[Marxism] The spiritual dimension

Gary MacLennan gary.maclennan1 at gmail.com
Sat Feb 15 16:22:08 MST 2014

I have just returned from Mornington Island,- a remote Indigenous community
in the Gulf of Carpentaria. I have been reading Bhaskar's analysis of the
global financial crisis as a triple dis-embedding - the dis-embedding of
money from the economy; of the economy from society and of society from its
spiritual base.  Leftists like myself are never very comfortable with
concepts like spiritual.  All too quickly it reeks of the opiate of the
masses.  But what precisely does Bhaskar mean by "spiritual"?  Well it
seems to have a full interpretive  range from a secularist emphasis on
love, solidarity, care and nurture to a quasi mystical  or religious
experience.  Bhaskar himself leaves open to his readers to choose where to
place the emphasis.

On the Island, I had a couple of minor epiphanies.  I watched Socrsese's
The Wolf of Wall Street.  I don't like Scorsese films.  I have long hated
the fact that in his imaginary even the gangsters aren't likable.  Humanity
is simply "*une merde*". So not surprisingly I loathed The Wolf.
 Nevertheless if I was asked for the meaning of Bhaskar's triple
dis-embedding account, I would point to Scorsese's film and say that it is
what it looks like.

The Di Caprio character begins as Faustus to McConaghy's Mephistopheles,
who lectures him on the necessity for drugs and to improve his "rookie
numbers" i.e. the number of times he jerks off.  At the end of the film, Di
Caprio's character has morphed into Mephistopheles, going around, holding
seminars where he begins by asking the wannabes to "Sell me this pen".  We
have entered one of the circles of Hell and there is no escape.  Whatever
the spiritual base of society might be, it has been thoroughly obliterated
by a flood of greed and lust.

So somewhat depressed by Scorsese's film I stood meditating on all this at
the Mornington Island airstrip.  There was a handful of us waiting to catch
the light plane out.  I noticed a young to middle aged mother carrying a
baby of about 10 moths.  His head was hanging back and he appeared to be
blind.  Cerebral palsy or fetal alcohol syndrome?  The woman and the baby
were part of a family, A man and two young boys were clearly about to head
on to the plane.  Just as we were called the family split up amid goodbyes,
and then suddenly one of the boys turned round and kissed the little baby
on the forehead.  The child showed no sign of understanding what was done.
 But the kiss was a gesture of such ineffable tenderness, that I was
embarrassed to see it.  Yet I also realized that what I had seen was the
spiritual base in action.  The boy will never get to sniff up drugs on Wall
Street, make millions, bang hookers by the dozen, live in a mansion, drive
luxury automobiles, dine on lobster and champagne or get to feature in a
Scorsese movie, but he had more decency and humanity in his little finger
than all of the wolfs of Wall Street.



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