In addition to the damage to the environment, there is something existential about capitalism that rubs me the wrong way.
Capitalism is a competitive system. In this system, companies compete with each other about selling products, and people compete with each other about getting the best jobs.
Now, in the way that we usually think about capitalism, we consider this competition a good thing. Because it allows the companies with the best products to win and because it rewards the people with the most useful skills.
But what happens if we take these values celebrated in capitalism and apply them to ourselves, in our personal life? Suppose we went to a psychologist and told him that we were never content with ourselves. That we always felt a need to improve. Always were looking over our shoulder to see what other people were up to. And saw other people more as rivals than potential partners, in a battle for scarce resources.
Well, if we went to a psychologist and told him that… he would say that we were suffering from severe inferiority complexes. That this state was unhealthy. And that it was crippling our development and our interaction with the world.
And you know what? He would be right.
Now, in any competitive system, there are advantages and disadvantages. In capitalism, the benefit of course is economic development. The disadvantage, however, is that people can never be happy or content with where they are. They always need to run, always need to improve.
How people deal with this obviously varies tremendously. Some people break down over time with stress, anxiety, depression and other life style illnesses. But many people also deal with it okay, going to work Monday to Friday until retirement, and doing what they need to do to provide for their families. Still, no matter where you are on the coping continuum, the odds that you will actually end up being happy is very small. In competitive systems, not everybody can win. And that holds true for capitalism as well.
Another problem with capitalism is that you have to sell yourself. In a market economy, you are not doing things for their intrinsic value and the way that this makes you feel. Instead, you are doing it to get other people to buy it in exchange for money. This holds true whether you are an employee or a company. In this way, capitalism is a mild form of prostitution, where you are selling something personal for monetary gains. This enables you to earn a living and perhaps even have a materially comfortable life. But it is not likely to make you happy.
So if you think deeply about it, there are serious existential drawbacks with capitalism. The thing is, however, that capitalism, despite praising itself as a world of free initiative, is an economic model with a monopolistic grip on the Western world. Apart from the generally amateurish stuff going on in the public sector, there is no competitor to the market economy.
Also in people´s heads, capitalism holds a monopoly. People, who have grown up in modern economies, cannot imagine another economic model. And while the benefits of capitalism are passed on unquestioned from generation to generation, the drawbacks are rarely discussed – and not even something that people are aware of, due to early age indoctrination.
Like with any monopoly, this is obviously not a healthy state. This also means that it is necessary to devise an alternative model. Because monopoly is seldom a good thing. And because an alternative model might have better solutions about how to attain the good life than capitalism.
So what could this alternative model be? Well, it is difficult to imagine, in this 2017 supermarket world where it has become far more common to pay somebody to provide what you need and want than to do it yourself. But what if we were able, fully or just partly, to take care of our own basic needs? If we were able to grow our own food and build our own accommodation, tools and leisure time equipment?
If we were able to do those things, we would be free in a practical yet highly existential way that we are not today. Because we would be able to survive on our own, for some people individually, but for most in small groups or communities. And because the interaction that we did seek with the world around us, would be because we wanted and chose to interact.
The path to an easy and comfortable life no doubt takes more work with this way of life. But unlike capitalism, the chances of living a life that will actually make you feel happy is also so much greater.
Politics, sociology, philosophy, morals, ethics
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