to the cancellation of the entire horizon of meaning around which Western civilization was oriented, now at the mercy of an “eternal fall” and an “infinite nothingness” that leads it to ruin without references, without values and in an “empty space”: “Is there still an above and a below?” Or, more generally, a solid point of reference for orientation in the Babel spaces of the de-divinized world devoid of foundations? For the sake of philological rigor, it is worth remembering that the death of God, before Nietzsche, figures in the work of Hegel—in Faith and Knowledge (1802), Hegel writes, in fact, that the sentiment on which the religion of the moderns rests is crystallized in the formula: “God himself is dead” (Gott selbst ist tot). In the opinion of the Heidegger of Holzwege, it is also the first recorded appearance of this formula in the history of Western thought.

Following in Nietzsche’s footsteps, the decisive question is not whether God exists or not, but whether he is alive or dead; that is, whether or not a world of meaning and project, of meanings and symbols, is organized around the idea of God. The nihilism of the death of God does not coincide, therefore, with the subjective gesture of one who, like the fool in Psalm 52, denies the existence of God (dixit insipiens in corde suo “non est Deus”). Instead, he alludes to the historical process of devaluation of all values, to the decline of the horizon of meaning around which Western civilization was organized: a process at the end of which nothing remains of God and being. With Heidegger’s grammar, “the nihil of nihilism means that there is nothing of being,” and that, we may add in the Nietzschean way, there is nothing of God either. Thus writes Nietzsche in the posthumously published fragments:

“What I describe is the history of the next two centuries. I describe what is coming…: the rise of nihilism…. What does nihilism mean? It means that the supreme values are devalued. They lack purpose. The answer to “why?” is missing…. So, we cannot postulate any “beyond” or any “in-itself” of things. Value is missing, meaning is missing…. Result [of this devaluation]: moral judgments of value are… negations: morality is to turn one’s back on the will to exist.”

Die Heraufkunft des Nihilismus, “the rise of nihilism” is what Nietzsche describes in statu nascendi his own epoch, prophesying the dominant character it will acquire in the history to come (“the history of the next two centuries”). In addition to outlining its development, Nietzsche highlights some defining features of the phenomenon of nihilism. First, he emphasizes its processual character—nihilism is not a “fact,” but a process that has begun and is in the process of development, the logic of which consists in the fact that die obersten Werte sich entwerten, “the supreme values are devalued.” By virtue of this Umwertung, “the end” (das Ziel), the answer to “why” (wozu), value, meaning, the beyond and the in-itself of things, morality are missing. Everything rushes into the abyss of meaninglessness, as nothingness devours every thing and every project, every meaning and every value. And, in this way, Western man finds himself condemned to live in the nihil of a civilization in which God is dead and there is no longer any answer to the fundamental questions, which are no longer even asked.

As in the film, The Neverending Story (1984), based on the book of the same name, nothingness has devoured all reality and all ideals. This is the horizon of meaning; or rather, of the meaninglessness of the postmodern era, perpetually suspended between “passive nihilism” and “active nihilism,” theorized by Nietzsche, who understood the latter as an overcoming of the former. In the postmodern era, as has been stressed, active nihilism and passive nihilism coexist as a depressive disenchantment of those who no longer believe in anything and a consumerist superhumanism of those who make their own being and their own power coincide with purchasing power in the market. With the death of God, the sun goes out, understood in its double sense: a) as the center of gravity around which life revolves, now at the mercy of disorientation and estrangement (Entfremdung); and b) as a source of energy capable of illuminating and heating the life of mortals. The sun, which Plato assumed in The Republic as the image of the “good in itself” (αὐτὸ ἀγαθόν) and as “beyond essence surpassing it in dignity and power” (ἐπέκεινα τῆς οὐσίας πρεσβείᾳ καὶάι0), is extinguished. And there remains only the icy darkness of the de-divinized reality, mere background available without limits for the processes of usability and transformation of the techno-nihilistic will to power.

The desolate scenario of the dark desert of the “night of the world” (Weltnacht) arises—darkness falls upon the world and humans do not perceive the absence of God as a lack, even mocking those who, like the Nietzschean madman, distant heir of Plato’s liberated caveman, dare to pose the problem of the Gottes Tod. In fact, the madman, when he announces in the market the death of God, provokes “great laughter”:

“Where has God gone?” He exclaimed. “I’ll tell you! We have killed him, you and I! We are all his murderers! But how did we do it? How could we empty the sea, drinking it to the last drop?”

The murder of God coincides with the process of devaluation of values and consumption of being: a process by which, in the end, there is nothing left of values and being, since everything—at the material and immaterial level—becomes a fund made available by the technocapitalist will to power, which trades and exchanges, produces, markets and consumes everything.

In the time of Vollendung, of the “fulfillment” of metaphysics in planetary technic, what survives is only a grandiose apparatus which, arranging everything in view of its own unlimited power, Heidegger himself interprets as the Weltbild, the fundamental “world image,” within which the figure of the modern Weltmarkt, of the “global market,” the culmination of technique and nihilism, can be constituted. Thus writes Heidegger in “What are poets good for in times of misery?”:

“The humanness of humans and the thingness of things is lost within the self-asserting manufacturing (des sich durchsetzenden Herstellens), in the calculated market value of a market (in den gerechneten Marktwert eines Marktes), which not only spans the earth as a world market, but which markets as the will to will in the essence of being (im Wesen des Seins marktet) and thus brings everything that exists into the action of a calculation, which rules most tenaciously where it does not need numbers.”

Being and values are consumed, and in their place survives the post-metaphysical disorientation, the “absence of homeland” (Heimatlosigkeit), evoked by Heidegger, and the fall into an endless abyss. The ontology of capital is nihilistic, insofar as it presupposes that being is not, and that there are only entities available for the processes of techno-scientific manipulation, oriented to excessive growth. Likewise, its morality is nihilistic and relativistic, since it is based on the universal negotiability of values, which all precipitate into nothingness and become relative to the only surviving value—the exchange value of a market that has as its objective nothing but the unlimited self-empowerment of the device of the Wille zur Macht, of the “will to power.”

The Nietzschean thesis of the death of God has had, moreover, an important repercussion in the theological field; and this according to a spectrum of positions, ranging from Karl Barth’s theology of crisis to Bultmann’s theology of demythologization, from Bonhoeffer’s theology of κένωσις (or “emptying”) to the so-called “theologians of the death of God.” The thesis generally shared by these authors, although quite different from each other, is that secularization is complete, man is mature and, therefore, no longer needs God. In Bonhoeffer’s words: “The world lives and suffices itself, in science, in social life and politics, in art, in morals, in religion. Man has learned to fend for himself, without recourse to the working hypothesis: God…. We have seen that it goes on—exactly as before—even without God.” There is no doubt. The time of the death of God coincides with that of absolutized nihilistic relativism; that is, with the “dictatorship of relativism,” as Joseph Ratzinger has defined it.

Diego Fusaro is professor of History of Philosophy at the IASSP in Milan (Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies) where he is also scientific director. He is a scholar of the Philosophy of History, specializing in the thought of Fichte, Hegel, and Marx. His interest is oriented towards German idealism, its precursors (Spinoza) and its followers (Marx), with a particular emphasis on Italian thought (Gramsci or Gentile, among others). he is the author of many books, including Fichte and the Vocation of the IntellectualThe Place of Possibility: Toward a New Philosophy of Praxis, and Marx, again!: The Spectre Returns[This article appears courtesy of Posmodernia].

Featured: “Lamentation of the Virgin,” by the Rohan Master, from the Hours of the Cross, folio 135, plate 57; painted in 1435.

Defending What We Are: In Praise of Identity

The anthropological presupposition of the new spirit of capitalism is easily identifiable: man behaves rationally only when he is free of prejudices and superstitions and is, therefore, in the optimal conditions to be able to pursue his own private interest as homo oeconomicus. From this follows syllogistically the demand—always reaffirmed by the order of discourse—to abolish everything in the sphere of customs, laws, traditions and other spheres of the spirit (religion, art, philosophy) that hinders such rationality, elevated to the only possible source of meaning. It is, therefore, of vital importance, for the prevailing cosmo-mercantilism, to make tabula rasa of any figure of boundaries, whether traditional or rational, moral or religious, juridical or ethical. In all spheres, the competitive individualization of society must prevail, unrestricted, and be redirected to the “unsociably sociable” sphere of the cash nexus: the liberal philosophy ignores mutual fidelity as a motivation, resolving everything in the mercantile relationship.

As Michéa has stressed: “liberal logic leads to the destruction of any human community,” other than the one built on the basis of mercantile exchange. The private contract becomes the ultimate truth of any human relationship, lowered to the rank of the nexus between buyer and seller. In the whole horizon, the anthropological profile of Robinsonian man—the selfish and calculating individual, cynical and agent, exclusively focused on procuring his own private profit (business is business)—must prevail unquestionably. Such an individual must metabolize the ultra-mercantilist imperative of flexibility, conceiving his own life as a nomadic series of changes and ruptures of all stability in relationships, projects and commitments. Therefore, he must be stripped (and be convinced that this is progress) of all material and immaterial ties, and become a globetrotter atom available for total mobilization connected to the processes of value valorization.

From its auroral point of view, capitalism must favor the meeting of men in the market and, at the same time, discourage any other form of communitarian relation; and this, according to a trajectory that runs from Adam Smith’s brewer to the “therapeutic” capitalism of Covid-19, whose foundational principle—”social distancing”—marks the apotheosis of the neutralization of any communitarian instance different from the “unsociably sociable” and intrinsically ephemeral, of mercantile exchange.

It is evident that such an anthropology is incompatible not only with the preceding figure of the urban factory proletariat, antagonistic and bound to the alienating monotony of Fordist stability. It is equally incompatible with the old bourgeois world “à la Hegel,” with the State and the sphere of stable community ethics, or “à la Balzac,” with its characters filled with nationalist prejudices and religious values, patriarchal traditions and existential stability. As I have tried to clarify elsewhere, reflecting itself in the commodified world without residues, capital becomes speculative; being becomes, without exception, the speculum in which turbo-capital contemplates itself, no longer seeing, on its own reflecting surface, any other disturbing element, such as religions and ethics; not even the two classes, bourgeois and proletarian.

Speculative capital (or turbo-capitalism) can now ubiquitously contemplate itself alone in pure form, as a freely circulating commodity, in the triumph of the omni-merchandization [conversion of everything into a market and goods] of being, of things and animals, of nature and of the human. This also explains the fusion of the two preceding antagonistic classes into a single multitude of consumerist plebs, devoid of identity and consciousness, which I have proposed to qualify as the “precariat” (in my Historia y conciencia del precariado [History and Consciousness of the Precariat]). It is also, and not secondarily, for this reason that capital, in the time of “glebalization”(Sic) and “unhappy identity,” in order to fully realize its concept, must annihilate not only the old proletarian world, but also the preceding bourgeois order. It must, in fact, reconfigure itself in a post-bourgeois and post-proletarian form, polarizing the whole of humanity into two qualitatively related and post-identitarian groups (integrally marketized stateless consumers), quantitatively differentiated by the exchange value they possess and by the objective position occupied on the immanent plane of production (financial aristocracy on the one hand and precarious plebs on the other). The struggle against identity cannot but occupy a central place in the program of reorganization of the world of life (Lebenswelt).

To become “absolute,” that is, perfectly “complete” (absolutus), the nihilism of the commodity form must be “freed from” (solutus ab) all material and immaterial limits. On the material plane, the dialectical dynamics of capital’s self-realization coincides with its saturation of the planet (globalization), with its neutralization of national sovereign states (de-sovereignization) and with the redefinition of every link in the form of a private contract between sellers and buyers (commodification of the world of life).

In the sphere of the immaterial, the self-realization of capital—its passage from the dialectical to the speculative—occurs through the residue-free colonization of consciousness and the imaginary. Like the Kantian Ich denke, the commodity form must accompany all representations of globally alienated men. Identities, linked to culture or to nature, to the individual or to peoples, thus become the equivalent of sovereign nation-states on the level of consciousness; that is to say, in the disordered post-1989 order they stand as the last bastions, as the extreme critical spaces, with well-defined borders, capable of resisting the alienating rhythm of omni-merchandization.

The material abatement of frontiers and the ideal dissolution of identities thus appear as two different aspects of the same logic of the absolute self-development of capital, which, in order to become unlimited, must necessarily annihilate every limit, saturate every material and immaterial space and dissolve any reality that contradicts it. The de-sovereignization of consciousness proceeds at the same time as its disidentification, with the emptying of all content that is functional to the integral reoccupation of consciousness and minds by the nihil of the commodity form. The globalization of markets imposes itself insofar as it destroys the national sovereignty of States and the cultural sovereignty of national-popular and class identities, making it difficult for all their determinations to survive what has been defined as cultural identity in the age of globalization.

On the one hand, by redefining politics as a neo-cannibalistic art of protecting the markets and the strongest, the new world order refunctionalizes the States themselves in a liberal key, de-sovereignized and called upon to “govern for the market” (and for their reference class), without any residual possibility of “governing the market” in a democratic and socialist sense. On the other hand, it dissolves the identities of peoples and individuals; it produces amorphous masses of post-identity and interchangeable subjects, emptied of all content and ready to assume cadaverously whatever the order of production wants to impose on them. The coexistence of these two dimensions in the process of globalization of the material and the immaterial emerges with a clear profile, if we consider hyperglobalist and post-national entities, such as—among many others—the European Union and the UN. Even if in a different way, they yet provoke a technocratic governance, devoid of references to cultural and spiritual identities, which, at the same time, is able to place itself beyond the decisions of parliaments and national δῆμοι.

From this point of view, the European Union (EU) has favored—rather than prevented—the irruption of market globalization in the spaces of the Old Continent, still replete with social rights and political, national and constitutional limitations to the free market. The old European capitalism, strongly controlled by the State and limited by the historical conquests of the working classes, had to be redefined according to the new figure of the turbo-capital absolutus, on the model of absolute American competitiveness. And this was the essence of the EU as the axis of the post-1989 liberal revolution in the Old Continent. Consequently, as shown in my study Il nichilismo dell’Unione Europea, the EU, with its techno-bureaucratic autocracy, has positioned itself no longer as a response to the globalized society of Atlanticist matrix, but as a step that has accelerated the transition towards the latter. It has favored the shift of decision-making centers from national parliaments to very private post-national bodies, such as the European Central Bank.

That the EU, that is, the new German empire nominally governed from Brussels, is a very concrete exemplum of cosmopolitan liberalism and market globalization is accredited both by the “revolt of the liberal elites,” which thanks to the technocratic governance of the EU have been able to unleash their counter-attack against the working classes (through dis-emancipatory “reforms”), and by the identitarian post-homologation of plural cultures. The latter, which represent the essence of the Europe of the peoples, are more and more clearly annihilated by means of the European capitalist integration, managed by the gray technocrats of Brussels. They eliminate the Europe of the Greek temples and the Christian cathedrals, in order to install the new neutral and asymbolic space of the banks and the hubs of liquid-financial capital [which I examined thoroughly]. The cultural and spiritual roots of Europe are cancelled in favor of the uprooting and homologation proper to the global-capitalist paradigm.

Diego Fusaro is professor of History of Philosophy at the IASSP in Milan (Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies) where he is also scientific director. He is a scholar of the Philosophy of History, specializing in the thought of Fichte, Hegel, and Marx. His interest is oriented towards German idealism, its precursors (Spinoza) and its followers (Marx), with a particular emphasis on Italian thought (Gramsci or Gentile, among others). he is the author of many books, including Fichte and the Vocation of the IntellectualThe Place of Possibility: Toward a New Philosophy of Praxis, and Marx, again!: The Spectre Returns[This article appears courtesy of Posmodernia].

Featured: Factory workers going to work at the Mather & Platt, Manchester, in the snow, by L S Lowry; painted in 1943.

Why Turbo-Capitalism wants to de-Christianize the West

In keeping with the theoretical framework outlined in my book, Minima mercatalia. Filosofia e capitalism [Small Business. Philosophy and capitalism], absolute-totalitarian capitalism or turbo-capitalism, as it has been implemented since the sixties of the “short century,” acts by annihilating every limit that can hinder or even slow down its logic of development and reproduction. This logic consists in the colonization without residue of the real and the symbolic, according to the rhythm of omni- mercantilization [conversion of everything into market and commodity], whose only teleological orientation is the unlimited and boundless will to power, and whose foundation is the destruction of every material or immaterial limit—turbo-capitalism becomes absolutus, “perfectly complete,” as soon as it becomes “liberated from” (solutus ab) every limit that can contain it, discipline it and, perhaps also, halt its advance. The incessant demolition of frontiers and bastions of resistance to this conversion of everything into a market is what, with total intentionality, is celebrated as “progress” by the new mental order generated by the completely new world order under the banner of capital.

In contrast, “regression” [“involution”] is the term with which the order of the dominant discourse delegitimizes every figure of the limit or, more simply, of non-alignment, with respect to the enveloping global movement that transforms everything into merchandise, reifying the world and life. And this, in post-1,989, is valid both for “material” and political elements stricto sensu, such as the national sovereign State (which I dealt with in Glebalizzazione. La lotta di classe al tempo del populismo [Glebalization: The Class Struggle in the Time of Populism]—“glebalization,” the serial production of new exploited, underpaid and precarious servants)—the last bastion of popular sovereignty and of the autonomy of the political; and for the properly spiritual dimension linked to cultural identities (at the center of my Difendere chi siamo. Le ragioni dell´identità italiana [Defend Who We Are. The Reasons for Italian Identity], to critical thought (which I studied in Pensare altrimenti [Think Otherwise]) and, especially, to the religion of transcendence.

That unlimitedly self-empowered will to power, in order to be able to realize itself, must colonize the entire planet, following the dynamics of what we usually call “globalization” (a pious name for the new figure of all-inclusive imperialism), and must, “uno motu,” take hold of each and every conscience, provoking the destruction of any cultural and spiritual sovereignty, specifically the dis-identification (the annihilation of all identity) and the de-divinization of the world (the neutralization of all sense of the sacred and of transcendence).

In this perspective, Christianity is in every way incompatible with the new spirit of capitalism since, apart from guarding the sense of the sacred and of transcendence, it lives historically in concrete institutions which, like the Church of Rome, have their own autonomy and, if you will, their own political as well as spiritual sovereignty. So that the so fashionable slogan “war of religion,” with which the postmodern discourse tends to liquidate tout court all religion of transcendence, insofar as it can be assimilated to the fanaticism of potentially terrorist revolts, can perhaps be replaced by the opposite locution “war against religion,” a formula with which, by means of a gestalt reorientation of thought, we refer: A) to the already evident incompatibility between religion of transcendence and atheistic religion of the market, between Christianity and capitalism; and B) to the no less adamantine “war”—now open, now underhanded—that the civilization of markets has declared on the religion of transcendence “ut sic.”

The “retreat of Christianity” is also explained, in part, in connection with the struggle against religion led by the materialistic and spiritless inspiration characteristic of the technocratic order. In the context of this “war against religion,” which is deliberately concealed under the rhetoric of the “war of religion” from the sphere of the globalized free trade zone, Christianity is granted only one possibility: to adapt to relativistic nihilism by pretending to remain itself and thus to lead the faithful and the West itself into the abyss of the nothingness of the civilization of the markets. In other words, and in accordance with what has been pointed out, turbo-capitalist globalization asks Christianity either to allow itself to be “killed” by the nihilism of techno-capitalist civilization, or to “commit suicide” by voluntarily diluting itself in this nothingness; that is, to redefine itself as a mere appendix of the civilization of the markets, assimilating and spreading the same relativistic and nihilistic vision of the world, stripped of any link with transcendence and the sacred, to ultimately end up being transformed into a megaphone of the same political, social and economic conception based on the dogmas of the sans frontières market, the free circulation of merchandise and commodified people, the neoliberal and American-centric one world, and the whims of consumption with rainbow tones for the ruling classes, improperly designated with the noble title of “civil rights.”

In short, globalization asks Christianity, sic et simpliciter, to continue to exist by renouncing its being and becoming an integral part of the very project of globalization founded on the fanaticism of the free market. And when attempts are made to escape this destiny, recovering the spirit of transcendence and the sacred, of tradition and the divine, as occurred during the brief but heroic pontificate of Ratzinger, the clash between Christianity and capitalism becomes irreconcilable. There is shown, in all its crudeness, the real enmity that pits the religion of the sacred against the nihil of the “horrendous order”—as Pasolini called it—of the civilization of capital; an enmity that, in this case, has been resolved in favor of the latter, through the restoration—with the appointment of “Pope” Bergoglio—of a new and more stable compromise of Christianity’s submission to the neoliberal oligarchic bloc. Pope Ratzinger was the extreme and epic attempt of Christianity to reverse its own tendency of evaporation and self-dissolution, resisting nihilistic relativism, thanks to a recovery of the heart of Christian doctrine and tradition, and vindicating in the full sense the reasons of the sacred, the eternal, the transcendent and the Corpus Christianorum.

In the preceding figure of “dialectical capitalism,” just as we have codified it in Minima mercatalia, religion was presented as an essentially dialectical element: it could justify both revolt in the name of the kingdom of heaven and subordination to the constituted power as an image of divine justice, depending on whether the “hot current” or the “cold current” of Christianity prevailed, to use Ernst Bloch’s syntax in Atheism in Christianity. At the time, religion could be used as an instrument of government and it was possible to find a bilateral agreement with it, as for example happened in Italy with the Lateran Pacts (1,929).

Absolute-totalitarian capitalism, for its part, not only no longer needs the religious phenomenon to prop up its own power, but it must get rid of it, recognizing it as an impediment—potential or real, depending on the context—to its own logic of development and reproduction. From a different plane, the Christian religion refers to a higher order that, however, should not necessarily always be understood as a structure of domination and power. Undoubtedly, in the past Christianity has represented an obstacle, because power also needed a religious justification. The power of truly totalitarian neo-capitalism and potentially superior to everything that has preceded it, no longer needs a “celestial” justification: it is strong enough to be self-sufficient. Furthermore, it fears that any possible reference to the higher order of the transcendent may turn out to be intrinsically contradictory, if only because of its appeal to a different and higher dimension than that of the totally colonized real in the form of a market.

Diego Fusaro is professor of History of Philosophy at the IASSP in Milan (Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies) where he is also scientific director. He is a scholar of the Philosophy of History, specializing in the thought of Fichte, Hegel, and Marx. His interest is oriented towards German idealism, its precursors (Spinoza) and its followers (Marx), with a particular emphasis on Italian thought (Gramsci or Gentile, among others). he is the author of many books, including Fichte and the Vocation of the Intellectual, The Place of Possibility: Toward a New Philosophy of Praxis, and Marx, again!: The Spectre Returns. [This article appears courtesy of Posmodernia].

Featured: “Christ Expelling the Money-Changers from the Temple,” by Nicolas Colombel; painted in 1630.