Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Spanner Cyberpunk Gothic Part 3: Corporatism as a Fanatic Cult

In previous posts in this series, on "blood" and on corporations as gods, I've been developing an insane theology for the primary villains of Spanner, the Corporates. I was idly plotting issue #2 (partly for the JulNoWriMo novelization) when I hit upon a crucial plot point. Why a Corporate Empire in the first place, why are corporations considered literal gods, and why are the Corporates so obsessed with an insane and unprovable "theory" of eugenics? The answer hit me like a bolt of lightning: in Spanner, "Corporatism" is the name of a cult!

In one scene in Spanner #2 as the plot is coming to me, three of the teenage heroines (Shira, Jennifer, Polly) are comparing eugenics laws in various countries with those imposed by the ruling United Corporations cartel. The most famous national purity laws include those of China and India, plus those contained within the latest (as of September 2014) ultra-Orthodox version of Israel's Law of Return. The difference between those national purity laws and the Corporate version is that the national ones define who is a citizen with rights, while the Corporate ones define who can take executive positions within Cartel corporations. Jennifer, a young scientist with a keen nose for religious insanity, insists that the Corporate eugenics laws are priestly purity laws because the Corporates have a cult of the corporations. That is, the Corporates worship their corporations as gods. This makes Corporatism a fundamentalist pagan cult that makes Drusilla Becket's notorious "Pyramidian" cult look liberal and humanistic in comparison. The racism, sexism, and class bigotry in this fundamentalist form of a Corporatist religion are so extreme and hysterical that cultism is the only explanation for the Corporates' violence against outsiders (i.e. the majority of the human race). In fact, it goes beyond racism into speciesism, with the corporate "species" of "god" considered superior to humans, who are considered merely a species of talking monkeys. The Cartel's executives are, Jennifer points out, quite literally a priesthood, and a very militant one at that. Hence the extremism of their purity laws, which define the nature of the "chosen people" according to the nature of their gods, the corporations, for which money, gold, and oil are the literal blood.

Here's the definitive explanation of the protective (and, of course, highly illegal) practice of mother-daughter marriage I introduced in this series' first post: Corporate men are always out looking for "pure-blooded" females whom they believe can preserve the "purity" of their "race" as breeding slaves (the cult's definition of "wife"). When they find them among the lower classes, they kidnap them. They prefer virgins because they are "unspoiled". Several outraged mothers among the white middle classes decide to take extreme measures to protect their daughters: they marry them and become their lovers. This makes the daughters "polluted", hence removing them from the Corporates' "acquisition list". Spanner #2 contains a dramatic flashback sequence in which Jennifer convinces her psychologist and activist mother Willa to marry her in order to protect her from enslavement to the Corporates' "high priest", Willa's ex-husband and mortal enemy Dr. Henry Becket; then Willa convinces her friend Kim to marry her daughter Polly for the same reason. Shira, being multiracial, is immune to the Corporates' eugenic avarice and therefore has no need to be protected through such extreme means, even if she was born without the usual inborn incest taboo. This is one of the two yuri manga elements in Spanner. (The other, of course, is the "Psycho Shoujo Ai" centering on openly bisexual Shira and her passionate romance with brooding, suicidal beauty Leila.)

This movement by mothers to marry their daughters is mostly among atheists, agnostics, pagans, and secular Jews. Religious mothers are far more likely to lose their daughters because their incest taboo is greatly strengthened by religious taboo. This leaves the daughters of religious mothers unprotected; their predicament is made even worse by the fact that their kidnappers are the fanatical priests of the "living gods". To the Corporates, the Jehovah of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is dead; the corporation-gods are, to them, quite literally alive (though our heroines agree that "undead" is more like it"). The irreligious and weakly religious, on the other hand, are more likely to use their reason, see the unpleasant necessity, and swallow their incest taboos and even their largely or completely absent lesbian tendencies.

This is the religious nature of the corporate dictatorship that overthrows Western civilization in the prologue of Spanner. You might think a dictatorship of corporations run by ultra-rich robber barons driven to dominate by class bigotry would be bad enough. But add religion, and it becomes infinitely worse. And thus Shira's rebellion escalates from that of a teenage prankster and tagger (with "Spanner", Brit for monkeywrench, as her handle) to a slayer of gods — a corporate assassin.

Back to Spanner’s World...

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