If traditional society has an essence, it is a focus on context and pattern instead of objects themselves, because it recognizes that any thing out of place in the hierarchy and order of nature will become an all-consuming force. For example, beer is delicious, heartening and enjoyable but when pursued to excess, becomes a replacement for life much like ideology, money, power and individualism.
This applies to institutions, governments, organizations, power itself and even abstract concepts. Capitalism, for example, is the only working economic system we have found, but if left to its own devices, it produces the scenario we see in American stores: refrigerators, cheaply made in China, which have a lifespan of four to seven years and a failure rate of 10% within three months.
Once upon a time, less than a generation ago, refrigerators lasted for up to forty years. They were built solidly with few features and produced domestically. A person could expect to own two of these in a lifetime and, when parts wore out, to replace them, because the designs did not vary substantially over time.
What went wrong? We might argue that the new way is more efficient: cheaper refrigerators, newer features, and a wider variety. But underneath that glitz, the refrigerators are not cheaper, especially not in lifetime ownership, since you need to buy ten of them to equal the ownership duration of the past. Capitalism is rewarding itself by, once it has a captive audience, extracting wealth from them.
Naturally other factors are present. Is it capitalism to blame because an industry has overgrown itself and consumer, responding to new features and price, ignored the better options so that those companies then went extinct? Or, as argued here before, perhaps we should blame unions, which raised the price of labor so much that it was offshored and then, when those countries learned to manufacture refrigerators on their own, replaced entirely with imports.
Another factor is the need to keep people employed. A company, beset by regulations and a highly mobile labor force, has to hire more people and so grows constantly like a bloated beast. At that point, it must squeeze more money out of the product, so turns to “planned obsolescence.” But it is hard to argue that planned obsolescence will not be conceived of by a firm, and once it succeeds, others will follow suit to keep their own profits comparable.
This shows us a principle of existence: all things are self-serving, and if not kept in check by some form of power above them — aristocrats, culture, legal liability or media — each thing expands to take everything that it can and passes those costs on through externalization to the collective. Everyone suffers when refrigerators are constantly dying without a technological need for this to be so.
As a salesman said, “They make them cheaply in China. Sure, they’re crap — but everyone makes out like bandits on this side. We sell insurance and make a good profit. The firms keep the name here, and buy them from overseas, and that means jobs for everyone in the office, even if not in the factor. It’s just you the consumer who suffers.”
We can see this profile in other industries as well, such as the lügenpresse:
Far from the British press being the champions of free speech, as the popular buffoon Jeremy Clarkson has suggested, they are instrumental in shutting it down.
The press has an interest in suppressing free speech because free speech competes with the press. If the media offers our only perspectives on the world, then they have a monopoly on news information and will profit greatly. If others, such as citizen journalists like Millennial Woes, are able to draw large audiences, then those are a business threat.
All across the West a great cash-in has been occurring since the 1990s. Without the Soviets to compete with, we turned on ourselves, and every industry became greedy in order to comply with the parasites (unions, governments, lawsuits) and to extract as much as it could from the captive audience in the middle class. Eventually, it killed the goose that laid the golden egg, and now a backlash has begun.
In the future, our thought will not focus on deconstruction, or isolating ideas like capitalism as solutions in themselves, but on context, or how to balance different self-interested forces under the command of some purpose and principles which benefit our civilization as an organic whole. This is the only way to arrest the ongoing parasitism and restore a healthy, joyful life so we are strong enough to want to survive.