What something accomplishes, what it is good for – this can easily be agreed on. Then the what and for what have been determined and its purpose judged useful. When the modern humanities and social sciences treat their subjects in regard to their utility, nothing is to be seen of this freedom of judgment about utility. For them, the indication of a service, which they think a thing performs, collapses directly together with the objective obligation to hold the existence of the same as absolutely necessary. The logic of their functionalism is of a moral nature: something fulfills a task – so it’s good! And usually for humans, a pseudonym that social scientists have found for their state-supporting interests in money, the state, religion and literary works. Their views about their objects should not come across as purely subjective; in the end, science is their profession. So the partisan interest in the existence of the objects taken up by the scholars garbs itself in a supposedly objective judgment: the thing actually has a function that matters to me!
This is how it goes, for example, when economists investigate what money is. If one looks at the results of their long-standing research, we encounter phrases such as:
which expresses his joy about the great achievements of money. This doesn’t seem to be difficult to see – the statement does not sound overly scientific. Only: how could this happen? This is obviously a case of the direct equation of the thing to be explained with the service that it performs: – What is money? – The fact that one gets gloves for it at the department store!, says the economist. Unfortunately, one is not well served by the information that money is very good for shopping. “To pay” means nothing other than “to spend money” and assumes the admired object whose determination had been announced by “money is ...” Preiser is so happy with his tautology – money is what is used for everything that you can do with money – that he flat forgets the benefit of money that it supposedly exists for, that the declared “can pay with” function assumes the enforced separation of the potential holders of money from the “goods” produced so abundantly The cheap insight that everything that is protected private property has its price, that nothing can be bought without money, that the modern citizen in fact depends on money, he interprets the other way around, as a song of praise for the ingenuity of humans who crunch numbers, exchange and save, whereby the correspondingly triply useful “good” then came into existence:
“The unit of account, medium of exchange and store of value.” (Woll, General Economics, p. 348)
With the idea that money is that which often serves humans, the economics experts certify its “objective” necessity: otherwise you couldn’t buy anything! A very uneconomic judgment, because it proceeds from the usefulness of money, which is asserted from the standpoint of dealing with money:
“With money goods can be bought.” (ibid.)
So the state-established compulsion to have to use money vanishes into the philosophy of unlimited freedom, opening up to the revered subjects, in the opinion of the economists, the real calling of the dollar and the euro:
“Money is the good of the highest freedom of choice,”
means – in expert opinion – a correction of the popular saying: “No money, no fun.”
The art of the reversing the necessities which are established by force in modern liberal democracies into a wonderfully functional order, thus in principle into good conditions, which the economists practice through the positive application of the functional argument (money = many benefits!), also dominates political science. With them one appreciates the negative idiom of the functional thought, so that they reach the following insight into the character of the bourgeois state: without the state = nothing in terms of its services! Ergo ...
Let us take a definition of the state in full:
“The State. The organization of society. It includes a state force, a state people and a state territory.” (“Society and State,” Encyclopedia of Politics)
What is being talked about? The state? On the one hand: yes, the word appears several times. On the other hand, however, no, because immediately after the first word, the definition intentionally leads away from the state, back to “society.” This is further negotiated in the following, without the author giving any account of this implicit conflation of the state and society. He speaks of society as if it is self-evident that the state must be found in it. And it is. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Certainly, this does not lead to the positive features of “society” – its legitimate interests, purposes and institutions. The reverse: “society” lacks something – it lacks “organization.” This, of course, must be fixed – and the state already has a function. Namely: control as such. To fulfill this service of producing a well-ordered coexistence, there must be the state, in the eyes of the political scientists; here the functional judgment collapses with the proof of the justified existence of the function holder, just as nicely as it does for the friends of mammon. The trick has succeeded, and the learned men will not let the fact that the striven-after “organization” only comes about through the violent subjugation of “society” under the state tarnish their satisfaction with the image of the state as a desirable servant of human society. For them, it is just not a contradiction that “state force” should realize a need for this by subjugating land (“state territory”) and people (“state people”). Why should it be? Any different need than for the full power of the state is just unknown to them – probably by profession.
Psychologists look at the individual with his “psychic life” as an apparatus designed only to function. The human in the repair shop of the psycho-thinkers is the everywhere unstable compilation of functions, at whose fulfillment he then, on the other hand, all too often fails because of sand in the transmission. This scientifically respectable mistake, of making the entirety of mental and emotional life to be the interest in the fulfillment of allegedly assigned tasks, only resurrects old man Freud.
He can be studied for the nonsense that is led to by the intention of treating precisely the sphere of the mind as analogous to the medical approach to the organism – namely, from the viewpoint of its functioning.
“The functional importance of the ego is manifested in the fact that normally control over the approaches to motility devolves upon it. Thus in relation to the id it is like a man on horseback, who has to hold in check the superior strength of the horse; with this difference, that the rider tries to do so with his own strength while the ego uses borrowed forces.” (Freud, The Ego and the Id, New York : W. W. Norton and Co., 1962. p. 15)
Freud does not say who grants the “ego” “control” over the “id,” which it is supposed to be, on the other hand, only a functional manifestation of. He thinks his absurd metaphor proves that the “ego” must function as a repression authority, so that his “id” does not run away from him. If the “ego” is then simultaneously the master and the servant of the “id,” reciprocally over- and underlying it, so that this fits well together logically, the position complicates itself still further:
“Since we accept in the ego a special authority, the super ego represents the restrictive and denying claims.” (Freud, New Introductory Lectures in Psychoanalysis)
In the “ego,” which had just been introduced as a functional subsection of the “id,” an independent “authority” now opens up which either “by itself … or by order of the well-behaved ego” (ibid.) achieves “displacement,” so that the generally non-independent “ego” is tyrannized by its own subordinate “authority.” The “ego,” the Freudian word for the bourgeois individual, the non-independent and therefore always problematic middle between the “authorities” of the “superego” and the “id,” constantly gives “orders” to him, so that the maintenance of this absurd apparatus becomes very autotelic – this ego is psychology’s informatively intended answer to the classical philosophical apotheosis of the free will.
In the light of psychology, he looks very miserable, the human: he is a bundle of independent forces, and producing their ideal functional unity is his real program, before which his conscious actions turn out to be effects, expressions of psychological functions – if one unhides them …
With the unmasking of psychological functions, which are not to be superficially discovered in human actions, the doctors of the psyche practice the displacement of reason by function for the inner balance of the individual, precisely the functioning of the psyche. Psychologists explain that the highest purpose of the human is the production of agreement with itself. Because they see the obstacles to contentment primarily as given in the individuals themselves, with the production of a stable “emotional life” a complication-free relationship with the world should and must appear. This emerges in psychology upside down, only as a condition for a straightened out mind.
The sociologists are also modest – logically speaking! Like the economists and the political scientists, they are happy of course about the great accomplishments of money and the state; on the other hand, their point of view demands they go beyond such insights. They have scaled the summits of functional nonsense and report everything they see from up there: it is a function – if it functions. This is not at all kept quiet, by the way, but is expressed self-confidently:
“The function of any recurring activity [a striking subject], such as the punishment of crimes ... is the role they play in the whole of social life, and thus the contribution it provides for the preservation of the structural continuity.” (Fischer, Encyclopedia Sociology, p. 320)
In this brilliant scientific performance, a) a thing – as already exhibited several times before – is from the start immediately thrown together with its function, but to announce about this b) the essential information that its service is taking place, giving a valuable clarification about the standpoint of sociological reasoning. Whatever it may be – “any [!] recurring activity” – the science of society has nothing but an interest in its functionality, and sells this in mass produced tautologies, according to the model: “The function is that the function functions,” as value-free science.
In particular, the hopeless partisanship of this thinking can at once be demonstrated by the example of Luhmann’s deliberations on the “function of religion.” (N. Luhmann, The Function of Religion). The man applies the cardinal error of his discipline under the title of “functional analysis” in the procedure, and negatively indeed. It goes like this: even before he has distinguished his subject from others by a definition, he states that it is necessary to
“make it comparable to other subjects by reference to a problem.” (Luhmann, p. 9)
It is therefore necessary for him to put his “religion” into a relation to an issue that he has decided to hold to be problematic. And without a specific functional connection having come up. He wants, of course, only to compare miscellaneous, possible-to-imagine connections. Maybe there are many other things than religion which could accomplish the same thing as it does? The sobering discovery: no, unfortunately not. In Luhmann’s words, which simulate a conclusion:
“There are thus [!] no specific functional equivalents for religious forms or behaviors which do not appear as religion.” (Luhmann, p. 48)
Logically: nothing serves the purpose of religion as well as religion itself. Who would have thought? The nonsense was certainly not for nothing. The not-a-religion that is not suitable to be a religion is sociologically laid to rest and “thus” real religion is left over, whereby it is brought into an affirmative connection with itself. It needs them for its functioning (a brilliant reversal!), of which one still needs to know nothing at all with this first positive judgment. Because it is, naturally, like so much, a system, and this must function, as everybody knows – so here the church, which Luhmann has taken the poetic license of imagining for a while without religion, like vice versa religion without churches, gets its sociological justification for existing. Here the church is not a real subject, the actual, state-sanctioned existence of religion, however indispensable, so that there is Luhmann’s unreal religion:
“The function of the religious system is directly fulfilled by the system of divine communication, which is called the church.” (Luhmann, p. 56)
Luhmann should clarify for himself that “divine communication” – we only note the bonus that the church receives because of its services to religion, even before its
“function of reformulating indeterminate complexity” (Luhmann, p. 79)
has given up a good deed. Certainly, “complexity” is first of all not a thing, but a linguistic monument to unwillingness to waste a word on the specified “complexity,” but secondly, on top of that, one is also not supposed to be able to determine this mystery, so that the service of religion, which should thirdly “reformulate” the unformulateable, turns out to be appropriately mystical-divine. The whole crap of the functionality of religion occurs to the sociologist only because he clings to the pious ideology that in the democratic everyday life, which Luhmann calls “bearable uncertainty,” religion would in fact be of help in bearing it and not the extra effort to falsely interpret it. He inflates his all-purpose ideology about the Christian delusion into its objective function: for him, religion
“interprets events and possibilities in a way consistent with a meaningful outlook and permits an escalation of bearable uncertainty.” (Luhmann, p. 80)
In Luhmann’s functional world, it is just “uncertainty” that one bears and religion that allows the escalation of the amount – maybe. This undoubtedly speaks for it; here is the enormous apologetic brunt of the functional argument: if the Lord in Heaven provides his service of consolation, it has with Him its scientific validity. Sapienti sat!
Whether science now proceeds from really existing objects and bourgeois scholars are so pleased by the usefulness of so much that they deem worthy of preservation that they lose any difference between the concept of a thing and the circumstances in which it exists, or whether in the same interest they bring their “subjects” into being specifically as service agents, the theoretical guideline is always: “what is it good for?” This question is not meant as a starting point for investigating the utility of a thing – which truly is no mistake. Modern social scientists hold their answer to be simultaneously the answer to the question of the concept of their object. So the functional viewpoint substitutes approval of the issues they cover for their explanation. And this is no faux pas, but the hallmark of morally sound scientific thinking. With the identification of functions, academic expertise adheres to the form of scientific judgment and shows nothing but the desire for accommodation to the world characterized as making possible useful services. With the claim of necessity and scientific insight, the functionalist argument is the mind’s consummate commitment to the world exactly as it is now.
PS: The objection that nevertheless the sciences talk not only about functionality, but also a lot about dysfunctionality, that this is also a criticism of the function concept, is unfortunately not correct. The discovery of a dysfunction does not shelve the error of functional thinking, but continues it – negatively. Whoever talks of dys-, shares namely the interest in the functioning, by missing the services he deems desirable in the object. The statement of a dysfunctionality thus salvages functionalism because it critiques from its own basis!