Wednesday, June 17, 2020


Tablet Magazine


- I want to make a suggestion and see where it takes us.
- All right.
- James Buchanan's book The Calculus of Consent, said to be the bible of those who really hold power in our society, describes the government as a marketplace where the powerful compete to bribe the government to take policy decisions that serve their interest, without any concern with what may be ethically better or worse. Just like the economic marketplace is supposed when left to itself to benefit each individual, the political marketplace is supposed to magically benefit all.*  It's idiotic, I know.
- If your success depends on bribery it's nice to be told reason and natural law requires of you to corrupt the democratic process.
- Yeah. So my suggestion is this: Isn't identity politics similar? There obtains a sort of marketplace not of politics or economics, but communication: each identity group is not expected to explain or justify the rationality of its identifying behavior, yet each claims a right to have a share in power over the habits and institutions of communication. What do you think?
- And like the magic of the marketplace in politics and economics, the magic of the marketplace in communication is supposed to benefit all identities?
- Yes.
- I wonder if there is an explanation here for why in our present epidemic we've allowed ourselves to be locked in our homes with nearly no challenge when it was obviously illegal and irrational.**
- Go on.
- Any utopian politics poses a danger because it sets up a defined world whose good is so great any bad means used to realize it is justified. Identity politics also presents a world dangerously defined, each identity with its own particular description. Unlike a utopia, though, identity is already realized, requiring only to be maintained, subject as it is to the power challenging speech of other identities in the communication marketplace. Political correctness, 'woke' behavior, is sensitivity to identity power loss, not involving any consideration of truth.
- Truth has no more to do with the communication marketplace of identity politics than it does in the political and economic marketplaces.
- Yes. We know then what to say about YouTube removing videos challenging the rationality and legality of the lockdown.
- Lockdown critique was a loser in the communication marketplace.
- We know the lockdown and its disruption of business was a cover for the financial crash already begun early this year, that it was a cover for the massive upward transfer of wealth in supposedly epidemic inspired legislation. About why we the people went along with it, the best we could come up with is that we hate society and like the idea of hiding from each other in our separate homes.*** I have another idea.
- Which is?
- All three marketplaces make demands for continuous flexibility in the roles we play: a new job, a realignment of allies after being outbid buying government policy, a choice of a new identity, and all three are in play in the epidemic lockdown: in the communication marketplace we demand obedience to rules for wearing masks and staying at home, everyone defending against everyone the market dominating, winning bid for national identity compliant; in the economic and political marketplaces we ready ourselves for radically new and challenging eventualities of recession and control.
- We accept the illegality and irrationality of the lockdown because it deepens our unquestioned participation in markets and allegiance to their magical outcomes.


- Let's continue where we left off.
- Ok.
- Identity politics is both the product of marketplace thinking and accelerates it. Identities are social products, each identity competes to control the market of description to maximize its own power; identities - personal, professional, racial, ethnic - are things of the market, and isolating one identity from another as market competitors makes opposition to market thinking more difficult.
- Identity politics is a product of the market, sets up individuals as competitors in the communications market, and also is a weapon wielded in defense of market thinking and practice.
- Yes. So what do we do about it? Does it help to know that more is involved here than a divide and conquer strategy used by the rich minority against everyone else, the majority?
- It might, if people could come to understand that the markets they now live within - political, economic, and of personal identity - are arbitrary products of one particular social arrangement: of people forced to sell themselves by the hour to make products and then to buy those same products at a higher price than the amount they were paid to make them. A late development of this one particular social arrangement is our proudly declared racism and prejudice, our seeing freedom in open competition to control the social marketplace.
- To acquire monopoly control, to wrest that control from current monopoly holders. But doing this, where is the understanding of the other element of the market game?
- Of the slavery that produces the products?
- Yes. In slavery the producer is treated like a thing, a product. Identity is similarly a product, something made in the marketplace of social communication.
- Bad as it is to be slaves that have to buy back the products they make at a higher amount than they were paid to make them, and buy back an emancipated version of themselves the freedom of which is limited to a competition to monopolize the communication marketplace, bad as these things are, the situation is made infinitely worse by the ability of the slave owners to manage the rules of the marketplaces: to buy politicians outright, to produce the crashes that drive independent businesses into bankruptcy, to use mass media to ramp up the hostility of competitive identities.
- The slaves remain slaves, competing in the political, economic, and social markets only against each other, not against their masters who set the rules of the game.

Further Reading:
Illegal & Unscientific
There Is No Conspiracy Because There Are No People
The Crowd Of Monopolists
CDC says U.S. has ‘way too much virus’ to control pandemic as cases surge
Excess Deaths
* The Calculus Of Consent
** The Epidemic: Accounting For Death
*** Lockdown