The Point of the Ego
I believe that consciousness itself derives in part from the interplay of different levels of cooperation. However, in patriarchy we not only become conscious but we also form the masculated ego-consciousness as follows:
When we (or others) attribute a sample character to ourselves, making ourselves the point, just as we would to something in the external world, we also become our own topic, the thing 'pointing back.' This self-referentiality ties the knot, shuts the door, blocks the view of its antecedents, reflects. It takes the place of the other, interrupting the other-oriented flow. We give credence to this shut mirror-door (it seems to be a mirror not only because we seem to see our selves but also because others are engaging in self-referentiality too). We believe in our own presence to ourselves, as if it were the source of ourselves. We create from it a dominating ego, as a sample against which we can compare the various moments of ourselves (our internal many) and others more or less like us externally. We nurture this moment of internal equivalence which is self-similar with the other internal and external enactments of the masculation process.
The result of finding a gender identity through
becoming relative to the father as equivalent is reinforced by replaying
the over-taking equation back into the individual
self-referentiality.1 Then instead of nurturing others,
we value equivalence over nurturing even internally. This
eventually develops into valuing being over giving, abstract over
concrete, general over particular--though of course these are not
all concomitant. Instead, the true continuing source of our selves
is interactive and comes from our other-orientation--the
1In fact, the result is the focus, the 'sample' self, the one. Once we begin to count, we require a context of 'ones.' Saying one 'one,' two 'ones,' etc. and one times 'one' equals 'one,' probably requires a knowledge of other 'ones,' from some other context.
People with masculated egos verbalize, like everyone else, creating their linguistically mediated consciousnesses. The self-referential ego mirror becomes the over-taking speaking subject, but this is not a social or psychological necessity. We can have linguistic mediation, interaction with others, development of the self without the dominating ego mirror--which is 1 = 1 = 1, repeating the content of the hall-of-mirrors of the equation. In fact, many women feel ill at ease in our individualistic capitalistic society because we usually do not have this kind of ego.2 Many men are also uncomfortable because, in spite of the pressures of masculation, they have maintained a connection with the mothering model.
Free (Masculated) Will
The self-similarity of every 'one' with the index occurs
also because we can actively implement the indication,
moving towards the sample, like the finger. From the moment in
which we focus ourselves in a self-similar way, backgrounding some
parts of ourselves, making ourselves internally one-many, we
can initiate action towards a goal, a topic, a destination which
we have singled out. We often call this 'will.' However, at that
point we are usually not taking into account the giftgiving
or communicative impulse on the other side of the ego
mirror-door. The giftgiving motivation appears to be part of the many--part
of all the rest of the contents of our consciousness we are
not attending to. We may or may not let our e-motions, our
other-oriented impulses, get through the door to cause us to ignore
2Perhaps intuiting the role the definition has for the male identity, we hang on men's words, hoping they will tell us we are 'beautiful,' 'intelligent,' 'a good wife.' In this way, we almost create a self-referential ego in their image.
We calculate, "What is best for me?" The need for this filter has been created by the competitive context of patriarchy. We also need to know 'who we are' for the purposes of survival.3 We have to be able to say what gender, class, race, religion, sexuality we are so, knowing our definition, we know our place in the hierarchy and the rules that apply to us--how to survive in the system, be less vulnerable. The self-similarity that occurs at different levels allows us to say, "This is like me; this is not like me," making ourselves again according to the masculated images in different areas of life. The ego in relation to the subconscious is also a kind of concept sample with the resonances this has on the external, from family to government, which are also made in that image. Women's experience is usually somewhat different from men's because we are defined by men and when the man-word takes our place in marriage, we become the sample 'thing' whose place is taken by the 'word.' We 'know' our place in the system is not to be on top.
We could look at the ego with its will as another icon of the index, literally moving the body towards its object or destination (with other aspects of the self held back). But when we do caring, need-satisfying work, our behavior re-aligns with our motivation 'behind the mirror-door.' When we engage in over-taking, ego-enhancing, other-denying (exchange) behavior, we expand only the self-similar moment, the mirror, recalling the moment of comparison in the concept. The values of the masculated ego filter out giftgiving behavior.
There are of course variations on this
self-replicating situation. Some women find that it is possible to have
an other-oriented ego which can create self-preservation. It is
3The patriarchal investment of the sample position invests the ego sample with over-taking when it wouldn't be doing it on its own. Also, males see themselves as 'ones' because they are giving up giftgiving and other-orientation, for self-referentiality. I think the experience of the ego is 'anchored' in the body much as Neuro-Linguistic Programming theorists say other types of experiences are anchored.
In the couple, men traditionally take on the role of the ego, women the role of the nurturer, the many, the subconscious. The person who has been discredited, even abandoned, as not-like (not similarly self-similar) returns as the nurturer of the self-similar (male) standard. Her giftgiving way is filtered out of the public arena and focused in the family. Her energy nurtures and upholds the filter, the public arena and those who succeed in it.
The Salary and the Ego
Ego consciousness itself is a kind of exchange-and-masculation-based filter mediating between the ways of giftgiving and of exchange. Property ownership also filters out giftgiving, but women's consciousness is usually socialized to continue giftgiving. Participation in the labor market allows a reconciliation of the two modes after the fact. The worker supports a family by giving to it from the 'property' of his/her monetary definition--the salary. The market is based upon masculation, and its process is therefore more attuned to those who have experienced that process as boy children.
For women, the market is an external context in which they can of course succeed, but it does not resonate with their original categorization. Earning a salary and supporting a family resolve psychological conflicts which a woman does not originally have, so it does not have the same effect for her. The advantage for her is that participating in the market can resolve the practical problem of the 'have-not' status, and it allows some women access to privileged categories constructed by patriarchy.
The houses a person helps to build as a construction worker take the place of the gifts of nature and become the property of someone. However, the worker's monetary 'name' often does not give him/her enough money to buy them. His/her 'giving' to the community (as exchange) takes the place of individual other-oriented giving and creating community with his/her family. The 'money-word,' $, takes the place of that act of substitution.
Males or females who give their salary to the family are like the person who gives the name 'male,' the name that privileges the boy and makes others give to him. But the boy receives the 'name' because he has the 'mark,' like the price tag. When a man supports his wife and family with his salary, he is giving her the 'name' even though she doesn't have the 'mark.' When she produces a son, however, her lack is resolved. She seems to merit her husband's sharing of his money name by bearing a son.
The relation between women's free labor in the home and
the husbands' salary is influenced by this transposition of the
gender definition and is not identical to exchange. He gives her part of
his money-name, while she continues to give free caring labor which
is not defined by money or quantitatively assessed. His salary is
the re-incarnated word with which in scarcity she can buy the
means of nurturing, so that she can continue to do free giving with all
its qualitative variations. (It is almost as if she were made
dependent upon his masculation, his gender term, for the means
of nurturing--her own breasts being the prime example of
All of this has now been reworked by the entry of women into the labor force and single parenting. Women themselves work for the money name and supply the means of nurturing for their children. Thus it is clear that money is only a 'word,' a trans-lated gender term, which anyone can potentially acquire. Like the gender term, it is not biologically but socially based. Earning a living empowers some women by making their survival less tentative and dependent on a male's earning power. However, the whole exchange economy is a product of masculation and necessarily makes most people into 'have-nots.' The economic masculation of some women will not solve the general problems caused by psychological and economic masculation of the society.
(Hetero) Sexuality and Killing
Gender and its result, male (dominance)-based-heterosexual sexuality, over-take nurturing as the model for both sexes--fitting in with language which takes the place of material co-munication. Just mentioning the gender of the child seems to tell us that gender (i.e., difference from or similarity to the mother), and eventually sexuality, is more important than nurturing. The boy's physio-cultural difference from her is more important than her nurturing way. Similarly, killing with a phallic index symbol, which can be seen as transposed (hetero) sexuality, is more important than nurturing. The animal or person submits and becomes passive to the will of the shooter.
However, the animal that is killed by the
over-taking phallic index can then be used for nurturing: like the
woman who is dominated, over-taken, upon whom her dominator
can become parasitic. Hunting itself is like exchange because
the object, the receiver of the 'indication,' is transformed and
re-categorized. It becomes the property of the hunter,
separated from its will, like the product which is separated from its
owner in exchange (or the child from the mother by his
Post-masculated nurturing usually requires re-cognition (another look-alike of exchange). Women (and less powerful men) nurture the dominator, and he works through the very mechanism of masculation to nurturing of a sort, over-taking and/or 'contributing' in that strange way. Male consciousness allows post-masculated giftgiving instead of non-masculated giving. The 'mark' is like a case ending in language, which shows this is his role. He has that 'case marker' (or 'tag'), and so can traditionally only give in specific socially determined de-personalized ways, which involve alienating the product, giving to the community, to others in general, in exchange for the 'money name' by which he can become a privileged receiver. It is this strange model the boy has to imitate.
Money, too, can be seen as a collection of quantitative case tags. As legal 'tend-er,' the tags say 'pay to bearer.' Like a transformation from active to passive, the price tag and the male 'mark' also indicate that their bearers must be treated as the receivers of specific gifts. Then the more possessions or money, the more case tags a man 'owns,' the more he controls and the more he 'deserves' to receive.
The dominated woman gives up giving sexually to
anyone other than her husband, and materially to anyone other than
him and her children. The shift of modes from gift to exchange,
from maternal to post-masculated giving, becomes identified with
the mark of the male. The icon of the sample shifts to
and implements over-taking. And the penis itself changes,
becoming erect. It does not have a self-similarity like the hand, a
repetition of the relation of the sample to relative items in itself, so it has
to find its identity as 'one-to-many' outside in a relation
of competition with other males' penises for superiority. Then
all men are considered 'ones' with relation to women (who do
have the 'mark') as many, and they practice domination upon them to prove their superiority.
The index precedes the penis as an instrument of both sexual and non-sexual knowledge and, in fact, the penis is not necessary for identifying anything. The (false after all) identification of penis and index has perhaps been turned around so that the index appears to be a detached penis, which then may be transposed to become the bullet or the arrow. Also, saying it makes it so in masculation and in shooting. "It's a boy" and "Bang, bang, you're dead" have similarly alienating effects. By identifying something as one of a kind, you may exclude its other possibilities as an individual constant object. Shooting is made in the image of masculation.
We point the finger, picking out or indicating a
sample object; then we speak the word, naming it, moving from
non-verbal to verbal. The explosion accompanies the contiguity of
the transposed index with the object which it penetrates. We
move from the index concept icon (plus the concept-action of
singling out) to the word. (See Figure 32.) The penetration of the
other by the bullet-'gift' is really a service to the ego of the
'giver'-shooter. Shooting reinforces the exchange logic while the
violent penetration of the body (and heart) of the other recalls
and reinforces rape. The gun and the penis both function as 'ones'
to allow their bearer to achieve privileged 'one' status.
When we point at animals or people with a gun to kill, we must hold back our giftgiving impulses towards them, making them samples which will become dead objects--the animal useful as food or the person as elimination of danger or competition. We steel our will internally against other-orientation or giftgiving (poor rabbit) then single them out externally, taking life's gifts away from them, making them passive things. The internal mechanism of singling out, at the same time setting aside giftgiving, is like the mechanism inside the gun. With our index finger, we pull back the trigger-index; the hammer-index falls upon the bullet-index, making its charge explode and go forward through the phallic-index-gun barrel. The bullet-index hits the animal's or person's heart, stopping his/her internal giftgiving, transforming him/her into an object in our possession.
The explosion in the chamber of the gun matches
the explosion in the chamber of the heart of the one who is
killed, and also in the heart and mind of the killer, or perhaps in
his penis, where the pointing and the over-taking analogously
make something come explosively from the sample pointer.
Masculated will = penis = gun, and there are economic analogies as well.
It takes an internal exclusion of giftgiving to create an
external exclusion of giftgiving in the body of another, through
The spear or gun or bow and arrow point out and kill. The sharper focus backgrounds the life of the animal, giving value not to it but to the life of the pointer and the concurrent death of the animal. Then the prey becomes a gift of food. So hunting is a close analogy to pointing for communication because the killed animal becomes shareable, a gift, like the item that is pointed out. Similarly, the death of the enemy killed by pointing knives, spears, guns and missiles becomes a shareable gift for individuals, gangs, the army and the Patria.
This blood-soaked gift, our common ground, is divided into our properties which we again defend from one another with guns and knives. Whole armies point at one another, their technology made in the image of the reified pointers which show that they are in the superior category, abolishing the 'other.' In years of international tension, missile silos dot the landscape and missile-bearing trucks circulate, ready to raise their pointers and shoot their warheads at the enemy. From the knife to the gun to the nuclear missile, from the armed individual to the armed forces, the reiteration of the definition and the mark of 'male' transform our civilization into an immense fractal pattern consisting of self-similar images of masculation at different scales. The pattern self-validates and drains the energy of everyone and the planet into its agendas, sacrificing millions of human lives. However we may color and disguise the pattern, it is an ugly picture.
In ancient days the hunter only transformed the animal
into food, property, a gift. A common attention circle, a circle
of hunters, a council fire, a cook fire, a stove, a stage, accepted
the gift. The topic--the fire, the food, the nurturing
gift--became the common focus and the 'thing' related to a word,
the repeatable sample. The gatherers and farmers also
brought together their harvests. The topic was gathered using gifts of
the past, past topics, past gatherings and council fires,
individual points of view together. We are the others who the gifts of
Generations are like water flowing down a cliff, making pools, then overflowing and going on and making more pools. The common focus is a gift. In other words, an 'extra' that comes to us in the present and the future is that other people from the past can do it too, sit in the circle with us as we can with those of the future. 'One-many' dominance does not contribute a topic or a gift for others in the future because the goods it provides are not shareable, since they are monopolized by the one or used for constraint. The 'many' all give to the 'one,' not to each other.
Giftgiving Versus the Hall-of-Mirrors
Giftgiving is often discredited as crazy because it threatens to interrupt the fractal hall-of-mirrors. Common attention to others makes the self-similarity of the ego unnecessary, irrelevant. In fact, giftgiving is enhanced by the diversity of the others to whom one gives (among other things because their needs are different from the giver's and thus occasion growth and variety, not competition). Because giftgiving threatens the economic exchange paradigm and its ego structure, we exclude it from consciousness and force its female practicers into isolation, though they are legion, in the family.
There, they can be counted on to ensure the maintenance of most of the children in spite of numerous and overwhelming difficulties caused by scarcity. As isolated givers, mothers often endanger their own survival by giving too much in a localized way without being able to change the social structures. The 'catch-22' here is that they cannot change the social structures because giftgiving is not recognized as a viable alternative, and they cannot recognize its real viability until they change the social structures.
Nevertheless, because giftgiving threatens exchange, other seemingly benign obstacles are put in its path. For example, 'humility' is its necessary virtue (don't brag about it)--a fact which keeps giftgivers from asserting themselves as models. A man setting boundaries, protecting 'his' woman, is really protecting his giftgiver, for himself, against her giving to other males. The internal structure of the ego-oriented masculated male is the interpersonal structure in the traditional couple. Patriarchal family values assert the right of dominating parasites to their giftgiving hosts. The phallus as the index invests the masculated male (or his ego consciousness or will) as index, so that he tends towards over-taking and domination of giftgiving, including the domination of his own internal gift motivations. If another external sample male 'points back' at him, the two of them must obviously compete for dominance.
4Co-dependence therapy interprets the givers and the people with un-met needs as excessive. It focuses on healing individual dis-ease, not on the diseased system, which is creating a context of scarcity and thus generating enormous numbers of un-met and un-meetable needs (which are actually used as economic motivators). Altruism is creative and life-enhancing, except when it is captured and drained by a dominator or rendered impossible by a context of scarcity. It was once estimated that 98% of the people in the US were co-dependent. That percentage seems to me to be clearly the red flag of a misinterpretation. It is normal to be altruistic. We are not being allowed to freely practice our normal nurturing behavior, because our means of nurturing are being robbed by the system, as well as by privileged 'ones' inside and outside our families. Co-dependence theory and therapy, by validating not giving, allow us to solve individual problems and live in the exchange system without challenging it.
The personality cults of recent leaders, whose mammoth images dominate public spaces, are examples of this. Until recently, in communist countries enormous pictures of the heads of the movement looked down on the meeting places of the masses. When Kim Il Sung recently died in North Korea, the television showed the crowds beating their breasts and weeping before the immense statue of their leader. The preservation of Lenin's body in his mausoleum in the Kremlin gave the Soviet Union an image of the constancy of the masculated ego-will, while the toppling of his huge statue with pointing finger outstretched is another case in point.
The difference between many of the self-similar levels is the time it takes to carry them out. The time it takes to say a sentence is briefer than the time it takes to exchange, so you can also do more of them together. Masculation itself takes years. We are indexes ourselves; our movements towards a goal are indication gestures. We can indicate the goal or actually go to it, to touch it. We have future orientation, a goal or destination transposed onto time from space. We can also point back at where we have come from spatially, and back in time.
Pointing may take as little time as lifting a finger, or as
much as it takes to travel to a destination. We act like the index
A goal which is identified as the destination or point may be something other than the satisfaction of a need. Is our motivation for travel ego or other-oriented? Exchange seems to allow us to do both or neither, only increasing the (money) sample. Caravans traveled to distant destinations to trade. Travel is like the phallus is in sex, going to a destination. The pioneers' journey to the West, conquering nature, pointed out 'virgin' territory where the men with index-guns killed the men with index-bows-and-arrows and then embedded themselves parasitically, homesteading on 'free' land.
Horses, with their large energy, can appear as phallic indexes as they gallop towards a destination. Cars are similar, but we can actually travel in them together, indicating a destination, and pointing out points of interest as we go. The road and the scenery are foregrounded and backgrounded in a constant flow; the road at which the car points and the common destination are topics held in common. The mechanism here is a foregrounding and backgrounding one. We pay attention to the foreground and self-consistently do not look at the background, which flows into the past. But it is the mechanism as a whole that overcomes the non-mechanism processes--which we do not see. (Is the index's shift of modes an original proto technology?)
Then we point our rockets at the moon to conquer it--and put our little flag pole on it when we get there. Our scientists rush to the goal of making a bigger bomb, winning the war, and produce a nuclear mushroom which points out its own unmistakable phallic character, murdering hundreds of thousands in the short term, and millions or billions long term, through (invisible, unindicated) radioactivity. We can kill with the index, but creating requires the whole hand.
The other side of foregrounding is the backgrounding we do not pay attention to, but which is just as much an activity. In pointing, the drawing back of the many fingers is as intentional and energy-consuming as extending the index; yet we hardly consider it, perhaps because we focus on the repetition of the one-many pattern between the pointer and the pointed-at. But the other fingers are helping the index by drawing back. Drawing back some fingers is part of the intention of extending one finger. The same thing happens interpersonally, when some people step back or give-way to let the other one step forward. It can be part of the same intention of the group. However, since our focus goes onto the one (or sample) it does not go onto the many. Then it is easy to forget them (as masculated 'samples' forget those who are giving and giving-way to them).
There are two 'manys'--the many fingers which are part of the hand--perhaps also re-presenting the other internal items or considerations the indicator is not attending to--and the many on the external, the other things which are not being pointed at. If the fingers actually help the index, by analogy the things on the external 'help' the one in focus to come forward by giving-way or giving up being the focus. In the family, women have traditionally been the excluded fingers; outside the family, they have been the excluded items. In the OBN, male pointers vie for the position of the one in focus, as well as pointing at their superiors all the way up their hierarchies.
Perhaps this is supported by the fact that the penis does not have other 'fingers' to exclude. The other fingers have just disappeared in the transposition and psycho-social 'evolution' of the sign from index to genitals. If the penis is the 'finger,' the male body is analogous to the hand.
I would like to propose that 'man' comes from manus (Latin for 'hand'), as the body-hand with the penis-index. Wo-man would thus be the womb-hand, the whole hand which creates and gives.
Giving and nurturing are typically done with the hands, to which having or lacking the penis are irrelevant. Even the baby's pointing can be seen as a request for a gesture of giving by the mother, an attempt to elicit her wo-man's womb-hand. As nurturing men who take care of their children have recently shown, the pointing hand can transform into a giving one. I am pointing this out in order to elicit the gift of that transformation not only at an individual but a social, systemic level.
What Does Democracy Re-Present?
Language is a response to communicative needs, which proliferate and diversify according to their satisfactions and according to on-going experience. These communicative needs overlap or co-participate with needs having to do with things--needs to consume things, but also to use them instrumentally, or to locate one's own or others' needs among them, perceive them accurately, foresee the consequences of their processes, etc.
Satisfying each other's needs having to do with things creates bonds among humans as those special parts of the external material world who are part of the same species as ourselves--who receive from and give to each other. The bonds created by language are similar to the bonds that would be created by sharing those things, if we could do so. Some of our sharing is impeded by the fact that there are things we cannot give to each other, such as mountains or our sensation of red, or granting the wish that the nuclear age had never happened. Much sharing is impeded by scarcity, in that there is not enough of something for everyone. Much is impeded by private property and our practice of not-giving. It is perhaps the differences in the reasons for not giving and receiving that makes the actual sharing of language so abstract and 'psychological,' transforming the mind into something different from the body.
We share abstractly, and this sharing produces only egos and minds, not peaceful and abundant material communities. We do not share goods concretely with the many. Perhaps we even practice giftgiving only with our immediate families and friends. What we do share, instead, is the not-giving of exchange, which makes us separate and adversarial, and connects us to each other only through the laws of the state, if at all. Exchange makes us into things that do not give to each other, except linguistically, so we are not part of the same species of nurturers. Instead, we organize ourselves into 'concepts,' which are organized into more general 'concepts.'
We create word-like representatives in government to take our places, organizing the larger group for us, deciding, commanding, legislating what giftgiving remains, the giving of obedience, of public services, of taxes. The representatives allocate (give) our tax money.
The lexicon, what Saussure called langue, is a purely differential system of words seen as values in which each element is related negatively to all the others as what it is not, and positively to the things it re-presents. For example, the word 'dog' is what it is because it is not 'cat' or 'beautiful' or 'justice' or 'running.' Those are negative relations it has with other words. 'Dog' also has a positive relation to dogs, which it re-presents.
We identified a very similar relation in private property, where each owner is related negatively to all the others, by mutual exclusion, and positively to the property s/he owns. Money, like the verb 'to be,' mediates between these mutually exclusive elements, creating a second substitution, a quantitatively divisible value concept sample,1 to which property can be momentarily related, and the property of one owner can become the property of another--without resorting to giving. Giving to needs implies inequalities--while exchange implies and requires equalities, covering up needs and giftgiving.
Speaking about money as the 'general equivalent,'
Marx commented, "It is far from being self-evident that this
character of being generally and directly exchangeable is, so to say, a
polar one, and is as inseparable from its polar opposite, the character
of not being directly exchangeable, as the positive pole of a
magnet is from the negative. People who give free rein to fancy
may therefore imagine that all commodities can
simultaneously acquire this characteristic of being directly exchangeable--just
as, if they like, they may imagine that all Roman Catholics
1 Exchange value is qualitatively simple and single, so that it can be divided quantitatively. Money is the material 'word-sample' which satisfies the communicative need arising from the kind of altered co-munication which is the exchange of private property. It is a communicative need for a re-presentative of giving while not-giving.
In masculation, the family is set up like the concept,
where the patriarchal father is sample or 'general equivalent.' He
takes the place of the other members of the family in decision
making, instituting command and obedience through his over-taking
will, and representing them in the society of men, the
OBN. We have seen that property is related to its owner in the
many-to-one concept (or family name complex) way. A similar thing
happens with our government.
Figure 34. Money is the general equivalent.
2Karl Marx, Capital, vol. 1, London, J. M. Dent, 1962, p. 41.
3Ibid, p. 42.
Curiously Marx personalizes commodities, saying that
they choose one of their number to be the equivalent, and this is
just the democratic process personified. The US Declaration
of Independence said "all men are created equal," at the
time notoriously leaving out women and slaves (free giftgivers)
from the democratic process. The fathers of our country were an
OBN, made up of white male property owners. They divided
themselves into groups according to location, each of which chose one
of their number to be their general equivalent, to take their place
as their representative in the governing bodies made up of the
'ones' who were representatives of other groups.
The OBN 'members' typically were themselves, by choice or by force, already in a 'one' relation regarding their families, and in a self-similar 'one' relation regarding their properties. The 'representatives' made decisions which affected those who had no power of choice, as well as those who did. The context made up of 'representatives' formed a new meta group, an OBN of the OBN, which had its own internal dynamics. A general equivalent was also chosen from among the group of the choosers, to be the general equivalent and representative of all, the president.
When the inhabitants of a nation are allowed to choose
their representatives, the process appears to more directly reflect
the concept process than, for example, monarchy does.
The representatives then appear to be not just the samples, but
the 'words' which take the place of all the members of the
community or group. Like the words in the
langue, they are in a mutually exclusive relation with each other, but they have a
positive, though polar relation with those they represent. (Figure 36)
From this position, they reconstitute themselves as a community,
giving to each other and receiving in various ways, making
coalitions, etc. This community acquires a life of its own with power over the lives of the many.
National boundaries then become like the boundaries of the concept. Those outside are 'things' that are not related to those 'samples' or to those 'words.' They are not represented, though they are affected by the decisions the representatives make, especially the decisions made in the nation that achieves the one status among nations.
If we stand back and ask ourselves, "If this is true, what
does this configuration mean?" the strategies we have
for interpretation pass through the concept process itself, and we
We could devise a way of organizing society free from projections and their subconscious resonances. We would not need to mutually exclude others in order to have national or individual identities, and we would not need to create relations of below and above, 'things' and 'words,' 'manys' and 'ones' in order to make individual or collective decisions. Rather, co-munication, forming the co-munity by satisfying needs at all levels, would be understood as the basis of meaning as well as the guiding principle for the organization of society.
Those in the 'word' position, the representatives, are themselves sometimes organized like the concepts of gender. US Democrats, for example, usually pay more attention to needs, while Republicans look at profit and national egotism. Both parties function on the male model--the right as more macho, the left as more paternalistically nurturing.
The Sexist Point of Democracy
Modern democracy more accurately corresponds to
the problem of masculation than tyranny or monarchy because it
has developed in an epoch of exchange where the money-word is
the king, the general equivalent, instead of the king himself. This
fact allows us to act out and perhaps understand the problem
as systemic, rather than attributing our difficulties to the
individual character of the 'one,' to the king or father, to the heredity of
the royal house or the superiority of a nation or race. As much as we
do fetishize gold or other money, it is clear that it is not a person.
And according to the American Dream, anyone can 'make money.'
We have displaced the problem of the privileged sample position
into an area where it more closely resembles masculation, though the
fit is not complete. Regardless of class or race, the story goes,
anyone who has enough luck, energy, and know-how can acquire a lot
In fact, 'lacking' is the other side of the coin, and anyone can also be like a 'lacking' woman. The supremacy of money detaches the privileged sample position from heredity, and perhaps allows more space for us to consider socialization and opportunity as the causes of privilege, along with money-making and capitalistic behaviors.4
Ancient Greek 'democracy' was directly the Reign of the Phallus, as Eva Keuls shows in her book of that title.5 Women and slaves were both 'have-nots' in that period, 'inferiors' providing the satisfaction of needs. Gender coincided with nationality and class as a categorization by which a relatively large peer group was allowed access to privileged one positions. Keuls describes the 'herms,' which were anthropomorphic statues of penises with penises standing at the doors of Greek houses. These seem to me to be attempts to concretize a self-similar relation.
This is also perhaps a clue to a pun, the sense of which has always nudged at my curiosity, but eluded me. That is the similarity of monetary capital and the capital of a column. Jean-Joseph Goux talks a lot about capitalism and caput, the head, in Symbolic Economies.6 Perhaps columns are images of phalluses derived or transposed from herms, and standing together to hold up the temple, the image of the phallic state. The capital is then the head, not of the person, but of the phallus.
Athena, the warrior goddess who gave her name to the
city, nurtured male citizens and protected them in battle, is housed
(or trapped) inside the temple. Born from Zeus' head, she
performed the masculating functions of privileging the Athenians, caring
for and protecting them, herself taking on the manly behavior of
the warrior. Athenians were masculated as males, but bonded
4Computerized banking and credit card proliferation are actually dematerializing money, transforming it back from a material word to an element of language.
5Eva Keuls, The Reign of the Phallus: Sexual Politics in Ancient Athens, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1985.
6Jean-Joseph Goux, op. cit., pp.44-47.
Masculation is an artificial construct, and it needs images of itself which will confirm it. (It is the physical appearance--having the penis--that puts the boy into the non-nurturing category in the first place.) Perhaps masculation needs phallic images as evidence of self-similar structures at different scales, in order to make the universe more familiar and friendly to the boy dis-identified from his mother. Whatever the motivation, Patriarchy (or Puerarchy) creates its own images everywhere re-presenting the phallus every time entrance into a privileged category is at issue.
However, the key (one more herm-like phallic symbol) seems to me to lie in the similarity between herms and columns and men. The column is a gigantic penis; the herm is a man-sized statue of a penis with a penis7. Could we say then that an erect man seems to be the image of a penis, self-similar to his own erect phallus, his head its 'head?' The need for a self-similar phallic image would thus be at least partially satisfied by a man's own body. His phallus would be the image of himself and, vice versa, he would be its image.
We have become blind to these images, or we have
learned not to talk about them. To me, they seem to be symptoms of
a mass psychosis that is being caused by masculation. Once we
'take the scales from our eyes,' we recognize the images for what
7Eva Keuls, op.cit., p.44, ff.
Most death-dealing instruments, as we mentioned, are index-phallic symbols. Each 'member' of the armed forces has his 'gun.' Marks of conquest, from obelisks to flag poles, punctuate our patriarchal landscapes. More pedestrian modern examples: 'skin heads' allude to the organ of male violence. 'Joe Camel' notoriously looks like a phallus and self-similarly advertises cigarettes, like a herm. His phallic face becomes a herm--with the self-similar cigarette branching off as a little phallus.
If we see property as what privileged ones 'have,' cap-ital would be property masculating itself into phallic self-similarity, growing infinitely through repeatedly deserving a greater money name, and working or producing to become adequate to the name, creating a flow of (hidden) gifts towards a centralizing infinitely aggrandizeable 'one.' An economic self-similar image of masculation with phallic motivations (in fact blood rushes to the gland as hidden gifts rush to capital investments), cap-ital transforms itself from a word, controlling the workers' behavior through salary, into the 'money-sample' value-equivalent of products in exchange. An accumulation that allows one to tell others what to do, capital creates a sample phallic capitalist in its image. But he also creates it in his image. We now have numerous large capitals, which hold up the state. Their heads are the pillars and capital-ists of their communities.
The erection appears as privileged one and has a relation to
a sexual object which is also for the moment singled out as a
one-many sample--for instance, a woman as sample of all
women. Athena served as the sample (hypostatized) woman by
which citizens acquired their phallic standing-in-common. The
fascio also was a bundle of sheaves bound together by one of their kind.
A similar function animated the Nazi 'Heil Hitler' phallic
salute. There must be ways to organize the state that do not require
It is not a matching between word and thing (or erection and singled-out woman) that creates 'meaning,' but the response to human needs regarding both words and things and the consequent positive proliferation of co-municative needs. Similarly, it is not the matching or correspondence between money and products that creates economic value, but the response to both communicative and material needs, in spite of the generalized situation of not-giving.
The correspondences between words and things, money and products, man and boy, man and woman continuously draw our focus onto one-many structures and their relationships of abstract equality and modeling and away from needs. This is another reason we do not recognize value as a gift that is being attributed and appreciated in common in all the different areas. Each self-similar area of patriarchy is considered separate and independent from the others because its concept sample is in evidence and different from the others.
Moreover, the 'samples' often appear to be the source of their own value. The relation between the president and the electorate, or senators and congress persons and the electorate, is seen as entirely different from the relation between money and commodities, for example. (See Figure 38.) While it is true that the scales are very different, I believe we have also learned not to look, and to discount the similarities when we see them.
Our view of patriarchy is thus splintered, divided and conquered, and we find ourselves addressing one part of it at a time, rather than making a general criticism and offering a global alternative. The partial criticisms can only have partial results, however important they may be, because other aspects of the patriarchal system 'take up the slack.' Other 'heads' of the hydra are ready to attack, when one has been decapitated.
By tracing the patterns that create these 'heads,' we may collectively address the whole mechanism. Capital, after all, is only one of the hydra's heads.
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