Builds Upon: The System Gets What It Selects For
Once upon a time, there was a man named Keynes who believed that in the midst of a depression in which resources were underutilized, even building useless pyramids was preferable to letting poverty and stagnation progress and become entrenched.
Keynes intended such measures to endure for only as long as needed. But perhaps he did not sufficiently appreciate that it would be tempting for governments to prolong such emergency measures into a self-perpetuating way of life, that the useless pyramids could become the foundation stones of entire economies, that his philosophy for dealing with crises would be dragged down a slippery slope to logical absurdities.
Our own society is just such a Keynesian playground where Keynes’ original tenets have been driven beyond their extremes. We live in a society that is all about increasing consumption regardless of what is consumed, about increasing productivity with no thought as to whether it all results in genuine accomplishment or improvement of the overall quality of life. It hardly matters what is produced or why it is produced.
To transform a society into a Keynesian playground is to abolish all questions of purpose from the mass society. Such a society has the rationality of an ant mound. It cannot pretend to any higher drives, it only strives to expand and compete. It can care nothing for the ants under its power. It does not manage or plan for growth. It merely grows where growth is easiest today.
Eventually such a society has expanded so greatly through useless production that it is increasingly reliant on useless activity just to sustain itself. If ever consumption for the sake of consumption came undone, it would bring down the entire society.
Every time there is crisis, new increasingly useless forms of production must be invented. The mass society quickly becomes dependent on these new methods in turn and the process repeats…
Frequently heard is the sentiment that modern industrialized countries “have no culture.” In the literal sense, such a sentiment is obviously untrue and yet it resonates on a certain level.
What is meant, I think, is that our own lives become microcosms of the mass society’s lack of driving purpose, will, and values. In this sense, we have lost culture.
I would suppose ‘lack of culture’ also refers to the tendency of a Keynesian playground to turn most people into micro-specialists who consume a maximum of possible goods and services from one another.
In a society where even shared lore is handed top-down to the masses by disconnected micro-specialists, there is no real culture.
Ultimately, our entire society and way of life has become a useless pyramid.
In a society full of purposeless products, purpose becomes the scarcest commodity.