Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Negation Aspiration vol. 76

What do we think society is? A relationship between people, perhaps, especially one characterised by a mutual interest in each other's well-being. Less abstractly, something manifested in institutions such as schools, hospitals, churches – the things that enable people, in general, to live lives that matter to them. It's the thing that – in favour of individuals and their families – Margaret Thatcher tried to deny. 
 But this is not necessarily what society is. Society isn't a relationship, mediated through institutions. Society is a thing – a living thing. Specifically, society as we know it is a vast sea monster. The English Civil War-era political theorist Thomas Hobbes called this monster the Leviathan. Tentacled, oozing, always hungry – the Leviathan holds us together not out of any higher, finer sentiments, but simply because it needs to extract value from us in order to grow. If we are to believe Hobbes, then in the earliest years of humanity our leaders signed a contract with this Leviathan, binding our wills to it in exchange for security – a sort of primal protection racket. And since then we have remained its servants: half-choked, sick things unable to realise our true nature beyond the monster's grasp.

What the Paradise Papers Tell Us About Our Screwed Up Society

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