Liberal Judgment

There is a strain of liberal bourgeois ethics, where religion becomes a problem of artificial judgment. Religion in this sense is understood as a structural aspect of the human mind, where God’s judgment operates as a function that structures life. This operation distinguishes between the redeemed and the unredeemed on Judgment Day, but no one believes this day will ever actually arrive, and so this is what Kant would call a regulative ideal.  Therefore religious belief is not treated as a serious question, but as an error which arises due to a failure in reason, imagination or abstraction. What liberal bourgeois religion takes as regulative gets taken too literally by the other classes, so that Lacan would say they mistakenly identify with the subject of the statement. That neutrality is the basis of bourgeois identity and superiority. Belief is a regrettable affliction of the poor that is unthinkable for the pious. To discuss one’s belief is either an act of dramatic role-play, or else it is indistinguishable from discussing everyday existence.

The problem of religion then is not belief, but rather the fabulation of imaginary judgments. Present behavior gets reflected uncertainly in the future, and this uncertainty abolishes any recourse to onto-theology. Judgment Day is how one represents the future reaping of what is being sown today. This relational function, where our present acts get reflected in their future results, evolved over millions of years into memory structures which affect everyone regardless of their religiosity. The forms of judgment are effected by technological conditions, so that it becomes photographic, cinematic etc. The imagination is the faculty which synthesizes this judgment as an intellectual intuition. What ultimately matters is whether the faculty of judgment works, because its function is the primary factor in psychopathology. The critical function of this event concerns the symbolization of entropy which is future surplus. The function of the imaginary judgment is to separate and bind quanta of surplus energy. From Christianity there is the idea of an ultimate sacrifice, an event that terminates a series of repetitions. The judgment of the individual is part of the judgment of the collective, and all of humankind who ever lived are united in this imaginary structure. Unstable emotional surpluses cause pathologies, which can be erotic, violent or aesthetic. These include imagistic habits such as conspicuous consumption and other obsessional erotomanias.

Capital represents these physiological surpluses according to its terrible models of production. The industrial system is driven thermo-dynamically, and the intelligence of capital is a matter of harnessing energetic imbalances which critically affect populations. Social positions are equivalent to different ways of suffering industrial physiology, since it is through technological afflictions that one relates to other people. The damned classes may relate through celebrations, jokes, fetishes, esoterica, complaining… the topology of the social is negotiated by exchanging these excesses.  Trafficking in entropy is the struggle for symbolic recognition, where proprieties are afforded through the making of concessions to the common.  This commerce generates a social pathos that is a dynamic between fatigue and excitement, and this resonates with the standard oscillations of psychopathology, such as the perversity of the good breast, and the neurosis of the bad breast, and the oscillation of the maternal image and the paternal text/voice, and with the binaries of metaphysics.

Michel Callon says that capitalism alternately blows hot and cold, and economic conditions must be comprehended both thermodynamically and phenomenologically. The closest epistemic analogy to this machine driven by differences is meteorology. Bourgeois subjectivity is braced at the limits of a market cosmology where regional and symbolic differences are muddled together in the conception of classes according to the economic superego of capitalist society. Subjects are forced to judge others according to whether their surplus/lacks are sufficiently sublimated, or whether they remain too salient. The good life must be unaffected by the fluctuations of capital, since it must attain the liberty to enjoy from a distance. The bourgeois is the one for whom the market cycle never interrupts their enjoyment, who is never disturbed by the nerve of mortality. The blessed are not obsessed by the wars, and that way liberated for divine perfection. They work, laugh and cry out of joyful liberty, and not out of fear or moral compulsion.  A poor person is someone who forces their surpluses and lacks in the faces of others. They are tormented by too much/little work, money, sex, kindness etc. and that entropy is a contagion which fractures the symbolic fabric of society. Embarrassing surpluses may be expressed as some religious or political stupidity which ravages the channels of communication, such as during the radicalism of the 1960s, or the Muslim extremists of today. The poor insinuate lacks and excesses them into polite society, because they are resently of its privalege, and it resists their seducations through the principle of indifference. If the terrible spectacle of development makes someone salivate, or makes them queasy and light-headed, then they are unfit for the class that drives modern history.

What the bourgeois god cannot tolerate above all is master/slave dialectic, which is the old relation between aristocrats and peasants. The emergence of the liberal class is conditional on avoiding these traditional relations, and the essential principle is to be neither slaves nor enslaved.  Getting emotionally interpolated into the market cycles is how the subject returns to the gloom of medieval society.  The historical emergence of the bourgeois avoids both the excesses of the aristocracy, and the poverty of the peasants, and it is always in danger of restoring that symbolic order.  Their idea of work is internally equilibrated with consumption, and between them is the harmony of industrial providence. Each must discover what work he can do, and it is essential that work is approached indifferently, because it must have the neutrality and objectivity of the test, and there must assurance that work can be exchanged through the medium of the general ongoing tribulations of pious life striving to achieve the providential design. This judgment is a perceptual system which neutralizes the disharmonies which arise as proportional imbalances and inconsistencies. In order to work fairly in the secular economy, the key is to avoid coming under the direct influence of hyperbolic medieval ideas such as communism. Communism corresponds with the hypothetical encroachment of the consumer desire upon the distribution of production, which the society defends against through the incest taboo.

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