Timothy Fitzgerald, “Abolishing Politics: categories as signs in an automatic signalling system”
This is a summary preamble to a detailed and complex argument, historical and theoretical, about the invention of politics as a modern idea, and its relation to a configuration of other modern categories. I believe that, in order for the human species to save itself from extinction, we at least need a widespread critical problematising of the dominant categories that organise our thinking, and that perform such a pervasive role in our representations of ‘reality’. When one considers how the dominant discourses on ‘politics’ actually operate in public rhetoric, in academic texts, and in our internalised representations, then politics ceases to look like the road to our salvation, and appears as part of our problem.
The argument is addressed primarily to those readers who share the author’s view that, if the human species is to survive, then we need a radical change amounting to a revolution in our thinking, in our morality and in our relationships. This is already a widely held viewpoint, I am not a prophet offering a new insight, but unfortunately it does not seem to press itself with urgency on those who put their personal careers above everything else – i.e. our leaders. The question for me is not whether we need a radical change in consciousness, but how we should make that change possible.
The world is burning and our species is in danger of extinction from nuclear or environmental catastrophe. I was brought up to think of the American century as one of hope and democracy, and it turned out disappointingly. In 2017 US Foreign policy seems intent on as many Vietnams simultaneously as possible, and the UK and other NATO nuclear powers are anxious to be part of the action and the subsequent misery and chaos. It has become increasingly difficult to say we live in effective representative democracies that respect equality before the law, rights of privacy, free speech, unionisation, or freedom from arbitrary arrest. Nor can we say that there exists an international order that respects the national sovereignty of other countries. Within the US, UK, and EU, the evidence of creeping corporate authoritarianism and the stealthy formation of an Orwellian surveillance and propaganda state is a real and present danger and cannot any longer be dismissed as ‘conspiracy theory’, except by those who have been most effectively cushioned by liberal secular mythology and the mainstream media. My own view is that we secular liberal academics, as human beings, ought to be widely and openly questioning and discussing our role in bringing about this violent disorder: how do we facilitate it, and what can do we about it? How collectively can we avert an imminent catastrophe that we seem to be wilfully inflicting upon ourselves?
Few reasonable people now can deny such imminent dangers, because the evidences are pressing themselves upon our reluctant collective consciousness and mounting by the day. The world is in continual violent turmoil and there exists no sign of an end to the strife, war, poverty, torture, and the misery of homelessness that billions of people are experiencing. Behind all this destruction and chaos there is the threat of nuclear, chemical and biological war and the threat of environmental catastrophe. The creep towards totalitarian government ought to compel us into the kind of radical rethinking of dominant categories which occurred in the Enlightenment and which invented secular liberal modernity in the first place. We need to discredit, disinvent and thus disempower the fictional dominant imaginary that we mistake for the real world.
My intention had been to beat a reasonably straight line from the violent disorder in our shared world, to the illusions generated by our dominant and dominating discourses on ‘politics’. Some of my colleagues in religious studies may know that I have said connected things about the illusions generated by discourses on ‘religion’. These two modern categories are paradoxically fused together in mutually parasitic antagonism. But I want to begin with politics, or the politics side of the binary. I suggest that modern ‘politics’ was first imagined as ‘non-religious’ government, government as separated from ‘religion’, in the late 17th Century, what came to be called ‘the secular state’ in the 19th Century. To imagine government as politics separated from something else called religion was to invent the ‘non-religious’, as well as to give the term ‘religion’ a logically different meaning from the one it then had. This amounts to an imaginary religion::nonreligion binary where no clearly determinate content can be given to either side, as is still the case. It is the rhetorical deployment of this binary that is the effective component.
Additionally, in the 19th century the term ‘secular’ came to be deployed to mean ‘non-religious’, a rhetorical development that profoundly changed the typical meaning of ‘secular’. In this context of the modern invention of secular politics arises also ‘the state’ as a generic type, finding its typical modern usage in ‘the nation state’, which is conceived in International Relations as the basis of the modern international world order. We thus also have an old term ‘the nation’ changing its ancient meaning to fuse into the new system of categories that sustain the myths of the nation states. The function of the term ‘modern’ is to draw attention to the emergence of a brave new world of progress and reason, and to contrast this progress with the backwardness of the religious and superstitious past. Thus, ‘the politics of the secular modern nation state’ is a highly problematic string of abstract terms, fused together as part of the rhetorical basis for modern liberal capitalist ideology.
‘Science’ also emerged as an essentialised opposite of religion in the 17th century. The science–religion and politics-religion binaries have been rhetorically tied to a series of other either-or binaries (it is either science/politics or it is religion, it cannot be both) that act to normalise the really real of modern liberalism and transform the myth of secular scientific progress into seemingly-lived experience: progress-backwardness, rational-irrational, knowledge-faith, empirical observation-metaphysical speculation, natural-supernatural, public-private, objective-subjective. The myth of secular neutrality, objectivity, and real-world grown-up rationality for ‘politics’ and ‘science’ has largely seemed credible on the basis of these rhetorical techniques, because their opposites reduce some of us to prelogical savages, children in the evolutionary scale of things, religious fanatics, undeveloped pre-moderns, or generally those who are lost in subjective fantasy and cannot get a grip on reality. Yet, to what extent and in what sense could we say that these reified organizing categories ‘science’, ‘religion’ or ‘politics’ are themselves scientific? Nobody has or could observe something called religion, or science, or politics, because they are not empirical objects that can be presented to sense experience. The supposed differences between them, the characteristics that set them apart from each other, seem obvious until we look at the range of deployments in historical and contemporary texts and realise that these terms are not themselves the result of induction from observation. They are power categories useful for tactical and strategic control, for imposing order through classification; over decades and even centuries since the early enlightenment these rhetorically and juridically imposed associations and oppositions have become instant presuppositions that we rarely question. These hegemonic categories operate in our thinking automatically and virtually unconsciously, and organise networks of concepts with which they have strong rhetorical and psychological associations. I am going to show the reader how difficult it is to make clearly definite distinctions between these indefinable, vast hold-all categories. These are abstract and surprisingly arbitrary classifications that are determined by powerful rhetorical needs rather than by neutral independent criteria. We should not be fooled by them.
Much of the irrational violence that is destroying our world is carried out by secular states, which claim to represent legitimate national and international democratic order. We know much of this through Wikileaks and other new sources of information. This violence, and the engendering of paranoid reaction, is undertaken by various state agencies funded by taxpayers including the secret intelligence services, which claim, in increasingly public disclosure, to exist to protect that democratic order. We now know that many of these nation states and state agencies work hand-in-glove with private multinational corporations and the international banks that serve their interests, either by way of secretive trade ageements, special tax deals, or by way of war and invasion.
I do not think that this partnership between the state and private corporations is new. The state and politics were invented to represent and regulate the interests of men of substantial property, just as were the banking and financial institutions. The modern state was formed in the first place to facilitate home and colonial markets, to regulate a banking and finance system, to protect private property laws, and to protect and help organise colonial investments. The idea that markets are spontaneously generated and self-regulating is a liberal and neoliberal myth. The market in real estate grew out of the Enclosures, which required acts of parliament to overturn existing common rights and establish new private rights. These were acts of power by a class of men in history, not the automatic workings of a natural phenomenon such as gravity. The idea that markets are self-regulating is today given expression in Neoclassical economics as ‘equilibrium’, as self-equilibration. The economists of the late 19th century who founded contemporary Neoclassical Economics, such as Walras, Jevons and Marshall, assumed that markets are in natural equilibrium, and that after every ‘exogenous shock’ they automatically tend back towards equilibrium. Complex mathematical calculations claiming to establish the truth of the state of the markets and ‘the national economy’ are constructed on the basis of this metaphysical belief in self-equilibrating markets. Probably there are brilliant mathematicians among the economists, but the problem is with the fairy tale they are basing their maths on. One does not need to be a professional economist to see that ‘the markets’ and ‘the national economy’ are themselves imaginaries, as is their assumed equilibrium. These are all imaginary inventions, not the result of empirical observation. They are comparable to the faith postulates of other cosmologies that offer stories to make sense of things, such as dying and rising gods, ancestral spirits or witchcraft substance. The idea that ‘markets’ wobble like spinning tops but then automatically return to equilibrium seems surprising when one observes the continual series of crashes and failures of capitalism stretching back to the Dutch Tulipomania in the 17th century, and the constant need for state intervention. And since we do not know where ‘the economy’ begins or ends, just as we do not know where ‘politics’, ‘the nation’ or ‘religion’ begins or ends, it is difficult to understand what might be ‘exogenous’ to it. What we can see is that the rhetorical deployment of these categories generates the illusion that we know what is being said and what is being referred to.
The origins of the modern State and its dominant representations can be found in the protection and promotion of male private property interests as the norm of civility. Men of a certain substance have a right to govern, or to set up a government that represents them. In England the modern centralised nation state was governed by a sovereign parliament with a limited franchise confined to men with substantial property; it managed the process of accumulation through dispossession, which has remained a hallmark of capitalism to do this day.
The modern liberal state has typically been ruthless in defence of male private property interests, and energetically resisted the extension of the franchise. I am therefore not going to claim that the modern secular state has ever, at some previous historical moment, been intended to represent the universal rights and interests of all citizens, despite the rhetoric on the universality of Enlightenment values. I am not saying that we are losing something that we had. On the contrary, that is part of the historical illusion of ‘modern secular progress’. Though things were a lot better for white middle and possibly white working class people in the western capitalist nation states in the 1950’s and 1960’s in terms of jobs and security, I am not appealing to a lost golden age. What we are losing is nostalgia for a past golden age that never much existed, even though there have been better and worse times.
Politics and the State separated from religion, and therefore consistent with scientific instrumental reason, was invented during the Enlightenment to represent male private property interests and the new orders of power required to facilitate them. The dominant male property owning interests in the form of the State and its agencies have consistently resisted, sometimes with great ferocity, extension of the franchise or property rights. The main function of the spy organisations and indeed the secular state itself is more significantly connected to the modern history of land enclosure, banking and commerce than to any abstract declaration of natural rights. The state spy agencies were not established to represent the interests of ordinary citizens, but to protect and promote the interests of wealthy private shareholders and their politician representatives. I will argue that this is what the state and politics were invented for in the late 17th century – to represent the male accumulation of private property in an expanding colonial horizon of opportunities for dispossession, plunder, and hoarding. What has changed is the technology, the global reach and the size of the operations, not least in the dominant financial sector that operates its profits on the basis of huge levels of private debt.
There are other institutions which are involved less directly in the contemporary global violence, but which function to legitimise and normalise it. One group of such agencies is the liberal universities in which we academics draw our salaries. I am not thinking merely about the collaborations between, say, the CIA and some academic anthropologists, or between some departments of International Relations and various powerful councils and think-tanks that influence government policy. The very ethos of secular liberal academia and the faculty disciplinary structures embed – I would say make sacred and taboo – an ideology of private property accumulation while disguising the interrelations, even from us academics.
My purpose is to draw attention to one of the main sources, not so much of the conflict itself, but of the legitimation of conflict, and the inability of ordinary people such as ourselves to do anything to stop it. This is the configuration of categories in which we think, and yet which paradoxically we are rarely conscious of. I am not so much interested in the individual men and women who exercise power over us in their own self-absorbed pursuit of a prestigious career. I am concerned with the system that operates them and us from the margins of awareness. I am going to assume methodologically that class-consciousness is a dangerous delusion of self-entitlement that can in principle seduce anyone of us, and that most billionaires are as about as self-deluded as the rest of us. We play along with it, or submit to it, and keep the system in place by marginalising any intellectual or moral doubts, or translating them into self-effacing academic critique that changes nothing. It is of course possible that there are some totally cynical managers of large-scale capital who have no illusions, and who see the whole thing as a ruthless game of power without any moral implications at all. Perhaps there really are people who do not care if the value of their investments in the arms trade increases as the result of another wedding party carnaged by drone strike. My purpose is not to speculate on this possibility. This would be tantamount to admitting that the rulers of many NATO and other countries and the CEO’s of many large corporations are psychopaths, and I do not intend to get into that arena. I do not know what it is like to have a billion dollars, or five billion, but I imagine that massive wealth does not bring anything describable as ‘freedom’ and perhaps not ‘wisdom’ either, but a new level of entanglement and anxiety. This is not really relevant to my argument. It is only guesswork if I speculate that some at least of the extremely wealthy exhibit a sense of unease with their wealth, a disbelief that, rather than being apprehended and taken for questioning by the police, they are honoured and given open access to the most prestigious society. Some of the more sensitive types of billionaire may develop a marginal sense of irritation, of guilt or shame, a desire to do charitable works as if to make amends. There are a variety of possible psychic states that exist among those who control our institutions, but this does not make them free to choose rationally, or make them happy, or make them essentially different from the rest of us.
I will assume methodologically that those with power and wealth, and those in the political and media classes who work so hard to normalise the private property society, the extraction of surplus value from other people’s labour and land, and to rationalize the wars fought to achieve it, are as operated by the system as the rest of us. This is the system of abstract categories within which ‘politics’ and ‘state’ operate as imaginaries, along with many others including ‘religion’ and ‘the economy’, and the processes of reification that make the system of abstract ideas appear like an objective and independent reality.
‘Politics’ as an imaginary domain of what we take as the real world of power relations tricks us through its discursively operated multi-referents, and its flexible chamaleon-like character. I will show these in detail as I proceed. It also has various sub-rhetorical devices such as the fictional right-centre-left spectrum that operates to strengthen the illusion that politics has substance, form and boundaries. I will show how the illusion generated by rhetoric on politics and ‘political action’ is recycled and reinforced by the allocations of largely fictional positions along this imaginary centre-right-left spectrum. There is no better media weapon for confusing us, limiting our self-expression, and controlling our representations than the game of attributing left, far left, centre or moderate centre, loonie right, centre right, far right and ‘off the map’ positionality. To self-attribute a left, right or centre positionality is to reproduce a classification trap that can be best controlled by the powerful agents of the dominant discourse, ensure that nothing can change, and politics and the state remains the game of illusions that it is.
One aspect of the road I would need to traverse would be to show that our sense of ourselves as independent and autonomous agents, that is as Individuals, is actually constructed in part at least by the same configuration that constructs ‘politics’ and ‘the state’, alongside a whole range of other fictions, such as ‘religion’ or ‘the economy’. Here there is a problem, because if our sense of our own subjectivity and agency is a fiction, or at least much different from what we take it to be in our everyday agency, and no more real than the world of politics about which we constantly talk, then who can take responsibility and who can act to change the situation?
Categories are highly abstract operators that work systematically and yet largely unconsciously to organise our thinking and our perceptions. They operate in thought to produce powerful results, in particular a reality that appears objectively concrete and ‘in the nature of things’, and a distinct and independent subject who does the perceiving.
Politics and the system of modern categories in which this term is embedded construct a specific kind of subjective consciousness and a particular kind of apparently objective, material or natural reality. It construes a particular sense of what it means to be ‘human’, to be an Individual, to have or to participate in a ‘human nature’, a ‘society’, or a ‘political structure’, to mention a few of the abstractions that fill the rhetorical void. It also invents ‘nature’ or ‘material reality’ for which, as we will see, there are no possible observations. Nobody has ever seen ‘nature’ or ‘matter’, and they do not refer to any identifiable and observable reality that is not already captured by the circular system of categories. It is my intention to show how categories operate together in an extensive system that frames and directs experience, tells us what to see and what not to see, and conditions those organisms that we can more generally refer to as human persons into a specific form of subjectivity.
I cannot therefore avoid making an early distinction between the Individual as an ideological fiction and a metaphysical abstraction in which we place our faith, and individuals in the sense of human persons who exist concretely in a matrix of relationships, with identities conferred through mainly face-to-face procedures of recognition and identity. While there will always be a mystery about consciousness, we can attempt to strip away the mystification of consciousness brought about by abstractions that we mistakenly take to have an independent and objective existence. The idea of the Individual that exists in its own pristine ontological independence, the bearer of ‘natural rights’, the private owner of property, the Self-Maximiser owing nothing to society, is at the heart of our alienation. These fictitious abstractions ‘nature’, ‘natural’, ‘society’ and ‘Individual’ are big players in the collective construction of our modern liberal delusions. Like ‘politics’ and ‘the state’, ‘nature’ and ‘Individual’ have no actual referents, but are metaphysical inventions that alienate us from the actual relationships that constitute us as persons. It is the operation of these abstract categories, reified by law and violence into faith postulates of modern consciousness, which I intend to scrutinise.
I begin with politics because it is a term that conveys human agency and power. We are repeatedly told that it is through something called politics or political action that we change the conditions of our existence, and determine what kind of a world we will live in. Through our political activism, we can change the workings of the State. Some people claim that we can overthrow the ‘State’ by political action. This is an illusion because the idea of politics and the idea of the state in the modern sense were both invented at the same time to mean virtually the same thing, which is government representing male property interests. All our institutions lean decisively towards the protection of private property rights, including the law and the organs of propaganda such as the media. And yet it is our addiction to the discourse on politics and its illusions of democracy that is leading us to deeper and deeper confusion, not to any kind of liberation.
Much of what we experience as our own agency and autonomy as sovereign Individuals is an obfuscation made to seem undeniably veridical by the operation of the configuration of categories themselves. I intend to show how this works. What ontological status can we attribute to these very general and abstract ideas that seem so concrete and undeniably necessary? ‘Economics’, as in ‘the national economy’, is another fiction inseparable from politics and the state. These abstract reifications operate us systematically, and one aspect of their operation is to generate the illusion that we operate them, that we deploy them with conscious intent. This is the illusion of the sovereign Individual, and yet it is a collective illusion. And it is this illusion of inherent private right that most powerfully grips those whose main goal in life is the accumulation of property, which since the 17th century has become our main concept of personal salvation.
This account seems gloomy, because it suggests that we have no control over what we do, no freedom to choose, and that we are trapped (if there exists any substantive agent to be trapped) in chains of causally conditioned existence, or in programmes of images, concepts and stories, based in memory and endlessly repeated in a range of varied editions, that operate us behind the scenes and generate our delusions of agency. In some respects like robots, we are programmed, and part of our programming is the idea that we are autonomous agents, that is to say, sovereign Individuals. We experience ourselves as subjects existing within an objective environment, as inner consciousness looking out onto an external world. This sense of separation may in some sense be universal, yet it is consolidated and reified by the ideology of the private Individual and his or her solipistic isolation. The organic relationships that at every moment sustain us are fragmented in consciousness by the priorities of our institutionalised values, our legal systems, most of what we read and hear in the media, our career expectations, and our acceptance of private property accumulation as the road to our personal salvation. We can and do suffer, and we can and do experience occasional elation and pleasure, but the ‘we’ or the ‘me’ that suffers or that experiences elation and pleasure is mixed with fiction.
There is no final resolution in thought to this paradox, and we have to assume agency and subjectivity of some modest kind if anything is to make any sense at all. There are some categories that arguably we cannot survive without and that need to be rescued from the dominant rhetoric on politics, religion, economics and the state: human persons, democracy in the sense of a generalised equality, a basic human morality of love and compassion based on the actuality of our mutual organic dependencies, and a collective instinct for survival. We require those categories that allow for collective and individual self-critique. We are after all human persons, but we are not Individuals in the abstract fictional sense of modern liberal and neoliberal ideology. We exist in relationship, and the abstract Individual of modern liberalism is actually a denial of the relationships that make us human persons. Thus, a central and fundamental contradiction of modern liberal ideology is the fiction of the sovereign Individual that owes nothing to society.
By the two-faced term ‘society’, I here refer to the abstract and alienating ‘society’ that in modern ideology substitutes for the concrete face-to-face relationships that make us human, which was the predominant meaning of ‘society’ before the Age of Reason and the invention of Sociology. The problem with discourses on ‘society’ and ‘societies’ is that they have become yet another mediating buffer of reification standing between people, like ‘the state’ or ‘the nation’ or ‘the economy’. In one kind of discourse within sociology, Society is a genus instantiated by various species, ‘societies’. These are often placed along imaginary developmental models, where there exist no clear criteria for deciding what ‘development’ means. Then there is also the Utilitarian idea of society as merely the collection of Individuals on which liberal (classical and neoclassical) theoretical models of ‘the economy’ are based. Here we have the empty abstraction ‘society’ made up of equally abstract ‘Self-Maximising Individuals’. We are closer to the heart of liberal and neoliberal political economy than seems possible. These fictions are at the base of the models of Neoclassical economics that generally direct the economic policies of the ministers of finance and the biggest financial institutions. These ideas, mistaken by the politicians and their economic advisors as the ‘really real’, led to a great deal of guesswork that failed to predict what actually happened in 2007 or the large earlier crashes of which there have been many since classical and neoclassical models were invented. Economic forecasts and models seem to have a hit-or-miss relation to observation and experience, and yet ‘managing the economy’ is the most important responsibility for government. Economic decision-making is presented as though it is an objective science, rather than the tactical and strategic defence of substantial property interests. The policy of ‘austerity’ for example, which was born from the logic of Neoclassical economics, has not reduced private debt, and while it has saved wealthy financial investors and bankers from massive losses, and has even rewarded them for what were sometimes illegal activities, the rest of us have had to bear the consequences. Austerity has resulted in savage cuts to social services and support for children, the disabled, the old, and for a generation of young women and men. As if being burdened by mortgage debt was not to set up a family home, now increasing numbers of students must incur further debt to pay tuition fees if they want to go to university. If ‘austerity’ is the consequence of the dominant concept of economic science, then it seems to have more to do with the punishment of the indebted poor, the administering of a shock for the middle classes working to pay off household mortgages, and a special hatred of the unpropertied. It has little to do with objectively rational and beneficial ways to produce, distribute and consume in the common interest.
Rights cannot belong to such fictions as Individuals, but only to human persons in relationships. Rights, like duties, if they are to have any meaning, have to be embedded in actual relationships in which both or all parties are mutually empowered. The system of categories that function to generate the entrepreneur, the sovereign self-maximiser, the isolated accumulating self (typically male) that has no responsibility for what he perceives as merely an ‘external world’ waiting passively to be worked on, is a serious and dangerous thought-distortion. Actually there is no ‘external world’. There is no world external to us.
My existence as a human person is located in the network of relationships in which, day-by-day, minute-by-minute or second-by-second I am embedded. These are partners, families, friends, neighbourhoods, local shop keepers or supermarket checkout operators, workplaces, cooperatives, near or distant mutual aid communities, virtual or face-to-face meditation, dance or discussion groups, food banks, and wherever human solidarity can be made tangible and communication more direct and personal. The supposed relationship of the fictional sovereign Individual to the fictional sovereign State is mediated by the fiction of ‘politics’ and the fiction of ‘markets’. To this extent, we live in a world of fictions that has been collectively constructed as reality. It is only by recovering an un-reified human person of relationships unmediated by the state and politics (and a range of other misleading abstractions such as ‘the economic conditions of society’ or ‘the national interest’) that the main source of violent disorder of the world can be identified.
The category ‘morality’ is a case in point. Morality fits poorly in the world of ‘political and economic science’ where it is marginalised as ‘subjective belief’, in contrast to the supposed objective factuality of science. By claiming that the national economy is the fundamental concern of politics, and that economics is a factual science, then the over-riding interests of corporate accumulation are disguised as the unavoidable and objectively necessary condition for recovery for ‘the nation’. It is as though the national economy is simply there to be worked on by the experts on ‘our’ behalf, rather in the way that a mechanic works on refitting the brakes of a car on behalf of the owner. However, unlike a car waiting for repairs in a garage, the ‘national economy’ does not come into observable view. This is because the ‘economy’, ‘the national economy’, and ‘the nation’ are all abstractions invented as part of the myth of secular modernity.
Morality is a very general category with a wide range of possible meanings. Surely, there are many moralities, and all morality is relative. However, there is a credible description of a common human moral sense, despite the vast diversity of human forms of life, and despite many differences in language, cosmology, historical and geo-strategic conditions, degrees of hierarchy, construals of gender, kinship terminology, different customs of exchange, and forms of the order of power. A moral sense of approximate equality and solidarity in relationships and in mutual support tends to exist in most, if not all, human communities. It is the sense of mutuality that prexisted the development of complex, hierarchical power formations and arguably persists within those complex formations, and even within liberal capitalism institutions themselves. This practice of mutuality is similar to David Graeber’s theorisation of a “baseline communism” as the “basis for all human social life” explored in his book Debt: the First 5000 Years. ‘Communism’ is not necessarily the best word for it, because the term is caught up in many decades of anti-Soviet propaganda. Communism is frequently placed on the extreme ‘left’ of the fictional spectrum, in contrast to the sane tolerance of liberal democracy that is assumed to lie in the ‘centre’. But the characteristics identified by Graeber, such as a generalised sense of equality, of sharing and mutual support that occurs as a matter of course both in day-to-day life and also in the eruption of a common threat such as an eathquake or famine, are salient indicators of a basic form of solidarity in human relations.
I am positioned as a British citizen living in Spain and therefore a member of the European Union. I am writing on a website located in the USA. I am potentially addressing a very wide range of people in western countries that have a past legacy of colonial domination and military power. These countries in Europe and North America allegedly have great wealth, though few of us have any contact with it, since most of it is accumulated in the ownership of a surprisingly small number of people in inaccessible places. Apart from the occasional sightings in the media, our main connection to their wealth is our debt. However, my ‘location’ is part of an even wider global network, in two senses. One, not only do people in Europe and North America have access to this webpage, but so do people in many different countries, many of them past colonies of Euro-America. Second, my own family, like millions of others, is in a sense global. My wife is Japanese, my son (who is bilingual) lives in Scotland and my daughter (also bilingual) lives in Australia. This scattering of what was our family is unexceptional, and more the result of the struggle to survive, to find work, to stay connected to other loved ones, than ‘free choice’, which is a dubious concept in a world controlled by and for 1% or less of the global population.
This internationalism or global movement of people is not new and arguably is inherent in the movement of capital by way of the global banking systems in the looting of colonial sites. An insecure, poor and mobile workforce has long been a condition for capital accumulation since the Enclosures of common land in the 16th century. But it has reached a size and instability that threatens the sovereign nation state, one of the defining imaginaries of modernity invented to control populations under laws of private property. Instead, we have an accumulation of trans-national states, organisations and displaced persons. This threat to the on-going powers and relevance of the mythical nation state, its essentializing divisiveness, its mobilization for war, and its characteristic emotion of patriotic devotion, is only regrettable because it is dangerous for human persons to be stateless, especially those of us with little or no property. The modern secular constitutional nation state is one of the fictions of modernity; it confers part of our identity; and without a passport one is a non-person in this unstable world, as is too well understood by stateless refugees. Only some of this global movement of people is relatively benign. Much of what we call globalism takes the form of organised people-trafficking for prostitution and pedophilia, sweated labour and wage slavery, a permanent refugee crisis and extreme poverty, the trashing of regional identities, the destruction of village communities and the growth of hideous cities and towns, and insecurity and misery for vast numbers of people.
We can see all of this quite clearly, and yet we cannot see it. The violence inherent in this global system of chaos is obvious and evident, and yet paradoxically it is disguised quite effectively, misdirected, avoided, evaded, and put on the margins of awareness. We are admonished for being too negative and ignoring all the supposed advances of the human spirit, and the progress that is slowly going to create a wonderful world. We should stop complaining. The propaganda power of the media misdirects the attention of the citizens of the wealthy nations, and places responsibility on the shoulders of the victims. The universities and the academics who work in them are complicit in this misdirection. All the institutionalised practices that act to disguise the immediacy of our shared problems operate according to a common system of categories that we subjectively internalise.
This is the system that creates these problems by way of the largely unconscious association of one term with another, and with clusters of other terms that stand in for them in a circular deferral of meaning. This automatic system of associations is elided such that each term appears in consciousness as deriving its own meaning from its objective referentiality. The actuality of our mutual dependencies is marginalised through the operation of fictional representations that make us believe we are the sole originators of the conditions of our own existence. It is in our ‘nature’ to compete, predate, accumulate, and to fill our isolation with private property. In circular fashion, success is the sign of right. An implication of these representations, one that is often made explicit, is that those who spend their lives looking after others instead of pursuing their own interests are failures who have not fulfilled their own rational potential. To be fully rational, and perhaps fully human, is to be in quantifiable credit. To be a debtor is a sign of bad character, a failure. If all value is derived from the mediation of relationships with things, then to have nothing is to be nothing, to have no value. This is the system of categories that frames and operates the rhetorical constructs of politicians, entrepreneurs, financiers, the CEO’s of corporations, the owners and editors of the media, and also the ordinary propertyless people who are assaulted by indebtedness every day. The language of credit and debt confuses our moral sense by insinuating that the most ruthless creators of debt traps for the vulnerable are those who deserve the greatest prestige and even gratitude. Our institutions are organised and managed according to these categories, including education, the media, the NGO’s, the banks and financial institutions, the public relations industry, and the private corporations (though what is not a private corporation today?). The universities and their knowledge production are organised according to this system of categories, and reproduces them uncritically.
It is a truism that we live in a tightly inter-related world, and that people everywhere are deeply interdependent. Yet we are divided and turned against each other in a multitude of ways, such that our shared interests in a just, rational and equitable system of global production and distribution appears impossible and unrealistic, the utopian dreams of immature minds. I have mentioned the fictional left-right-centre spectrum that is deployed so effectively to give the appearance of substance, form and boundaries to ‘politics’. Politics and the state, which were invented by and for men of substantial property to represent their interests and to police the property laws that protect them, appears as a fixed spectrum of rational possibilities outside of which lies only madness, eccentricity, or a dangerous refusal to talk adult sense. Any moral position that those who control public communications classify as outside the left-right-centre spectrum can be made to seem wildly out-of-court and even irresponsible. This sub-system that constructs politics along a right-left-centre spectrum is effective because it is integrated into a much wider system of displacements, substitutions and binary oppositions that disguise the operation of the system itself. Gender and race categories operate in subjective consciousness and public rhetoric in similar ways, as sub-systems that feed the illusions of fixed essential nature. We are being played, but we imagine we are playing the game.
We can think of it as a system of signs in an automatic signalling system. It is the system of categories to which I refer that needs to be deconstructed if we are to reach any collective realization that we do not have to live in the way that we do. This system of categories is internalised through upbringing and schooling, forming and directing our subjective apprehensions, and transformed into common sense reality – the way the world is – by the rhetoric of politicians and other agencies of propaganda, such as the advertising and schooling industries.
Advertising is an inherent part of useless consumption, which in turn is needed to keep debtors in debt and creditors in credit. Advertising and lying are not associated merely occasionally, tangentially and by accident. Advertising is the art of lying. Is it immature utopianism, a childish refusal to face reality, to believe that the organised deception of the advertising and public relations industries should be illegal? What sane society would allow an industry that consciously, and by dishonest design, deploys trickery to fool people into buying things that they do not need and that does harm to our collective lives, solely to make profits for a special class of shareholders? There have been effective scholarly analyses of the advertising industry and its origins in older traditions of propaganda; yet a moment’s personal reflection on the way we are bombarded by false messaging should be enough to make obvious the institutionalisation and normalisation of a culture of lying and deceit. Why do we put up with it? Some readers may feel the question to be naïve and boorish, but it is that question which I am concerned to answer.
My purpose is not to attribute ‘blame’ for some and ‘exoneration’ for the rest of us. While it is true that I sometimes need the term ‘class’ for a critical analysis, I do not think we can achieve a classless society by reifying and essentialising the class attributes of human persons. George Soros belongs to the class of obscenely wealthy people, but he is not essentially different from me, for we are both human persons. We are all implicated in the system. I am in principle the consumer who goes shopping with a credit card for clothes made by people working in even worse conditions than me. I do not see this as a battle between good (us poor people) and evil (those wealthy people). My concern is to develop a language and an approach to the critical deconstruction of a system of signs that creates collective illusions and operates various mechanisms that confuse us and makes liberalism seem benign and generous.
The dominant forms of our relationships and our communications are crucial issues for our global survival. Yet, much of our communication systems operate primarily to host these advertising specialists whose main purpose is to promote unnecessary forms of consumption, engender feelings of inadequacy, and conceal from the consumer the true costs of the products in terms of labour conditions, degradation of shared organic resources, and indebtedness. Our institutions are formed according to this system of dishonest private property accumulation, policed by laws and ultimately by violence. Such irrational behaviour can only be made to seem normal, inevitable and unchangeable because we are all programmed in our thinking and unable to think outside the system and the limits it sets. It is this system of categories that operates our thinking, and inhibits the collective realization of a unified humanity with common goals through fragmentation, division and stupefaction.
Private property accumulation appears in subjective consciousness as a natural right and also as unavoidable common sense. Serving ones own interests, that is to say the interests of the sovereign Individual, is the way of ‘nature’ – and ‘nature’ is one of the most dangerous and illusory categories in our system. ‘Nature’ and ‘natural’ are misleading terms with great flexibility that can be rhetorically associated with reason, politics, economics, science, liberty, secularism and progress in the generation of the illusion we call reality. This ideology of private property accumulation as the rational part of our ‘nature’ was largely invented in the Enlightenment, along with narratives of liberty, liberation, liberal democracy and scientific reason. Utilitarianism has been and still is a prime exemplification of ‘liberal values’ and ‘liberation’ by way of instrumental reason. All of these terms are greatly misleading, as I will show. The absurdity of the idea that ‘liberty’ and ‘progress’ from the supposedly backward past of religious superstition or pre-scientific logic can be achieved for all by way of white male private property accumulation is protected from rational scrutiny by the way it is institutionalised and by the way it operates in consciousness. It might seem ‘normal’ until one considers that the vast majority of human communities have had customary, ritual or legal mechanisms to protect them from this kind of danger.
The system of categories that contributes to form us as conscious agents is uncritically reproduced in all our institutions, whether these are classified as political, religious, secular, economic, educational, legal, civil, or social. In fact, this list is itself a segment of the wide list of categories to which I am referring. All these terms have their own characteristic modes of operation in relation to all the others with which they are associated in thought and rhetoric; they are each highly problematic both in their internal constitution and in their mutually parasitic movement. Furthermore, this system of categories operates me, yet generates the illusion that I operate the system. This is the myth of the naturally self-maximising Individual, the autonomous world-conquering agent finding his rational essence in markets, in decisive self-maximising interventions, in private ownership of anything and everything.
The general categories that operate our thinking are collectively generated. We do not invent them as individuals, just as we do not invent our shared language and its grammatical structures. The origins of language are outside the scope or competence of this author. It is not, however, outside our collective or individual competence to critically study the predominance of a range of abstract categories that have been rhetorically generated in narrative form, theorised by male ideologues and philosophers, institutionalised, and internalised historically during the Age of Reason and subsequently. Such a critical investigation into their historical invention is an important part of the project. However, today we have all received and internalised these ‘modern’ ways of thinking through our upbringing, our conditioning, our indoctrination in specific institutions such as the family or the school or the university, or through the everyday incessant manipulations of the media. We are caught in the paradox that, on the one hand, we need to understand the historical origins since the late 17th century of our ways of thinking in order to free ourselves from at least some of the most dangerous of them; and yet on the other hand we find that ‘history’ and ‘liberal historiography’ is a substantial part of the myth of the modern. The liberal invention of history is one of the key points at which the system encloses itself in its cycles of self-referential verification.
No single person owns the idea of ‘history’, or ‘politics’ or ‘the secular science of economics’ or ‘progress’ or ‘nature’ or ‘the sovereign nation state’. No single person owns the idea of ‘the Individual’. We inherited these abstractions collectively, and pass them on by word of mouth and through our institutionalised processes and systems. They form the bedrock of our school and university syllabi. Such ideas constitute us both individually and collectively. We imagine we are ‘parts of nature’ or ‘have natures’ or live in a ‘natural environment’. We believe in markets and in progress, even though these are abstractions that evade empirical observation. We are told endlessly that our problems are ‘economic’, and that sacrifices must be made in the interests of ‘the economy’ or ‘the nation’. Our identities and even our claims to be human are determined considerably by our membership of imagined entities called ‘secular societies’ and ‘sovereign secular nation states’. To critically challenge a range of terms that appear to us as ‘natural’ and that define our normal discourse is to critically challenge both our collective sense of reality and our own subjectivity.
Similarly the project ventured here must be done by each and yet cannot be done by only one person, and demands a collective energy and commitment. I can therefore only hope that at least some readers will understand what I am trying to do and will lend me their critical ears and voices. I do not expect much intellectual or moral support from those academics who feel comfortable with the condition of our shared world, or who, while conceding that we do have some serious problems of survival, nevertheless also believe that it is enough to wait for the solutions to appear in the course of events. I feel compelled to proceed.
The danger of a nuclear holocaust is so obviously imminent, and many of the people who control great power in our world so evidently driven by a puerile fixation on private accumulation at all costs, that a collective change to the way we conceptualise and configure our relationships, our values and our systems is urgently needed. The claim that it is a juvenile or out-of-court ‘conspiracy theory’ that the persistent wars and military interventions that are turning the whole globe into a sink of misery is not connected to the private ownership of the weapons industry seems an inadequate response to any reasonably intelligent person. Of course we know this. Why then do we allow it to happen? Why do we accept the ugly brutality of private corporations as ‘juridical Individuals’ at all? These are lethal, anti-democratic, legalised machines for the extraction of surplus value from other peoples land and labour globally. Ultimately it is control of the superior means of violence in defence of such interests that protects them. Yet my issue is with the hegemonic illusions that make this violence appear legitimate in the first place. We are caught in a system of categories that operates to short-circuit our clear and steady vision, confuses our collective discussions, obscures our shared interests, fragments our solidarities, and divides us against each other. It does this through the dazzling refractions of empty signs, through a circular system of mutually-confirming categories that operates by way of abstractions and fictions.
A quick Google search on the dangers of environmental catastrophe due to global warming led me immediately to this 2014 New York Times report on how rising sea levels are already endangering millions of people in Bangladesh:
“DAKOPE, Bangladesh — When a powerful storm destroyed her riverside home in 2009, Jahanara Khatun lost more than the modest roof over her head. In the aftermath, her husband died and she became so destitute that she sold her son and daughter into bonded servitude. And she may lose yet more.” NY Times, 28 March 2014, [https://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/29/world/asia/facing-rising-seas-bangladesh-confronts-the-consequences-of-climate-change.html]
This matter-of-fact reportage, perhaps tinged with a faint note of regret, by a powerful media agency has the effect of normalising poverty and bonded servitude. It is tragically ‘in the nature of things’ and there is nothing that can be done about it. If the warnings being made by the relevant experts are correct, then there is the likelihood that large parts of the world will become unliveable for humans in a few decades. Not everyone who disputes the role of humans in causing these environmental problems is disingenuous and motivated by self-interest. There is always room for rational debate, provided that what is deemed ‘rational’ is not confined to my own private self-interest or the interests of the most powerful investors. However, even if the causes of rising sea levels, floods and droughts are complex and elusive, a change to less exploitative forms of technology with greater democratic oversight and participation can anyhow bring great benefits and help to insure us from the risks. This is surely obvious to many people. The problem is that technology is largely driven by private corporations and by states serving ‘the economy’, meaning private interests and profits at all costs, and has little if anything to do with democracy, humane and sensible governance, or the rational production, distribution and consumption of goods. It has far more to do with bonded labour and an equally indifferent attitude to our mother earth, the organic matrix that has brought us all into being.
Perhaps the fundamental danger stems from increasingly authoritarian dictatorship by private corporations and billionaires who now control most if not all of our institutions and resources. At some point people around the world will need to share these resources to survive, and probably that point is now. Yet this is impossible under the hegemonic protection of the primary ownership rights of fictitious individuals juridically classed as corporations. Dangers of corporate ownership also stem from advances in technology such as AI, robotics, cybernetics and genetic engineering, again typically driven by the interests of private ownership rather than by a rational approach to species survival and well-being. The fanatical religion of technology is disguised behind the mythemes of secular scientific progress. I make this rhetorical point to indicate the flexibility of these stretched categories.
How is it that we are dominated by such obviously irrational systems of technological resource allocation? How is it that the supposed efficiencies in resource allocation promised by liberal and neoliberal political economy results in such obvious inefficiencies and waste? How is it that we can continue to believe in liberal political economy when the evidence is so obviously contradictory? And why do we persist with the obvious irrationality of private property accumulation as the dominant orthodox dogma of salvation?
A significant part of my argument will be that the secular liberal categories of the understanding that appear so self-evident and unavoidable to us (for example politics, economics, religion, nation state, nature, science, the ‘environment’, private property, markets, Individuals, liberal democracy, liberty, progress, secularity, and many others that I will discuss critically in the following sections), far from being neutral and useful ways of thinking about the world, are more like malicious software corrupting our ability to think about our shared problems rationally. These categories work as a system that globally dominates the public rhetoric of politicians and media, that embeds elitist masculinist values as though they are and ought to be universal fundamentals of all human life, that drives the policy agendas of private corporations and the governments that serve them, and which also frames the academic discourses of our universities. As such, they require urgent and radical critical attention.
These categories operate like signs in an automatic signalling system. Each one of these terms is highly problematic when put under critical scrutiny, and turns out to have no clear and stable meaning. Their power derives from their great flexibility and their systematic inter-relations. They organise thinking as a system of largely empty signs that fire off against each other in binary formations, substitutions and mutually-parasitic oppositions that, as a system, constructs a world of fictions and faith postulates that we mistake for reality, the everyday common sense nature of things.
Liberal academics can no longer pretend that we are merely the innocent producers of neutral and objective knowledge. Though many liberal academics acknowledge the importance of epistemological critique, and some of us teach it, we still efface ourselves from our texts and publish to promote our careers and not primarily to commit ourselves to truthfulness. If we did, we would not endlessly edit, cut and paste our funding applications to fit the themes and topics that we tactically judge to be the winners of the day. We might even lose our jobs. Many semi-employed post-doctoral students, who have successfully defended their doctoral theses under the supervision of a senior professor or panel of examiners, have been forced to hang on to one semester teaching contracts by leaving their own intellectual principles outside the seminar room door. Though some university faculties run courses on ‘critical theory’, these typically challenge nothing in the way our universities are organised. They are more likely to add to the illusions that form liberal subjectivities and embed liberal categories even further into our naturalised presuppositions. Courses on Derrida or Foucault – both highly intelligent and interesting people – may seem daringly radical but the myths embedded in the disciplinary structures of our universities remain largely unchallenged, while the illusion that we live in liberal regimes that value free speech and critical thinking is strengthened. University CEO’s and corporate managers, operating top-down anti-democratic command structures, and transforming education into consumer markets, might possibly tolerate a few courses on Wolstencroft, Proudhon, Marx, Bakunin, de Beauvoir or Heidegger, provided they get the enrolment numbers and the fees. In practice we academics are deeply implicated in the reproduction of uncritical ways of thinking – for our own survival. Liberal Individualism and the fictions of liberal political economy are designed to normalise a set of private interests that appear subjectively as our common priorities.
I mentioned the dangers of nuclear catastrophe, of extreme environmental degradation, and of authoritarian government. The governments of liberal democracies claim to represent freedom and democracy, yet they act in the interests of private corporations and billionaires under the slogan of ‘the national economy’ or ‘growth of GDP’. The Liberal (and sometimes Christian) Democracies of Europe and America, with our self-representations of progress and ‘development’, have been involved in endless war and massive destruction of other people’s countries throughout the 20th century, and this still continues into the 21st century since 9/11 with the invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and constant belligerent threats to Iran and other countries. The mutual alliance between corporate interests, in oil or weapons for example, and the activities of secret agencies deliberately destabilising other countries and their governments is well known and well-researched, and there is a large mass of serious investigation that is published and available. It is not my intention to add to this literature. I do not hope to be able to convince academic readers, mainstream media anchors or expert commentators, who are derisive at what they consider to be childish ‘conspiracy theories’, and who feel themselves to be mature adults confronted by adolescents. These elitist and paternalistic presuppositions are embedded in the system itself. It is one of the rhetorical mechanisms for closing the system from the threat of effective democracy.
While there is always room for serious debate, the evidence for the actuality of at least some of these dangers and at least some of these conspiracies is well-researched and plentiful, and I merely state them and do not intend to hold anybody’s hand and present the literature to them, except in the course of analysing a relevant report or author in the attempt to show the working of this signalling system that is buried in multiple texts. Much and perhaps most serious investigative journalism, for example on the 9/11 events, is now done outside the mainstream media, and there is a mass of evidence that is easily available in the alternative on-line news-desks, libraries of videos, books and articles. If any reader chooses not to believe that the CIA has regularly acted since its foundation to start wars, support vicious dictators, and violently destroy the modest hopes of billions of ordinary people in many countries around the world, all in ‘the national interest’, sometimes transposed into the rhetoric of the destiny of Eurocentric civilization against the supposed barbarisms of everyone else, then there is nothing I can do about it. If any reader still believes that 9/11 was not itself a conspiracy and must have happened according to the official narratives, then that is their choice.
If some academics persist in thinking that their specialised production of knowledge, and the institutions they draw their salaries from, are not implicated in the (at least tacit) normalisation of our shared problems, then I anticipate you will feel annoyed at my arguments. The incessant misery inflicted on people throughout the world by the weapons manufacturers, by ruthless private interests and the corrupt politicians who serve them, by drone surveillance and state murders, by the arrogant misrule of secret service organisations, and by the misinformation of the media, seems less like a conspiracy theory and more the evident actuality. What are the mechanisms of mystification? That is my concern. The universities and the liberal fictions that sustain them are one of the most significant sources of legitimation and normalization of our shared illusions.
Many of us know this about our history, turn away in embarrassment but do not know what to do. Liberal academia and what sometimes looks like disingenuous complacency is part of our problem. Yet many academics privately are deeply concerned, and yet are understandably inhibited from directly articulating a critique because they fear they will be targeted and lose their jobs. I am in principle as much part of this problem as anyone else and I have been lucky in my working life to have had colleagues with as much and more awareness of these problems as me. I am no moral exemplar. Yet at the same time I know how few of those same colleagues would attend a union meeting and how many would cross a picket line. This suggests that some think there is no case for solidarity, even if we are rushing towards catastrophe. Unfortunately the majority of academics who read the first few lines of this text will, perhaps from deep scepticism, or from a sense of impotence, refuse to persist with my argument. Our own careers and the security of our families are too important. We have mortgages and school fees to pay. We feel trapped, probably in debt, and there is nothing for it but to continue day-by-day in the hope that things will turn around.
Still, there are probably an increasing number of academics who realise that we live with dangerous illusions that are blindly and uncritically reproduced by the politicians and the media – our questionable belief that we live in a democracy that reflects the will of the people, that our institutions are widely representative, that our governments are there to look after us and have our best interests at heart, that multi-millionaire private property accumulation is perfectly normal and sensible, that we invade other people’s countries to ‘advance democracy’ or under the unavoidable compulsion of ‘geo-strategic realities’, that when a few people get unthinkably wealthy we all benefit and should feel grateful to them as benefactors, that banks and finance companies lend us money not to mire us in private debt but to help us have a better life, that we have a free and honest media giving us the facts, that public relations and advertising companies honestly investigate and communicate in good faith to help us make good choices, that search engines primarily exist to assist us be better informed, and that ordinary people are in control of their own destinies. My concern, like that of many others – in the Marxist and anarchist traditions of critical thinking, for example – is with the question how such delusions are sustained. My concern is that ‘isms’ that have originated over the last two centuries – liberalism, socialism, conservatism, fascism, national socialism, and even anarchism – have been formulated around many of the same paradigmatic categories that constitute the myths on which capitalism is founded. My project is to destabilise as many of these abstract fictions that constitute the myths of modern secular progress as possible. I believe this will have the effect of unravelling a skein of fictional abstractions that operate to maintain the appearance of a ‘real objective world’ behind which over-riding powerful interests can be disguised, or partly concealed, or accepted as inevitable.
A note on references: methodologically I find myself dependent on the scholarship of a wide range of writers in different disciplines, yet at the same time need to critically evaluate the operation of the same system of categories in their texts. Even Marx, Engels and Lenin, in their seminal critiques of political economy, still framed their thinking in terms of secular scientific progress from the religious superstitions of the past. So does Mussolini, whose criticism of liberal Individualism in The Doctrine of Fascism (1932) is framed to a considerable extent in terms of the same configuration of modern categories that have made Liberal Individualism seem so convincing. For this brief introductory summary, I offer only a sample of references, a few relevant works that I am currently or have recently been reading in various different disciplines and that feed into the general argument. Many more detailed references appear in my previously published work on the same and related themes, and more will appear in following sections.
Berger, Peter, The Social Reality of Religion (published as The Sacred Canopy, 1968), 1973
Berger, Peter (ed) The Desecularisation of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics, 1999
Bossy, John, ‘Some Elementary Forms of Durkheim’, Past and Present, 1982, No 95, 3-18
Chomsky, Noam & Edward S. Herman, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (1988)
Engels, F. The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State: In the Light of the Researches of Lewis H. Morgan (1884)
Graeber, David, Debt: the First 5000 Years (2011)
Harvey, David, Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism (2014)
Harvey, David, A Brief History of Neoliberalism (2005)
Hayek, Friedrich, The Road to Serfdom (1944)
Hudson, Michael, Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Destroy the Global Economy, (2015)
Keen, Steve, Debunking Economics (2001)
Linklater, Andro, Owning the Earth: the transforming history of land ownership, (2013)
Locke, John, Two Treatises on Government (1690?)
Locke, John, A Letter Concerning Toleration (1689)
Marx, Karl Theses on Feuerbach, Thesis XI, (1845) Marx/Engels Selected Works, Volume One, p. 13 – 15, Progress Publishers, Moscow, USSR, 1969; accessed at Marx/Engels Internet Archive (marxists.org)
Mirowski, Philip, and Plehwe, Dieter, (eds) The Road from Mont Pèlerin: The Making of the Neoliberal Thought Collective. (Cambridge, US: Harvard University Press, 2009.)
Montesquieu, Spirit of Laws, trans Thomas Nugent (1752), revised by J. V. Prichard, published in 1914 by G. Bell & Sons, Ltd., London. Constitution Society
Mussolini, Benito, The Doctrine of Fascism (1932), World Future Fund
Polanyi, Karl, The Great Transformation (1944)
Proudhon, Pierre-Joseph. What is Property? Or, an Inquiry into the Principle of Right and of Government (1840)
Sheldrake, Rupert, “Setting Science Free From Materialism”, Explore, July/August 2013, Vol. 9, No. 4, 211-218 [http://www.sheldrake.org/files/pdfs/explore-Materialism.2013.pdf] Accessed on 29 April, 2016
Stack, T, N. Goldenberg and T. Fitzgerald (eds) Religion as a Category of Governance and Sovereignty, (Leiden: Brill, 2015)
Wolin, Sheldon S. Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and
the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism, (Princeton & Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2008)
Available at [http://cryptome.org/2013/01/aaron-swartz/Democracy-Inc.pdf] accessed on 29 May, 2016
For informed research on 9/11:
“September 11 – The New Pearl Harbor (Full version) – Part 1 of 3” (NRUN65)
[also see NRUN for a wide collection of videos assessing the evidence for the official version of 9/11:
https://www.youtube.com/user/NRUN65/videos (posted 25 June 2016; accessed 9 Sept 2017)
David Ray Griffin 2008 “Was America Attacked by Muslims on 9/11?” (posted on 911 TVOrg, 8 2015 accessed 14 September, 2017)
© 2017 Timothy Fitzgerald. All Rights Reserved.