by Carl Nelson (June 2021)
The Sick Child, Salvador Dali, 1921
Ideologies, like invasive species, tend to wither outside of their ecosystems or cause a lot of problems for the niche they transgress. For example, a market-style socialism seems to work quite well between family members. But it withers as they mature.
What is market-style socialism? It’s a system whereby the creation of wealth is achieved through a market system, but its distribution is socialist or egalitarian. For example, a mother and father might work within a capitalistic system to earn money, but when they return home the wealth is distributed upon the basis of greatest need. Perhaps the home needs to be painted. Perhaps the children need school clothes. Perhaps the father needs a new suit, or the mother a new outfit.
This system spreads outside of its natural area if as the children age out into adulthood they refuse to find mature employment while continuing to make escalating demands on the family. As a six year old they might have wanted a trike; now at sixteen they want a trail bike; at nineteen they believe their girlfriend should live with them rent free; and at twenty naturally ‘need’ a bigger allowance, the upstairs and free childcare. And yet they have a menial job incapable of supporting a family, or no job at all and live in their parent’s home. If the dispossessed father moves out, the fractured family necessarily has a need for more governmental services in order to survive.
The idea of market-style socialism doesn’t die I would propose, because there is a natural, traditionally sound function for it within the family. It’s rather like common law, the foundation of our legal system. But when it spreads its demands beyond the household, it morphs into a non-market socialism in which economic planning and regulations substitute for the free market. If the offspring will not seek a job, or will not achieve a wage sufficient to support their family—then a job and benefits must be supplied. And if the fractured family cannot function without supplement, then governmental assistance must be provided. And regulations follow the money; always have, always will. In short, the State will both employ and discipline their citizenry. Voila! Tyranny. When a culture will not bear the natural responsibilities of individual design, its design becomes authoritarian.
I think the reason we have so much trouble coming together as a nation is this cult of individualism we worship. –Female Workshop Instructor
(Coming together would certainly be more manageable,
if no individuals existed…
way before the problem escalated,
or tumesced, for sure.)
She has pleasant mastered.
Granted, one of the nicer Heras I’ve ever encountered,
a languid pre-modern with fanciful gestures.
To contradict her would be like strangling a kitten.
They’d come after me with spears.
I remember the Amazons and fear
why those Grecian limbs are missing.
And I imagine sticking mine out,
getting my priapus up and shellacked as thus…
or lopped off, and then lost to the ages,
as a vanished sexual aid of former times.
To resurface inevitably as another dated relic
from the green, slimy, hoary keep of male glories;
cleaned up and restored beside the turkey basters,
in a crystalline case with an informative plaque
on a white plaster pedestal
in a gallery of wealthy white matrons
meeting and milling
on the correct side of history.
Similarly, Communism seems to work well within a business, but poorly beyond.
Communism is practiced by a society in which all property is governmentally owned and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs. This closely approximates work life inside of a modern business. All property of the business is owned by the business and the employees are paid generally according to their abilities and needs. If a candidate’s talents are in short supply, generally they can demand more money. If the employees will have families to raise and support, the company must generally plan for this by locating and paying in such a way that the employee has access to schools, healthcare and other needed services and a wage sufficient to acquire them. The factory town might be a top down, designed structure of just such an arrangement. Though the modern business environment does not achieve a classless society, it would seem to have achieved as classless a society as those in communist countries and perhaps more so as the modern business model continually experiments with the open office plan and ‘flat’ organizational structures. Within the modern business model, the communist collectivist assertion would surely seem to have secured a base.
This might account for the surprising result that while Nixon’s rapprochement with China was intended to pull Communist China’s collectivist politics closer towards that of the Free Market/Free World through business relationships—what has actually occurred has been to persuade our global corporations to fall more in league with the Chinese Communist collectivist plan.
What fueled and assisted such a surprising outcome? The answer involves cronyism and rent seeking. Global corporations call sell their persuasion and access to the US political process for participation in the enormous Chinese market, and in return become ‘owned’ by the enormous Chinese market in a situation a bit analogous to the story about debt and the bank. That is, when you owe the Bank a hundred thousand dollars, the Bank tells you what to do. But when you owe the Bank a billion dollars, you tell it what to do. For example, the Chinese Communist government tells Nike what to do, and they in turn tell the National Basketball Leagues what to do. It’s either this course, or lose an enormous customer.
Currently, Communist China is seen as the great threat on the horizon. But it would seem that while corporate America evolves towards fascism through an ever more binding crony Capitalism, likewise in an inverted arrangement, Communism is evolving towards fascism through crony Capitalism. What is troubling is that the evolution would appear to be a ‘natural’ one; it plays to normal events. And it is very difficult to stand against a current of history, or to vacate an occupied ecological niche. For example, Mussolini whose career began as a revolutionary socialist found that by joining his forces with the corporate oligarchy he could claim enough of a majority to seize the government of Italy and expand it through this marriage of social and corporate power. Mussolini happened upon what was a natural political evolution and gave it the name of fascism. Until the fascist ends collided with our desires, Mussolini had Western admirers among the collectivists such as FDR:
Presently there are innumerable collectivist political interest groups here among us and overseas, who are pressing for this natural political marriage of government and industry, of which Communist China appears to be the current major threat. Fascism as a natural evolution would seem to be a metaphorical function unable to be completely eradicated in the way of a material thing like smallpox. Reservoirs of its materials of creation would necessarily be ever-present in and requisite to an affluent liberal society.
It was assumed that building a more fair and more prosperous country for everyone would create an ever more stable society—but just the opposite seems to have become the case, leaving many of those of the conservative bent waving our oars.
You know those creatures pulled from miles deep in the oceans
found grown to enormous size? Surely you’ve seen the newspapers.
Politicians have desires like that thriving deep in their brains,
wherein they swim about wildly fanged and google-eyed in darkness.
They are a rare catch snagged somehow or other.
Even the concealed can’t stay hidden, is the best I can say.
Lies will thrive on the bits of opportunity we give them.
Threats will enlarge on the hesitancy we share.
And truths will emerge, feeding in the darkness that conceals them.
“How come that elephant is in this room?” You may ask.
It might be because it is worshipped within its temple
where someone must haul off its manure and pee,
unobtrusively! Goodness, it’s an oppressive labor to disguise one’s fears.
But let’s do a little navel gazing for a moment and imagine all of these ‘isms’ as our gut flora.
Dysbiosis is an imbalance of natural flora. “Dysbiosis of the gut bacteria communities can cause many chronic diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, cancer, and autism.”[*]
The dysbiosis can involve not only the ‘mix’ of bacteria, but the location of the bacteria. “Any interruption in the balance of microbiota can cause dysbiosis. When dysbiosis happens in your GI tract, it’s typically the result of: a dietary change that increases your intake of protein, sugar, or food additives, accidental chemical consumption, such as lingering pesticides on unwashed fruit.” It can also be caused by the ingestion of antibiotics, which in order to cure a systemic infection may also kill needed commensal bacteria in the patient’s gut. The dysbiosis can also occur because of outside inoculation of the GI tract, such as with a harmful strain of e coli ingested from a cheeseburger. A dysbiosis most often obtains from the overgrowth of one natural bacteria in one region of the gut, due to a diminishment of another bacteria in that region of the gut for any of the above reasons.
Let me coin the word, ‘dystheosis’ to mean an imbalance in the location of ‘isms’ within a society. Imagine our culture as an enormous intestine which digests the intellectual flow of its discourse, breaking down all of the ideas, facts and findings into materials with which to feed and build its people and organizations. Imagine metaphors as the enzymes which help to speed these processes. Some of the cultural metaphors within our intestine that help us to handle this process are ‘isms’ such as ‘socialism’, ‘capitalism’ and ‘communism’. As we’ve seen above, a society in which these ‘isms’ are optimally located performs well. But if we were able by dint of some new social ‘antibiotic’ to kill and flush either socialism or communism from our system, the overreach of capitalism could well be catastrophic. Children would fail to be raised. Corporations would fail to function or ravage themselves through the internecine competition of their various components. And if we were, on the other hand, to purge the system of capitalism . . . well, we’ve seen from innumerable utopian experiments that these societies fail.
Imagine for a moment that the enzyme or metaphor for capitalism had been eliminated, or ‘cancelled’ to coin a current term. In this case, whatever nutritional discourse that has been ingested by the system would be forced to process it as a socialism or a communism. This will distort the civilization greatly, while the civilization will also suffer from nutritional deficiencies such as a lack of information and discourse. On the other hand, diets can be poisonous to a market-like socialism, rather like dogs shouldn’t be fed grapes or lick anti-freeze, and families disintegrate. For example, strapping hierarchical structures (high in capitalism) to young children produces situations such as are delimited in George Orwell’s essay on life in the British boarding schools. (Read all about it in “Such, Such Were the Joys”.) Often these poor creatures will contort in a nutritionally deficient manner only to rebound into adulthood as Socialists. Certainly a topsy-turvy situation of back and forth ‘ism’ mixtures produces backlashes, such as is the current condition of Russia.
So to argue against either the efficacy or existence of socialism, communism or capitalism would be ideological flailing, as all are natural within their province. Vanquishing either of these ideas will provoke a cultural dystheosis—an imbalanced culture with a poor performance over many metrics.
If alluding to our own guts is a proper analogy, then it is apparent that the way to prevent dystheosis is through very prudent use of antibiotics (laws and monetary policy), diet (education and media) and a lifestyle (culture) which monitors our intake of the analogous proteins, sugar and food additives closely. The cultural criticisms of these nutritional gut substances might well form the basis of speculative essays and the careers of many pundits, and currently seem to be doing so. And how to divert the stream of history so that a proper disbursement (‘theosis’) is accomplished would seem to be the big operative question.
was another start-up,
another burst of entrepreneurial activity
undertaken as a young man
searching for an economic foothold,
a bread and butter providence
to a scattershot existence
of sifting girlfriends and semi-skilled employment.
Like those ’57 Chevies with the florid flames
lashing from out their hoods and wheel wells,
it seemed to me that many young women’s groins
might enjoy the same.
But there were production problems
of the colors bleeding, shrinkage,
stiffness, poor registration
and then the marketing difficulties what with my girlfriend
being embarrassed to sell them alongside her pottery.
So that in the end my effort failed,
and I was left with a dusty pasteboard box
of one hundred and forty four,
a gross, of cheap cotton panties
in my attic. (Creepy?)
But for years afterwards
at parties, tipsy women
would reveal to me
that they were wearing theirs, “Right now!”
lifting their skirts.
Carl Nelson has recently published his newest Self Help Book, The Poet’s (30 Year) Marriage Plan, which is a useful collection of interlarded poems and prose advice (schemes), all celebrating the hallowed institution of marriage. To learn more about the author and peruse his work, please visit here.
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