First as Tragedy, Then as Farce – an Analysis on the Foundation’s Ideology
rating: +2+x
blank.png




This essay was published in [Insert Name Here] (sic.), a non-professional journal published by a branch of AWCY. The journal focuses on the political-philosophical analysis related to paranormal topics. The journal has no citation format requirements.

First as Tragedy, Then as Farce – an Analysis on the Foundation’s Ideology

Zihao Huang
We are not aware of this, nevertheless we do it. – Das Kapital


Introduction

Regardless of how the Foundation's executives promote themselves, in the eyes of the public, the Foundation is an “anti-anomaly” organization whose mission is to “protect the humanity”. Ever since the Foundation's exposure, there has been much controversy over the way the Foundation and the GOC operate - some paranormal protection groups consider the Foundation to be inhumane to paranormal entities, especially intelligent ones, while those more determined have found the Foundation's philosophy of fighting for humanity commendable. The contemporary political system is filled with both types of people; some of the Foundation's researchers have been influenced by this trend and have taken the initiative to improve the treatment of paranormal entities. In the past few years, the Foundation's treatment of “anomalies” has largely followed the O5 Council’s resolutions: they had been treated more leniently under the Senyuu-Hisane Administration – human anomalies have some degree of human rights, and the Foundation's research on them had been more lenient and conservative. Since Sakurauchi came to power, however, the restrictions on “anomalies” have increased dramatically: the rights previously held by human anomalies have been withdrawn, and research on them has gradually become more radical. As a result, the Sakurauchi system's treatment of anomalies has often been criticised by Paranormal rights groups as another sign of the Foundation's anti-humanitarian nature. Although the differences between the anomalous treatment of the Senyuu-Hisane Administration and Sakurauchi Administration has been thoroughly studied (Jones), further study of their commonalities is limited in contemporary academics and politics by the very object of the study itself: Yes, we indeed live in an enlightened society, so it is not surprising that there is a small group of “anti-humanists”, but that entity is, after all, still an anomaly!

What can be said about this phenomenon? Isn’t this (argument) exactly the dilemma radicalism is facing right now? Isn't the “Yes, your policies are well proposed, but the actual implementation will surely turn us into Venezuela (or the Gulag Archipelago) …” the kind of rhetoric that conservatives tirelessly preach as a sacrament in the political arena every day? If the similarities between the two arguments are recognized, the obvious counter-argument flows as well: the identification with the notion of “anomaly kills” extends as much to the dominant ideology - liberal democracy or so-called “normalcy” - as it does to the notion that “Leninism inevitably leads to the Gulag”. The problem here is that the identification with this dominant ideology makes any criticism beyond this ideology impossible - You are good if you want to improve the living conditions of anomalies and so on and so on; if you want to destroy the very concept of anomalies, however, you are anti-human and anti-science. It is never more necessary to reiterate Marcuse's assertion in his work that modern science-technology has become part of the reproduction system of the ideological apparatuses of capitalism, and that therefore even the assertions of science – a seemingly “neutral” subject – are also ideological. The best example of this is what was described above. In summary, given that everyday life is completely dominated by said ideology, a genuine critique of the anormal-normal dichotomy can only emerge from the identification and thoroughgoing critique of this ideology.


History of “Anomalies”

Anomaly, not normal. The perception of anomaly as an object in conflict with the everyday life has been evident roughly since the ancient Greeks: the word Anomaly comes from the ancient Greek word ἀνωμαλία - uneven, abnormal, irregular. With this perception, society gradually came to refer “objects that is beyond comprehension” as anomalies as well; the perception of “anomaly” as irregularity is evident in the founding of the Foundation, as one of its predecessors, Her Majesty's The Foundation for the Secure Containment of the Paranormal, clearly stated in its manifesto that “the purpose of the Foundation…is to Secure and Control of all Abnormal Entities in the British Empire who may pose a threat to the reign of his/her Majesty.” (██████ and ████████ 3-7) Here, an “anomaly” is categorised as such not because of its paranormal nature per se, but because of its possible threat to the control of the monarchs. This notion is now, in modern terminology, clothed under the disguise of “protection of all mankind”; under this guise, the conflict between the Foundation – the incarnation of said notion – and other organizations naturally becomes a conflict between the good Order that seeks “protection of mankind” and the antagonists who “seeks the extermination of mankind”. The opposition to the Foundation becomes the opposition to mankind, and even the suspicion of anomaly as a concept itself becomes a grave threat to the interests of mankind. In a word, under this guise, conflicts of all kinds - whether class, national, or social - are all reduced to the mere conflict between the good and the evil.


“Anomalies” as a mean of control

Although the various conflicts have been reduced into conflicts between the good and the evil, this ideology is useless if it does not step out of the high society coterie. The HMFSCP, which once claimed in the 19th century that its main purpose was to maintain the rule of the Crown, morphed into the SCP Foundation that claims to serve the entire humankind; this claim was later accepted by the public as well. These two processes obscure two important developments that took place in the 19th and 20th centuries: the replacement of the aristocracy by the bourgeoisie as the ruling class in society, and the universalization of the bourgeoisie's claim to its own rule. The second development would be mainly focused.

Around the time of World War II, the political parties in Western Europe adopted social welfare policies to a greater or lesser extent: in Britain, the collectivist consensus ruled for almost half a century; in France, the social security system was much expanded after World War II; and in Germany, the CDU adopted a number of Keynesian policies. While this does not change the nature of the bourgeoisie as the ruling class in these countries, popular attitudes towards the ruling parties have changed: the parties are no longer seen as the explicit expression of the class struggle, but as an important part of the common effort to build (or progress) the country. This was followed by the universalization of bourgeois economic relations and the absorption of the proletarian model of resistance by capitalism. In this system, people no longer see themselves as proletarians or bourgeois, but as common citizens. Strikes lose their radical core of negation of the system and become “an action of workers for wages”. Here it is ironic to say that, despite the defeat of fascism by the Allies, the societies of Western Europe have become fascist themselves, in the sense of neglecting, downplaying and villainising the so-called “unnecessary conflicts”. In Mussolini’s Italy this is shown by the government’s propaganda of itself as the ultimate mediator between the labour and the capital, while banning all strikes, while in Japan this is shown by the Imperial Rule Assistance Association, which was the sole legal party in Japan during the World Wars. By means of mass communication and indoctrination, opposition to the system was seen first as opposition to society as a whole, and then as opposition to the entire human race. With the realization of the bourgeoisie's intention to impose on the whole of society with its own interests, the object of the anomalous threat naturally shifted from the ruling class to the totality of mankind, and it was then that the SCP Foundation really began to grow.


“Anomalies” and Ideology

It is necessary to study how the ruling class controls and uses the concept of anomaly, and this study leads us inevitably to the concept of ideology. Contrary to the usual understanding, ideology in this context does not mean ideas that ends in “-ism”, but rather “the unknown knowns” – what we do not know we know. The original definition of this may go back to Das Kapital: “We are not aware of this, nevertheless we do it.” (Das Kapital, 49) – a phrase Marx used to describe the peculiar properties of value, and which we can use to analyse ideology as well.
It is necessary to correct the perception that ideology is like a mask/veil that blocks the real object behind it, that it prevents us from perceiving things as they really are. The error in this assertion is that it assumes some sort of non-ideological high ground within the present society; since human observation of something cannot be “pure” - we all have more or less prior knowledge - such a high ground does not in fact exist. This misunderstanding of ideology has led to many people calling themselves “non-ideological” or “apolitical” or, in American terms, “Centrist”. These Centrists are usually furious when there are sexual minorities in the game, thinking that politics has invaded their gaming niche; however, when it comes to swearing at people, the N-word just keeps on coming - which speaks volumes about the hypocrisy of this so-called “non-ideological” hypocrisy.

An excellent metaphor for the essence of ideology is made within They Live, a film directed by John Carpenter. In the movie, the protagonist, John Nada - Nada means “nothingness” in Spanish - is a homeless man in Los Angeles; while wandering around, he finds a box of sunglasses that make it possible to see through the ideological messages behind billboards - “Marry and Reproduce” hidden behind Caribbean travel ads, “No independent thought” hidden behind bestsellers, and so on and so on. It is possible to conclude from this scenario that the critique of ideology requires the active “putting on of glasses” in order to see the information hidden under the surface, and that without such glasses one can only see the illusion of objects - the wrapping of Ideology's surface. A later scene is even more interesting: after the protagonist learns the mystery of glasses, he tells his friend to put these sunglasses on as well, but his friend is determined not to, and they even get into a fight. This scene seems very strange at first glance - why the fighting when you are just being asked to wear a pair of sunglasses? If one analyses the scene from another angle, then the significance of the scenario is clear: his friend is probably aware that he is influenced by ideology all the time! This leads us to the next definition of ideology, which, in Zizek's words, “one knows the falsehood very well, one is well aware of a particular interest hidden behind an ideological universality, but still one does not renounce it.” (The Sublime Object of Ideology, 26)

Having recognized the nature of anomaly as ideology, it is still necessary to ask the question: how does this ideology manage to bind the support of anomaly to anti-humanity? In order to provide an answer to this question, the Lacanian notion of the Graph of Desire needs to be introduced.

First_part_of_the_Graph_of_Desire.gif

For readers unfamiliar with psychoanalysis, seeing this chart may not make it clear what it is indicating. I will explain this chart in part.

This diagram can be split into two parts: The S-S' signifying chain from left to right, and the inverted U-shaped Δ-$ vector of the subjective intention. In the signifying chain, S stands for Signifier and S' stands for Signified. The signifier and the signified are two linguistic concepts developed by Saussure: the signifier can be roughly understood as a word, while the signified is the object that the word represents. When we say the word 'tree', the word itself does not refer to one specific tree, but rather to a collection of trees as a concept. In this case, the word "tree" is the signifier, and the tree as a concrete object is the signified. Another example is when one consults a dictionary, where each word is made up of a group of other words that lead to other words, and so on and so on – this chain structure is the signifying chain. Δ here refers not to a specific object, but to an intention – an intention that drives the whole process. The $ is not a dollar sign, but rather a barred S – Subject, Signifier. There is an irreducible gap between the divided, split subject and the subject itself, and this gap is exactly what is lost when tree is transformed from the tree as an existing object to the word “tree”. The progression from Δ to $ is therefore the process by which an existing object is absorbed to the symbolic order and becomes a concept.

After analysing these two vectors separately, it is time to combine them for discussion. In the two intersections of the vector of the subjective intention with the signifying chain, the horseshoe vector quilts the part toward the end first followed by the part from the beginning if the trajectory of the signifying chain is followed. This represents the retrospective character of the meaning that is given to a signifier: from the end of the signifying chain, there exists an illusion that the meaning of a signifier was present in it from the very beginning as its immanent essence (The Sublime Object of Ideology, 113). In order to understand this concept, an example can be given: Democracy and Freedom predate political ideas (communism, liberalism, etc.), but now they have to be discussed in the context of certain political ideas. Lenin's insight in this regard is very important. When confronted with the Second International's rhetoric of "pure democracy", Lenin replied: “Elections held in such circumstances are lauded by the bourgeoisie, for very good reasons, as being ‘free’, ‘equal’, ‘democratic’ and ‘universal’. These words are designed to conceal the truth, to conceal the fact that the means of production and political power remain in the hands of the exploiters, and that therefore real freedom and real equality for the exploited, that is, for the vast majority of the population, are out of the question.”(Lenin, “‘Democracy’ and Dictatorship.”) Here, free-equal-democratic-universal are all empty terms, which represent something concrete only in the context of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. For the Second International, however, it is as if these empty terms meant these concepts from the moment they were created! These terms were “captured” by the vector of the subjective intention during the floating process, so to speak, and are later "fixed" to the signifying chain on the point de capiton, making it appear in retrospect as if the signifier after the capitonnage has a meaning since the beginning of time.

For anomalies, the capitonnage is evident not only in the forced determination of the parts that science fails to explain as aberrant, but also in the connection of the aberrant to being threatening/harmful to the public. In this sense, no matter how bad the Foundation's reputation is within conservatist circles, the fact is that the Foundation represents the conservative dream of categorising everything that it cannot explain as harmful to society, and society somehow accepts this notion! Having realized this, it's not surprising that the Establishment Democrats and the Republicans are attacking each other in the 2020 Election for supporting “abnormal-lovers and those against the humanity” – both parties are committed to the ideology of the Foundation that intends to gear society back to the Good Ol’ Days, and the essence of the attacks on each other about this is also about which party is more conservative than the other. The founding of the Foundation was essentially the embodiment of this philosophy, and as the vanguard of the aforementioned “anomalous”-normal distinction, it was natural that the ruling class bestowed upon it the new clothes of "to serve the Humanity(!)".

The designation of “anomalies” within the academic community is more valuable to study. Science, once an active exploration of the unknown, is now trembling in the shadow of "existing" science, treating any known science as more valuable than gold, and giving away all knowledge outside the "academic zone" to organizations like the Foundation to research for free. And the Foundation is happy to keep it that way: there is no research in Secure, Control and Protect! The Foundation's reasoning for not doing further research on it is easy to guess: if it has become science, who is going to pay the Foundation? The problem lies in science itself. As far as the spirit of science is concerned, the fundamental aim of science is to free men from the bondage of mythology – and consequently animism – but the way in which modern science achieves this aim (by transforming all concepts into calculable numbers, and then transforming all problems into mathematical ones) has resulted in its own degradation: instead of being a critical study of the past, science has become an idol worshipped like a deity. A direct consequence of this degradation is a lack of analysis of the thing itself in the discussion - this is expressed by those who believe that social problems can be easily solved by technological progress, regardless of who is in control of society. The rebuttal to this argument is to point out that social problems do not have to be easily eradicated excessive illness of today's society – the excess, in fact, may be the key component to keep the apparatus going! Animism has been resurrected in modern life as soon as science became an idol - the best example of this is the growth in popularity of the Foundation. The Foundation, as the institution that secures the "anomaly," is a counterpart to an imagined enemy of fear; it is the defenders of normality. As the society gradually embraces this concept, the “anomaly” becomes the toy of the "institution for the securement of anomaly," and the original notion of a horrible anomaly is projected into the sanctification of the Foundation.


Future?

In his famous Thesis XI, Marx proclaimed, “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.” This seems to lead us to the conclusion that the existence of the aforementioned Foundation ideology “kicks in the door … and it falls down”, which is the opposite of what we have experienced. In the political arena, liberals and conservatives alike regard this ideology as a precious jewel, and any criticism of it is dismissed as the rhetoric of a madman. In this state of despair, many militants lost faith in the continuation of the struggle; many of this group later became paranormal rights activists, attempting a “microscopic rebellion” within the context of an anomalous-normal ideology. How similar was the situation of the militants at this time to that of Lenin in 1917? What was previously thought to be on the verge of collapse is not only alive and well, but also universally recognized, and even existing modes of organized resistance have been incorporated into the object as part of the object itself. Recognizing this, it becomes clear what should be done: contemporary militants need to “return to Lenin” - not in the full sense of adopting Lenin's methods, which have become obsolete for our time, but in the revolutionary spirit - in the face of the collapse of the existing model of reform, forced by this moment of Verzweiflung¬ – the catastrophic event – to radically critique and to realise the revolutionary Aufheben of the existing norms of resistance. (“A Plea for Leninist Intolerance”, 552) On the question of anomalies, Lenin never went out of fashion - it was only in this complete rejection of the previous model, and in the utopian imagination, that the spark of new possibilities could arise.


Works Cited


Adorno, Theodor W., and Max Horkheimer. Dialectic of Enlightenment. Verso, 2016.

Jones, Alex. “Do We Need a New Authoritarian Organization?” Jacobin, Oct. 2020, jacobinmag.com/2020/10/[Redacted].

Lenin, Vladimir. “‘Democracy’ and Dictatorship.” Pravda, 3 Jan. 1919, www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1918/dec/23.htm. Accessed 13 Nov. 2020.

Lenin, Vladimir. The State and Revolution, 1993, www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1917/staterev/.

Marcuse, Herbert. One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society. 2nd ed., Beacon Press, 1991, Herbert Marcuse Official Website, www.marcuse.org/herbert/pubs/64onedim/odmcontents.html.

Marx, Karl. “Section 4. THE FETISHISM OF COMMODITIES AND THE SECRET THEREOF.” Economic Manuscripts: Capital Vol. I - Chapter One, www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch01.htm.

Marx, Karl. “Theses On Feuerbach.” Theses on Feuerbach, Progress Publishers, 1995, www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/theses/theses.htm.

Žižek, Slavoj. “A Plea for Leninist Intolerance.” Critical Inquiry, vol. 28, no. 2, 2002, pp. 542–566. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/1344281. Accessed 24 Oct. 2020.

Žižek, Slavoj. The Sublime Object of Ideology. Verso, 1989.

██████, ██████, and ████████ ████████. “Manifesto of HMFSCP.” Guide for Containment, Paranormal Press, London, 18██, pp. 3–7, www.jstor.org/stable/[Redacted]. Accessed 2020.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License