After kissing der Ring des großen Bruders, I had to book a new flight. I was supposed to have left at 1610, five hours before what I could get after my harassment episode, which was 2135. I had three hours to sit and think about what just happened. I was shaken and angry. If only I had killed someone instead, none of this would be happening. How come killers aren’t stopped at airports and asked, “What were you thinking as you kissed him? What did it feel like when your respective lips touched? Do you have the urge to kiss again? Have you been arrested for anything else since your infamous offense?”
I bought the fancy Arlanda Express bus tickets in advance. Jina complained that it was a waste, but they had a special: only 600 SEK for two people round trip.
Then off I flew. A new dimension of harassment has entered, fully sanctioned, into my life, as part of our generations favorite moral high-contrast term,
We departed at 2210 and arrived at midnight. Got my huge suitcase and took the intra-airport subway to the Express.
Why a stupid subway photo? This spacious and pristine utility felt like clear evidence, stamped considerately into physical nature, that in this land, the purpose of the state is beneficence, or value-added. The job of the state is to maximize the experience of easier and less fearful living, of conditions that enhance survival. The state improves the lives of all, while yet still tethering itself to the unfair relations of production under capital. It’s as if, here, capital is genuinely grateful to the human lives that labor to multiply it. Or rather, Northern Socialism (or “the Nordic Model”) is the explicit recognition by both classes of the inherent violence of the mode of production—its asymmetry of effort, contrasting consequences of resting, unequal power of decision and dominion over product. And more. Knowing that capital structurally intends to maximize surplus value disproportionally enhancing one class and impoverishing (because effort and energy are finite) the other. The Nordic State doesn’t spend every hour trying to deceive labor into fucking itself. The Nordic capitalists have declared: “If we chose to organize our people around a system with such a dangerous tendency, then we need an actually ethical government that will, with all power (of law, court, and police), step in to bend its structural class domination, or capital-directed value extraction, to good ends.
Labor is at a disadvantage and cannot by itself protect itself from capital’s efforts at increased extraction. Capital has the value that permits courts, law, and police. The dominant ideas of a nation are the ideas of the dominant class. Institutions of power do something—they exist to serve interests. Of real people. But capital holders and labor holders have basically antagonistic interests. They very ways of value acquisition are opposed. It’s as if they have different digestive orifices; they both eat different and opposed types of food. For example, capital prefers lower wages and longer hours; labor, the reverse. The interest of one is strongly negatively correlated with that of the other.
Knowing this, you can either (1) treat labor like shit and then punish it for pushing back, “Communists hate your mom and white people and your food and language. We’ll shoot some niggers to make you feel better,” or (2) say “We like not having to work, but recognize that this depends on y’all. So were gonna make up for it. Thanks for being nice and hanging in there.” (1) is violence capitalism (VC), the US model, and (2) is enlightened capitalism (EC), the Nordic model. Social welfare is the concern by the ego of a capital-motivated kinship group for its own foundations.
In EC, the ruling class allows a government to exist that mollifies its own tendencies to over-extract life energy from labor. The parasitic class wants smart people making policies, people that can permit the parasite to survive while also keeping the host healthy and happy. As a result, the political discourse under EC is enough to make the typical American government hater cry. We all know that politicians suck up to the ruling class and that their primary purpose is to personally benefit from their positions, either by taking money directly from lobbyists, or by getting funds (from the only people who can afford to give such gifts), or by passing laws that help the rich, which will soon include them.
The ego of a people, the state, will most likely rise from the class that has the leisure time to write it. Policy-making takes time that tired people lack. It is likely to favor the people writing it. Nordic policy makers are mechanics that really want capital to survive in a way that both preserves M–C–M′ while making labor as healthy and happy as possible. But I dare say that it also brings in lofty concepts, such as species being and universal goods. Most people do work. We politicians could have been born in a poor family. It is the benefit of the entity Possible Human Being that the bottom be raised. Minorities, the disabled, the poor, the mentally ill, gays, and the weird are a large group of real people, capable of suffering.
Since the owning class lives off the energy of the labor class, capital’s implementation of pro-labor policies are actually self-serving. They serve capital in the long run, by keeping it alive. VC sees only what’s on its plate here and now. So it will lie, steal, and murder for tiny scraps at the cost of having the whole game upended.
In the subway, I saw the surplus value of capital being returned to its source: the inhabitants of that human production neighborhood. Value was being extracted and then sent right back to nourish the human infrastructure that secrets it, in the form of medicine, transportation, nutrition, solidarity, and environmental upkeep.
The rational state
About the collective ego. America is a schizoid. Capital has turned labor against itself and madness has ensued. Republican politicians serve capital with no concern for labor, but labor is happy to get spanked by a klansman because it knows that it can enjoy the spectacle of blacks and Mexicans being abused. The greatest joy of the American working class is seeing the return of a publicly abused underclass, traditionally defined by skin and language. Seeing the Other blamed and punished is for actually preferable than self-benefit for some people.
American is most remarkable for this reason: white labor is blinded by an almost Old Testament ideology. The rulers rule and ought to rule as long as we are at war against the racial/ethnic others. Being lubed fucked by a white cop is good just in case he is also dry fucking a black ass. Being fucked is taken as the state of nature.
As a result, there is no (unified) national consciousness. Which is also to say that an American collective ego does not exist. The organism, that is to say, is not yet (or no longer?) self-conscious of itself as a unity and so not aware of the essential antagonism at its center.
But the Swedish organism was awake and sentient. It understood its internal spring of becoming and took rational action to make sure the capital accumulating (and ideology scheming) motivator cells don’t over-work and under-pay the labor cells, and also don’t take over propaganda-wise and ruin the system. The system has to understand itself and history in order to continue, otherwise VC-minded capitalists will trick the labor cells into an autoimmune attack. VC-minded (or short term-minded) cells want the organism to lose self-consciousness and become a tool of further class domination. Once you have Republican workers, for example, we know that the organism is no longer healthy—it has let the empowered cells trick the working cells into immiserating themselves.
When you see a group benefitting itself, you know that reason has arise within it. You know that the organism’s sub-goals have unified so that the General Will is actually general. This, of course, requires enough policy transparency that all the cells can see it. Transparency is necessary for welfare capitalism because cells can participate in—and so constitute—the action of the organism only if they can perceive what it is actually doing. The organism can be improved (its cells made happier) only if its constituent wills and goals are transparent to all the cells. The healthy society is non-self-deceptive. It does not poison itself with ideology. Labor will still suffer and still have violent symptoms, but now these will be misdirected—for example, race-on-race violence. This will be allowed and even cultivated when the government works only as a functionary of (short-term) capital. Ideology benefits some cells to the detriment of the whole organism.
A rational team follows rules that help the team succeed. There are two parts: rational policy and real motivation. To really want the organism to succeed, there must be rational policy; and in order for rational policy to exist, the cells must really want the organism to succeed. When you have both, when policy is transparent and really universalist in intent, only then is the organism self-conscious, like Hegel’s concrete God.
The Stockholm subway displayed a rationality that has come home to the original interest of a society, which is survival. I saw the ego of the social organism, the state, striving to benefit its universal infrastructure, to benefit all people generally. I found a state that was both sentient and sane in that it employed rational self-interest. Only a rational state takes human dignity seriously, because only a rational state takes the Principle of Utility seriously. Meanwhile, America lets capital poison the organism and run it to the ground, offering only spectacles of punishment for consolation.
Got off the train and was screwed: there were no busses running after 0100. Went outside to interrogate strangers and saw a bus just leaving, full of people from my plane. What is this? It was a private bus. “But I don’t have a ticket!” I said. Friendly Driver said no problem.
I asked him where I should get off, which was here:
Arrived in the city and stopped at Max to use the bathroom. Had to wait 15 minutes first, as a fat asshole kept trying to cut in front of me by insisting that I was waiting for no one but merely pretending in order to block him from shitting for fun. “Are you sure there is no one in there?” “Yes, if your being in front of me counts as real because I fucking saw him go in and he was not transparent.”
Brought all my luggage inside. It was smaller than a phonebooth so I was pushed on all sides by my bags and had one in my lap as I shit. The lights did not work and it was completely dark. And hot. And stank. I used my phone as a nightlight. Someone banged on the door; I had just calmed down enough to enter into that private self-relation called shit mode. Hilarious if I weren’t the character.
I got out so see a group of five rugged night shifters and skate punks staring at me like, “What’s the matter with you?” for taking three minutes to shit while immobilized in hot darkness. Left with my colossal suitcase and two other bags and passed a spacious and golden hotel lobby I could have used.
And so I walked a good 10 minutes in the exact opposite direction of the hotel. Thanks to my fucked Google Maps app. Then I spent another 30 minutes wandering around, phone dying, and stating to get pissed.
Finally got to the hotel and Jina and I ate dinner at Max. The cashier was really funny and strong, sarcastic and loud. What a refreshing encounter, after the asshole cops and 24 hours of flying.