T2B16: Xiden 3 - Capitalist Theology

Newslet: Ceiling Fan

Rachel Lopez has been taking taxis in Mumbai and photographing herself inside them. Turns out that they are the destination inside the journey.

But once you've scored a taxi, get in and look up. You'll notice a canvas that holds the most unusual art. Approximately half the city’s cabs decorate their ceilings and doors in some kind of colorful plastic or vinyl sheeting.

If you’re lucky, you might get the common fruit design — photos of melons, berries, kiwis, even a sliced papaya, all cobbled together…. There are neat geometrics, subtle two-tone filigree patterns, delicate cherry blossoms, garish zebra prints and monstrous bouquets. The truly fortunate may even see the unicorn of taxis: a fully mirrored ceiling with a chandelier affixed just behind the driver’s head.

Enjoy.

Capitalist Theology

The political philosopher and jurist, Carl Schmitt coined the term ‘Political Theology’ to understand the conduct of politics within a theological frame. The best modern example is Fukuyama’s ‘End of History’ thesis that said that human history has ended not with the day of judgment but with the victory of liberal democracy and capitalist economics.

Fukuyama was half-right: thirty years after the fall of the Soviet Union, it’s clear that liberalism is no longer the fulfillment of our political hopes but capitalism has entrenched itself as the only economic system worth considering. It’s day of judgment will also come, but for now, we are in the realm of Capitalist Theology.

However, now that capitalism has swallowed the world, we are seeing older debates returning in digested form, as debates within the capitalist system rather than debates about the capitalist system and its rivals. Of those, neoliberal capitalism is the dominant theological system but confucian capitalism is fast emerging as an upstart dogma. LKY thinks China still has a ways to go before it can truly become an international empire, which will mean accepting and promoting a select group of outsiders to positions of power in its own system.

Which is as good a point as any to remind everyone that immigration and emigration are imperial tools - why raise walls when you can bomb people wherever they are?

China suffers from English being the language of global commerce and culture, but it’s possible that might change with sufficient investment over the coming decades. I don’t see how the US and China can avoid theological competition after Trump and COVID. Will it be another cold war? Will it take some other shape? I don’t know, but it’s no longer possible to deny that there’s a theological difference alongside all the other reasons for China and the US to be on a collision course.

Many Fronts

What are the points of conflict and what are the avenues for cooperation?

Conflict

  1. Trade - deficits, tariffs…

  2. Natural resources - oil, minerals…

  3. Military/Political hotspots - Taiwan, Hong Kong…

Cooperation

  1. Shoring up the capitalist system!

  2. Climate change

The conflicts are easier to document since there’s plenty of press about them. I will start with them tomorrow.

Afterword

There are many wack jobs in this world and a surprising number of them have found their way into Trump’s legal team. One of them - Sidney Powell - was found to be too extreme even for that team.

There’s this romantic belief in Popperian science where all scientific theories have to be falsifiable. Scientists rarely submit themselves to falsification, but at least they have to respond to their critics. At some point, lack of evidence leads to theory change.

Conspiracies are the exact opposite. If you can’t find evidence, it’s because the Devil or the Deep State is hiding it. If evidence doesn’t turn up after systematic efforts to uncover it, well, isn’t that actually evidence for the Devil/Deep State’s overwhelming power? Who else would be able to plant their moles everywhere and erase all traces of criminality?

If anything, Trump’s loss is the perfect hatchery for QAnon culture, which will now fester in ‘alternative’ social networks such as Parler. Trump will abet these conspiracies without any constraints on his behavior.

Biden is in a tough spot - tackling Trump and QAnon head on might inflame the conspiracy but letting it fester is not bound to end well either.