Friday, November 20, 2009

Bad Company: What Is This Dictel Corporation, Anyway?

Now that I've slowed down writing my new novel Dirty Pop for NaNoWriMo, my mind is beginning to return once again to that '07 NaNo novel that has defeated me repeatedly: Bad Company. The novel I'm now subtitling "A Corporate Horror Story" (because, remember, the villainous corporation tried to invade America in a futile attempt to keep the collapsing Republican dictatorship in power) is about to get its third go-round in NaNoFiMo, and this time I'm determined to finish it. I'm going to make this "National Novel Finishing Month" live up to its name, at least for me and BadCo.

But first, I need to know for certain what the giant military conglomerate that gives Bad Company its name truly is. What, really, is Dictel Corporation? The first thing I'll tell you is that it's more than just some parasitic for-profit entity. Much more.

I won't give the whole history of Dictel right here, even if the mystery of the company's origins is the Da Vinci Code-like heart of the story. I've worked that out already, and I'll add the details in the rewrite. I'm really asking, "what kind of character is Dictel?"

It's the main antagonist, and its initial role is as catalyst. Sometimes the antagonist forces the protagonist into action, to its detriment. Think of, for example, Star Wars, in which Darth Vader's kidnapping of Princess Leia leads Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi; after that, the Dark Lord's savage minions assassinate Luke's foster family, a provocative act that creates for the Sith Lord a relentless enemy determined to destroy the Galactic Empire at all costs. In the opening chapter which in effect the Takashi Miike condensed version of The Parallax View (I have in mind the rapid-fire opening to Miike's Dead or Alive), Dictel's assassination of investigative reporter Robert Van Zandt is the provocative action that makes mortal enemies of the chairman's own nieces, Charlie and Desiree Thomas. Charlie, you see, is Bob's fiancée. Dictel Corporation thus plays the role of Galactic Empire (as the primary corporate proxy for the American Empire), chairman Colonel Tom Becket plays Emperor Palpatine, chief lawyer Clayton Starr plays Darth Vader more like Darth Maul from the first prequel, and mercenary Ramón (soon to be Rashid) Gabriel, the Colombian death squad hitman, steals Charlie's fiancé from her the same way the Imperial stormtroopers rob Luke of his family. That's where the story begins, anyway, in the chapter immediately after the opening Dictel propaganda film that the chapter immediately contradicts.

The first thing you have to know about Dictel as a business enterprise is that it isn't a commercial firm at all. It doesn't sell goods to customers. It exists as a means by which the US government can outsource various security- and military-related operations in such a way that the US can evade all responsibility. Dictel, and other companies like it (such as the infamous Blackwater/Xe and Halliburton/KBR) are the ultimate "corporate welfare kings", since these companies exist for no other reason but war profiteering. Such companies are by their nature utterly parasitic on the government and are the most irresponsible waste of taxpayer money that any contemptuous ruling class could ever conceive of. Along with the banks that create billions of dollars in profits out of thin air and then pass the resulting debt on to the ordinary people, this is the supreme example of capitalism so abstract it's practically against nature. True free market economists insist that such enterprises aren't even capitalist at all, put purely corporatist. I need to make clear that true laissez-faire capitalism itself no longer exists, if it ever did; the universal economic system today in the "developed" world is corporatism. Corporatism should also be distinguished from the older system called mercantilism in that whereas under mercantilism (and Soviet-style state socialism) the state controls the economy, under corporatism the corporations control the state. The word "corporation" should be understood to include not just business corporations, but all similar organizations from churches to governments to (in, say, Japan) criminal gangs.

But of course, as I hinted in the Da Vinci Code reference above, there's more to Dictel than just the most profitable mercenary auxiliary of a massive but dying empire. The mystery of Dictel's origin revolves around this question: why did the CIA start it for the purpose of hiring Nazi outlaws, anyway? The answer that brings up the Da Vinci Code comparison has to do with the subject of the book The Stargate Conspiracy (by Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince, the authors of Dan Brown's main research source for his book, The Templar Revelation) and with the figures of Otto Rahn (bizarrely enough, the inspiration for Indiana Jones) and R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz (the corresponding Bellocq figure, the arrogant esoteric Egyptologist prominent in The Stargate Conspiracy and its followup The Sion Revelation) and revolving around the mystery behind fascism, Nazism, Stalinism, and neoconservatism: Synarchy. And the fact that Dirty Pop's archvillainess Drusilla Becket is the first villain who appears to attempt to stop Charlie and Desiree (her daughters) and specifically appears in her role as a cult guru who channels specifically the "Ninefold God" whose cult is exposed in The Stargate Conspiracy, places the "Egyptian Mystery Tradition" (which has little to do with the actual religion of ancient Egypt) at the center of the mystery of Dictel. (And don't forget what the metaphor of the pyramid stands for.) This is the "occult mystery" element that's been all the rage in adventure fiction since at least Raiders of the Lost Ark.

As a transition between the previous paragraph and the next one, go read these two essays: "Schwaller de Lubicz and the Fourth Reich" by Laura Knight-Jadczyk and "Karl Marx as Religious Eschatologist" by Murray Rothbard. I may not fully agree with them, but they are my two newest crucial sources for Bad Company. Jadczyk goes so far as to credit Schwaller with formulating the "Law of Social Darwinism" that so many of my villains believe in, and the "Moravec Plan" by which the corporations plan to replace humanity with themselves through automation! (But she also, in her denunciation of materialism and Darwinism, denies the fact that matter, which she understands in the traditional Platonic way as dead, is not in fact dead; therefore she cannot understand that evolution is self-organization and consciousness is an emergent property.) Rothbard, likewise, scores some great points on Marxism in its religious incarnation (as a sect of what I will call Rationalism, which I will blog about soon); but the free-market economist and founder of anarcho-capitalism dismisses Marxism as nothing like the science it claims to be.

Ultimately, in the Dictel trilogy, Schwaller is pitted in mortal combat against Marx, as the theorists of the long-running class struggle between the ruling class and the working classes. In the Marxist analysis, capitalism is the latest system by which the rulers oppress, and expropriate the labor and products of, the working classes. Marx gives the name "bourgeoisie" to the new hegemonic class, the merchant aristocracy. Marx found several fatal contradictions driving, and ultimately undermining, the capitalist system. The most fundamental: private ownership of the means of production, which since the Industrial Revolution have been collective. The most destructive: the tribalist nature of national politics vs. the globalist urge of capital. Dictel is the nexus of all these contradictions, intensified. It represents capitalism's declaration of war against not only the workers, but of all its potential customers, whether individual consumers, other corporations, or any existing government. In the context of class struggle, the true purpose of Dictel is the annihilation of all human workers and their replacement by robots. This explains not only the infamous Dictel Security division, but the sinister experiments of Dictel Research as well. It is the ruling classes' superweapon against the class Marx called the "proletariat".

I connect this to the work of the English Romantic poet William Blake. For one thing, he was a political radical, a contemporary and friend of Thomas Paine. In his long prophetic poems, he wrote as a Gnostic prophet. Black Science will revolve around a core cast based partly on a modified version of his Self-Emanation-Spectre schema. Bad Company is dominated by Blake's kind of monstrous demonic beings. Dictel is "male", Drusilla's cult is "female", and together they form a gigantic black hermaphrodite neo-Demiurge that snuffs out the sky like a gigantic all-devouring swastika. This entity eats whole nations for breakfast! How can a single person, even a superman like John Galt, fight to destroy even one such entity by himself and hope to survive, much less an entire pantheon of these gods (Schwaller's neteru)? They can't. Which is precisely why socialists have always insisted that such forces can only be defeated and overthrown through collective resistance.

Whether the breakdown of corporatism will lead to socialism, laissez-faire anarchy, or the return of barbarism, or whether the world will even survive the breakdown of corporatism, is beyond the scope of Bad Company or even the entire Dictel trilogy. I'm leaving that for Spanner.

That's not the "biography" of Dictel, but that's my theory of the company's "character". When I start replotting for NaNoFiMo, I'll act on this theory when I give Dictel Corporation its true role in Bad Company. Now do you understand why I call it a novel of political horror?

Back to Spanner’s World...

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