The Psychopathology of Capitalism – Chapter 1.  Part 2

Chapter 1.  Part 2

The psychopathology of capitalism is, as I have proposed above, rooted in the delusion that there exists anabstract, exclusionary “one” or “I”.   This delusion negates the existence of an “inclusionary One” or a larger temporal/spatial natural and social whole of which the “individual” is but a particular moment and manifestation.  That is to say, it is impossible for those so deluded to see that the relationship between the “one” (no longer defined as exclusionary),  and the One, as the universal totality, is a unity of opposites and a unity of differences and so a relationship of mutual definition and mutual determination.  We are blinded in one eye so to speak, so that we lose the scope and depth of a healthier perception, and so can only see the solitary one; the individual who has no connection to anyone or anything else.  We come to see nothing wrong with this state of existence and it appears both natural and eternal to us.

As Capitalism arises so too the ideology of capitalism arises and the delusion of the exclusionary individual one that is its core first emerges and then comes to dominate the minds of men. The delusion is expressed and extrapolated by the early formulators of capitalist ideology: Hobbes, Locke, and Adam Smith.

The delusion begins, as it logically must, by first positing an imaginary “state of nature” in which natural men live in their natural “exclusionary oneness”.   Thus is precluded the possibility that man is in an way a naturally social being.    Because each is a naturally exclusionary one, a pure naked individual,  each is concerned only with his own survival over and against the survival of others as one competes against the other for the necessities of life.  So Hobbes tells us that “During the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that conditions called war; and such a war, as if of every man against every man. (Hobbes, Levithan).  In this war of exclusionary solitary individuals against one another “…nothing can be unjust.  The notions of right and wrong, justice and injustics, have there no place……Force and fraud, are in war the cardinal virtues.”.  So it is that justice, equity, modesty, mercy and “in sum, doing to others as we would be done to)”…are contrary to our natural passions, that carry us to partiality, pride, revenge and the like.” (Hobbes, Leviathan).

But it is important to note that this exclusionary one, this for himself individual, is by nature selfish, competitive, and devoid of any feelings of justice and compassion, he is as well rational.   He knows and is able to pursue his own interests and it is ultimately his rational understanding of what is in his own naked self interest that drives him into society.   In the state of nature the life of the exclusionary consciousness of each individual is a life of “…continual fear, and danger of violent death: and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” (Hobbes, Leviathan).  It is thus fear and reason that lead him to enter into a “social contract” with others, in which each agrees to give up a part of his sanctified freedom in order to achieve the greater freedom of liberation from fear.  Thus it is that men do not come into a unity of all, but rather that individuals come together and elect “one” from among them and gives to that individual the right to use force and kill to ensure that these competitive and hostile individuals do not kill one another.  The nature of insular individuals does not and according to the delusion of the exclusionary one, cannot be changed.  It can only be held in check because these  individuals see it in their interests to do so.  (All of the above quotes can be found at:  (

So it is that the psychopathology of capitalist ideology, already reflecting the capitalist relations of production emerge.  As Karl Marx tells us in The Communist Manifesto:

“The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment”. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation.”

The psychopathology of capitalism is thus inherent in its view of the “exclusionary” one, the abstract and eternal “I”, the indifference others, the selfhood of selfishness.  Carried to its logical extreme, it gives rise to “narcissistic”, anti-social, and socio pathological illnesses which are defined as illnesses by capitalism itself.   These are taken to be pathological illnesses of individuals who must be treated.  Very often these sociopathic individuals are dealt with by being separated out from society and placed in mental institutions and/or prisons.  Yet these sociopathic individuals are merely the natural products and real and actual extensions of the delusional first assumption of capitalism itself.  Capitalism is psychopathic and sociopathic by its very nature, and hence, to a greater or lesser degree it produces individuals who are psychopaths and sociopaths.

To be sure, mental illness has always existed; mania, depression, the hearing of voices” by individuals have been recorded throughout history.  But, as the study of the Greeks and the people of the Middle Ages demonstrate, the particular sociopathy of capitalism arises only with Capitalism.

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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