Yesterday, I had to decide whether I’d go downtown to protest, or go to class. I ended up going to class. Why? I was confused, and honestly a bit deflated, by ontological questions. Where is Chase? Where is Goldman Sachs? Where is Bank of America? These entites are not located in downtown SF, nor even on Wall Street in NYC. Nonetheless, they are considered “persons” and have the same legal privilages that you and I have. Only, they don’t have to pay taxes for the income they earn in this country. Their personhood is no doubt a legal fiction, but if the financial crisis has taught us anything, it’s that fictions can still destroy the world. Alongside the material and ideological aspects that go into making up the massively distributed existence of a corporation, there is also an occult dimension. Corporations are “egregores,” a term referring to the collective mind that emerges as a result of some coordinated social activities, especially those associated with ideas and brands. Eliphas Levi associates it with the nephalim written of in the Torah.
These nephalim were depicted as giants with voracious appetites. They are mentioned just before the story of Noah’s Ark. Levi writes of them that they “crush us without pity because they are unaware of our existence.” Sounds familiar. And it speaks to the sense I had yesterday that shouting at the logos of tall buildings from the street is entirely ineffectual. Corporations don’t have ears to hear us.
How can we influence them, then? I think we need to counter the black magic of their fiat currency. I mused yesterday that, if the protests do balloon beyond all expectations such that the corporate execs watching on the 70th floor began to take notice, they would only have to push the emergency button installed in their board room causing the ATMs across the city to begin spewing money onto the streets. I imagine that this would send protesters into a frenzy. We’d drop our signs and run to collect the cash. This is, after all, exactly what the 99% are asking for, is it not? We want our money back! But if this were to happen, it is the corporations who would win again. So long as we all walk around with dollar bills printed by the privately owned and controlled Fed Bank, or with Visa, MasterCard, and AmEx logos in our pockets and purses, so long as we depend on the systems of signification the mega-banks have concocted for us to play their game of monopoly with, then we remain their prisoners, their wage-slaves. Shouting at logos is completely ineffectual. And so long as the FBI continues to arrest those who try to create alternative currencies, breaking free of this corrupt money system will remain difficult, if not impossible. But it is clear to me that there is definitely an occult dimension at work, which is not to say that invisible demons and dragons are waiting to eat us, but that the meaning-making capacity of our souls, as free members of democratic communities, has been infected and distorted beyond all recognition by the psychic power of corporate symbolism. Our biggest enemy is not just on Wall Street, it is inside each of us. We have been raised to be consumers. We do not know of another way to survive in the corporate environment. Our food and even our self-esteem are increasingly woven into corporate webs of semiosis. How can we fight back? By continuing to create and support culture free of commodification and branding. By working to free ourselves, body and soul, from the black magic shaping our lives. By continuing to fight to take our government back, broken as it may be, since it is only by organizing ourselves politically that we can mobilize our democratic power as the 99% against the magic monetary power of the 1%. This is going to be a long and difficult war of ideas, and there will be no visible victories for some time, I’m afraid to say. But the people will win eventually, I’m sure of that.