A mind dump of things I've been thinking about during the pandemic.
It feels like a natural extension from my deep dive into polyamory, that I'd pick up a book on anti-capitalism. Both involve a rejection of deeply held structures within (primarily Western) culture.
Originally this post was going to be on my discovery of polyamory and what polyamory means to me, but I think it makes more sense to talk about anti-capitalism instead, since the reasons I am interested in polyamory are the same reasons I started reading about anti-capitalism. Further, these studies build upon my desire to become antiracist and reject white supremacy.
More on that to follow. First some background.
The biggest reason I started looking into this is because I'm burned out. By everything. I can barely fathom getting out of bed in the morning some days let alone selecting another human to marry and spend the rest of my life with.
To fight for a position - and to do it in the name of title and making money because that's how society measures my success - also leaves me with the feeling of being dehydrated:
It's being reduced to only one desire, which is to get water. While you're thinking about that water and how that's literally the only thing that can make you feel good, you're missing out on everything else that's happening in your life.
Maybe you value the friendship you have with someone who will drop anything to be with you. You want to cuddle them, to take them out to dinner, to take them away on a weekend trip. But there's someone else you're attracted to, and you know that's your water right there: since they also are attracted to you in the same way.
So you throw all your energy to slaking your thirst and building a monogamous relationship with them. Because you can't "love" more than one person romantically or more than one person as deeply - or you're made to feel guilty when you do when limited by a monogamous construct.
Maybe you have a bunch of hobbies - all of which make you feel fulfilled and like you're contributing to society - but only one of them makes you money. And your perceived success and ability to afford the kind of lifestyle supported in this country (not to mention healthcare) depends on that money. So those hobbies are put aside to take a giant gulp of that corporate ladder so you can be hydrated. Stay alive.
I shouldn't feel depressed by this. It's been like this for decades. Maybe even centuries.
But now there's another added component that's starting to gain more attention - the prevalence of white supremacy.
I don't think I'm the first to argue that capitalism is perpetuated by white supremacy.
The very bones of white supremacy are rooted in perfectionism, quantity over quality, a sense of urgency, among other poisonous but traceable characterstics in capitalism as well.
The most notable, however, is that white supremacy is a process that serves only to widen the chasm between the "ideal" and the other. Those who don't make the "ideal" cut are labeled as other - they are immediately less than: less worthy to access opportunities that'd grant them true freedom and a chance at a flourishing life.
I pulled some of these last qualities directly from a book called How to Be Anti-capitalist in the 21st Century by Eric Olen Wright. I am not yet finished with the book, but the parallels are clear.
Capitalism, like white supremacy sows inequality. It's quite literally within the yarn from which it's woven.
To quote Wright:
Capitalism promotes the emergence and partial development of both freedom and democracy, but it obstructs the fullest possible realization of these values.
He provides some arguments for this. I picked out ones that stuck out to me the most.
- Public and private spheres defined by capitalism make it so that crucial decisions cannot be made truly democratically. Wright gives the example of a company making the private decision to move its factory elsewhere, outside the U.S. However, the people who make their livelihoods at that factory don't get a say in this, even though it severely affects their lives.
- "[W]ealthy people have greater access than non-wealthy citizens to political power" - this is not limited to just people in the U.S.; companies also have huge sway in the political field as well.
- Inequalities in wealth and income - which is aruably a cornerstone of capitalism - obstructs true freedom. To quote Wright, "Whatever else we might mean by freedom, it is the ability to say 'no'." In addition, freedom also gives you the "ability to act positively on one's life plans." Let that sit for a second. It's pretty powerful.
Now, who is most disadvantaged by the above constructs? It certainly isn't white folx, that's for sure.
Like Wright, I don't think violently rejecting capitalism is an answer - I liked his idea of eroding it, gnawing away at the foundations until it falls into the sea of failed human experiments.
However, to be clear, racism should be freely hurled over the edge into that sea. Maybe monogamy should be too, for good measure.