Posted by The Happy Tutor
Of the Holy Spirit, Brand Builders, Martyrs, Revolutionaries, Lady Liberty, and the like.
- The Priest elevates the Eucharist while the Acolyte rings a hand-bell.
- The Traitor's head is displayed on a pike at Traitor's Gate.
- Certain theses are nailed to a church door.
- The Enemy King pulls the Conquerer's Chariot through the streets of Rome.
- The Winner holds high the football emblazoned with a Swoosh.
- The troops rally around the flag stuck on a pole on the highest mound.
- The Pope pronounces from the balcony above the square.
- "Stand and be recognized," says the Chairman to the top salesperson, in the presence of the whole firm, "for your meritorious service."
- The accused stands, holding up his beltless baggy pants, and confesses that he is the enemy of the State.
- A name appears on a blacklist circulated by the Government to employers, naming a Citizen as a Terrorist Sympathizer, or as Un-American.
These and many more are "Rational Rituals," in which meaning, common knowledge, and social reality are constituted not by one person communicating one meaning to many persons, but by having one "message" conveyed to many people where each can see that the others see -- so that what is now staged becomes "the new normal." Amphitheaters are designed so we can see not only the stage, but one another's response. A procession through a city, with the mob lining the streets, serves the same purpose. Flagpoles, pulpits, gallows, billboards, hustings, blimps, and other oratorical engines serve the same purpose.
- A forest of stakes on which are impaled the enemy army.
- A road lined with crosses.
- A cross standing on the tallest spire.
- The black body swinging from a lamppost as the crowd gapes, and the hawker sells cards, so you can collect the complete set.
All are ways to stage the creation of a social reality. All are, if you will, virtual "public goods" (though some are privately owned and many are heinous). All are the beneficiary of network effects, meaning that the more citizen-consumers who have assented, or stood silent while others assented, the more likely the meaning, the ritual, and the power deployment will stick, and be repeated and extended, further proving the truth of the new lie, or giving the lie to the new fiction.
I can believe that Nike stands for something far different than athleticism, that the traitor was a hero, that the sales leader praised by the Chairman was a crook (and that the Chairman knows it), that the hanged man was innocent, that the billboard depicts a lie, that the flag flutters behind a Tyrant, and on and on. But, it does not matter, for the other side has staged the ritual moment by which meaning is -- as it is so often - "arbitrarily" bestowed, that is to say bestowed by force, whether by money, or delegated authority, or positional power. If a counter-ritual is not staged, the meaning no matter how unjust or debased, sticks. And the Swastika flies not only in the stadium but on the shirts of every athlete, every soldier, echoing the staged sign, in solidarity. So, as we reluctantly raise our own fist, lest other stare at us, reality locks down. So it is locking down today, in DC and around the world. Hail Caesar!
Detourenment: The Cross. As when in the poorest areas of our cities the most disenfranchised citizen wears around his neck a small replica of a medical gurney, the execution table from death row.
"Intellectual property" is about the right of Christians to quote, cite, or misuse the Cross which had been patented by Rome as the quintessential symbol of terror and power and submission. To deprive the enslaved of that right, the right to take back and recreate these rituals and meanings, the rituals and meanings by which their inner life, social life, spiritual and political life are constituted, is the ultimate arrogance of power, and can lead only to death and rebirth in the spirit. The Holy Spirit is more, sometimes, than a vernal breeze.
In the Colosseum the martyrs sang in their agony. The Roman submissive-citizens, seeing each other see, seeing each other see the failure of Empire to intimidate, the Romans were themselves converted, and the new meme spread. So, too, overly restrictive "intellectual property" will become synonymous with theft, when someone declares it so from the highest hill, and we consumer-submissives raise our hands in assent. When the crowd moves, the lawyers, politicos, lobbyists, trend watchers and brand builders -- whose ethics extend not farther than Success measured by Results -- will declare themselves the leaders -- just before they are tarred, feathered, and displayed in confirmation of the new and more just social order.
The Patriots dumped rich branded merchandise into Boston Harbor. So too we will have civil rights, habeas corpus, free speech, and the rest, when we assume those prerogatives as we have in the past, by acting as if they were our birthright and patrimony.
- A black interloper sitting in a segregated diner, while a crowd forms outside, peering through the window.
- A parade of Consumers linking arms and marching peacefully through the Mall of America, singing, "We shall overcome some day..."
- Security Guards and Riot Police, tear gas from the National Guard, as Consumers carrying candles fall to their knees under the billyclubs of the Free Market System, chanting, "The whole world is watching..."
Our leaders have taken Political Liberty from her pedestal in NY Harbor and installed her on Wall Street as Goddess of the Free Market. But, you know something, Boss, a few of us have been talking, and we still know the difference, and with your permission, we would like, hesitantly, Sir, with due respect, to demur. Political Liberty? Can we have some of that too, Sir? Free speech, and freedom of peacefull assembly, Sir, if you have no objection, under the circumstances, and all.
If you have done nothing wrong, says the man at the door, you have nothing to fear. Until the protests, and the counter-push, and the reaction to that, and the escalating counter-push, through several product cycles, we Consumers will not know what the new normal is. Baggy trousers are now on sale. For your own safety, we do not recommend the belt.