In Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Howl” (1955), Moloch is used as a metaphor for capitalism and industrial civilization, and for America more specifically. The word is repeated many times throughout Part II of the poem, and begins (as an exclamation of “Moloch!”) in all but the first and last five stanzas of the section.
I just recently, (in the scale of my life,) stumbled over an explicit reference to Moloch. I was all like, “Moloch? Who the what is that? *bookmark*”
I finally got around to reading the WikiPedia article and realized that there’s a huge amount of Moloch wriggled into and behind a ton of the classic fiction which I love.
Like the rats, who gradually lose all values except sheer competition, so companies in an economic environment of sufficiently intense competition are forced to abandon all values except optimizing-for-profit or else be outcompeted by companies that optimized for profit better and so can sell the same service at a lower price.
From a god’s-eye-view, we can contrive a friendly industry where every company pays its workers a living wage. From within the system, there’s no way to enact it.
~ Scott Alexander
I confess to having had only the slightest awareness of Moloch in the biblical or general senses. So just skimming the WikiPedia article and then taking the time to read this piece from Slate Star Codex was like discovering a new window on the world from my mind-palace.
This is the problem. (With everything.) Individually, everyone acts according to their interests and beliefs. The result? …look at the world around you.
How could one go about changing the world? (That’s a rhetorical question.)