So basically, the state and the capitalist mode of production are the ego incarnate in social order.
As gratifying as the bloodlust to slaughter the bourgeoisie may feel, radicals should take note from spirituals that the ego cannot be dissolved through rejection, expulsion, or force. It can only be embraced as a part of the self and dissolved by removing divisions between “self” and “ego.” The other issue at play is that the ego will never entirely disappear, nor should it. There will always be division, within self and within society. The reason our ego culture is so corrupted is rooted in power imbalance and a lack of consciousness, or a lack of awareness of ability to choose.
That was a bit of a mouthful, so I’ll break it down a bit more. First:
What is the ego, and why do we have it?
I use the term ego loosely, neither in the particular Freudian sense nor in the colloquial sense of ego as arrogance or self-aggrandizement. Ego is quite simply the division of self. It is looking at the self as if from the outside. It is the awareness of the self as a self. It is, at its heart, consciousness.
We have an ego because we cannot look at ourselves without one. It isn’t possible to both see yourself and be yourself in the same moment. To look at anything, we must step outside of it. Ego is the source of our self-awareness, of our ability to understand that we are acting, that we are us.
Ego is a necessary step in consciousness. Like all things in existence, it is no mistake and its existence is entirely logical within the confines of natural law. It is not evil, nor is it good. It simply is.
What is capitalism, and why do we have it?
Again, the term capitalism is used loosely, but a bit more tied to a particular Marxist conception of it. When I say capitalism, I mean the particular division of social structure along owners of the means of production (bourgeoisie) and the workers of those means (proletariat). It is the social order built on class, where each group of individuals in society plays a fundamentally different role in producing goods and services. I am not referring specifically to monetization or privatization, rather the simple division of society into two groups, one believing it has the ability to control the other’s access to the things they need.
We have capitalism because it is simple. It is an easy heuristic to apply to producing things, where one’s place is known and one’s role is defined.
So how are they the same thing?
Due to the simple fact of division, and the illusion of control.
Self-awareness is dividing into two separate selves (Ego being whichever part of the split self feels it has the ability to dictate the actions of the other). Capitalism is dividing society into two different classes (the Bourgeoisie being whichever part of the split society feels it has the ability to control the other.) In a world where we feel so strongly the role of our ego in defining, controlling and dictating our selves, it makes perfect sense that we would likewise have a social order built on the same principle.
But the fact of the matter remains that the Ego, like the Bourgeoisie, does not have any intrinsic control. Both have only the illusion of it. That illusion is created by the belief of all involved that a power imbalance exists. Like self-definition and self-control, power in society is only as strong as it is obeyed.
What about the state?
Replace the word Bourgeoisie with Government. It’s the same phenomenon. This is also why the state is inherently capitalist, and capitalism requires a state.
Side note, for any “anarcho-capitalists” in the house (why do you guys still think you’re a thing?), let me sum this up for you: 1) capitalism necessitates a hierarchy that is antithetical to anarchism; 2) you literally cannot protect private property without having a monopoly on the legitimate use of force within a given territory. Google Max Weber’s definition of a state. What’s that, you say? You could collectively share responsibility for protection of property through force? Still a state. You could just collectively share private property amongst yourselves? Congratulations, that’s called Communism.
So what do we do about this?
Okay, so here’s where I might lose the radicals: you cannot dissolve the Ego by trying to eradicate it. If you’re splitting yourself and trying to control what your ‘self’ is, you’re in the space of Ego. Oops.
You likewise cannot dissolve class division by seizing the means of production, or government through revolution and reestablishing control in new hands. If there is any division, the problem repeats itself.
The Ego can only be allowed to exist. As long as you possess any self-awareness, you cannot dissolve your Ego. Nor should you try to. It’s in you for a reason.
What can be controlled is the relationship to the Ego, which happens through awareness. Being aware of your own division of self and how it functions within you is the only way to harness the power of the Ego in pursuit of your own true nature.
Likewise, being aware of your unique relationship to the market and the state is the only way to begin dissolving the perceived power imbalance between you and them. Seizing control just recycles the same phenomenon, which is, itself, control.
Capitalism, Ego, the State, they’re all about division and control. And as long as there is self-awareness, there will be division and control. It’s not about eradicating the space of difference, but using it as a tool in pursuit of Utopia.
So what do we actually do?
Break more rules. Test yourself. Learn your limits. Question authority. Question yourself. Love yourself. Love others. Work at it from every angle, embracing every path to truth of self and Utopia as legitimate. You’re never not doing it. Just do it more.
It’s simple. That doesn’t mean it’s easy.