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 Intellectual, The 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.