The Psychopathology of Capitalism: Chapter 1 – part 1


The psychopathology of capitalism arises from the delusionthat there exists an exclusionary “one” rather than an inclusionary One.  This delusion is both a product of the historical development of capitalism and, as contemporary physics shows us, the natural result of the internal relationship between the structure of reality and ourselves as observers of that reality.  Yet, even though it is both the product of history and part of the natural order of things, the existence of the exclusionary one is none the less a delusion which obscures the structural truth of the world which is the inclusionary “One”.  The phenomenology of capitalist psychopathology is thus the result of this profound delusion which leads us away from reality and hence into insanity.

The delusion of the exclusionary one, posited as the “I” or individual self, is the foundation of the  capitalist mode of production,  and so, the ideology which reflects and sustains it.   In turn,this  individual “I” despite its determinate material existence, is rendered a pure abstraction where abstraction means having no defining temporal or spatial relations to anything or anyone beyond its immediate existence.   It is not conceived of as either the product of evolution or history, or as a bundle of mutually defining and determining relations, but as the eternal and omnipresent exclusionary one.  To this abstract, exclusive individual self, are assigned certain “rights”, the most exalted of which is the right to private property.  After all, there can be no private property if there is no private individual.

This abstract, exclusionary individual being is upheld as the truth of the world and “sanctified” as the embodiment of the eternal and natural order brought into being by the Creator itself.   If the core of Feudal Ideology was the “Divine Right of Kings”, the core of Capitalist Ideology, is the Divine Rights of the Individual.  This is the “secular” religion embraced by the Capitalist State.  Thus the much touted separation of “church and state”which is, is, on the one hand, a further delusion, and on the other hand, a means of preventing any other religions from challenging the dogma of the Capitalist Church.

Long ago and far away, when I had the great good fortune to be his teaching assistant, I would watch the late H. Mark Roelofs teach undergraduate students political theory.  Standing on the platform at the front of the room, he would lean his long, thin body forward as far across the podium as he could , raise his arm over the heads of his students, finger pointing towards the heavens, and looking down upon them, he would  pronounce:  “The ancients had no concept of the individual.”

The Greeks had no concept of the individual as the exclusionary one existing apart from the totality of its social relations.  Even the hint of such a concept is difficult to discern in their religious, social, political or scientific thinking.  To the contrary it would not be an exaggeration to say that all Greek thought proceeds from the concept of the inclusionary “One”.    The Greek creation myth, as opposed to that of Genesis, does not begin with a God who creates the world in seven days, but rather with the idea of an undifferentiated, dark, swirling, totality called Chaos.   Out of Chaosarise the differences which themselves evolve into paired polar opposites. The first to appear is Erebus, not an individual but a dark place where death dwells, and Night.  Erebus slept with Night, giving birth to their polar opposites: to ether, the heavenly light, and to Day.  Night alone recreates his parallel dimensions: Doom, Fate, Death, Sleep, Dreams, and all things that dwell in the darkness haunting mankind  It is only after this logical positing of polar opposites that result from the mating of Erebus and Night, and unities of differences that are produced by Night alone, that Gaea, mother earth comes into being.  Gaea alone brings forth her polar opposite, Uranus, the sky, and Uranus, her son\ becomes her husband.  It is this unity of polar opposites that give rise to the polar opposite beings: the six monsters and the twelve Titans.  Thus as we can see, in the Greek creation myth nothing appears as separate and isolated but only as unified and logically necessary paired polar opposites and unities.  There is no one individual who is responsible for creation, but rather creation occurs in, through and as logical necessity as Chaos gives rise to a unified order.

Greek theology then proceeds as an evolutionary and revolutionary progression as son rises up against and replaces father, Chronos overthrows his father Uranus, and in turn is replaced by his son, Zeus.  It is only with Zeus that revolution comes to an end and that the idea of an individual “One” first comes into being.  Yet he is not an individual one in the liberal democratic sense of the word, he is a One who rules over all others to whom he is related; he is he head of a family.

If the idea of individuality has no place in the primitive Pagan mind of the Greeks, neither does it have a place in the rational minds of the first Philosopher Scientists, the Pre-Socratics.  They turned their gazes from Mt. Olympus to the material world, but they accepted the premise of Greek mythology: there is a One from which all other things derive and in and through which they are defined.   From Thales through Anaximander and Heraclitus, the key question is what is this material One of which all material things are manifestions, or, what is the element that unifies the world.  For Thales, the first of the Pre-Socratics, water was the archē, or fundamental principle “that from which they come to be is a principle of all things” (Aristotle’s Metaphysics 983b24–25; 11A12).

Thus, as we can see, he idea of the exclusionary one is totally foreign to the Greek mind, and so we conclude that it is not a timeless, natural and unchanging concept, but rather, an time specific product of history.

Mary Metzger is a 72 year old retired teacher who has lived in Moscow for the past ten years. She studied Women’s Studies under Barbara Eherenreich and Deidre English at S.U.N.Y. Old Westerbury. She did her graduate work at New York University under Bertell Ollman where she studied Marx, Hegel and the Dialectic. She went on to teach at Kean University, Rutgers University, N.Y.U., and most recenly, at The Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology where she taught the Philosophy of Science. Her particular area of interest is the dialectic of nature, and she is currently working on a history of the dialectic. She is the mother of three, the gradmother of five, and the great grandmother of 2.

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