Above all, the capitalist class is a group amidst all other groups and in relation to all other groups in a particular society, given that the capitalist class or the capitalist group makes up about one percent of the population in almost any given society. And it is the class structure borne out of culture that situates the capitalist class at the top, which in turn defines the capitalistic economic and social organization of society. As Vivek Chibber wrote: 

“Capitalism is an economic system that is identified with a specific class structure. While there are many social divisions within the system, as there are in any complex economy, there is one specific division taken by nearly every framework to be essential to it – the one between those who control society’s productive assets and those who have none.” 

Chibber added:

“To put it more directly, the defining characteristic of capitalism is a class structure with asset-owning capitalists on one side and a class of asset-poor workers on the other. That structure is described as fundamental to capitalism because the system’s historically distinctive macro properties derive from it.” 

Part of the functions and operations of the capitalist class is to influence others through various ways and means in order to dominate others, with the aim of domination being the retention of its privileged power status. But a more particular aim of a group aside from influencing all and sundry is to influence particular individuals into adopting the group’s mentality or mode of thinking and thus having these individuals conform to the group’s mode or variation of ‘groupthink.’ As Sigmund Freud wrote:

“A group impresses the individual as being an unlimited power and an insurmountable peril. For the moment it replaces the whole of human society, which is the wielder of authority, whose punishments the individual fears, and for whose sake he has submitted to so many inhibitions. It is clearly perilous for him to put himself in opposition to it, and it will be safer to follow the example of those around him and perhaps even ‘hunt with the pack.’”

Freud added:

“In obedience to the new authority he may put his former ‘conscience’ out of action, and so surrender to the attraction of the increased pleasure that is certainly obtained from the removal of inhibitions.” 

Freud also noted five “principal conditions” as to why “groupthink” is elevated to such a dominant and preponderant state in virtually all contexts and situations. For one, there is the “continuity of existence” which conditions and elevates ‘groupthink’ to such an elevated state in virtually every group. Second, there is the need to instill a “definite idea” into the individuals who make up the group regarding “the nature, composition, functions, and capacities of the group” in order to cultivate “an emotional relation” between the individual and the group. Third is the nature of the interaction that the group has with other groups, which in turn distinguishes the group from other groups. Fourth is the various “traditions, customs, and habits” of the group which then “determine the relations of its members to one another.” And fifth, there is the fact and the reality that every group has “a definite structure” which is then “expressed in the specialization and differentiation of the functions of its constituents.” 

And as Antonio Gramsci argued, while capitalist group character and discipline is “mechanical and authoritarian” in nature, a socialist or non-capitalist character and discipline is “autonomous and spontaneous.” As Gramsci argued: “The discipline imposed on citizens by the bourgeois state makes them into subjects, people who delude themselves that they exert an influence on the course of events.” On the other hand, a non-capitalist character or discipline “makes the subject into a citizen: a citizen who is now rebellious, precisely because he has become conscious of his personality and feels it is shackled and cannot freely express itself in the world.” 

There is also the notion of “prestige” which is at play in the midst of how one group relates to another as well as in the midst of the very basic social hierarchy of every group. Both the group and individual seek to wield “prestige” above all else, and it is perhaps “prestige” which aligns the interests of the overall group with the interests of the individual. And it is perhaps the demand for and the pursuit of “prestige” which serves as the core interest of the capitalist class or capitalist group. As Adam Smith wrote: “The rich man glories in his riches, because he feels that they naturally draw upon him the attention of the world, and that mankind are disposed to go along with him in all the agreeable emotions with which the advantages of his situation so readily inspire him.” 

In turn, prestige ends up functioning and operating and drawing everyone through a mysterious form of hypnosis. And as a result, prestige exerts a hypnotic effect on both individuals and groups which then pervades and traverses all and sundry, regardless of the magnitude, power, and size of the individual or the group which comes under question. And while prestige ties into hypnosis, the hypnosis is in turn bound to “an erotic tie” to borrow from Freud. He wrote: “Hypnosis has a good claim to being described as a group of two. There remains as a definition for suggestion: a conviction which is not based upon perception and reason but upon an erotic tie.” Such is the basic makeup or nature of what amounts essentially to the psychic processes which foster class differences, group formation, and the relations between one group with another. 

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