Those Upside-Down Angels Again
Let us speak of a genus of man-eating monsters.
Shall we not remember, how Augustine wrote of a demon as a sort of “upside down angel?” His argument was that this was because, in things that were most earthly a demon was powerful and exists in perpetuity, but in things that were closest to God the demon was morbidly limited. For instance, having been formed of the same aetheric “body of air” as the virtuous angels, the demon was eternal – or in any case would be if God did not at some point choose otherwise.
In deference to ancient philosophers, Augustine tended to think that a demon’s body was literally “of air,” and that these demons were often the same unclean spirits who had been worshiped as Gods, or at least supplicated as lars and genies, in more ancient times. But consider what we shall get if we say that this “body of air” means that our demon is really composed of words which have been tailored into formulas of legalistic contracts? Shall we not have something that looks and acts very much like a modern corporation?
When we apply the techniques of the Frankfurt School to religious history, we find that the temples of classical antiquity took on functions very much like those of the modern corporate banks. Indeed, when we see modern corporations asserting themselves as “persons” it becomes obvious that if these “corporate persons” are not the same demons against which St. Augustine railed, they are their direct descendants.
The Abolitionist wind which blows through the trees seems to have an almost accidental relation to the corporate religions of the times. The wind may blow through the temples, but the classical columns that sustain them are raised from the substance of earth, and are best analyzed by using the tools of worldly economics. The corporations of modern times may likewise be considered as a sort of “animal,” insofar as they not only consume, but also assert a sort of “drive” for self-preservation, and for the replication of others of their kind.
The corporation may not be immortal, but if it is one of those large and successful corporations it shall have a long life, much longer than the lives of any of its founders. On the other hand, when we examine the rational element, we shall see a great deficiency. While members of the corporate board may be persons of considerable intellect, the nature of the corporate system dictates that they shall devote all this human intelligence to one particular end: the growth and economic success of the corporation, so that the investors may prosper.
The proceedings of any major corporation absorb the intellectual labor of persons of considerable intelligence, to serve the corporation’s own instinct for survival. It has been demonstrated that, in general, these corporations have no conscience – or if they have any superego at all, it is purely due to apprehension of monetary loss on account of liability lawsuits. It has been argued that, nevertheless, these corporations serve society by coordinating the efforts of the workers. This would be true if the corporation were recognized for the beast that it is, and bound by constitutional law to serve humanity as lord and master. But when the corporation is allowed to masquerade as a “person” and to assume the rights of a person, the result is an upside-down angel, a creature of animal instinct and an unlimited life-span, which has been given dominion over the lives of real humans.