Note: This article will center around covering the emergence of the Death Drive in the declining times of civilizations, as well as the need to preserve the Life Drive in civilizations in order to sustain prosperity.
In modern America, we’ve seen a strain of liberalism emerge that constitutes what is essentially the Death Drive, in that pleasure is sought out at the expense of morality, mortality, and familial relations. This was brought about by the gradual dissolution of religion in our society, brought about by an urbanization trend that replaced churches, which were formally the center of town life, with other things like country clubs, bars, and malls that were able to more easily thrive as for-profit enterprises in pricier city areas. While the expansion of scientific knowledge helped to reduce the Gods of the Gaps phenomenon, in which mysteries about the material universe fed into mysticism, the truth of the matter regarding the degradation of religion was that as Americans’ social and work lives changed, so did the benefits that religious organizations could offer. With things like clubs, bars, and malls, the same connections and status statements that people traditionally went to church to secure and display in prior generations were replaced by more commodified and class-centric outlets en masse. This reorientation of social identities in cities, from what church you attended and what profession you worked in to what clubs you belonged to, what bars you went to, and what malls you shopped at, signaled a dramatic departure in how people viewed themselves in relation to one another. While it might seem strange, the idea of the Volk in Nazi ideology illustrates this gradual cultural evolution that took place even from the 19th century into the 20th century, as values like hard work and earnest character in the village life that their membership idealized were replaced by values like conspicuous consumption and material accomplishments found in cities. Year after year, it mattered less and less how you behaved and what services you provided to the community, and more and more peoples’ identities centered on what they could afford and what medals had been pinned on their chests by society’s reigning institutions. As cityscapes grew large enough to allow for people to rarely meet others that they knew, superficial impressions grew in importance to the point that they overshadowed character. Across different cultures, belief systems, and continents, this transformation in both how people viewed themselves and the world around them was noted as populations became urbanized. When we look at Weimar Germany’s transgender epidemic, we find that it predominantly centered around Berlin, and similarly, when we look at similar problems in America, the same bourgeois pathologies typically arise around established cities, where people for the most part are high-value immigrants already willing to sacrifice their culture and familial connections for greater wealth or are multi-generational city dwellers accustomed to a post-church, more superficial world. In short, as societies have developed and people have become more urbanized, we’ve seen the Death Drive become the prevalent drive in people today, as any meaning beyond appearance, status, and pleasure have been obliterated.
If we consider the differences in how different classes approach the Death Drive, it becomes clear that it manifests differently across the socioeconomic spectrum. For people with the means to engage in the Life Drive, where they can not only survive but afford to procreate, they almost always do. The problem in modern America is that, while we use terms like upper middle class, middle class, and lower class, if no one but owners and heirs can afford to raise families in decent environments in cities, where the majority of the population lives now, then it should be noted that the Death Drive in society applies primarily to working people. Basic milestones have become a luxury in the modern era, primarily due to the fact that working people are being priced out of the world they built due to asset inflation, inflation within critical industries like medicine and education, and bracket creep, in which inflation pushes us into higher income brackets and thus, we pay more in taxes without an increase in real income. Due to this slow submerging of the working class into poverty, workers have a general notion that the end is nigh and they aren’t wrong. In a world where people consistently get poorer and poorer with each generation, the idea of upholding values that center around long-term prosperity don’t hold much weight and the idea of bringing children into such a world makes no sense. For working people, from the upper middle class to the lower class, we see the Death Drive manifest in mostly how much they can afford to put on display and what they can afford to enjoy. For some people, mere trinkets from particular brands will supply them with the validation that the rest of society fails to give them. For the corporate office worker able to enjoy several weeks a year of paid-time-off, this may manifest in “exploring” themselves in countries where the citizens are impoverished to the point of granting them more respect than they’re accustomed to in their soulless cities, yet the fix is more temporary than even the Ralph Lauren shirt their assistants or coffee fetchers buy. In modern America, for the most recent generations, hedonism is expressed mostly internally rather than externally, as milestones that we set for ourselves that are designed to be able to be achieved, rather than the more meaningful milestones set by prior generations that seem all but impossible to reach in the current era. Traveling on credit and buying fancy shirts or soaps is a lot more doable than achieving the milestones thought of as necessary in the past, from purchasing a home to starting a family. Due to the artificial scarcity imposed on workers, by both the stealing of surplus value by the far richer rich and the wasting of taxes and resources by the far more numerous elderly, the traditional process of life, birth, and death has been derailed.
When we look at the Death Drive, it resembles a need to engage in risky behavior, from indulging in heavy drug use to driving recklessly and we really only see this in demoralized populations, where the only Drive that can feasibly be pursued is the Death Drive. When you grow up in a crumbling inner city, with no ability to raise a family of your own, with no knowledge of how to start a career, with even less ability to start a career, while surrounded by a culture that pounds into your head that you should be making money every second of the day or you’re disgusting, why wouldn’t you indulge in the Death Drive? From what you know and from what society tells you, there’s nothing to lose in these gambles that give you a thrill and fulfilment that capitalism will never give you, since by the capitalists’ standards you never had a meaningful life at all anyways. What’s the real danger of doing meth to stay awake at your third job when not having the energy to work these thankless gigs lands you on the streets? Even if you “made it,” by the standards of your parents and teachers that know nothing about the modern world, by becoming a software engineer or mechanical engineer and eking out what would pass for a lower-middle class living decades ago in cities like San Francisco, at most you’re just fighting for survival. Sure, you could go to the gym and work out, attract a mate perhaps that is similar in attractiveness, but then comes the question: how can you afford to raise offspring in a city where the income needed to get a mortgage on a starter home is more than what a specialized doctor makes? You can’t, and if you’re smart enough to become a mechanical engineer or a software engineer, you can probably run the numbers and figure out that you can’t afford procreation and can’t risk a mate running off with your hard-earned savings that you need for retirement. The horrible truth is that in America, hedonism is the only principle that most people can derive any benefits from in modern society, be it through video games, narcotics, or unprotected sex with strangers. When people have nothing to lose, they just stick to the few things left that can make them happy. The poorer the person, the worse the fixes are, the better the highs are, the deadlier the consequences are, and the freer they are to pursue their vices since they have nothing left to lose. No one wants to be permanently incapacitated and reduce their quality of life even more, but if you die in pursuing the only things that reward you with dopamine, then for those miserable people who have nothing left to lose there’s not much risk at all. Just as the happily married man would act squeamish in the passenger seat of a recklessly speeding car, the homeless guy with six years under his belt of living inside a tent would struggle to understand the downsides of injecting heroin. The Death Drive in modern society is not only prevalent, but totally logical for the majority of the population to pursue and that is terrifying.
When we look at Demographic Transition theory, in which developed countries see birth rates below replacement, scientists fail to connect the dots: all these countries are mainly secular capitalist countries or feudal oil exporters. The only exception to the rule, when we look at the birth rates of developed countries, is Israel. While I am biased in favor of Israel, it is worth noting that religion constitutes a central role in that society and Israel possesses a more religious and nationalist population. These people, in settling there, bring with them a religious purpose that is only reinforced by the synagogues and temples they join in Israel. The simple act of having children in Israel is both a religious and political act, as the more religious Jews there see it as aiding the Jewish people in reclaiming their holy land. Even while the same capitalist problems like cramped living quarters and expensive items exist, the people are much more happy to endure those pains and pack their apartments with kids like sardines since it fulfills several purposes they believe greater than whatever comforts they could afford otherwise. As someone with Haredim relatives, most of who live off welfare and live in tiny apartments with more kids than I can count, it honestly conflicts a bit uncomfortably with the Marxist maxim that material conditions determine social conditions. While I can do an entire article on Israel, which will surely tank any credibility I have with America’s political extremists, let’s bring it back to how values and different kinds of community centers can greatly enrich or undermine communities. Israel, unlike other Developed Countries, has a cultural purpose that can’t be achieved via a consistent 2.5% increase in GDP or a recognition of non-binary people, with its population essentially fighting against an endless tide of Muslims who want to reclaim the land. For people that wound up in Israel, it was mostly due to persecution in their home countries or out of a belief in Zionism, leaving Israel with a population that is far more cohesive and interested in the same things than other democratic countries All in all, people in Israel don’t feel the same cultural void that people in other capitalist countries feel as much and because their culture largely revolves around the military and the synagogues there, we see a culture built on fortifying its national security, ensuring its youth are capable of combat, and ensuring that it not only has enough manpower to not only defend the nation but expand the borders as well. Israel, unlike almost every other country in the world, has a powerful and intact Life Drive, ingrained in its culture, that has seen its economy blossom and its birth rate remain the highest in the Developed World for years. While you may hold justifiable grudges against the neoliberal Jewish elite that make up a good chunk of the Jewish diaspora, that doesn’t mean we can’t take lessons away from Israel on how to build a healthy and thriving culture. Contrary to classic materialism, a healthy culture with a prominent Life Drive is as big of an asset to a country as any other major resource it might claim, if not more so in some cases.
Due to the fact that the rest of the world won’t experience the same conditions that created Israel, trying to replicate its success is tough because the ingrained beliefs of other cultures vary so much so as to make a universalist approach meaningless. Despite the daunting task in creating persuasive arguments to be fruitful and multiply, work hard for the greater good, and be a good citizen in a materialist context, it is imperative that socialists try to instill these concepts into their worldviews. Sweden and other parts of Western Europe, prior to their influx of 70 IQ rapefugees, had lost the Life Drive that drove protestant nations to become the wealthiest, most libertine, and most powerful countries the world had ever seen. Only now, with the rise of various fascist movements in Europe that have arisen out of the vast increases in crimes due to immigrants, have we seen the return of a cultural identity not destroyed by the ideology of “cultural Marxism” (which has strangely enough appeared only in Capitalist countries). With the formation of these new political parties, we’re once again seeing the widespread advocation of policies and values that support the Life Drive, driven by the indigenous Europeans’ fear of being ethnically replaced. Despite the growing popularity of reactionary movements in Europe that promote the pursuit of the Life Drive, this trend will do little to help other countries and in the strictly right-wing elements answering the call to repel the barbarians at the gates, these countries may not benefit from the sobriety and rationality that only materialism can provide. The one thing that can unify people across the globe and across different cultures is class, and in building a new and evolved dialectical materialism that takes into account the superiority of Abrahamic Values, the spreading of a socialism derived from and justified by such a philosophy would facilitate this cultural growth naturally. Without the cherishing of and the creation of new life, as well as the promotion of pro-community values, societies gradually lose their ability to function as people care less and less about a society that doesn’t care about them. Recognizing the Death Drive found in liberalism, from the Roman Empire’s experiences with it in ancient times to America and Europe’s experiences with it today, is only half the battle. Just as Nietzsche once said that G-d is dead, without reconstructing the values that helped past societies flourish, modern civilization may as well be considered dead as well. For the genuine socialist, a nation needs to undergo not only an economic transformation but a cultural transformation as well, in order to emerge as a successful country with a cultural foundation capable of providing both purpose and common ground for its people to unite on.