I’ve been talking with a lot of my friends recently — in private where they felt comfortable letting their guard down — about the dirty little secret no one is supposed to talk about.
The shame people feel when they can’t find a job…
…or pay their bills.
…or go to the dentist.
…or that they have to move back in with their parents.
…or they can’t afford to have children.
We are supposed to pretend, in this stupendously individualist culture, that it is our fault. The buck stops here. I am responsible for my failings in life.
Of course this is demonstrably not true. We are merely living through late-stage capitalism and our parents lacked the foresight to warn us about it. When a population explodes — as the human one did throughout the last century — eventually all manner of social institutions become over-crowded. From there, it’s simply a numbers game.
Want that awesome job? Stack your resume next to the hundreds of other people applying for it. Hoping to get into college? You’ll have to pay out the nose in student loans (if, that is, you were fortunate enough to get through admissions). Thinking of buying a house? You’re too busy paying rent in a skyrocketing market of housing prices.
But yeah, be sure to blame yourself. It’s obviously your fault.
Seriously though, we should have seen this coming. Build an economic system based on wealth hoarding and presumed scarcity and you’ll get what was intended. The system is performing exactly as it was designed to. That is why wages have stagnated in the West for 30 years. It is why 62 people are able to have the same amount of wealth as 3.7 billion. It is why politicians are bought by the highest bidders and legislation systematically serves the already-rich at the expense of society.
A great irony of this deeply corrupt system of wealth hoarding is that the “weapon of choice” is how we feel about ourselves as we interact with our friends. The elites don’t have to silence us. We do that ourselves by refusing to talk about what is happening to us. Fake it until you make it. That’s the advice we are given by the already successful who have pigeon-holed themselves into the tiny number of real opportunities society had to offer. Hold yourself accountable for the crushing political system that was designed to divide us against ourselves.
The mental disease of late-stage capitalism is shame, the devastating feeling that we failed ourselves in the Land of Opportunity.
This great lie that we whisper to ourselves is how they control us. Our fear that other impoverished people (which is most of us now) will look down on us for being impoverished too. This is how we give them the power to keep humiliating us.
I say no more of this emotional racket. If I am going to be responsible for my fate in life, let it be because I chose to stand up and fight — that I helped dismantle the global architecture of wealth extraction that created this systemic corruption of our economic and political systems.
Now more than ever, we need spiritual healing. As this capitalist system destroys itself, we can step aside and find healing by living honestly and without fear. They don’t get to tell us how to live. We can share our pain with family and friends. We can post it on social media. Shout it from the rooftops if we feel like it. The pain we feel is capitalism dying. It hurts us because we are still in it.
But those billionaires who rigged the game don’t get to tell me what I should or shouldn’t say to my friends. If I am struggling financially it is because the financial system is morally corrupt. This truth is a mantric elixir — repeat it to yourself every time the habits of your mind whisper that it is your fault.
You are not to blame for the wealth hoarding of others. That is one burden you don’t have to carry any longer. Be healed. Find your strength. Speak your truth. And let the cascades of change unfurl across society.
We cannot begin the work of building new economic systems until we take off the mental shackles of the old ones. So let your shame fall away. Remember your pride in learning and growing as a person, loving life and other people, being with friends, and pursuing your dreams. Then hold tight to these feelings as you set clear intentions about how the future must be different from the past.
We can do better. We must do better. It might be true that capitalism as we know it is going the way of history. I say good riddance. Whatever good it might have done is in the past now. Moving forward will be a grieving process — and each of us needs to pay close attention to the feelings inside of ourselves. We are the capitalist system right now. But not for long.
The pain we feel is like that tugging of skin for the serpent as it sheds an outer layer. Deep inside ourselves we are human beings, which is about so much more than the money we have in the bank or the things we buy at the store. As we shed ourselves of the immoral economic ideology of insatiable greed (that has made the elites around the world very sick indeed!), let us remember our true nature and begin to heal.
Onward, fellow humans.
Capitalism has helped create some incredible human comforts but it has also destroyed competing knowledge, inventions, and cures. It is now slowing us down, keeping us from moving forward in a static destructive planetary system. It has gone beyond its usefulness and will soon be replaced by a system of our choosing. The people of Earth now have an opportunity for the first time in history to Unite the world by providing all with housing, food, energy, education; free to work, learn, and play how and where we want. It’s time. Plans have been written. People have the answers, and we will share them with you soon. Stay tuned friends
Yeah… Unfortunately we will have to struggle with this mental illness for the next 100 or 200 years. As much as we do care and as much as we understand that the system is broken, there’s simply not enough people getting it. Most people live in fear. And if you tell them that you want to change the system or that you want to abolish money, they’ll panic and freak out. They’ll see you as a demon that wants to destroy their world. Even if the system crashes, they’ll start a new one, the same as this one. They simply don’t know anything better. If you want something to come out of this, you’ll have to fight continuously for hundreds of years. And even then, the elites have the upper-hand. They always do and always will. Evil always wins in the real world.
Yet the MEEK shall INHERIT THE EARTH! In the end, the evil doers will get their just doom when meeting their maker. And I do not go to church, I only have a strong spiritual sense of the order of things…They, the greed mongers, will all eventually have to answer to GOD – in the end. How this helps us now, on earth….? Perhaps it can bring us comfort knowing they will BURN for eternity, and that GOD is watching, keeping score. WE, the majority, will be O.K. – we must keep the faith, keep our spirits up, and remember to love and be patient with ourselves as we did not create this backlash of capitalism…yet we are the CHOSEN generation to rise above it; to find happiness and success despite the cards being stacked against us. WOW – God must have lots of faith in our resilience! I believe one resolution to this predicament: BE YOUR OWN BOSS, forget looking for jobs and create your own. We are to become a nation of FREE AGENTS (more small businesses, less big businesses) This is the response we are to have to this breakdown of capitalism – but we are not to be alone in this, as there is a convergence of like minded small business owners empowering others to create their own small businesses….the internet is helping countless people start their own ventures, and to be able to mass market world-wide for anyone with a computer is HUGE for the small business owners!! BE RESOURCEFUL despite the lot we inherited – the tools to rise above this have been provided to us, through the grace of GOD – it’s not all gloom and doom if you look for the gifts (technology) provided us!!
Your recognition of the function of shame, is right on spot. But I think it a mistake to accept “hoarding of wealth” as an element of “the” economic system. It is symply the criteria by which those who are successful at hoarding have chosen to assess relative worth. It is actually quite detrimental to the system and has resulted in any number of shady machinations to hide the damage.
The real problem with the system is society’s propensity toward viewing those who have successfuly circumvented responsibility for the general welfare, as being particularly successful and somehow wise. The stretch that leads from there to viewing them as experts to be consulted for governmental guidance, is mind-boggling, but ever present.
If evil always won, we wouldn’t be here now. And more young people in the US now prefer socialism (true, they may not know exactly what it is) to capitalism. We have more and more coops and this may be the most direct avenue to changing our economic system for the better. Capitalism turns living, organic resources into dead capital. We can’t afford any more of that.
see forthcoming book Rebellious Mourning (descrip/link below)
also Joanna Macy’s “The Work That Reconnects” (deep ecology) seems relevant to mention
“This intimate, moving, and timely collection of essays points the way to a world in which the burden of grief is shared, and pain is reconfigured into a powerful force for social change and collective healing.”—Astra Taylor, author of The People’s Platform
“A primary message here is that from tears comes the resolve for the struggle ahead.”—Ron Jacobs, author of Daydream Sunset
“Rebellious Mourning uncovers the destruction of life that capitalist development leaves in its trail. But it is also witness to the power of grief as a catalyst to collective resistance.”—Silvia Federici, author of Caliban and the Witch
We can bear almost anything when it is worked through collectively. Grief is generally thought of as something personal and insular, but when we publicly share loss and pain, we lessen the power of the forces that debilitate us, while at the same time building the humane social practices that alleviate suffering and improve quality of life for everyone. Addressing tragedies from Fukushima to Palestine, incarceration to eviction, AIDS crises to border crossings, and racism to rape, the intimate yet tenacious writing in this volume shows that mourning can pry open spaces of contestation and reconstruction, empathy and solidarity. With contributions from Claudia Rankine, Sarah Schulman, David Wojnarowicz, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, David Gilbert, and nineteen others. Edited by Cindy Milstein.
Two years after this is written, i can only see impending doom as the machine of capitalist destruction ploughs forward and no one with any influence has stood up to show to all the solution out of this waking nightmare. I can’t find hope anymore that people will wake up and see the lies that they have been fed their whole life, it sven seems like more and more people choose to live in complacent ignorance to the problem of capitalism. I cant take this any longer, I really might kill myself if I have to livr another day on this dying planet…