When I was being raised in the 1960s and 1970s, the ambient cultural value I absorbed from books, music and films was anti-business/ anti-square/ pro-Creative/ pro-Sex/ marginal materialism. By the time I hit college in 1977 I was wearing these presets like a behavioral badge and the people I befriended and hung out with seemed to radiate these attitudes as well, attitudes I embodied to such a degree that I drew quite a bit of attention. I was so confident in my espousal of these embodied beliefs that I became a sort of militant philosopher, spreading the word. This militancy translated into the kind of charisma which cult leaders use to gather and control followers, though, not being interested in controlling (or leading) others I merely enjoyed the collateral benefit of an extraordinary amount of sexual success. I enjoyed also a certain amount of freedom (mitigated quite a bit when I fell into the first and most obvious trap of having a girl I met at college deliberately getting pregnant in order to bind myself to her, but that’s another essay…).
The intro paragraph is usually the kind of thing we read before reading an account of a Pauline conversion. In other words, writers often describe a belief or way of Life they indulged in in youth, a belief or way of Life that was lived wholly in youthful error; the remainder of the essay going on, usually, to detail the opposite belief, or way of Life, that has been introduced, to the author, by Maturity.
But I write this while contemplating my college friends, and other early acquaintances, who had their beliefs and way of Life altered by “maturity” in just such a way, and I write this to make the case that we were right, in the 1960s and 1970s, to think as we did then. And that my friends failed themselves by converting. And, further, I write to assert my recent conclusion that the opposite mindset of my youthful (and current) anti-business/ anti-square worldview is the worldview foundational to Fascism.
I argue here that it’s been hiding in plain sight all along: the Business or “Corporate” mindset and the Fascist mindset are one-and-the-same. We have only ever been led to believe otherwise (the truth obscured by euphemism, misdirection and complication) because the Corporate mindset has been in charge for so long.
Two categories of mitigating observation/ questions:
1) If the corporate (aka Fascist) mindset has been in charge since before we were born, why was an anti-business mindset ever pushed, apparently, in popular culture to the extent that I and others would take to it so avidly? Possible Answer A) Because pandering to youth for short-term profit was more attractive, to some media owners, than the notion of a long-term control of attitudes. Possible Answer B) Because some media owners were anti-Fascist, having acquired money/ influence before the psychosocial filters were stringent enough to keep anti-Fascists from acquiring positions of power and media influence. Possible Answer C) Because the “divide and conquer” trick requires a sizable cohort of anti-Normative consumers to drive social friction. Possible Answer D) the ruling structure was/is so confident in its position of control that the anti-Establishment attitudes of some college kids were of little concern (and the natural process of “maturing” would inevitably grow them out of it anyway: QED).
Money as a mechanism for abstracting material value in order to make it transferable or interchangeable (aka “fungible”) is not, in and of itself, at its core, Fascist. A craftsperson who provides a desired service for a fair price is not being a Fascist by default; neither is the consumer of the service. The introduction of Fascism is attached to the “need” for A) Mega-Profit on a large (geographical) scale and B) the maximizing of Mega-Profits by turning humans into robot-like, ultra-obedient, hyper-efficient workers and by C) the creation of ultra-obedient (physically coerced or psychologically-manipulated) Markets. On the level of over-killed control (a lá General Curtis LeMay’s famous “I want to see the cinders dance” comment), an obedient and lucrative Market is indistinguishable, on several (though not all) levels, from a territory invaded and subdued by an army of occupation. As all elements , under a Fascist dictatorship, converge to a One or Unity* (one leader, one opinion, one product, one result) in time**, all Markets, and all territories invaded and subdued by an army of occupation, will become absolutely identical by every metric. Plurality/ Variety/ Diversity multiply in the direction of the Past on any Fascist Timeline. (With the caveat that apparent Diversity will often present itself as a deliberately-engineered illusion). The look of a “sexy Instagram Influencer” is converging to a Unity; Hollywood Blockbusters are rapidly converging to a Unity, as is Popular Music; America’s political parties converged to a Unity years ago; Global Culture is, clearly, converging to a Unity.
“Progress” in a Corporate/ Fascist worldview is in the direction of Total Control and, therefore, ultimately, Death. The antiseptic aesthetic of Corporatism is only truly achieved in the total absence of Life***. “Progress” has always been toward “Heaven” which is “God” which is Death. The Unity toward which all rails of Corporatist/ Fascist Technology converge is Death (see Footnote #3 for key caveat)
And so on.
Control-freakery on a national or global scale has been hiding, in plain sight, as a blatant and fundamental symptom of Fascism since the ascent of modern multi-national corporations in the 19th century. Perfected in the 20th century and apotheosized in the 21st century with the power of advanced digital tech, the personality types in charge of every aspect of modern existence are of the “Businessman” or “Entrepreneur” or “Mogul” type: A) sexually inhibited or perverse B) anal compulsive C) pathologically competitive/ murderous D) God-complexed. (If one can’t detect these obvious symptoms/ attributes in, eg, Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos, et al, one’s time would be better spent watching Television than reading this essay).
I was always taught that Fascism is Government plus Corporatism (in order, I suppose, to psychologically separate Hitler’s Germany from Nixon’s America) but that was both redundant and a misdirection. Government is Corporatism and Corporatism is Fascism. The rigid, “Taylorized” psychosocial control of the Corporate microcosm is martial, carceral, dehumanizing, Totalizing and only “necessary” (or appropriate) in the context of a declaration of War. Capitalism’s “Infinite Growth” requirement is a blatant euphemism for Imperialist Expansionism and “Manifest Destiny” is at the heart of every Corporate Creation Myth. To indulge in Entrepreneurial zeal on a beginner’s level is to flirt with the Fascist mindset and the advent of the 21st century has seen a mass-conversion of the “middle-of-the-pyramid” (neither rich nor congenital underclass) to the embrace of these values. The psychological Hucksterization of hoi polloi (everybody is encouraged to brand and sell, sell, sell) lubricates the social gears of the Fascist juggernaut as it races, in a thousand metrics, to converge to Unity (aka Death).
I was suspicious of the dead-eyed “squares” and their Chambers of Commerce in the 1960s and 1970s and wanted, in my poetry-writing, sex-energized, Art-contemplating and Life-loving way, no part of their hideous worldview and I was right.
*The apparent paradox of the continuing variety of classes of Human can be resolved by considering that the ruling class considers itself, alone, to be Human; the Lower Orders are livestock. As “livestock” we, of the Lower Orders, belong to the conceptual Unity of “Natural Resources”.
***Which dovetails neatly with the Ultimate Plutocratic Fantasy of being able to upload personal consciousness into a Deathless/ Lifeless Techno-Body. “Life” in Death: the “perfect” Coroporatist “solution” to the “problem” of Life.