Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of cultural theory which is both evident and underlying in its nature is the investment which people create in their social spaces. According to both Foucault and Bhabha in their critical essays, human beings are made subjects of their sociocultural spaces and are inevitably constructed by these specific communities, which they perpetuate through various mediums. By looking further into Bhabha’s analysis of this social phenomenon, the difficulty of transgression is made painfully clear – since so many cultural practices become ingrained into the construction of communities, the perpetuation of these standards become overlooked themselves. On a more philosophical level, Capitalism as a global community, has created the ultimate generative existential crisis of the modern age.
One of Bhabha’s most resonating lines from her essay “On the Use and Abuse of Culture” is the perpetuation alterity and otherness across nations: “their cultural identity have become contestants in the public sphere of capitalist democracies and are embroiled in characteristic struggles for redistribution and recognition.” In this way, a new crisis of the modern age is the assimilation of cultural with economic institutions, as capitalism and the free market have paved their way as the new, dominant religion.
Clearly, the imposition of an economic infrastructure upon a cultural history does not seem at first to be an acceptable correlation, yet this coalescence of societies and capitalism has created the most fundamental existential pitfall. Similarly to Zizek’s assertion of capitalism being the seductive, yet empty promise, Bhabha articulates the “promesse du bonheur that advanced capitalism always holds… but never quite delivers.” It is merely the false idea of capitalism which lures participation, a sort of community created by the discursive address that functions in the name of “the people,” creating an ideological position for itself and enforcing those values everywhere.
This is exactly what Friedrich Nietzsche contested against in his philosophical works – that guilt and bad conscience stem from creditor and debtor relations, and that human beings fail to analyze the system which they perpetuate through their participation. It creates an undeniable monolithic binary between the creditors and the debtors, those who have, and those who do not.
The process of othering which becomes apparent in Bhabha’s analysis is the distinction between capitalist and non-capitalist nations, creating another system of binaries which human beings seem unable to resist. The problem of this is rooted in the false and highly ironical nature of capitalism – that choice is an ephemeral, illusory concept – a replacement for the Christian afterlife in a time of declining religious faith, and increasing participation in the institution of global capitalism. In this way, the Nietzschean “death of God” has an equally negative replacement: the worship of financial giants in the modern world.