Consumeranity as the Faith of the Individual.
The departure point for this thought experiment is the commonplace observation that Liberalism is a political religion. Usually this is treated as a mere metaphor, because it seems so silly to suggest that a modern Liberal believes in anything at all. One can imagine a kind of old-believer Liberal who does, say Glenn Greenwald or Ron Paul, but it is completely absurd (and almost obscene) to suggest that modern Liberals like Hillary Clinton actually believe in anything.
The premise of this thought experiment is to completely suspend any sense of absurdity and revulsion, and to treat Liberalism in its modern consumerist and postmodern form as if it was a full and whole religious phenomenon, and to examine it as such. This is a departure from the Traditionalist analysis of modernity because I will argue that instead of a total desacralization of the world, the metaphysical mutation that defines the core of the modern west is actually a radical implosion of the whole Sacred/Profane polarity that confines this entire polarity completely within the container of the Individual, just as the extreme development along a monotheistic creationist line finally concentrates the whole of the sacred (but not the profane) within God.
The radicality of this maneuver cannot be overstated. This is not merely turning away from the “above”, but also the “below” and the “beside”, a complete metaphysical introversion in which not only all positive values, but the whole scale of all possible values are concentrated into the temple of an absolute cosmic narcissism that is built over the vilest and most polluted of sewers: the Western Self. Once you see this clearly, it is the most extreme metaphysical development in the entire history of the human species. So while Individualism developed out of and within Christianity (and still evidences that heritage), it is no longer any kind of Christianity at all. It does however carry within itself a bizarrely mutated metaphysical DNA that seems to contain the primal energies and forms of the early Christian Religion.
Individualism is only one of many possible metaphysical reactions to the death of God and the beginning of New Time. The Individual is the fundamental and irreducible metaphysical principle of this faith, of which Liberalism is merely a possible theology. Thus we can understand how in the postmodern period Liberalism can decay and collapse (as both a belief and a political practice) while at the same time Individualism and Consumerism are in full flower. Indeed we can easily imagine a Consumerism without the slightest shred of Liberalism, and even observe the spread of this possibility throughout Asia today at breakneck speed.
In a sense this new analysis is very bad news, because a total desacralization is completely unsustainable, and any such project had to finally collapse. Furthermore during the postmodern phase we observed one of the signs of this collapse: the disintegration of the entire sacred/profane polarity. Whereas in Modernity the profane was promoted as the sacred, in Postmodernity this fun and exciting activity starts to collapse and become actually impossible, because nothing is profane any longer (which of course is a terrible aggravation to Satanists and self-styled “heretics”). What I argue here is essentially that this collapse of the entire polarity of the sacred and profane is an optical illusion caused by the total concentration of both within the Individual.
If this analysis contains any truth, it has some good news because it potentially offers an far more accurate map of the Adversary, and most importantly this map may gives us some idea where to locate any real heretical possibilities within Consumerism. (By this I mean the kind of Heresies that rend whole civilizations, not the perfumed pansies of the “deviant” subcultures of Consumerism, who threaten nothing and can no longer even offend anyone.)
Consumeranity is in its main form a mass exoteric religion of the monotheistic type. Here the Protestant Christian heritage is most evident, and it is easy enough to discern the many tendencies of Protestantism within the many sects of Old Liberalism. The official development of the “Individual” in the exoteric form mirrors the creationist trend in monotheism in certain ways. In Liberal philosophy the “Individual” is increasingly stripped of any qualities, presented as a blank slate that created itself out of nothing. In actual practice the Individual is also being stripped of any and all characteristics, with even Gender now becoming completely optional.
It is in the Esoteric or Mystical form of Consumerism that the Manifestationist trends are evident. These forms include the early mystery schools of Psychoanalysis, the deranged fringes of Existentialism and Nihilism, The New Age/Occult subcultures, The Drug Subcultures, the Self-help and Self-esteem industry, Therapy Groups, Twelve Step, and the Therapy Cults. These are the McGnostics. They are a more revealing to study than the main exotericism precisely because they are mostly non-heretical and exalt the central metaphysics of Consumerism to its greatest heights. This is the really bad news. This abomination has a healthy mystical tradition, indeed a thriving and ever proliferating one. That is not what you find in Religions that are anywhere near collapse. Indeed, once taken seriously and understood correctly, these mystical traditions reveal a thriving faith that is bursting at the seams with devotion and energy, a faith that looks more like the early period of the formation of Christianity than it in any way does anything else.
This faith is in the Magical or Mystical power of the Individual, the Secret Mysteries of the Individual, The salvational rites of the Individual, the Absolute and Unconditioned Individual, the Radical and completely liberated Individual, and the transformation of the Individual. Here we see that the whole variety of Monotheistic mysticism is compressed into the single point, as the Monk of old searched for the unconditioned experience of God, so the Monk of Consumerism searches for the unconditioned experience of the Individual. As the Mystic of Old approached God in the hope of transformation, so the Mystic of today approaches…himself.
Strangely the Dualists are strictly absent from this Mysticism, although it has absconded with a few of their myths. No one would ever admit a Marcionism of the Individual to this church, and indeed if you are skeptical of my argument here, go try that at your local city-witch fluffy bunny hang out, and see what happens. Go up to one of the special, creative, radical, dangerous, beautiful, magical, individuals and tell them that their precious individuality is the very fountainhead of evil, a repulsive and unholy abomination, a disgusting mutated abortion that is the father of all lies. Try it. If they weren’t all such broken pansies you would get burned at the stake, mark my words.