Monday, August 1, 2011
Capitalism and the demiurge
The parallel between the Gnostic demiurge (essentially a selfish, egotistic senex god) and the late capitalist cultural complex (where a similar god reigns) is on my mind. Capitalism as embodying a cultural complex is the more important idea here, I think. Following Max Weber (The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism) individualism is a large part of the capitalist vision. The elect, chosen, saved comprise a subset of individuals (a relatively small number, and growing smaller as wealth concentrates). But unlike Weber, late capitalism seems to have given up on the possibility of transcendence, and in revenge against an absent god has chosen to take his place, to wall in Eden and indulge in intense pleasure in order to distract itself from the "horror" outside the gates. This image is almost exactly the same as the Gnostic demiurge hidden in cloud by his mother Sophia after she recognized the barrenness of her parthenogenic offspring. There sits the false god, unable to see beyond his estate though all powerful within it.