January 8, 2010

The Bourgeoisie & Capitalism

Note: This entry is designed to gather into one place the aphorisms in which Gómez Dávila mentions the bourgeoisie, capitalism, and industry.

The Gospels and the Communist Manifesto are on the wane; the world’s future lies in the power of Coca-Cola and pornography. (#2,983)

The bourgeois gives up his power in order to save his money; then he gives up his money in order to save his skin; and finally they hang him. (#22)

The bourgeois does not applaud the man he admires, but the man he fears. (#1,502)

Bourgeois reformers prepare legal precedents for their future despoilers. (#1,105)

The bourgeoisie is any group of individuals dissatisfied with what they have and satisfied with what they are. (#23)

The bourgeoisie, despite everything, has been the only social class capable of judging itself.
Every critic of the bourgeoisie feeds off of bourgeois criticisms. (#515)

Whoever denies the bourgeoisie its virtues has been infected with the worst of its vices. (#1,923)

Modern history, ultimately, comes down to the defeat of the bourgeoisie and the victory of bourgeois ideas. (#981)

The left’s bourgeois mentality will successively reconstruct all bourgeois societies that the left successively destroys. (#1,683)

Marxists define the bourgeoisie in economic terms in order to hide from us the fact that they belong to it. (#24)

The leftist obviously refuses to understand that the conclusions of bourgeois thought are the principles of leftist thought. (#2,231)

A man is called a Communist if he fights for the state to assure him a bourgeois existence. (#1,372)

A class-conscious proletariat, in Marxist vocabulary, means a people that has converted to bourgeois ideals. (#2,691)

Identifying the bourgeois class with the bourgeois mentality tricks the enemies of the bourgeoisie.
The liquidation of a bourgeois class in the modern world is, in effect, nothing more than a slaughter that does not imply the abolition of a bourgeois mentality that already dominates all of society. (#2,216)

The proletarian does not detest the bourgeoisie for any reason other than the economic difficulty of imitating it. (#379)

Socialism arose as nostalgia for the social unity destroyed by bourgeois atomism.
But it did not understand that social unity is not the totalitarian condensing of individuals, but the systematic totality of a hierarchy. (#1,965)

The bourgeoisie, in the feudal framework, settles in small urban centers where it becomes structured and civilized.
With the break-up of this framework, the bourgeoisie spreads across all of society, invents the nationalist state, rationalist technology, anonymous urban agglomerations, industrial society, the mass man, and finally the process in which society wavers between the despotism of the mob and the despotism of the expert. (#2,181)

The modern world resulted from the confluence of three independent causal series: the demographic expansion, democratic propaganda, the industrial revolution. (#2,960)

The proletariat appears when the people become a class which adopts bourgeois values without possessing bourgeois property. (#577)

The proletariat gravitates to the bourgeois life, just as bodies gravitate to the center of the earth. (#1,060)

It never occurs to the intellectual who is indignant at the “embourgeoisement of the proletariat” to renounce those things whose enjoyment by the proletariat horrifies him as proof of embourgeoisement. (#1,346)

The embourgeoisement of the proletariat originated in its conversion to the industrial gospel preached by socialism. (#1,830)

The embourgeoisement of Communist societies is, ironically, modern man’s last hope. (#2,809)

In modern society, capitalism is the only barrier to the spontaneous totalitarianism of the industrial system. (#2,946)

The supposed enemies of the bourgeoisie are expert gardeners who prune its caducous branches.
Bourgeois society is not in danger as long as its enemies admire what it admires. (#1,680)

The state has not behaved with discretion and restraint except when it has been watched by rich bourgeoisies. (#2,784)

With the whole world becoming more bourgeois, I miss the dead aristocracy less than I miss the vanished people. (#849)

“A classless society” is one where there is neither aristocracy nor people.
Where only the bourgeois moves around freely. (#1,699)

With the disappearance of the upper class, there is nowhere to take refuge from the smugness of the middle class and the rudeness of the lower class. (#1,934)

For more than a century there has been no upper class.
Barely even a more pretentious segment of the middle class. (#2,195)

The reactionary does not condemn the bourgeois mentality, but rather its predominance.
What we reactionaries deplore is the absorption of the aristocracy and the people by the bourgeoisie.
It is the emasculation of liberty or, alternatively, of equality. (#1,609)

Marxism will only rest when it has transformed peasants and workers into petty-bourgeois office clerks. (#447)

Revolution—every revolution, revolution per se—is the matrix of bourgeoisies. (#899)

It is not so much the plebeian merriment that revolutions unleash which frightens the reactionary as the zealously bourgeois order that they produce. (#1,826)

A youth’s revolutionary activity is the rite of passage between adolescence and the bourgeoisie. (#1,795)

The militant communist before his victory deserves the greatest respect. Afterwards, he is nothing more than an overworked bourgeois. (#25)

In medieval society, society is the state; in the bourgeois society, state and society confront each other; in the Communist society, the state is society. (#62)

Vulgarity consists in striving to be what we are not. (#67)

Vulgarity is not a product of the people but a subproduct of bourgeois prosperity. (#1,539)

Être absolumente moderne” is the characteristic desire of the petit bourgeois. (#1,805)

Compared to so many dull intellectuals, to so many artists without talent, to so many stereotyped revolutionaries, a bourgeois without pretensions looks like a Greek statue. (#871)

A peaceful bourgeois existence is the authentic longing of the human heart. (#1,058)

Criticism of the bourgeois receives praise from two sources: from the Marxist, who considers us intelligent because we confirm his prejudices; and from the bourgeois, who considers us wise because he is thinking about his neighbor. (#167)

Adherence to Communism is the rite which allows the bourgeois intellectual to exorcise his uneasy conscience without abjuring his bourgeois identity. (#310)

Nothing softens up the bourgeois more than a revolutionary from a foreign country. (#1,290)

Apostatizing from literature is how one makes a career today in letters, like apostatizing from the bourgeoisie among the bourgeois. (#546)

Yesterday’s bourgeois forgave himself everything, if his sexual conduct was strict.
Today’s forgives himself everything, if it is promiscuous. (#1,320)

The results of modern “liberation” make us remember with nostalgia the abolished “bourgeois hypocrisies.” (#2,870)

Those who insist on being up to date with today’s fashion are less irritating than those who try too hard when they do not feel that they are up to date with tomorrow’s fashion.
The bourgeoisie is aesthetically more tolerable than the avant-garde. (#2,955)

If the philosophy and the arts and letters of the past century are only the superstructures of its bourgeois economy, we should defend capitalism to the death.
All stupidity commits suicide. (#222)

If yesterday’s bourgeois bought pictures because their subject was sentimental or picturesque, today’s bourgeois does not buy them when they have a picturesque or sentimental subject.
The subject continues to sell the picture. (#985)

It is possible to inculcate in the contemporary bourgeois any stupid idea in the name of progress and to sell him any grotesque object in the name of art. (#1,520)

“Psychology” is, properly speaking, the study of bourgeois behavior. (#288)

In a bourgeois country, just as in a Communist land, they disapprove of “escapism” as a solitary vice, as a debilitating and wretched perversion.
Modern society discredits the fugitive so that no one will listen to his account of his journeys. Art or history, man’s imagination or his tragic and noble destiny, these are not criteria which modern mediocrity will tolerate.
“Escapism” is the fleeting vision of abolished splendors and the probability of an implacable verdict on today’s society. (#305)

The communist hates capitalism with the Oedipus complex.
The reactionary views it only with xenophobia. (#316)

Leftists and rightists merely argue about who is to have possession of industrial society.
The reactionary longs for its death. (#2,179)

Mechanization is stultifying because it makes man believe that he lives in an intelligible universe. (#2,700)

Modern architecture knows how to erect industrial shacks, but it does not succeed in building either a palace or a temple.
This century will leave behind only the tire-tracks of the transports it employed in the service of our most sordid greed. (#388)

It never again mattered to me where I lived after I saw the spacious, dilapidated homes pass away and the wide open, deserted fields of my infancy covered with industrial and human filth. (#2,366)

I do not yearn for a virgin nature, a nature without the peasant’s ennobling footprint and without the palace crowning the hill.
But a nature safe from plebeian industrialism and irreverent manipulation. (#989)

Idle wealth is wealth which only serves to produce more wealth. (#466)

The rich man, in capitalist society, does not know how to put money to its best use: so that he does not have to think about it. (#2,356)

After seeing work exploit and demolish the world, laziness seems like the mother of the virtues. (#2,053)

Artificially fomenting greed, in order to become rich by satisfying it, is the unforgiveable sin of capitalism. (#1,370)

It turns out it is impossible to convince a businessman that a profitable activity can be immoral. (#2,426)

Modern optimism is a commercial product designed to oil the wheels of industry. (#1,423)

The modern mentality is the child of human pride puffed up by commercial advertising. (#2,688)

The three stages of capitalism: in the first, the businessman trades in order to construct palaces for himself; in the second, to reinvest his earnings; in the third, to pay taxes. (#1,181)

The businessman’s greed surprises me less than the seriousness with which he satisfies it. (#561)

The upper class in society is the class for which economic activity is a means, the middle class that for which it is an end.
The bourgeois does not aspire to be rich, but to be richer. (#622)

An aristocratic society is one where the desire for personal perfection is the animating spirit of the social institutions. (#656)

Art is the most dangerous reactionary ferment in a democratic, industrial, and progressive society. (#1,138)

Capitalism is the monstrous distortion of private property by liberal democracy. (#2,334)

Liberty’s remaining partisans in our time tend to forget that a certain old and trivial bourgeois thesis is the proof itself: the condition sine qua non of liberty, for the proletariat as well as for the owners, is the existence of private property.
Direct defense of liberty for the ones; indirect defense of liberty for the others. (#2,837)

The “ownership mentality,” so sharply censured by modern man, has transformed into a usufruct mentality that avidly exploits persons, works, things, without reserve, without pity, without shame. (#2,463)

If one only aspires to provide a growing number of persons with a growing number of goods, without worrying about the quality of the persons, or of the goods, then capitalism is the perfect solution. (#2,002)

Consumption, for the progressive, is justified only as a means of production. (#399)

Instead of “industrial society,” it is in fashion to say “consumer society” in order to avoid the problem by pretending to confront it. (#1,557)

Industrial society is condemned to forced perpetual progress. (#257)

Capitalism is the vulgar side of the modern soul, socialism its tedious side. (#1,855)

Capitalism is abominable because it achieves that disgusting prosperity promised in vain by the socialism that hates it. (#942)

Socialism makes use of greed and misery; capitalism makes use of greed and the vices. (#2,433)

Capitalist society became wealthy by joining the ignorance of an astute entrepreneur, whose job is to direct, with the science of a stupid technician, whose job is to execute.
Socialism seeks to become wealthy by entrusting the task of directing to the technician. (#1,103)

An economy is called socialist if it needs to make great efforts to set up the spontaneous mechanisms of capitalism. (#844)

Socialism is the commercial name of state capitalism on the electoral market. (#1,642)

Industrial society is the expression and fruit of souls in which virtues destined to serve usurp the place of virtues destined to command. (#480)

The universe takes revenge on those who treat it as an inanimate mechanism not by making them die humiliated, but rather prosperous and brutish. (#995)

In order to cure the patient it injured in the 19th century, industrial society had to numb his mind in the 20th century.
Spiritual misery is the price of industrial prosperity. (#1,636)

The modern mentality’s conceptual pollution of the world is more serious than contemporary industry’s pollution of the environment. (#2,336)

In order to make the technician devote all his attention to his job, industrial society, without disfiguring his skull, compresses his brain. (#1,758)

A prolonged childhood—permitted by industrial society’s current prosperity—redounds merely in a growing number of infantilized adults. (#2,453)

God invented tools, the devil machines. (#1,315)

The man who invents a new machine invents for humanity a new concatenation of new forms of servitude. (#2,340)

The great industrial trade fairs are the showcase of everything civilization does not require. (#2,328)

The wealth of a merchant, of an industrialist, of a financier, is aesthetically inferior to wealth in land and flocks. (#2,824)

Civilization is in agony when agriculture forsakes being a way of life in order to become an industry. (#1,211)

The industrialization of agriculture is stopping up the source of decency in the world. (#2,912)

Totalitarian society is the common name for the social species whose scientific name is industrial society.
The embryo today allows us to foresee the adult animal’s deformity. (#481)

The standard-bearers of liberty celebrated by the 19th century ended up as the vanguard of industrial despotism. (#1,319)

The ease with which industrial capitalism constructs and destroys—obeying clear precepts of profitability—transforms the average man into an intellectual, moral, and physical nomad.
Whatever is permanent today is an obstacle. (#2,194)

The ruling class of an agrarian society is an aristocracy, that of an industrial society an oligarchy. (#1,519)

The reactionary’s ideal is not a paradisiacal society. It is a society similar to the society that existed in the peaceful intervals of the old European society, of Alteuropa, before the demographic, industrial, and democratic catastrophe. (#2,947)

To industrialize a country, it is not enough to expropriate the rich man; it is necessary to exploit the poor man. (#485)

Under the pretext of giving work to the hungry, the progressive sells the useless artifacts he produces.
The poor are industrialism’s pretext for enriching the rich man. (#486)

It would be easier to resolve modern problems, if, for example, it were possible to sustain the Utopian fancy that what causes the multiplication of plastic objects is only the manufacturer’s commercial greed, and not the idiotic admiration of the presumed buyers. (#847)

For the myth of a past golden age, present day humanity today has substituted the myth of a future plastic age. (#952)

When the business acumen of some exploits the cultural sanctimoniousness of others, one says that culture is spreading. (#2,080)

The cultural rickets of our time is a result of the industrialization of culture. (#2,304)

The leftist Catholic is correct in discovering in the bourgeois the rich man of the parable, but is mistaken in identifying the militant proletariat with the poor of the Gospel. (#717)

Indignant with the bourgeois who “eases his conscience” by giving alms from his own private wealth, the leftist Catholic proposes to do it through self-sacrifice by distributing the private wealth of others. (#858)

Bourgeois hegemony culminates with the industrialization of Communist society.
The bourgeoisie is not so much a social class as the ethos of industrial society itself. (#494)

The leftist is so worried about the problems of the 19th century that he does not worry about the problems of the 20th century.
The problems raised by the industrialization of society prevent him from seeing the problems raised by industrialized society. (#600)

Three persons in our age make it their profession to detest the bourgeoisie:
the intellectual—that typical representative of the bourgeoisie;
the communist—that faithful executor of bourgeois intentions and ideals;
the progressive cleric—that final triumph of the bourgeois mind over the Christian soul. (#706)

The progressive cleric excoriates the “ghetto mentality” of the old Christian today.
Those clerics prefer the commercial and financial activity of the modern Jew to the ghetto where Israel’s faithfulness flourished. (#682)

In order to ally himself with the Communist, the leftist Catholic asserts that Marxism merely criticizes Christianity’s compromises with the bourgeoisie, when it is Christianity’s essence which Marxism condemns. (#699)

1 comment:

  1. Catholic historian Christopher Dawson wrote an essay on "Catholicism and the Bourgeois Mind" which might be of some interest to readers. Dawson wrote from a traditional Catholic perspective, which of course is the same perspective from which Gómez Dávila wrote.