Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Day I Can't Buy Anything

Spent part of yesterday in the town’s single used book store. What was interesting there were two books by a French philosopher, and one about him. A lot about profit as surplus value, a theory that a demand on the part of capital holders to make profit for use of their money pushes economies to expand and progress indefinitely. More things made and done, more things bought and services used. Ultimately there is too much of things and services offered, so in times like ours there are wars to destroy all the surplus goods and kill the surplus service providers. Otherwise, the money has to be squandered in producing obviously useless goods and services. But in other times and places a surplus of capital was destroyed in ritual sacrifices, or in the hiding away of surplus producers in monasteries.

The capital investors are not aware of anything except their own individual activity, so no conspiracy theory is invoked. They just won’t give their money without profit. In time, profits decline, investment opportunities become scarce when there are too many goods and services, too few people to buy and use. Occasions for war arise, they are taken up, and everything goes well again, destroyed things need to be replaced, things of destruction need to be produced, numerous jobs in the professions of destruction made available.

The French philosopher writes in the second book about eroticism as freedom from taboo, as a kind of death to social restraint. Incest is forbidden because a male parent must give a girl away, must make a sacrifice of her when allowing her sexuality to be made use of by another family. The girl becomes a pure sexual object because she is desired by her family, and then that desire is “sacrificed” deliberately. Her purified sexuality is then an article of consumption by her husband in her new family.

This is supposed to be something good, in a way. Though the girl is a sexual object with trade value, at least her sexuality is freely expressed. By repressing it in relation to her family, it is freed with respect to her husband.

We can imagine a capitalist having a taboo in profiting from his money. As we know from reading Shakespeare, the relation between incest and usury is obvious and has been for centuries. We can let our money go, sacrifice it as tempting daughters protected by incest taboo are sacrificed to other families.

Now that was yesterday. Today everything in Be’er Sheva is closed, and will be closed until tomorrow morning. This is my third Sabbath here.

I am driven to buy something, can’t help myself. Can’t even buy the 2nd hand philosophy books!

How could the capitalists sacrifice their profits as the traditional peoples sacrifice the use of their taboo daughters? Get rid of all that surplus profit and get around the pooling of money, the production of unnecessary goods and services that leads to war?

The theory goes that capitalists have to have a lot of their profits taken from them by the state and returned to the people, so people have money to buy the products that capital investment produces. If the capitalists won’t allow this, even after being threatened by the examples such as the Soviet Union, of a government controlled economy in which their class has been made to disappear, then they might consider going back to school for retraining, learning to observe some taboos.

Something like this is what I am undergoing today. My daughter is the money in my pocket that the Sabbath taboos. I have to sacrifice the spending of it, even though I can hold onto it and use it another time in other circumstances, like the father sacrifices personal use of the sexuality of his daughter but gets to receive material compensation for losing her when she goes to her husband.

It is a nice idea, that what I do today is not only for god, but also goes to saving the world economy from useless production and saving us all from war.