Resisting Capitalism

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I don’t want to sound mean… but I think you’re going about this be-the-change-you-want-to-see-in-the-world thing all wrong. (Look at me getting my Gandhi on) But this has likely been pointed out many, many times before. Don’t worry, I was also young, dumb and full of… actually, I hope the last part of that axiom doesn’t necessarily apply to you. If I have any life advice (having now sired girl-children) be discerning about the boys that you allow access to your lady bits. We are extra-ordinarily single minded and some of us are very, very cunning.

I’m inclined to believe that people confuse consumerism, greed and excess with capitalism. Off the top of my head isn’t that a lot like blaming modern medicine for the opioid crisis? Which I suppose, some people might do. Oh, modern medicine and the fact that we don’t keel over and die (from pustulant, weeping lesions all over our body)… eh, direct result of capitalism, because while we want to believe that people do altruistic things for the good of humanity with no expectation of remuneration (and some of them do), capitalism blows these achievements out of the water in terms of sheer scale when we compare actual good done for humanity. Seriously its like comparing the sun to the moon and imagining them to be more or less equal… which for those of you who are not cosmologically minded… the difference is mind bendingly massive.

When you resist capitalism what you’re actually doing is denying humanism and obfuscating the only real (and proven) system available for people to pull themselves out of extreme poverty. You are the economic equivalent of an anti-vaxxer. Sure you can donate mosquito nets to poor people living in Africa (one of the effective altruisms goto projects for apparently getting the most ‘goodness’ bang for your buck). But really, in my opinion, poor people need free markets, liberalism, property rights and rule of law so they can pull themselves out of the pit of poverty and help themselves (and then buy their own mosquito nets). But all they (for the most part) get is fucked by their own authoritarian leadership, populist agendas and the vicious bureaucracy of their trade ‘partners’. But… I suppose with mosquito nets they will live long enough to die young from something else.

If you’re going #Resist something. Resist corruption. Or gerrymandering. Or fucken lobbyists. Or a jingoist foreign policy. Or tariffs. Or farming subsidies…  you know, all the things that are actual problems and lead to this perception that capitalism is the villain in the human success story.

Abnormal behavior

Retirement is an unnatural act.

Perhaps more accurately it is the final act (before the curtains close) in a series of unnatural events that punctuate our modernity. In the extremely short period of time that the concept of retirement has been around it has managed to become so ingrained into our psyche that we don’t even consider that what we are doing is contrary to our biology or even just contrary to basic reasoning and logic.

Let me start my tirade with the industrial revolution. Arguably this is the time where things went both really right for us (as a species). And also really wrong. Although maybe we can just skip the evolutionary anthropology paragraph and just agree that we are not designed to wake up early, caffeinate ourselves to a point of bare minimum functionality, commute to a place (that we hate) where we sit all day in a cubicle farm, under artificial light, replying to email. After which we come home, expose ourselves to more artificial light, sleep for six hours and then repeat the entire process… For forty five years.

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We are essentially large hairless primates. Primates that can cooperate effectively to get stuff done, but basically we are still monkeys. In the wild primates live in large family groups, as did Homo Sapiens, until very recently (on the universal time scale). In fact imagine for a moment that we lived now as we had evolved to. As opposed to all the craziness we have foisted on ourselves. What would that look like?

As a social mammal I would have grown up in a large communal home with my grandparents, my parents and all my siblings. Lets just pretend it’s always worked like this. (in my utopian analogy there are strong property rights and everyone believes in Libertarianism, ha ha) Because our family has never moved, that land belongs to us ergo we have managed to harness potentially the biggest factor in financial independence, inter generational wealth. We pool our resources and share assets like communal appliances and cook communal meals. In fact because there is no food scarcity in our modern world (ie we don’t have to grow our own food or hunt for it), the savings associated with living in community and the level of technology available to us we find that we would hardly have to work at all.

This is obviously in direct opposition to the way we live now. We can’t wait to move out  and get indebted buying our own home. (after getting indebted getting a usually completely useless degree so we can get our awesome cubicle job) Then we have to repurchase everything we had had while we lived with our parents, and then have to work like crazy to afford all this new stuff. If we are considered savvy we save and invest our money so that we can afford to ‘retire’ in our twilight years before spending our final chapter surrounded by strangers in some palliative care facility that our kids have picked out for us on Google. (likely the first or second entry, after all who has the time to scroll anymore)

Not only do we see nothing wrong with living like this, we embrace it. We endeavour to  become a valuable commodity to those who want to sell us pension plans and tiny homes in sleepy sea-side towns.

In a tribal culture you don’t move out. When you procreate your tribe helps to raise your children. When you get old you don’t get sent off to a ‘home’ to die quietly, you live out your life surrounded by your family and the people you love.

OMG. I hate my parents. They drive me mad. And you’re suggesting I live in close proximity to them… forever?

And, I suppose, therein lies the rub.

On the one hand we are encouraged towards independence, we fight for control, seek out power and dominion over others… all the things that make habitat cohabitation socially challenging.  Yet until recently this is how we lived. In some cultures it’s still how people live. It’s just my Western culture seems to have forgotten how to live this way. We perpetuate a broken system that splits up our family’s, destroys our social bonds and makes us poorer, both in monetary terms and in quality of life.  It makes no sense.

I think the misconception is that only new age hippy families live like this. Or poor people. And that you either have to live in a teepee in the woods next to a rusted out Buick or in single room corrugated shack in a shanty. The truth is with modern architecture we can design dwellings that make communal living a breeze. We’d have more money, more free time and likely lead better, more social lives with better mental health.

Probably.

I think we might already be too far gone. Become too self involved. We have taken our biggest asset as a species, our ability to communicate and cooperate and made it redundant. Imagine the possibilities if we worked together like we were meant to instead of trying to do everything on our own. I think that would be quite something.

Monikers

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Let me fix this for you CBSNews. Aaron Tucker skips job interview, takes shirt off his back to save car crash victim. 

Thats better.

I resist the urge to go off the deep end about this since I’ve already done my TL;DR post for the day. So let me just say, ‘Kudos to you Mr. Tucker’.

I’m a lonely croc… sitting all day on my sunny rock.

This 100 year old crocodile died from over eating. Worshipers at the Hazrat Khan Jahan Ali Shrine in in south-western Bangladesh believed that feeding this particular hallowed croc would bring them good luck and economic fortune.

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Apparently the occasional chicken became a slew of never ending poultry and the odd desultory goat when the word got out that this reptile had the power to change your reality.

I suppose its better than starving to death in your sacred pool because no one thought you had any special powers. And so when faced with a choice of two potential end games, I think this is likely the better one. (from a narrow philosophical viewpoint)

But then again I’m (generally) against keeping animals in captivity (especially for religious purposes). This crocodile should have been free to swim the streams and rivers of Bangladesh, occasionally snacking on some errant fisherman or laundry woman on the shoreline. God intended these to be hazardous occupations (which theoretically should have been remunerated with danger pay). Alas, we have stuffed up the carefully calculated economic cycle as set down by our creator.

Having now killed the… eh… croc that lays the golden egg, so to speak, everyone is now robbed of the opportunity to alter their destiny. Although maybe lucky crocs have an inherent Dalai Lama like ability to be reincarnated (hopefully in the general geographic area where the previous entity passed). I imagine the trick is find the new and correct crocodile (to nurture into obesity and eventual heart failure). They all look the same to me. Would be a terrible waste to feed all those chickens to a crocodile with no magical powers.

No true Scotsman

No true Scotsman or appeal to purity is an informal fallacy in which one attempts to protect a universal generalization from counterexamples by changing the definition in an ad hoc fashion to exclude the counterexample.

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Buddhism has a lot to teach us, you know. It has been shown to have real psychological and cognitive value. You mean like those Buddhists monks who helped the Burmese Army ethnically cleanse the Rohingya to the point of genocide? Oh, but they weren’t proper Buddhists. – The Four Horsemen, Foreword by Stephen Fry. (I think he’s quoting the above from somewhere, but I’m not sure of the source)

Centerism

What are those things you should never mention when trying to ingratiate yourself at a social event? Religion and politics? And perhaps more recently your thoughts on vaccinations and the shape and inclination (or lack thereof) of the terra firma beneath your feet.

I must admit I recently felt very ill disposed to one particular mother at a child’s birthday party who was waxing on lyrically about her anti-vax stance to anyone who would listen. Eventually I had to walk away… lest I propel my forehead into her orbital socket at an acceleration that may have been deemed more confrontational than friendly. In my defence she was especially odious. Maybe that’s what I make people feel like when I waffle on about libertarianism and humanism though. Although I don’t ever do it at parties. Probably because I’m too busy stuffing my face with those delicious tiny hotdogs and washing it down with carbonated sugar water. (I tend to really cut loose when the opportunity arises, going full Epicurean)

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The center, if you don’t help define it, how will you know where it is? – Christopher Hitchens

To be fair centrists, these days, seem few and far between and since they are generally reviled by both sides of the political divide, parties (childrens or otherwise) are generally not the best proving ground to grind out your kooky libertarian theories of personal ownership, minimal government and a single egalitarian tax bracket. People are likely to look at you askance and then shuffle off to find safer topics, like… ‘how bout them Mets’*.

*which doesn’t really help me either, because my loyalties lie above 161st street

Of course I could just keep it all to myself, bottle it up and avoid raging against the status quo. Instead I could self critique my views on the affairs of state every night before I fall asleep (or potentially more likely, rehashing it alone on the toilet, where most of my deep philosophizing gets done).  I think peer review (of a sort) is important and at the very least it can be indicative that you may have gone too far down the rabbit hole. Echo chambers are a dangerous thing. And so I blog… trying to figure out where the center is (for me at least).