Thanaticism: gleefully enthusiastic suicidal capitalism

I don’t know why we still call it capitalism.


That seems like a handy word. Thanaticism: like a fanaticism, a gleeful, overly enthusiastic will to death. The slight echo of Thatcherism is useful also.

Thanaticism: a social order which subordinates the production of use values to the production of exchange value, to the point that the production of exchange value threatens to extinguish the conditions of existence of use value.


Perhaps its no accident that the privatization of space appears on the horizon as an investment opportunity at just this moment when earth is going to the dogs. The ruling class must know it is presiding over the depletion of the earth. So they are dreaming of space-hotels. They want to not be touched by this, but to still have excellent views.


The role of the state is not to manage biopower but to manage thanopower. From whom is the maintenance of life to be withdrawn first? Which populations should fester and die off? First, those of no use as labor or consumers, and who have ceased already to be physically and mentally fit for the armed forces.

Much of these populations can no longer vote. They may shortly loose food stamps and other biopolitical support regimes. Only those willing and able to defend death to the death will have a right to live.

And that’s just in the over-developed world. Hundreds of millions now live in danger of rising seas, desertification and other metabolic rifts. Everyone knows this: those populations are henceforth to be treated as expendable.

Everybody knows things can’t go on as they are. Its obvious. Nobody likes to think about it too much. We all like our distractions. We’ll all take the click-bait. But really, everybody knows. There’s a good living to be made in the service of death, however. Any hint of an excuse for thanaticism as a way of life is heaped with Niagras of praise.


All of which could be depressing. But depression is a subsidiary aspect of thanaticism. You are supposed to be depressed, and you are supposed to think that’s your individual failing or problem. Your bright illusory fantasy-world is ripped away from you, and the thanatic reality is bared – you are supposed to think its your fault. You have failed to believe. See a shrink. Take some drugs. Do some retail therapy.

Thanaticism also tries to incorporate those who doubt its rule with a make-over of their critique as new iterations of thatatic production. Buy a hybrid car! Do the recycling! No, do it properly! Separate that shit! Again, its reduced to personal virtue and responsibility. Its your fault that thanaticism wants to destroy the world. Its your fault as a consumer, and yet you have not choice but to consume.

Excerpts from McKenzie Wark’s “Birth of Thanaticism,” a brief essay describing the gleefully suicidal capitalism common today.

This seemed particularly fitting today. I’ve just been having a conversation in which a friend asked me if there was a better word than “job” to describe what they “would still spend my days doing” if they were “independently wealthy” given that those things are the same thing that they are being paid to do now.

I responded:

Yes. “Work.” The fact is you’re not independently wealthy, so you have a job. The fact that you happen to be the 1% of job-havers (“dream job” describes a job that is not a job, after all, which is why it’s a total oxymoron and fiction) does not make your job worth having. It just means you’re less able to differentiate the work you do from the structure in which you’re doing it. A fish is unlikely to discover water. See also overjustification effect, another reason “dream jobs” don’t actually exist.

“Jobs” have nothing to do with “work” except insofar as often work that would otherwise be done cannot be done while “on the job” and any work that does happen at a job is not a function of the job itself, but rather a coincidence or an accident or a failure of the system to sap all the resources from the employed people to do work as part of the job’s structure. The function of jobs in society is to prevent valuable work from occurring, where “valuable” is defined as “wholly meaningfully fulfilling for the workers.”

I’ve written more code, and done more work, while unemployed than I ever imagined possible. It’s even become an in-joke among my friends: “Maymay is the hardest working unemployed person I’ve ever met.” I’ve contributed more to society because I don’t have a job than I ever contributed while I had a job. And my point is that this is precisely why “society” in the form of government and corporations want me to have a job, to the point that they will literally deny me the ability to obtain food if I do not comply with job programs: so that I stop contributing to society and start contributing, instead, to institutional intractability.

The solution to the economic crisis facing our societies today is not to achieve 0% unemployment through the creation of more jobs but to achieve 100% unemployment through the removal of all direct and indirect forced labor (that’s what jobs are), because then it will stop being framed as an employment crisis and we can more clearly see what it is: a creativity and production crisis. More jobs won’t solve the problem because the problem is that the more people spend their time at their jobs, the communities those people are a part of have exactly that much less time (and thus less resources) to do materially, socially, emotionally, and spiritually meaningful work.

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