Today, thanks to late-stage capitalism, alienation and atomization has exacerbated everything, threatening the apocalypse by pushing the survival of the human species to the brink. A bullying, bureaucratized anonymity on our phones hectors us from the minute we wake until we finally close our eyes at nighttime, and it seems nothing really matters, and nobody ever really gets their comeuppance.
The USA is the only democracy that has devolved into a gerontocracy, given the outsized impact of the baby boomer generation. We are living in a society where the younger generation is getting their driver’s license much later, and is having sex less often. The collective sense of belonging has long vanished, leaving behind a bunch of strangers, ambiguously hostile to everyone and ourselves as we passively consume distractions, in the vague hopes that the other shoe will finally drop.
Edward Said once defined contemporary life as a “generalized condition of homelessness.” Heidegger claimed that “homelessness is coming to be the destiny of the world” at a time where fascists were reinvigorating themes of blood and soil, country and race as intoxicating antidote to the mass anonymity and de-personalization of modernity.
The widespread existential vacuum of late-stage capitalist society is the feeling of boredom, brought on by both biological and cultural evolution. Biological in which we are the only animal whose behavior isn’t guided by instinct, and cultural in which late-stage capitalist society has collapsed many traditions that constrained behavior, such as organized religion.
Therefore this vacuum is ameliorated by two ways and both of them seek to mollify or patch over the sensation of existential terror:
Conformism, or do what everyone else is doing.
Totalitarianism, or find someone else to tell us what to do.
The mediocre seek both the totalitarianism imposed upon them by sociopaths, and conformism imposed upon them by the mediocre class, just to relieve the pressure of the existential vacuum.
According to the Cult of Trump, social and psychological forces attracts the mediocre to fascism: poverty, prisons and a country founded on White Supremacy within the context of mass (some enforced) migrations. The greatest trick capitalism pulled is to replace class distinctions between the rich and the poor is with racial categories, in which the problems of the poor whites were all laid at the feet of the black and brown people.
The mediocre class is a social byproduct of stereotypes that prevents the opportunity of genuine selfhood. Once mass society emerged from an extremely stratified feudal order, the new social order generated a mediocre class. A symptom of this modern class is the substitution of mollification for engaged passionate commitment – the only authentic response to the existential horror.
And whither the people we all come to know and love as MAGA? I leave you with the immortal words of Seneca, who served a tyrant and wrote an essay titled On Leisure, published once he left public office:
The duty of a man is to be useful to his fellow-men; if possible, to be useful to many of them; failing this, to be useful to a few; failing this, to be useful to his neighbors, and, failing them, to himself: for when he helps others, he advances the general interests of mankind.