The Moral Equivalent of The Spirituality-Industrial Complex

I will now confess my own utopia. I devoutly believe in the reign of peace and in the gradual advent of some sort of socialistic equilibrium.

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The Moral Equivalent of The Spirituality-Industrial Complex

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1. Introduction

In his famous 1910 essay, “The Moral Equivalent of War,” William James argued that the transition from a deadly, disastrous, and morally scandalous local and global human condition of perpetual nationalistic militarism and war, to a diametrically opposed and inherently better local and global human condition, that in 1795 Immanuel Kant had called perpetual peace,[i] could be managed by humankind only if core moral virtues of military life and military practices were detached from essentially false and wrong militarist thinking and warfare, and applied instead to creating and sustaining radically better social institutions:

I will now confess my own utopia. I devoutly believe in the reign of peace and in the gradual advent of some sort of socialistic equilibrium. The fatalistic view of the war function is to me nonsense, for I know that war-making is due to definite motives and subject to prudential checks and reasonable criticisms, just like any other form of enterprise. And when whole nations are the armies, and the science of destruction vies in intellectual refinement with the science of production, I see that war becomes absurd and impossible from its own monstrosity. Extravagant ambitions will have to be replaced by reasonable claims, and nations must make common cause against them. I see no reason why all this should not apply to [all] white countries, and I look forward to a future when acts of war shall be formally outlawed as between civilized peoples.

All these beliefs of mine put me firmly into the anti-military party. But I do not believe that peace either ought to be or will be permanent on this globe, unless the states, pacifically organized, preserve some of the old elements of army-discipline. A permanently successful peace-economy cannot be a simple pleasure-economy. In the more or less socialistic future toward which mankind seems drifting we must still subject ourselves collectively to those severities which answer to our real position upon this only partly hospitable globe. We must make new energies and hardihoods continue the manliness to which the military mind so faithfully clings. Martial virtues must be the enduring cement; intrepidity, contempt of softness, surrender of private interest, obedience to command, must still remain the rock upon which states are built.[ii]

In this little essay, I don’t want to analyze, criticize, or defend James’s argument about morality and war, but only to use the core strategy of his argument as a conceptual springboard for presenting an essentially analogous argument about morality and religion in a contemporary context.

More precisely, I’m going to argue that the transition from a deadly, disastrous, and morally scandalous contemporary local and global human condition I call The New Apocalypse, to a diametrically opposed and inherently better local and global human condition, can be managed by humankind only if core moral virtues of personal religious life and personal religious practices—aka “spirituality”—are fully detached from essentially false and wrong advanced capitalist thinking and the military-industrial-digital complex, and applied instead to creating and sustaining radically better social institutions, by means of what I call realistically optimist dignitarian humanism.

2. Religion and Morality

By “religion,” I mean any set of human feelings, beliefs, individual acts, social practices, or social institutions directly concerned with God (or gods, or the divine or holy more generally) and faith in God (or gods, or the divine or holy more generally). We can distinguish here between (i) on the one hand, organized religions and organized religious practices, and (ii) on the other, personal religious life and personal religious practices (aka “spirituality”) insofar as it can occur either inside or outside organized religion and its practices Hence either organized religion and its practices, or spirituality inside or outside organized religion and its practices, will count as bona fide “religion” for the purposes of our discussion. The critical question I then want to raise is:

Should morality obtain independently of religion, or not?

To make that question more precise, let’s call the cluster of claims which say  either (i) that morality should be kept entirely distinct from religion and fully protected from the influence of religion, or (ii) that religion should eradicated altogether in order to make morality really possible, or, at the very least, (iii) that morality should fully control and restrict the scope of religion, because otherwise, religion is actually or potentially highly harmful to morality, Hard Secularism. Let’s call the directly opposing and contrary claim to Hard Secularism, which says that religion should fully control and determine morality, Fundamentalism. By a double contrast, let’s call the intermediate claim between Hard Secularism and Fundamentalism, which says that although morality and religion are distinct sorts of enterprises, nevertheless not only are they mutually compatible, but they’re also necessarily complementary and mutually supportive, Moderate Secularism. And by another—now triple—contrast to Hard Secularism, Fundamentalism, and Moderate Secularism alike, let’s call the weakest claim of all in this connection, which says that morality and religion are distinct sorts of enterprises, and they’re mutually compatible only in the sense that they can co-exist in their separate spheres, Soft Secularism. So the precisified version of the question I want to raise is,

Which, if any, is correct: Hard Secularism, Fundamentalism, Moderate Secularism, or Soft Secularism?

In what follows, I’m going to defend a version of Moderate Secularism, as applied to spirituality.

3. The New Apocalypse, The Spirituality-Industrial Complex, The Highest Good, and Ethics

By The New Apocalypse I mean the fourfold contemporary and global impacts of

(i) global technocratic corporate capitalism, aka “advanced” or “big” capitalism,

(ii) political neoliberalism, especially neofascist neoliberalism, (iii) the digitalization of world culture via information technology, continuous surveillance, social media, and

(iv) an all-encompassing scientistic, technocratic, materialist or physicalist, ecologically-devastating, philosophical conception of non-human nature and human nature alike: formal and natural mechanism[iii]—collectively, taken as a foursome, “The Four Horsemen of The New Apocalypse”—plus the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 and 2021. Correspondingly, not only since at least the 1960s and 70s, but especially during The New Apocalypse, unfortunately, the term, concept, and human activity of “spirituality” has been much debased by its exploitative and essentially instrumental use in our neoliberal advanced capitalist world. See, for example, a recent article in The New York Times about “divinity consultants” who “are designing sacred rituals for corporations and their spiritually depleted employees.”[iv] And of course there’s the yearly Christmas industry, a perfect example of what Marx called “commodity fetishism.”[v] So I’ll call all the various kinds of debasement of spirituality under advanced capitalism, collectively, the spirituality-industrial complex.

Nevertheless, at the same time, there’s a genuine fact or phenomenon that grounds people’s correct and profound (if not always self-conscious, or at least not always fully self-conscious) awareness that something fundamental is missing from their lives, especially now, during the roll-out or fall-out of the COVID-19 pandemic, when traditional certainties and hegemonic ideologies about advanced capitalism, the state, human nature, society, etc., are being profoundly challenged, or even exploding. And this genuine fact or phenomenon is what we can call, as per Kant’s moral philosophy, the highest good.[vi] In this connection, moreover, it’s crucial to note that Kant’s moral philosophy expressly does not prove the existence of a highest good, but instead remains radically agnostic about it, in the sense that we know a priori that, as rational but also finite and “human, all-too-human” animals, we can’t either know the highest good’s inner and Really Real or noumenal essence, or prove the existence or non-existence of the highest good, and instead must only acknowledge and presuppose it, as the condition of the real possibility of morality.[vii] Roughly but not inaccurately, to say that there is a highest good, is to say that human life, the universe, and everything, has inherent meaning or purpose, and absolute intrinsic value. In turn, people’s recognition of their need for this highest good, and their experiential representation of this highest good, is what—for lack of a better term—I’ll call spirituality, i.e., our personal religious lives and personal religious practices, whether inside or outside organized religion.

If the highest good were to exist (and here we’ll recall that we must always be radically agnostic about this) then it wouldn’t necessarily be a Judaeo-Christian-Islamic God, or any sort of culturally familiar divinity, although it would include these, but simply be the fact (if it is a fact, about which we must always be radically agnostic) or phenomenon such that the world contains a supreme value, or a single supreme system of values, and that human life has inherent meaning and purpose precisely to the extent that we can directly connect our own lives, and our own sense of what’s really important, to this supreme value or supreme system of values. This is a version of value realism, aka axiological realism, which postulates the objectivity and real existence of this supreme value or supreme system of values, and that’s a robust or strong theory. Nevertheless, this realism is significantly mitigated by radical agnosticism; and even if there really and truly is a single supreme value or supreme system of values that’s the highest good, of course this value or value system can and will still be specifically conceived and represented by humanity in many, many different ways; hence there’s naturally a plurality of different conceptions of the highest good, even if there really and truly is (a fact about which we must always be radically agnostic) one and only one highest good.

According to the broadly Kantian view I’m presenting and defending, the highest good (if it were really and truly to exist, about which we must always be radically agnostic) is an absolute (= universal, unconditional, necessary), intrinsic, non-denumerable value, which means that it exceeds any finite or even denumerable value, especially including all economic value. Roughly speaking: The Beatles musically shouted “Can’t buy me love!,” and the very same thing is true, mutatis mutandis, of the highest good. Somewhat more precisely speaking, the value of the highest good has the same “cardinality” (counting-number-osity) as Cantor’s transfinite numbers, and this specific mathematical character of the highest good can be proved by methods similar or logically equivalent to Cantor’s diagonal method for establishing the existence of transfinite numbers. You create or discover a method for writing down every possible economic value in a denumerably infinite vertical list, then either construct a diagonal across the list, or construct the power set (i.e., the set of all subsets) of the set of all such values, therefore some value exceeds all possible economic values: Can’t buy me the highest good!

Now as I mentioned above, Kant’s moral philosophy, and indeed every other kind of normative ethics, acknowledges and presupposes but does not either know or prove the highest good, in that every version of normative ethics can be spelled out as containing a representation of the highest good (say, goodness of character, or virtue; or maximizing private or public utility; or willing according to the Categorical Imperative; or choosing and acting with honor; or whatever) and then saying that what we ought to do is always choose and act in such a way as to promote or realize that highest good. But this means that, since it is already acknowledged and presupposed in order to generate an ethical or moral system, the highest good cannot be explained or justified within that ethical or moral system itself. Hence we must secure our conceptions of the highest good independently of ethics or morality, an enterprise which—again, for lack of a better term—is spirituality.

4. There’s Always a Constructive, Enabling Alternative To Every Social-Institutional Structure That’s Destructive and Deforming, Even If That Social Institution Seems To Be Eternal and Written-in-Stone

In our 2019 book, The Mind-Body Politic, Michelle Maiese and I argued as follows.

1. Human minds are necessarily and completely embodied (the essential embodiment thesis).

2. Essentially embodied minds are neither merely brains nor over-extended “extended minds,” yet all social institutions saliently constrain, frame, and partially determine the social-dynamic patterns of our essentially embodied consciousness, self-consciousness, affect (including feelings, desires, and emotions), cognition, and agency—that is, they literally shape our essentially embodied minds, and thereby fundamentally affect our lives, for worse or better, mostly without our self-conscious awareness (the mind-shaping thesis).

3. Many social institutions in contemporary neoliberal nation-states literally shape our essentially embodied minds, and thereby our lives, in such a way as to alienate us, mentally enslave us, or even undermine our mental health, to a greater or lesser degree (the destructive Gemeinschaft/collective sociopathy thesis).

4. Nevertheless, some social institutions, working against the grain of standard, dystopian social institutions in contemporary neoliberal nation-states, can make it really possible for us to self-realize, connect with others in a mutually aiding way, liberate ourselves, and be mentally healthy, authentic, and deeply happy (the constructive Gemeinschaft/collective wisdom thesis).

It should be noticed that the kind of destructive, deforming mind-shaping described in thesis 3 inherently admits of degrees—greater or lesser—whereas, by sharp contrast, the kind of constructive, enabling social mind-shaping described in thesis 4 is categorically different from the kind of mind-shaping that occurs in standard, dystopian neoliberal social institutions. Hence the existence, creation, and development of constructive, enabling social institutions represents an absolute, radical break with the social-institutional status quo in contemporary neoliberal societies.

So understood, the conjunction of our four basic theses yields what we call the enactive- transformative principle:

Enacting salient or even radical changes in the structure and complex dynamics of a social institution produces corresponding salient or even radical changes in the structure and complex dynamics of the essentially embodied minds of the people belonging to, participating in, or falling under the jurisdiction of, that institution, thereby fundamentally affecting their lives, for worse or better.

In short, we can significantly change our own and other people’s essentially embodied minds, and in turn, their lives, whether for worse or better, by means of changing the social institutions we and they belong to.

The enactive-transformative principle, in turn, motivates a philosophico-political clarion call whose simple, yet world-transforming message is that we can freely, systematically, and even radically change existing destructive, deforming social institutions in contemporary neoliberal nation-states into new constructive, enabling social institutions; and this, in turn, can allow us to transform our own and other people’s essentially embodied minds and lives for the better.[viii]

Against that theoretical backdrop, it’s just a truism that all of us find ourselves, in our daily lives, belonging to a great many different social institutions, including educational institutions, economic institutions, families, states, the Internet, etc., etc. And a basic one for almost all of us, once we’ve graduated from school, is work, and correspondingly, our careers. But at the same time, a great many of us also discover that our work and our careers not only are not making us happy, but also they’re actually making us intensely unhappy, because they’re either bullshit,[ix] or they’re boring us shitless, or they’re dangerous, or they’re annoying us, or they’re making us anxious, or they’re downright depressing us, etc., etc., or even shaping us in ways that make us mentally ill and existentially fucked-up, i.e., literally crazy or insane. In a word, they’re oppressing us. The hegemonic ideological structures of such oppressive social institutions, however, are such that we almost inevitably blame ourselves for this dysfunction, suffering, and unhappiness, instead of the social institutions themselves. And yet it’s arguably true, as Maiese and I argued in The Mind-Body Politic,, that it’s the social institutions themselves that are mentally ill and existentially fucked-up, i.e., literally crazy or insane: namely, what we call destructive, deforming social institutions.[x]

Supposing that’s right, then what we need to recognize is that (i) since people nowadays aren’t chattel slaves–even if they’re wage slaves–they can exit these institutions, and (ii) since at some point in human history people put up these institutions, then (iii) they can take them down too, and above all (iv) they can create and sustain new, constructive enabling social institutions to replace the destructing, enabling ones. But unfortunately, the ideological hegemony of these inherently bad social institutions is such that, if you’re fully embedded inside one, even if you self-consciously despise it, then it can be extremely difficult even to imagine real alternatives, much less to exit and take down that existing inherently bad social institution, or to create and sustain an alternative inherently better social institution.[xi] Moreover, the very recognition that a certain destructive, deforming social institution isn’t eternal or written in stone, and can be taken down by us and replaced by something inherently better, is surrounded by a taboo that causes great individual and collective anxiety. For example, suppose that the police and the military simply disappeared tomorrow—what would happen? Most of us instantly feel the intensely anxious, gnawing worry that society would utterly collapse and that we’d regress to anarchy in the nihilistic sense, “the state of nature” as per Thomas Hobbes’s “war of all against all” in the Leviathan.[xii] But is this really the case? Or is it in fact nothing but what The Masters of the Social-Institutional Universe who control and/or immensely profit from the perpetuation of these destructive, deforming social institutions want us to think and tell us to think, while at the same time figuratively or literally shaking their fists at us?

Sharply to the contrary, see for example, Rebecca Solnit’s A Paradise Built in Hell,[xiii] which shows by using historical case-studies, that in fact a great many natural or social crises and disasters actually bring out the best in people, not the worst. And the same point is made, again using historical case-studies, in Rutger Bregman’s Humankind.[xiv] Therefore, since it actually happens in real-world crises and disasters, people not only can but do create alternative constructive, enabling institutions, some of which can be sustained long term. A real-world example is Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières.[xv] Therefore, since the actual entails the really possible, then constructive, enabling social institutions are really possible.

Keeping that mind, and going back to spirituality, here’s our basic problem:

How can we, here and now, in the the belly of the massive leviathan/whale that’s The New Apocalypse, exit and take down our destructive, deforming institutions—for example, the job that’s bullshit, boring us shitless, dangerous, annoying, anxiety-producing, depressing, or literally making us insane—and then connect our lives directly to the highest good by creating and sustaining alternative constructive, enabling institutions?

To be sure, the prospect of exiting and taking down a certain destructive, deforming social institution in order to create and sustain something radically different and inherently better is really scary, in view of the serious question, how will you actually live while you’re trying to do or create something radically different and inherently better, and not become homeless and/or starve? Not to mention the complete loss of conventional social power and social status?, which is exceptionally painful. And what if you fail miserably, and fall into the social-institutional void? Or what if it’s the social institution of the police and the criminal justice system that you’re exiting and trying to take down, and they imprison you or kill you? Feeling all that in the pit of your stomach, then you might try a “mixed” strategy, for example, putting up with a shit job for five or six days a week, and then pursuing an inherently meaningful and better life in your spare time, as it were. But for various reasons—for example, “the double life problem,” which consists in the psychological and practical tension between externally living inside one social institution full-time but also being full-time internally in revolt against it, as well as the obvious fact that working five or six days a week, and then being on Zoom or Teams, or e-mailing or texting about your work basically 24-7, tires the hell out of you—that’s not an inherently good or sustainable strategy. Sooner or later, you’ll burn out or explode. So that returns us to the basic problem, whose solution we’re urgently looking for, namely, how to connect our own lives directly to the highest good, which we recognize and experientially represent via spirituality, by exiting and taking down destructive, deforming social institutions, and then creating and sustaining constructive, enabling social institutions?

5. Realistically Optimist Dignitarian Humanism as The Moral Equivalent of The Spirituality-Industrial Complex

What I’ll call unrealistic optimism about human life, the universe, and everything, is roughly speaking Leibnizian: this actual world is the best of all possible worlds, God created it this way (otherwise God would be basically an underachiever), and all is really for the best, no matter how terrible it might seem. But unrealistic optimism has of course been thoroughly and brilliantly satirized in Voltaire’s Candide, via the ludicrous character of Dr Pangloss, and a similarly motivated criticism, although infinitely more edgy, can also be found in Ivan Karamazov’s response to the problem of evil in Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov: if a supposedly 3-O God permits all the holocausts and daily horrors we see around us all the time, including the torture and murder of innocent children, then in absolute revolt and revulsion, we must simply “return [our] ticket of admission” on the Leibnizian cruise ship and instead jump into the vast grey ocean of being-in-a-world-in-which-God-Is-Dead.[xvi]

As Karamazov’s rebellious “return your ticket of admission and jump off the Leibnizian cruise ship!” strategy suggests, the dialectical opposite to unrealistic optimism is what I’ll call cynicism-&-pessimism, and this is a highly influential classical view going back to medieval Christianity, and especially to Hobbes’s Leviathan, roughly at the time of the English Civil War, but also an extremely widespread contemporary attitude, that’s closely bound up with the mechanistic worldview: if everything really and truly operates according to mindless algorithms &/or the deterministic or indeterministic laws of nature, then everything in the world really and truly is meaningless and shitty, God Is Dead, only The Mega-Machine Lives, and therefore “everything is permitted,” as the pathetic murderer Smerdyakov in The Brothers Karamazov—himself the acolyte of Ivan Karamazov—so aptly puts it:

“Take that money away with you, sir,” Smerdyakov said with a sigh.

“Of course, I’ll take it! But why are you giving it to me if you committed a murder to get it?” Ivan asked, looking at him with intense surprise.

“I don’t want it at all,” Smerdyakov said in a shaking voice, with a wave of the hand.

“I did have an idea of starting a new life in Moscow, but that was just a dream, sir, and mostly because ‘everything is permitted’. This you did teach me, sir, for you talked to me a lot about such things: for if there’s no everlasting God, there’s no such thing as virtue, and there’s no need of it at all. Yes, sir, you were right about that. That’s the way I reasoned.”[xvii]

More specifically, if you can’t help feeling and acting like nothing more than a “survival machine” driven from below by your genes and other robotic biomechanisms,[xviii] then it’s kill-or-be-killed, everyone for themselves, and everyone relentlessly playing games inside destructive, deforming institutions, and, if they’re clever, ruthless, and strong enough, then winning those games, stepping on other people’s heads as they climb the greasy pole, advancing their careers, etc. etc., and, collecting lots and lots of $$, property, adult toys, and coercive social power and status, thereby becoming and being a Really Big Winner, perhaps even a Billionaire (soon: Trillionaire). Otherwise, you’re nothing but a pathetic loser and deserve to die. But this is literally hell on earth, a monstrous way to live and die, and horribly bad for everyone: it’s just Trumpism writ large, and in acceding to it, conforming to it, pursuing it, and promoting it, you become nothing more than a miniature Jabba The Trump,[xix] or nothing more than yet another one of Santa’s commodity fetishist elves slaving away inside the military-industrial-digital complex.

On the face of it, there might seem to be no genuine alternatives to (i) Leibnizian unrealistic optimism on the one hand, and (ii) Hobbesian cynicism-&-pessimism on the other: between Dr Pangloss and Jabba The Trump/Santa’s-commodity-fetishist-elves. Yet there’s at least one genuine alternative, at least one other substantially different worldview. This alternative worldview flows from the historico-philosophical and sociopolitical tradition that runs from Kant’s 1793 Religion Within the Boundaries of Mere Reason and William Godwin’s 1793 Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, to Peter Kropotkin’s 1892 Conquest of Bread and 1902 Mutual Aid, via Oscar Wilde’s 1891 “The Soul of Man Under Socialism,” and Emma Goldman’s writings of the 1910s and 20s, through Bertrand Russell’s practical and political writings from the end of the First World War and into the 1960s, Paulo Freire’s 1968/1970 Pedgogy of the Oppressed, Murray Bookchin’s writings from the 1960s to the 1990s, and more recent works like Solnit’s 2009 A Paradise Built in Hell, James C. Scott’s 1998 Seeing Like a State, his 2012 Two Cheers for Anarchism, and his 2017 Against the Grain, and Bregman’s 2014 Utopia for Realists and his 2020 Humankind.

Just to give it a name, I’ll call this alternative worldview realistically optimist dignitarian humanism, aka RODH. The full label is a bit of a mouthful, it’s difficult to fit on a bumpersticker or a lawnsign, and the acronym isn’t too zippy: but it’s accurate. RODH fully rejects coercive authoritarianism of all kinds, on the basis of sufficient respect for universal and inherent human dignity, and it fully affirms both individual creativity and freedom, as well as social cooperation and solidarity, while also fully realistically recognizing that we are always and everywhere only “human, all-too-human,” and “crooked timbers.”

More precisely, RODH says four things. First, rational human animals are essentially capable of good actions and virtuous character, cooperation, and altruism, but also (sadly, tragically) equally essentially capable of bad actions and vicious character, antagonism, and egoism. So we are neither fundamentally-bad nor fundamentally-good, but instead, complementarily and inherently partially-good-and-partially-bad. We are, indeed, crooked timbers: never perfectly straight, but also necessarily such that there is some genuinely good wood in us too. Second, it is only coercive authoritarian social institutions that inevitably corrupt us, and are inherently deforming and destructive for us, especially including the State, but also any other State-like institution. Third, directly contrary to and mutually exclusive of those inherently deforming and destructive coercive authoritarian social institutions, whether States or other State-like social institutions, there are at least some social institutions (and in fact, surprisingly more of them than you might initially think) that are neither coercive nor authoritarian, hence they are neither inherently destructive nor inherently deforming, but on the contrary they can effectively prime and shape our capacities for good, cooperation, and altruism, in ways that are inherently constructive and enabling for us. Following Kant’s lead in Religion, let’s call these constructive, enabling social institutions ethical communities. And again, a real-world example is Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières, so that we can demonstrate real possibility by means of pointing at actuality. Fourth and finally, therefore, all of these non-coercive, non-authoritarian, inherently constructive and enabling social institutions—ethical communities—are not States or State-like social institutions, since all States and State-like social institutions are inherently coercive and authoritarian; or if ethical communities do happen to arise and exist temporarily inside the State or other State-like social institutions, then they are explicitly or at least implicitly in opposition to the State and those other State-like institutions.

And now we’re at the bottom line and the punch line of this little essay. What I’m proposing is that we solve the fundamental problem we’re struggling with—How can we connect our own lives directly to the highest good, which we recognize and experientially represent via spirituality, by exiting and taking down destructive and deforming social institutions like the military-industrial-digital complex, and then creating and sustaining constructive, enabling social institutions?—by means of believing in, organizing our lives around, and wholeheartedly acting for the sake of, realistically optimist dignitarian humanism. In this way, RODH is the moral equivalent of the spirituality-industrial complex.

6. Conclusion

Assuming that what I’ve argued is sound, then I strongly recommend that everyone buy tickets for the RODH soul train—people get ready—and then ride it out beyond the badlands and wastelands of The New Apocalypse, the military-industrial-digital complex in general, and the spirituality-industrial complex in particular, and into the future, passionately hoping for the better by believing in the best, as soon as humanly possible.

Be there, or be Jabba The Trump/one of the elves.[xx]


[i] I. Kant, “Toward Perpetual Peace,” trans. M. Gregor, in I. Kant, Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996), pp. 317-351.

[ii] W. James, The Moral Equivalent of War (USA: Read/Obscure Books, 2015), also available online at URL = <>.

[iii] See, e.g., R. Hanna and O. Paans, “This is the Way the World Ends: A Philosophy of Civilization Since 1900, and A Philosophy of the Future,” Cosmos and History 16, 2 (2020): 1-53, available online at URL = <>; and R. Hanna, THE END OF MECHANISM:A Neo-Organicist Novum Organum (Unpublished MS, 2020 version), available online HERE.

[iv] N. Bowles, “God Is Dead. So Is the Office. These People Want to Save Both,” The New York Times (28 August 2020), available online at URL = <>.

[v] See, e.g., Wikipedia, “Commodity Fetishism” (2020), available online at URL = <>.

[vi] See, e.g., I. Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, trans. M. Gregor, in Kant, Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy, pp. 43-108; I. Kant, Critique of Practical Reason, trans. M. Gregor, in Kant, Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy, pp. 139-272; and I. Kant, Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason, trans. A. Wood and G. di Giovanni, in I. Kant, Immanuel Kant: Religion and Rational Theology (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996), pp. 57-215. Sometimes Kant identifies the highest good with a good will, and sometimes he identifies it with what philosophers of religion call a “3-O God,” i.e., a being that’s omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent.

[vii] See, e.g., R. Hanna, “If God’s Existence is Unprovable, Then is Everything Permitted? Kant, Radical Agnosticism, and Morality,” DIAMETROS 39 (2014): 26-69.

[viii] M. Maiese and R. Hanna, The Mind-Body Politic (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), pp. 8-10, also available online in preview HERE.

[ix] See, e.g., D. Graeber, “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs: A Work Rant,” Strike 3 (2013), available online at URL = <>; and D. Graeber, Bullshit Jobs: A Theory (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2018).

[x] Maiese and Hanna, The Mind-Body Politic, chs. 3 and 5.

[xi] See also M. Fisher, Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? (London: Zero Books, 2009).

[xii] See T. Hobbes, Leviathan (Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1968), and esp. the “Editor’s Introduction” by C.B. Macpherson, pp. 9-63.

[xiii] R. Solnit, A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster (London: Penguin Books, 2009).

[xiv] R. Bregman, Humankind: A Hopeful History, trans. E. Manton and E. Moore (New York: Little, Brown, & Co., 2020).

[xv] See, e.g., MEDECINS SANS FRONTIERES, available online at URL = <>.

[xvi] See F. Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, trans. D. Magarshack (2 vols., Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1958), vol. 1, p. 287.

[xvii] Ibid., vol. 2, p. 743.

[xviii] See, e.g., R. Dawkins, The Selfish Gene (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2006).

[xix] Jabba The Trump is of course a direct descendant of Jabba the Hutt, who

is a fictional character in the Star Wars franchise created by George Lucas. He is a large, slug-like alien known as a Hutt who, like many others of his species, operates as a powerful crime lord within the galaxy.

See Wikipedia, “”Jabba the Hutt” (2020), available online at URL = <>.

[xx] I’m grateful to the members of the London Calling Back phildialogue group for extremely helpful conversations about the topics of this essay, and also to Mark Pittenger, for inspiring me to revise an earlier and less edgy version, and then re-share it.

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Robert A. Hanna, PhD

Published a month ago