When I first watched Eddie Pepitone’s In Ruins, I laughed hysterically… a laugh that contained both anxiety and relief. Anxiety – because he’s fucking right. The world is a hot mess and too many of us are still absorbed with our individual selves, our brands, our social media feeds. Relief – because I’m tired of escape and the vapid forms of capitalist art and culture that surround and envelop us.
A 2016 Harvard University survey of people ages 18 to 29, found that 51% of the respondents do not support capitalism. Every day, it seems more people are naming capitalism as the problem of our times. But what are we doing about it? Why is it so hard for us to shake passivity? What prevents us from committing our time, energy and creativity to something far more meaningful than our jobs, whatever marketers deem hip, and the many options for escape?
Yes, the production of capital by the working class, stolen and accumulated by capitalists, is the economic core of capitalism. But, the glue that keeps us stuck to this economic and social arrangement is ideology. I mean ideology as the lens through which we see and interpret ourselves and the world around us. Because we’ve all grown up within the confines of its doctrine, capitalism inevitably colors our lens.
What we must fight are not just the clear, external manifestations of capitalism – climate change, poisoning of our food, sweatshop labor, the erosion of public education, inaccessible health care, the loss of the 8-hour work day, and constant threats to most of the bourgeois democratic rights we’ve gained. We are struggling against ideological domination.
I’ll admit, I just worked my 9-5. I’m tired. My instinct is to pour a drink and pick up where I left off with House of Cards, or to start the new Twin Peaks. But time is limited, and if I do that, I won’t have time to write this. Whether we realize it or not, this is an ideological struggle, and every action we take serves a class interest.
We’ve been conditioned to submit and deprived of our collective power. There’s a reason Americans suck at geography. We are taught to see ourselves as the center of the universe, despite the fact that everything we consume comes off the backs of others. There’s a reason when we are in groups, we stare at our phones, rather than talk to each other. There’s a reason why politics is left out of art, and why so often our “freedom” to consume any brand we like results in depression.
Back to that post-work decision: I don’t mean to imply that there is never a time for movies, a drink with friends, or just spending time outside in the sun. But, am I using this time to escape reality? Or, am I using this time as a mental break to be stronger for the fight against capitalism?
“Instead of organizing and being a community, you were on Facebook and Twitter and eating grilled cheese.”
So, what are you doing with your time, with your talents? If you’re aware that capitalism is the problem (or if you’re just starting to question this arrangement) it’s not enough to sit with a group of people who share your ideas and vent. It’s not enough to post on social media. It’s not enough to join a study group, or internet discussions. These can be great starting points. But, we need to gather our forces in real life… to link ideas with practice.
We need to build political unity, understanding we may never reach full agreement… but we can construct ways to work together against our common enemy.
We need to build organizations in our schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods.
We have to build our own alternatives. We need a movement, and we need to get to work now.
This requires pushing past the comfort zone of capitalist ideology, which isolates, pacifies and numbs us.
Big ups to the artists who reflect reality, make us feel real things, and inspire us to radically alter this hot mess.
Let’s get it together – gather our forces & organize for a different world.
Talk to your neighbors, your co-workers, your friends. Fuse your art and politics. Join an organization.
If you’re interested in working with us, give us a shout – firstname.lastname@example.org
Push back against domination. We are brave. We are many. We are strong.