The meditation that keeps capitalism happy...


…would have never happened without social media.

The meditation that keeps capitalism happy... /img/new-age.jpg

Please have a look at these quotes from “New Age & The Religion Of Self” by Alexander Ebert, to see if you recognize what they describe between the lines (the parts not in italic are my own comments):

“[To explain] the recent breakdown in collective “sense-making”… Some say secularism and its erosion of … the mythic has caused a collective schizography. Others say postmodernist distrust in institutionalized truth is to blame. Such assessments are inherently prescriptive (if fairly contradictory): return to some variety of the mythic, or rebuild trust in common truth.”

“[On these topics, Slavoj Žižek wrote]: “The reason for this (New Age) shift of accent from religious institution to the intimacy of spiritual experience is that such a meditation is the ideological form that best fits today’s global capitalism.”

“Unfortunately, the world made the identical mistake of finding him, too, clownish for saying so. In all its apparent innocuity, New Ageism thus bloomed into the mainframe of the western operation with astonishing ease, unthwarted by whatever enfeebled criticism of it broke through.”

The ultimate allure of New Ageism, it turns out, is the ability to hold oneself out of reach of life’s interconnectivity. (or, as he writes right before that sentence, “personal realities”)

Such a removed position, often called “spiritual bypass” by its detractors, not only places the self out of reach of the external world, but relieves the self of any responsibility for the struggles of it.

Comment #1: The quotes above are also the definition of today’s social media, and of “cyberspace” in general! What Ebert describes really looks like an obvious unavoidable consequence of the way social media are designed today. Or, if not unavoidable, something that could have never existed, or reach such scales, without them! (and yes, Ebert does mention this idea in the essay, what I’m doing here is just pointing at it directly, to give my own readers reasons to read the full thing).

Comment #2: The consequence of this situation is that “collective sense-making itself is discarded as an archaic ruse”, which is pretty much the same concept expressed by Eben Moglen in 2019. Back to Ebert,

“This is what the sense-making community hasn’t seemed to fully confront: The new sovereign individual doesn’t want to “make sense” with them. To the sovereign individual of the disembodied age, the more collectively verified the information, the more oppressive the information becomes.”

The only way to verify one’s ideological “sovereignty”, then, is to take up a minority opinion.”

Comment #3: again, please note how this “new sovereign individual” is nobody else but (regardless of his or her politics, principles and so on) the typical keyboard warrior of today, that is the intended result of ad-driven social media that MUST give each of their users the illusion of their own “personal realities”.

“In its super-sizing of the personal, sovereign, independent state of the individual, New Ageism encourages us to disregard the most fundamental aspect of life as erroneous - its interdependence. This disregard is not accidental but, rather, New Age’s most fundamentally religious - and ancient - allure.”

Once wrapped into these “personal realities”…

”…By simply thinking… we can create not just our subjective experiences, but our objective material conditions… For the New Ager, personal sovereignty creates the personal reality. Of course, having sovereignty over our own embodied lives (and associated private information) is a laudable goal. It’s just that we are now increasingly disembodied.”

Final comment: Replace “thinking” with “subscribing to some platform” then look around: you will surely find plenty of people who actually believe that sentence, at least on certain topics or areas of their lives, and actually live by it.

Image source: “What is the New Age Movement?”

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