A Child’s Critique Of Capitalism
I am a millennial child brought up by capitalism. I have been trained to keep quiet and enjoy the privileges granted to me by where I happened to be born.
I learned not to complain about my problems because other people were living real tragedies somewhere on the other side of the world.
I was told to appreciate my dinner, as there were millions with nothing to eat that day.
I accepted that it was only right to work hard for personal success and spent the money earned from that success to support the system that granted me the success.
It was always about me, myself and I, the individual, the self-expression, the being myself, the personal opinion, the standing out and up for myself, the personality, the separation. That’s obvious. That’s what capitalism feeds on.
So it took me a while to ask the simple questions: Why do I have so much while others have so little? Why were my struggles of such a different nature from those who can never take surviving another day for granted? Why did I understand freedom primarily as “the ability to do whatever I want”? Why did I synonymise socialism with an unprosperous and authoritarian system exclusively?
Mainly because — as I said — I am a millennial child brought up by capitalism. Obviously, it kept a blindfold over my eyes for as long as it could.
And it would keep it there for longer still — but fortunately, in the vast offer granted by the consumerist ethos, I came across something that — whoops — tore the blindfold down. Within the jungle of self-help and spiritual on-offer products, I bargained for something that helped me develop a quality adverse to capitalism:
I learned how to accept and live with discomfort.
This was indispensable to enable me to at least look at the inequalities and injustice, and not turn my eyes away. If I didn’t develop a higher tolerance for discomfort, how could I even acknowledge that:
- there is a child somewhere in Syria who is afraid for her life at the very moment when I am picking a fine bottle of wine for the evening?
- indigenous people from the Equador rainforests are chased away by harvesters while I am complaining about the slow internet connection?
- most of my consumption habits are exactly what is fuelling the insane system based on greed and societal division?
Of course, having it all shown for a blink of an eye in some sort of news and then turning my head away to distract myself wouldn’t have hurt me so much. This is what I have been doing all my life — and I can’t even blame myself. It’s been a functional coping mechanism, and it served me well.
Right now it is the first time in my life that I deliberately choose not to turn my eyes away. I stare and stare, and I take in all the discomfort. I feel that I owe it to that girl in Syria and to the climate refugees. I owe it to them to at least learn about their fate.
But I will forever remain the person I was born — a child of capitalism. I am not sure if any amount of staring done right now can result in meaningful action steps in the future. I hope so — but I can never be sure.
In the end, I was trained to keep quiet and enjoy my privileges.