Casinos have been evolving. They are being purposefully designed with no windows, in a cocoon-like space, no straight lines or right angles (which force you to stop and make a decision), with no clocks, for people to get lost in time and space. There are no references to connect us to the now. They are designed to create dependence, to maximise time on the slotting machines (time on device - TOD), to offer an engaging experience with no sudden or abrupt loss/win but rather a progressive milking especially designed with a schedule of reinforcement, low volatility and sensorial stimuli that produces a sense of flow. Prof Dow Schüll explains that gamblers refer to this state as "a zone", and she describes it as "a dissociative trance-like state in which they are so focused in playing the game that things like daily worries, social pressures even bodily awareness fade away". They are escaping decision-making and the volatility that surrounds them. This experience changes common understanding of gambling as a thrill seeking sort of quest, a getting something from nothing, to a quest where gamblers are seeking nothingness itself. "You are not really there. you are with the machine and that's all you are with" explained a gambler. The players who experience this sensation, come back and become regular customers. And even though designers of these slotting machines do not act like Machiavellian masterminds, they do it seeking the maximisation of revenue. Ironically, habit forming-ritual establishment is the most effective way of minimise volatility in the income for any company which, in the gambling industry requires a dissociative state of mind regarding the consequences: the effect it is producing to its customers.
In a more recent interview, Prof Dow Schüll explains that in the US people stand 30 minutes away of a casino, and that states have been seeking for this route to increase their own revenues instead of direct taxation, that eventually accounts for a tax on the poor.
Beyond that, this this mechanism to disconnect people from reality, from the material world, from the here and now, that includes a sort of soothed exploitation, ends up de-sensitising and even more depolitising people. This model of offering flow states is present in consoles, phones and tablets and even, at some level, when we find some spiritual gurus that guide us through a meditation claiming that all the work is individual and is done at a spiritual level, but then adding that we should not engage in politics or worry about the news because it is some sort of dense energy that contaminate our aura, our vibe, our sense of flow. Meditation that should help us gain clarity to act, to transform, to connect with the other to collaborate, is used instead to sooth, to calm and in many cases to induce us to accept reality as it is and remain passive (or in the game). As long as our energy is positive, positive things will happen, no need to act.To remain connected with the positive energy, disconnection from reality is prescribed. Soothing drugs and pain killers enter of course in this game too.
Connecting with reality and with the other is messy indeed: we cannot have a perfectly curated environment, we cannot be floating Buddhas, we have negative emotions sometimes. That's why there is something more than unconditional love that we need to act together, to engage in any sort of relationship, in social change, to make a couple work, a job and even to have children: commitment. We can unconditionally love someone from the distance. But it is only through commitment that we decide to put our body, to walk through the mud together, to get dirty, to change nappies and to get transformed in the journey.
In the following video, several economists discuss the lack of History knowledge in the economics profession (with proposition and opposition presentations). Dr Ha-Joon Chan (min 29 onwards) compares it with the series TV hit, the Big Bang Theory, where there is a clear hierarchy: the most detached from reality, the highest it belongs in the academic hierarchy, explaining that the Theoretical physicist (Sheldon) belongs to this highest tier, followed by the experimental physicist (Leonard) and then by the Engineer from MIT (Howard) who belongs to the lowest of ranks. But then continues to highlight that without the context of History, economics cannot be properly understood. He actually says that it should be taken extremely seriously as a theory of economics can kill millions and ruin many people's lives.
An Anti-feminist and anti-patriarchal mindset
Even if it seems like a provocation, it is not. In the logic in which I write this blog, I suggest we go through the matriarchal and then a patriarchal stage of development in our lives and at social level and that these processes need to be understood. The matriarchy is simply a foundation-building stage which gives us basic tools, the basic building blocks for a psyche, including the most basic recognition of existence, "I am fed, therefore I live", "I am seen, therefore I exist", "I am loved, therefore I am lovable", "I am heard, therefore I have a voice" etc. All of this, whilst we are still dependent and remain highly ignorant of the world.With all its shadows and the costs it had historically on women, the patriarchal drive is an emancipatory impulse. It is the impulse to become independent, to get out of the comfort of Eden to earn our bread, to get out of the subjugation of Egypt and walk towards a promised land, the land we should "occupy" to affect the world (or even control) and at a personal level (whether our childhood was Eden or Egypt), to get out of the world of mum. It was the impulse of modernity to develop science and stop suffering famines -being dependent on the weather-, or fight illnesses -being dependent on the "will of God" or circumstance-. Secondly, the patriarchal drive shows a direction forward with the prohibition to go back to the dependent state, to go back in time, to get lost in this nothingness, to follow the death drive. In this prohibition, everything maternal was demonised both in men and women (including a range of emotions and mechanisms related to a maternal function: nurturing, negativity processing, etc), and bodies of women were occupied trying to impose control to reproduction through the control of the bodies and the behaviour of women (both to reproduce and have multiple children and to control inheritance by ensuring fatherhood). Women became patriarchal mothers.
Men, with vital functions such as nurturing and negativity processing externalised, needed to keep "a cow well tied up to be able to milk it" and a "legitimate" depository of their negativity (patriarchal men are not violent with their bosses, only with some one they consider to have a lower hierarchical status). From the religion evolution point of view, the patriarchy should've ended with Christianity, where motherhood had a not demonised representative, men were stopped from depositing their negativity onto Mary Magdalene, and the Son died with a message of assuming responsibility (carrying the cross) and stop expecting a father to come to the rescue. Islam, that came afterwards, directly rewrote the story of Eden, changing some details: the guilt was not longer Eva's alone, and God is not referred to as a father any more. Sometimes it feels we are quite slow...
Feminism was indeed a step forward, an emancipatory movement for women. It did not take women back to a dependent state with nature, nor it fought to "lose all control over the uterus", but rather to "own" the control. To be able to occupy their own bodies. To be connected and sovereign. It represented a move to be maternal and paternal towards women. Recognition and emancipation.
Going back to the first question: how can we describe a political strategy that creates and fosters dependence on mechanisms of soothed extraction, of slow milking? a Political status quo where there is chronic high youth unemployment (up to 50% in several developed EU economies) keeping them in a dependent state, unable to become adults, to have a house, to receive an income and be economical independent or even entering adulthood in debt (US, UK)? An economic system that is increasingly devaluing labour and work, pushing it towards the lowest paid workers in foreign countries (exposing workers to compete even with unpaid forced labour from prison systems)? A system that does not discuss fully the political implications of having increasingly larger proportion of tax-paying non-voting immigrants -ie formally outside of the political system- in the labour force? A political system that still relies on women working in some sort of shadow economy?
It is a system that is both anti-feminist and anti-patriarchal (in its emancipatory sense!) at the same time, that feeds from bottom up to then disconnect capital from land and take it to fiscal havens or recycle it in the finance sector.
THE moment to connect
|US dependence on foreign oil has declined significantly|
source: Business Insider