The Individual Mind’s Foreign Occupier

With the decline of organized religion, does the religious spirit itself diminish?  Unfortunately no.  For religion is built into the very structure of the social apparatus as embodied in what we call the Law.  So the subject becomes the identity between Law and Morality.  “From a certain standpoint of morality people reason roughly as follows:  Either man is led by his sensuality, and is, following it, immoral, or he is led by the good, which, taken up into the will, is called moral sentiment; then, he shows himself moral.”  But this opens the door to all sorts of vagaries.  If a person is motivated by the good, then, the act, however heinous, is justified?  “According to the principle of morality, which commands us to serve the good, you could really ask only whether murder could never in any case be a realization of the good, and would have to endorse that murder which realized the good.” Logically, this is incontrovertible.  However,  in our society, only those killings which do not fall into the category of legally sanctioned killings, those which by that virtue alone escape being considered murders, considered from the standpoint of the Law, merit disapproval.  “So the immoral thing in it was the illegality, the disobedience to law?  Then you admit that the good is nothing else than–law, morality nothing else than loyalty.  And to this externality of ‘loyalty’ your morality must sink, to this righteousness of works in the fulfillment of the law, only that the latter is at once more tyrannical and more revolting then the old-time righteousness of works.  For in the latter only the act is needed, but you require the disposition too; one must carry in himself the law, the statute; and he who is most legally disposed is the most moral.  Even the last vestige of cheerfulness in Catholic life must perish in this Protestant legality.  Here at last the domination of the law is for the first time complete.  ‘Not I live, but the law lives in me.’  Thus I have really come so far to be only the ‘vessel of its glory’.  ‘Every Prusian officer carries his gendarme in his breast’, says a high Prussian officer.”  Quotes from Max Stirner, The Ego and Its Own.

Only by the mass internalizing of social precepts such as the law do they have any social force.  If one person internalizes the law, it has no force outside of his or her own psychic reality.  But if the millions do, that is a different matter.  Such mechanisms have obtained in human society for millennia.  But now we have a new situation, brought about by the 21st century technological revolution.  And just in time!  With the decline in official religion, society has been in dire need of a unifying force to fill this awful vacuum.  We have found it in what Herbert Marcuse calls ‘technological rationality’.  According to this theory, individual rationality, over the last couple of centuries, has been gradually supplanted by technological rationality.  Jeffrey Ocay, in his article “Technology, Domination, and the Great Refusal:  Marcuse’s Critique of Advanced Indistrial Society”, writes:

“According to Marcuse, technological rationality arises when, in the
medium of technology, culture, politics, and the increasing power of the
economic system merge into an omnipresent system which swallows up or
repulses all alternatives. This eventually “extends to all spheres of private and
public existence,” integrating all authentic opposition and absorbing all
alternatives. In this way, technology, which is originally an external power
over nature, has been internalized by the individuals. [italics mine–dw] Here, reason has lost its meaning because the thoughts, feelings, and actions of men are shaped by the
technical requirements of the apparatus which demands compliance and
adjustment. Thus, the human psyche is transformed into mere biological
impulses which make the individual a passive agent of production as well as
reduce the individual into mere spectator who adjusts to the technical
processes of production. Consequently, technological rationality dissolves
critical thinking and replaces it with the idea of compliant efficiency, which
results in the individual’s submission to the apparatus without any form of
mental and physical opposition. Marcuse writes: ‘The world has been
rationalized to such an extent, and this rationality had become such a social
power that the individual could do no better than adjust himself without
reservation.’ Marcuse further writes:  The idea of compliant efficiency perfectly illustrates the structure of technological rationality. Rationality is being
transformed from critical force into one of adjustment and compliance. Autonomy of reason loses its meaning in the same measure as the thoughts, feelings and actions
of men are shaped by the technical requirements of the apparatus which they themselves created. Reason has found its resting place in the system of standardized
control, production and consumption. There it reigns through the laws and mechanisms which insure the efficiency, expediency and coherence of this system.”

The foreign occupier, historically fulfilled by the personage of God, and by his psychic extension in custom and law, has extended its dominion a thousandfold by such a development.  A process of decolonization is the only way to address this problem.  Can you do this, can you thoroughly decolonize your psyche, and still remain plugged in to all these devices which demand your attention half the waking day?  I beg you, dear reader, think on the implications of this state of affairs for your own psychic well-being.  Call it addiction, obsession, entrainment, or whatever, but in the end it’s the same:  the incursion of the foreign occupier deeper and deeper into the soul of humanity.

 

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