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ECONOMIC

UNCONSCIOUS

 

(L'Harmattan, Paris, 2023)

 

Translated by L. Poenaru

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

 

1. ANTHROPO-CYBERCRIMINAL CAPITALISM

2. MARX AND FREUD: FROM ECONOMIC UNCONSCIOUS TO CRITICAL SELF

Marx

Freud and the Critical Self

3. DIGITAL-ECONOMIC UNCONSCIOUS AND EXCITEMENT OF LIMITS

Ordinary addiction and trauma

Excitement of limits and perversion

Sensory agglomerations and beta screen*

4. POSTIMAGE AND SCOPIC CAPITALISM

Images and disturbances: preliminary remarks

Science of the unconscious image

Postimage

Psychic screen in psychoanalysis

 

5. NEURO-COGNITIVE-BEHAVIORAL COMPLEX

Neuroculture and neuromarketing

Knowing

Conditioned behaviors

Critical considerations

 

6. AFFECTIVE POLICIES OF ANTHROPO-HACKING

Scientific and industrial emotion

Viral affective-digital policies

 

7. SOCIAL INFLUENCES: ADAPTATION OR PSYCHIC COLONIALISM?

Unconscious social influences

Definition and types of influence

Social capital and capital neurosis

Memory and social influence

Social contagion and virality

All hypnotized and altered?

Social pathologies and critical dialectic

Sociological diagnosis and crime

 

8. PROPAGANDA: MANUFACTURING THE WARRIOR UNCONSCIOUS

Psychological effects of propaganda

"We are at war" ludic, hallucinatory, real, psychological, economic, military, etc.

Propaganda and double genetic profit

Political-clinical unconscious of propaganda

 

9. PATHOLOGIES AND PSYCHIC MURDER

Social murder or unconscious murder?

Social influences, norms, and invention of psychopathologies

Stress

Epidemiology and mental health

 

10. MULTILAYERED THEORY OF ECONOMIC UNCONSCIOUS

Epistemological prerequisites

Issues and "scientific units"

Theory of the economic unconscious

A model of the economic unconscious

 

11. PHILOSOPHICAL IMBROGLIO AND CRITICAL DIOGENISM

 

GLOSSARY

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

INTRODUCTION

A subject of concern since antiquity, the notion of the unconscious traverses the history of a civilization that has never ceased its quest for an understanding of the hidden parts of the human mind. Despite this, it has never led to a theorization of its primordial substance: the economic unconscious (EU). The latter has remained in the blind spot of knowledge despite an exponential accumulation of insights from various fields: philosophy, psychology, psychoanalysis, cognitive sciences, neuroscience, sociology, economics, and so forth. How is it that the EU has slipped under the radar of scientific research and its establishment as a separate discipline, while we live at the zenith of its exploitation and injection by cybercapitalism? 

Indeed, many theoretical models propose fragmented knowledge, systematically castrated from the economic determinants of the psychic apparatus. Freud, accused of being pansexualist, gave a psycho-sexual orientation to his doctrines, partially proven by scientific research. Subsequently, a significant number of authors pertinently apply psychoanalytic theories to economic contexts to explain their unconscious, driven-based nature; they thus confine themselves to an applied psychoanalysis aiming to demonstrate the relevance of psychoanalytic views only, without questioning the evident articulation between psychic constructions and economic dimensions, nor the necessary theoretical revisions that this requires. Neuroscience, in turn, provides increasingly fine keys to understanding the bio-neuro-cognitive-behavioral mechanisms of the cognitive unconscious, without allowing for the elaboration of the subjective history and economic conditioning responsible for its singular structure. Economists, on the other hand, closely examine economic behaviors, motivations, biases, implications in personal or political decision-making, etc., without studying the multiplicity of unconscious assemblages and the pathological effects that result from them. 

We can invoke several reasons to explain the blind spot in which the EU is placed: the distortion and loss of credibility of the concept of the unconscious generated by a psychoanalysis that has not always convinced scientists; the increasing fragmentation of research domains; socio-economic consensus; consumption norms; propaganda; etc. In addition, one can imagine researchers fearing to lose their social and financial capital (in an academic world increasingly funded by the industry) or even a desire of the economic system to conceal by all means its perverse strategies and mainly its effects, although many authors and researchers inform us scatteredly about its dynamics. 

The gathering of knowledge within a discipline has thus not been possible for various reasons and defenses (conscious and unconscious). There is a paradoxical nature to the EU: it dominates at the intersection of individual and collective, scientific and industrial systems, while eluding its elaboration as an object of study: paradigms, theories, models, etc. It is omnipresent and simultaneously obscured, repressed, and undesirable in a public sphere increasingly invaded by its intentions and its somato-psychic consequences that we will examine more closely. 

This project argues for the creation of a scientific paradigm of the EU based on a community of thought, objectives, research and clinical intervention methods, techniques, interpretations, solutions, and specialized language to be used in treating pathologies related to the EU of cybercapitalism. It also subtly advocates for the development of a transdisciplinary, dialectical, and critical psychoanalysis and for a scientific break from psychoanalytic fields locked in obsolete and inconceivable dogmatisms (which require major revisions). 

To achieve these objectives, it is essential to gather the pieces of a puzzle intentionally scattered according to the logic of offshore societies predominant in the liberal economy. We start from the principle that no discipline taken separately can provide a comprehensive and realistic understanding of the EU. This book presents itself as a critical, scientific, political, and activist manual that attempts to provide evidence of the architecture of the EU, its mechanisms, dynamics, programs, norms, procedures, and organizations. This radiography allows us to name what we avoid knowing while simultaneously experiencing the effects of repressions deliberately induced by the economic order and individual relationships with consumption-production. This work would not have existed if these insidiously programmed relationships were not a source of pathology, as we will see. The configurations that govern us now and that are anchored in algorithmic systems increasingly escaping human intelligence while producing its co-modification demand the liberation of the individual and their unconscious, even if only partially, from the self-mutilating constraints of this system. 

The EU, as we theorize it, is a multidisciplinary and multilayered notion (metaphysical, tangible, and provisional, necessarily corrected by the evolution of research). It is inseparable from the multitude of operative concepts derived from the theoretical statements we will examine and the relationships they maintain. We posit that the EU is composed of a series of operations, mechanisms, processes, and dynamics across psychic, somatic, political, social, economic, and cultural registers that, by definition, elude the consciousness of individuals and collectives while expressing themselves within the neuro-cognitive-behavioral and ecosystemic complex. It lies at the intersection of individual and group unconsciousness and is the product of multiple private, collective, and environmental defensive maneuvers. These maneuvers may appear conscious, manifest, and voluntary, while being mobilized (as cognitive sciences and psychoanalysis teach us) primarily by latent contents and mechanisms. From this perspective, the EU is thus an interactive, functional, systemic, and co-constructed microscopic and macroscopic universe. It obeys processual laws determined simultaneously by human nature and its adaptability to an environment increasingly dictated by economic laws (established and demonstrated by capitalist sciences based on statistical predictions and profit-seeking research). 

In this transdisciplinary, multi-stratum perspective, the EU brings into play the individual unconscious, the collective unconscious, the psychoanalytic unconscious, the cognitive unconscious, the Marxist unconscious (showing that most economic behavior is adaptive and unconscious), but also and above all the industrial-corporatist unconscious, assuming external forces of influence elaborated and decided by the political-economic power that takes hold of social, cultural, and other contexts. In the Marxist-inspired approach, the dominant classes and their means of production determine, assign, guide, evaluate, diagnose, and structure our social relations, cognitions*, and emotions via accumulation (of financial, social, material, cognitive, digital capital, etc.), alienation, commodity fetishism, the quest for surplus value, etc. There is no clear-cut boundary between the constituent elements of the EU, which are mutually, dynamically, and conflictually interrelated. Transdisciplinary, dialectical, and critical psychoanalysis could be a relevant and non-dogmatic clinical-theoretical approach to the subjective reconstruction and elaboration of the latent contents and conflicts specific to the EU. 

We start from the premise that the contemporary individual is no longer the Freudian individual of the early 20th century, even if they retain psychosexual characteristics modulated by early experiences and repressions. Why is he substantially different? Because the 21st century predominantly exposes the individual to virtual, fractal, transversal, indefinite, and infinite economic, social, and emotional influences. These influences are integrated into an ecosystem programmable by artificial intelligence and not only by contact with peers. The current ecosystem operates on the basis of insidious mathematics consisting of massive injections-extractions of economic norms that extort, pressure, seduce, abuse, bombard, commercialize, and profit from the human neuro-cognitive-behavioral complex while denaturing its reflexes. We are far from the Freudian Oedipus complex, and the father of the nuclear family seems increasingly annihilated by the corporatist fathers who now dictate the laws, codes, and unconscious of the family and society. The psycho-economic logic has certainly colonized the psycho-sexual logic which, according to Freud, would determine the individual unconscious. No, the myth of Oedipus does not stand a chance against the mythical and universal powers of corporatists, who now arrogate to themselves the powers of demiurgic creators! 

In the era of social media platforms and the exponential multiplication of interrelated factors, a dialectical functionalist perspective is essential for establishing critical links and correlations among the numerous variables at play. The functionalist approach, inspired by sociology, biology, or anthropology, focuses on how different elements of a society or organism work together to maintain order and stability. But what is the new socio-economic order? What are its norms, logics, and values? Is it based on stability or chaos? And how does a complex, organicist (eco)system, composed of various subsystems (which interact with each other according to feedback loops and fulfill specific functions), contribute to the formation of the EU? In the following, we embark on the elaboration of the new "organism" ordered by cybercapitalism, and the determination of the characteristics of internal and ecosystemic subsystems that participate in the constitution, dynamics, and expression of the EU, requiring its adaptability to the environment and its pressures. 

This book is aimed at activists, philosophers, healthcare and education professionals, students, and anyone interested in discovering and understanding the mechanisms of individual-collective EU. To facilitate reading for those who are not familiar with certain specific terms, a series of concepts are defined in the Glossary; these concepts are indicated in the text with an asterisk (*). 

 

 

PRESENTATION

OF

THE

CHAPTERS

 

The first chapter, "Anthropo-Cybercriminal Capitalism", recalls a number of critical viewpoints based on evidence demonstrating, beyond the ideology of progress, the existence of increasingly monstrous side effects within capitalism. These consequences are multiplied by neoliberal policies and more specifically by cybercapitalism, which feeds on total captivity and the modification of the human neuro-cognitive-behavioral complex through artificial intelligence. Let us be clear: the profits of this capitalism are not at the center of our issue, although they are at the heart of the overall dynamics in which the economic unconscious (EU) is situated. In the context of this work, we are primarily interested in identifying the unconscious mechanisms mobilized with the aim of modifying minds and developing consumable-consumerist-productivist subjectivities. We complement this identification by demonstrating the pathologies induced by these procedures. Social and psychic murder could be inherent both to capitalism and to the well-being industry's program, which produces and exploits a memory of suffering and fear. Nevertheless, we propose, as a preamble, a brief overview of the most unavoidable critiques of capitalism, which represent the starting point of this modeling of the EU.

The second chapter, "Marx and Freud: From the Economic Unconscious to the Critical Ego", aims to articulate the two authors based on some fundamental landmarks of their theories, which constitute one of the foundations of this work. These theories, admittedly obsolete, retain in their essence an immense relevance. For the world in which we live, without resorting to scientific studies, offers us proof of the powerful and unconscious work of accumulation, commodity fetishism, alienation, and the inseparability of the social, the psychological, and the economic. These hypotheses put forward by Marx are confirmed by numerous disciplines. Marx posits that most of the mechanisms responsible for these phenomena occur unbeknownst to individuals; thus, they lay the groundwork for the Economic Unconscious (EU).

The history of science and ideas attributes to Freud the first true development of a theory of the unconscious. However, it is worth noting that Freud deviates radically from Marxist views. He acknowledges the importance of these postulates and rejects them to focus his paradigm on a psychosexual drive divorced from socio-economic determinism and its laws - one of the most damaging epistemic errors in the history of ideas! But also, to focus on an Ego* caught in a relationship of dependency on the demands of the Superego* and the Id*, constitutive instances of the psychic apparatus. These instances, according to Freudian definition, inherit the laws (particularly ordered by the father of the nuclear family) and animal instincts transformed into drives through the shaping of early individual experiences. They are managed by an Ego tasked with defending the individual and his psyche against internal and external demands.

Freud does not conceive of the Critical Ego, but a fundamentally neurotic Ego that is not master in its own house, which must submit to the laws of the father and society, without any prospect of autonomy, of insubmission. In this, Freud prepares the individual of the 20th century for voluntary and involuntary captivity and servitude vis-à-vis power and economic laws decided by corporatist fathers who colonize psyches for inoculative-extractive reasons rather than Oedipal ones. But is not disobedience synonymous with enjoyment? Without denying the importance of the quality of primary relationships in individual psychic development, we postulate that in the era of cybercapitalism, Freudian instances are largely infested, requisitioned, and co-modified by the immeasurable power of economic dictates and their unconscious programmability.

The third chapter, "Digital-Economic Unconscious and Excitation of Limits", primarily delves into a psychoanalytic understanding of the mechanisms exploited by internet entrepreneurs and engineers to induce ordinary addiction. One of the cornerstones of this reflection, which will recur throughout this work, relates to current psychiatric epidemiology: the number of young people (especially girls) exposed to psychiatric disorders, self-harm, and suicide has alarmingly increased since the introduction of smartphones to the market. We are interested in the perverse manner in which algorithmic logic, coupled with social influence, generates an excitement of psychological limits through sensory agglomerations, leading to the formation of a defensive beta screen. This latter aspect appears to engender vulnerability in mentalization capacities, symbolization, subjective appropriation of the ecosystem, and consequently, a pathogenic weakening of psychological defenses—factors responsible for undeniable changes in 21st-century epidemiology (which we revisit in the chapter dedicated to pathologies).

The fourth chapter, "Postimage and Scopic Capitalism", explores one of the major observations of contemporary society: vision, as a sensory modality involving more than 30 different brain areas, is the most extensive and exploited sense by cybercapitalism, which turns us into compulsive slaves of images, risking the paralysis of mentalization and imagination capacities. This chapter argues for the evolution of vision, firstly towards a hyper-vigilant and paradoxically addictive attention to cybercapitalist predators that have colonized brains and ecosystems, and secondly, towards the bingeing of "protective" images (in socio-political-economic and erotic terms). Biologically, this resonates with a vital vision for predator avoidance, food seeking, finding a sexual partner, or shelter. These functions have thus been shifted, overinvested, and condensed in digital relationships. The scopic colonialism we witness is founded on one of the most commercialized perceptual biases by media and social networks: our brain prioritizes negative visual stimuli (sources of fear and anxiety) that mobilize the fight, flight, and/or freeze reflex triad present in predator relationships. In the current ecosystem, this triad clearly translates into fighting (the voluntary proliferation of internal demons), fleeing (an internal-external reality threatened by the invasion of "non-self" objects), and remaining motionless, captive to a screen, a psycho-economic war, and a speculative bubble of hypervigilance.

With its ingenuity, cybercapitalism has thus managed to mobilize all these alternatives from the animal kingdom simultaneously through the exploitation of the most important perceptual modality for our survival: vision. However, it is about postimage in this megaloscopic culture. In other words, a collaborative image, the result of distributed vision involving co-modified humans, machines, ideologies, random and evolving mathematics. Thus, we are not acting on the world but rather the opposite: the world acts on our economic unconscious thanks to the programmability of a new relationship with images as vectors of socio-economic-political codes. The visual is therefore no longer entirely, as psychoanalysis suggests, the effect of a subjectivating loop that allows one to project one's own representations onto reality to make the unfamiliar familiar. Subjectivation is now hybrid and constantly disrupted by the economic imperative of massive image injection that lodges in memory and has a priming effect: they prepare the psyche for the logics of cybercapitalism based on self-renewal and acting out, rather than thought and psychological stability. The megaloscopic regime thus forcibly replaces our imagination and daydreaming, which are vital for the consolidation of our subjectivity and psychological foundation.

The fifth chapter, "Neuro-Cognitive-Behavioral Complex", provides indispensable theoretical keys for a transdisciplinary understanding of the Economic Unconscious (EU). It complements the preceding chapters by deciphering new unconscious processes based on the ethical issues raised by neuro-nanomarketing and its devices disseminated in the environment. This domain preferentially exploits central dimensions of this complex: perceptions, attention, memory, decision-making abilities, emotions, anticipation, behaviors, and individual autonomy. Artificial intelligence, better informed than ourselves and our consciousness, programs our neuro-cognitive-behavioral future by inducing perceptual-memory traces strongly polarized by emotional dimensions. We are particularly interested in a cognitive unconscious based on memory and conditioning (classical and operant) of behaviors. This part of the work provides evidence that the stimulus-response unit is more relevant than ever, although it is modulated by successive reconditionings (via associations of stimuli, rewards, and punishments) of our singular history. Think of the numerous stimulus associations we face daily to confirm the relevance and theoretical-clinical complexity of Pavlovian and Skinnerian conditioning!

This chapter also gives voice to critical researchers interested in the cognitive turn, the irrational logic of capitalism, neurobiological alienation, new relationships to space-time (governed by non-Euclidean geometry, virtuality, ubiquity, and a forced orientation towards the future), as well as cultural and biological plasticity that shapes our relationships to the sensible.

The sixth chapter, "Affective Politics of Anthropo-Piracy", gives particular prominence to emotions—the cognition that constitutes a veritable goldmine for cybercapitalism and has been transformed by total war into a field of psychological landmines. Nothing happens without stirring emotions! Freud is right on this point: no drives without representations (recordings of stimuli) and especially without affects. As "decoupled reflexes," emotions offer the intensity and depth of cognitive marking. Fear and anxiety—artificially produced by social networks, ingeniously blending politics, technology, individual profiling, psychological knowledge, and digital data—are undeniably an immense source of capital; because they stimulate online engagement, the creation of communities of anger, the search for information and protection through consumerist actions. Hence, the interest in a virality policy that mobilizes emotional contagion and population chaos, highly productive components that have become veritable weapons of economic-psychological warfare. We will see that the capture of images that generate violent emotions or even suffering is an integral part of a new deadly and mortiferous economy programmed by algorithms.

The seventh chapter, "Social Influences: Adaptation or Psychic Colonialism?", questions one of the main blind spots of psychoanalysis: the role of social influence in the development of individual unconsciousness. Because the social influence of the era of social networks is no longer that of Freud's time. One of the first peculiarities of this type of influence, as it appears in scientific theories, is its unconscious nature, like most cognitive phenomena: it is implicit, involuntary, mutual, subliminal, and therefore creates numerous conditionings. But with the cognitive invasion of social networks, are we not witnessing a mixture of adaptation and colonialism through social influence? Furthermore, we will see that cybercapitalism exploits the hypnotic nature of social influence and associates it particularly with the sequence: entertainment - permeabilization of the unconscious - identity uncertainty - injection of norms. This sequence, characteristic of hypnotic trance, risks demolishing the psychological foundation and self-image, and colonizing the mind to adapt it to an absolutist, gigantic, programmed, virtual, and real social influence. This part of the work, from a critical dialectical angle, gives particular importance to social pathologies. Is society sick? How should sociological diagnosis be connected to individual diagnosis in the understanding and treatment of the pathologies we face?

The eighth chapter, "Propaganda: Manufacturing the Warrior Unconscious", delves into a concept obscured and downgraded in academic circles (much like that of the EU), but which is used invasively within the framework of the economic and psychological warfare waged by cybercapitalism. As we have entered, with the advent of the Internet, social networks, and scopic colonialism, into the age of total propaganda, it has seemed essential to describe certain peculiarities of this omnipresent concept and to offer some reflections on the psychological effects of the warrior culture it conveys.

Employed to influence society's relationships with a company or ideology, or even to alter reflexes, behaviors, and psyches, contemporary propaganda crystallizes prejudices and alienation, and produces psychic dissociation through sensitization to certain stimuli. This context leads us to an undeniable realization: "We are at war"—playful, hallucinatory, real, psychological, economic, military, fractal, transversal, micropolitical, macropolitical, indefinite, and infinite. We are in total war because the bellicose unconscious is overexploited by psychological violation and the necessary defense against predators, economic competition, the exponential sale of war video games and firearms, the establishment of fear and frustration at the heart of the socio-economic system, emotional contamination, and the obsessive quest for security and control, among other factors. All of this is heightened by the disproportionate injection of "non-self" codes that destabilize, endanger the bio-psycho-social foundation of each individual, and activate (self)aggression. For these reasons, we postulate the existence of an evident link between propaganda and the bellicose unconscious of a politico-economic nature, which cannot be excluded from a clinical and sociological understanding of the unconscious subject.

The ninth chapter, "Pathologies and Psychic Murder", examines the links between social-psychic murder and the induction of pathologies, representing the sacrificial and destructive nature of all forms of capitalism. We emphasize once again the role of social influence, normativity, and stress (primarily responsible for inflammatory states and autoimmune, cardiovascular, and metabolic diseases) in the etiology of pathologies. The epidemiological assessment of capitalist society, particularly cybercapitalism, reveals an exponential increase in psychiatric illnesses, especially among the youth. These observations cannot be explained solely by the increasing medicalization of existence, the exploitation of artificially induced suffering by the well-being industry, and a contemporary culture that favors the memory of suffering. Although these factors may potentially contribute to the notification and etiology of psychiatric pathologies, we observe that the studied capitalism is highly dysfunctional due to the psychological violations and neuro-cognitive-behavioral manipulations it exerts on individuals. These individuals unconsciously develop adherence, consent, addiction, violence, cognitive, behavioral, and mood disorders, which seem to escalate further.

The tenth chapter, "Multilayered Theory of the Economic Unconscious", initially questions the epistemological challenges posed by such a model and then more precisely describes its components and sources of influence developed within the framework of this work: the Economic Id*, Ego*, and Superego*; the nuclear family, early mental conditionings and colonizations; cybercapitalism (which governs this model based on the equation accumulation-production-propaganda-prosthesis-pathologies-profit); neuro-cognitive-behavioral, emotional, and scopic programming; social, political, cultural fabrications, etc., of consumable-consumerist-productivist subjects. Within this model, interactions between the components occur through the constant bidirectionality of economic code injection-extraction.

We conclude our examination of the Economic Unconscious with the 11th chapter, "Philosophical Entanglement and Critical Diogenism".This section is marked by several deliberately obscure questions and contradictions to circumvent the dominant culture of certainty. Are we facing a polarization of the necessary interweaving of life-death drives? If civilization and its normativity have led to such a pathologization of the human, should civilization be destroyed? What alternatives exist in the face of cybercapitalist colonialism? Taking a position in a denunciatory, meliorist*, scientific, critical, and dialectical perspective demands the philosophical interrogation of our collusion with polarization, cleavage, and the current denial of the plurality of drives. Indeed, humanity, civilization, and history did not wait for cybercapitalism to unfold the intertwining of creativity and destructiveness. However, we nevertheless argue for the existence of a significant polarization of these two natural tendencies that leads to the denial of death versus its superimposition (in contemporary culture, through economic algorithmization) of what is deadly. This also leads to the denial of the entropic-chaotic and multidimensional part of life in a world mobilized by certainties, calculations, conditionings, and territorializations of vital flows. This cleavage tends to subject us to a pure culture of life devoid of the inevitable tension that exists between the two opposing forces animating existence: Eros and Thanatos. The culture of an ideal where the life drive, Eros, and its aesthetics (as proposed by applications like Instagram, for example, most deadly for young girls) predominate, risks leading to self-mutilation due to the cleavage and repression of the death drive, which returns through traumatic violence turned against oneself. To complete this dialectical picture that demands reconfigurations, active resistances, solutions, and eternal recommencements, we propose critical Diogenism as an alternative to the model of excessive and pathogenic material wealth. This is a philosophical stance centered on other treasures: the jubilation of freedom, dignity, simplicity, humility, autonomy, authenticity, imagination, creativity, the re-territorialization of vital flows, and the rhizomatic dimensions of life. This requires refusing to conform to the normative and destructive injunctions of cybercapitalism and more broadly of civilization as it has been co-modified by the contemporary world.

 
 

 

 

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