Abstract World vs. Life World
leading to the enemy question
Michael McConkey runs the “Circulation of Elites” Substack, and he’s just published a book on the subject, A Plea for Time in the Phenotype Wars.
His thing is that the cultural/political conflict is not exactly left vs. right, but Spatials v. Temporals. And what does that mean when it’s at home?
The left world view, he writes, has a space bias, "focused on administration, centralized control, and commerce," hence Spatial. The right world view has a time bias, "focused on organic community, concrete institutions, and tradition." Hence Temporal.
I’m not sure that I really like his Spatials / Temporals notion. What I think he is arguing is that the left believes in an artificial world, that is consciously constructed from on high with politics and power and intellect. So I understand his “spatial” concept as being the view of the world viewed as a map from the intellectual and political heights. The right believes in an organic world in which humans interact with each other in a face-to-face lifeworld and construct a world in cooperation rather than command. I like to use the contribution of Jürgen Habermas in his Theory of Communicative Action to explain this. La Wik:
[Habermas] focuses on the lifeworld as consisting of socially and culturally sedimented linguistic meanings. It is the lived realm of informal, culturally-grounded understandings and mutual accommodations.
McConkey invokes French 20th century professor Jean-Claude Michéa to tell us that the original conception of socialism was organic and local. And the original left n the French Revolution went to war against the organic world of the French peasants and tied to impose their abstract ideas on the countryside: that’s why the peasants revolted in The Vendée rebellion of 1793-96.
I suppose that, as capitalism created staggering wealth, socialists switched from advocating alternative organic institutions to merely inhabiting the government office that controlled the distribution of wealth. In the original conception, socialism was outside politics; but in the hands of the left it became a government redistribution scheme: loot for votes.
But here’s my question. Is “commerce” really part of the spatial, abstract world, or an organic world of “informal, culturally-grounded understandings and mutual accommodations?” Or does the invention of the limited-liability company and its invention of the idea that its investors are not liable for the total liabilities of the company turn the corporation into a Frankenstein monster?
The point is: how do humans make things and exchange things without exploitation of the small by the big. And how do we stop government from getting in the middle and pretending that it is on the side of the little guy when it is actually taking money from the big guy.
It all gets back to the basic question. How do we get people to treat each other as friends rather than fight as enemies? He do we get them to interact all friendly like in Life World rather than fire rockets at each other as enemies in Abstract World.