Fascism and Dark Money
“The architects of power in the United States must create a force that can be felt but not seen. Power remains strong when it remains in the dark; exposed to the sunlight it begins to evaporate.” — Samuel Huntington
One doesn’t have to look to metaphysics for the meaning of “the dark side” or “the sinister”. It’s there in black and white, as it were, in Mr. Huntington’s formula for the exercise of power. The desirableness of the opacity of power, the lack of transparency of power, the invisibility of power — like “the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz”. Needless to say, it isn’t a formula for democratic power. It’s a formula for fascism.
This darkness is the great danger. The mysterium iniquitatis, as the Church calls it — the “mystery of iniquity”, the “mystery of evil”. It is “mystery” only because it operates in darkness and is not transparent. And the darkness is called “ignorance”. So, it is to the mystery of ignorance we must look for a solution to the mystery of iniquity. It’s that point where the desire of some to remain ignorant meets the desire of others to keep ignorant.
Mr. Huntington’s formula for the exercise of power bears the signature of all the self-contradictions and self-negations of the Modern Era, while pretending to be the exact opposite of all that. It may be rightly called “post-Enlightenment”. Mr. Huntington, who, as a Harvard political scientist of some stature, owes much of his position and stature to the Enlightenment and its principles and values, now inverts and negates those very principles and values to which he, as a scholar, owes his allegiance and his loyalty. Instead of “illumination”, he now embraces the darkness. Instead of truth, deceit and deception. Reason passes over into mere rationality and rationalisation, and therewith into embracing the darkness. It’s a fine example, in fact, of what another political scientist, Sheldon Wollin, refers to as “inverted totalitarianism” in his book Democracy Inc. That sign of self-negation is even the meaning of the “new conservatism”, whose novelty resides largely in the fact that it “conserves” nothing at all, and has become merely a process of negation. And it is, in some ways, a very good example of what Jean Gebser means by “the mental-rational structure of consciousness now functioning in deficient mode.” That is to say, it belongs as a symptom to that structure’s own process of self-negation in destructive self-contradiction.
It’s in relation to Huntington’s formula for the restructuration of power that one has to understand the role of “Dark Money“, as described in a review of the book by Jane Mayer in The Guardian. “Dark Money” here refers to the lack of transparency in the flow of money in political financing and the seductive and subversive power of this dark money. But it’s not so much the opacity of the flow of this dark money as it is a question of the opacity of money itself – its lack of transparency. Money derives its power to subvert and seduce precisely because of the love of money, which we might just as well call the “mystique of money”. Money in itself would have no power to seduce or subvert if it weren’t for the mystique of money, and the desirability of money. Money has power because everyone believes in the power of money.
Such “dark money” also played a significant role in Hitler’s rise to power in Germany. The Nazi Party at one time was finished — bankrupt and in deep debt — until a consortium of German industrialists and businessmen came together to pay off the Party’s debts and provided a fresh injection of new funds. It was “dark money” because the endowment had to be kept secret from the Party’s followers and the public. And, in fact, one of the stipulations of the pay-out was that Hitler would move to suppress the anti-capitalist elements in his party, which he did in the Night of the Long Knives (or Operation Hummingbird).
Iain McGilchrist, in his book The Master and his Emissary, doesn’t spend nearly enough time on money as image and representation of power, although he does point out that the mystique and fascination of money is connected with left-brain dominance or hemispheric disequilibrium, because of the left-hemisphere’s interest in power (and most especially it’s power to inhibit the perceptions of the brain’s right-hemisphere). In this regard, the mystique of money is closely connected then with this inhibition of the intelligence of the right-hemisphere. This strikes me as being highly plausible, given the confusion of “value” and “price” reflected in Oscar Wilde’s definition of a cynic as one “who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing”. This devaluation of value into mere price (economism) is consistent with McGilchrist’s description of the hyperactivity of the left-hemisphere’s mode of attention at the expense of the right-hemisphere’s mode of attention. The debasement of value into price would parallel the debasement of the whole into a mere totality, as well, and reason into mere rationality equally.
In those terms, it would seem, then, that totalitarianism is the result of the complete inhibition of the mode of attention of the right-hemisphere. And since, “without contraries there is no progression” (as Blake put it and as McGilchrist also quotes him) the result of a unipolar brain (and world) must be uniformity, and ultimately stagnation. And that has, indeed, been the fate of every totalitarian system. Neurodynamics can go a long way in helping to account for present problems of human consciousness, and particularly the “culture of narcissism”.
Fascinum is Latin for an enchantment, a magic spell — to be bound by some power. And it is related to words like fascination and fascism, too. To be under the spell of some power. Money becomes a fascinum when it ceases to be transparent. But it’s all illusion, isn’t it? Because outside a certain economic and social framework, money has no power whatsoever. Dark money and dark power necessarily coincide where money ceases to be transparent and comes to be thought of as having an inherent value, or even life, in itself. Money is in itself a lie. But it’s a lie that everyone choses to believe in. When money acquires power, mystique, and charisma, this is what is called “Mammon”. And you could say, I suppose, that Mammon, or Moloch, is the god of the left-hemisphere of the brain, and that this is also Blake’s Zoa named “Urizen”.
I haven’t yet finished reading McGilchrist’s fine book on the divided brain. (I’m taking this slower than usual as I’m taking copious notes on the whole thing). But I think it’s safe to say that the extraordinary power of money, however illusory it is in itself, is related to the usurpation of consciousness by the left-hemisphere of the brain and its total inhibition of the mode of perception of the right-hemisphere which becomes “the unconscious” or “the occult” and so on, and that this is the meaning of Gebser’s “deficient perspectivisation”. And I think it’s also safe to say that the tyranny of the left-hemisphere of the brain, in McGilchrist’s terms, is going to become fully manifest in social and political terms, too, which is why Mr McGilchrist seems quite pessimistic about our near future.