THE GENIUS OF THE BEAST A RADICAL RE-VISION OF CAPITALISM
By HOWARD BLOOM
Prometheus Books Copyright © 2010 Howard Bloom
All right reserved. ISBN: 978-1-59102-754-6
Chapter One DOES SOUL BELONG IN THIS MACHINE?
Why does capitalism need a radical re-vision?
The first decade of the twenty-first century gave the Western world one skull-cracking slap after another. The attacks of 9/11 and the downing of New York's World Trade Center, the slog in Iraq, the Great Crash of 2008, the implosion of major corporations like General Motors, Chrysler, Merrill Lynch, and Citibank, and the growth of China to superpower status-these were wake-up punches. They handed you and me-CEOs, researchers, artists, students, and thinkers-what may be our greatest opportunity and our greatest responsibility since the Great Depression and the Nazis threatened to topple the Western way of life in the 1930s.
Our civilization is under attack. But many of us don't want to defend it. Why? There's a void in our sense of meaning. We've been told that the "Western system" is one in which the rich stoke artificial needs to suck money, blood, and spirit from the rest of us. We've been told that the barons of industry work overtime to turn us from sensitive humans into consumers-mindless buyers listlessly watching TV while growing obese on the artificial flavors, the chemical preservatives, and the cheap sugars of junk food. And some of that is true.
But the problem does not lie in the turbines of the Western way of life-it does not lie in industrialism, capitalism, pluralism, free speech, or democracy. The problem lies in the lens through which we see.
Emotional flows have powered our past and will drive our future, too. But we've never had the perceptual lens to bring them into view. Capitalism works. It works for reasons that don't appear in the analyses of Marx or in the statistics of economists. It works clumsily, awkwardly, sometimes brilliantly, and sometimes savagely. The Genius of the Beast: A Radical Re-Vision of Capitalism attempts to show us why.
The Genius of the Beast seeks to reveal the deeper meaning beneath what we've been told is crass materialism. It probes the mystery of how our obsessive making and exchanging of goods and services upgrades the nature of our species, gives us new powers, and endows us with the equivalent of new arms, legs, eyes, and brains.
The Genius of the Beast probes an untold secret of the Western system-we're not mere digits in a numbers game. We're feeling people woven in emotional exchange.
What is the beast? It's Western civilization. A monster with a peculiar metabolism-capitalism. Capitalism is a word that has become, to many, a curse. But beneath the surface, capitalism and the Western system hide astonishing abilities.
The Genius of the Beast stares a blunt fact in the face. Many of today's corporations are creatively and morally asleep. But you and I can wake them in a most ironic way-through a strange but vital upgrade in the richness of our lives.
Every culture needs a creation myth, a vision of how it came to be. That creation myth defines a culture's values and its aspirations. The Genius of the Beast is an attempt to provide a radically new creation myth-a factual creation myth, a creation story based on history and science. The Genius of the Beast is an attempt to give you and me a radically new way to understand our society.
The Genius of the Beast is a quick soar through a jet stream of stories that tell the tale of the rise of a strange creature-Western civilization-and of its capitalist digestive machinery. The Genius of the Beast explores the startling flipside of familiar tales-the way stone tools remade our genes, the way Paleolithic rouge and beads upgraded our ability to think, the way we invented the city, the king who invented money, the secret wonders of Phoenician trade, and the strange ways in which William Shakespeare, P. T. Barnum, J. D. Rockefeller, and the soap and cotton revolution upgraded humanity. Taken together, these episodes reveal an untold story of our origins, a new key to the quandaries of work and daily living, and a new view of our future in a world of instant change. The Genius of the Beast is designed to give you pleasure. But if it succeeds in its mission, it will also give you something extra-a radically new way to see.
Excerpted from THE GENIUS OF THE BEAST by HOWARD BLOOM Copyright © 2010 by Howard Bloom. Excerpted by permission.
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