Friday, February 25, 2011

Why this blog just isn't sufficient.

Hello, few readers of mine. I'd like to have a heart-to-heart with you.

I've been tracking this scent in the air of society for about four years now. It smells foreign, unknown, synthetic, man made, maybe plastic. I caught wiffs of it when people would talk about their classes when they had nothing else better to talk about, or insisting that the future was going to be better than the present and then not make the present all it could have been. At first I thought it was people being brainwashed by society into being overly consumptive and not being nearly as reflective as they needed to be. The fast life vs the slow life. Learning how to have fun not with products but with people. Creating experiences instead of consuming them. Stop treating yourself like an object or a sack of flesh. That's what this blog was for. America, the Strange. It was such a strange land that it didn't even cohere to its own standards, yet it was the one we called home. The blog had a solid approach to this challenge, perhaps one I neglected too much: develop the individual as a healthy, whole person who's fully aware of the implications of their actions and use egalitarianism as the meter stick to judge politics and economics. I still like that approach. But I have a new one now. I really didn't want this new approach at first. It made the world a lot scarier of a place. But then when I got used to it, the world made sense. It makes me more suspicious of people, but now instead of wondering what crazy spell mankind is under I now see the ways that people bewitch each other.

I'm talking about political economy: the study of businesses, money, rule and power. The first guy to ever put the two words together was Karl Marx, the same man who said "If you teach a man to fish you ruin a wonderful business opportunity". But this isn't a blog about what Marx thinks, this is a blog about what I think, so I'll return back to the subject of me, because this is the internet and egotism makes the fiber optic cables blip all around the world. So political economy is the study of economic and political power; studying what politicians and corporations need to stay relevant enough to influence the democratic process and therefore get what they want. It's essentially a study of the networks of power on all levels; internationally, nationally, on a city level, and even on the thought level, how corporations have these massive networks of suppliers and manufacturers all powered by advertising and the frailty of the human mind. It's called "following the money", because there's no way that the world makes sense without considering the money. If I didn't pay attention to the fact that the news was a business who before anything else must make a profit, then I would be devastated by what I see on TV. But now I know the media is just trying to rile me up to raise ad money.

Let me explain. Here's the pattern businesses follow: you start up with some money, buy raw materials, hire workers, pay the workers to transform the raw materials into a product, which you sell to a consumer for the costs plus a profit. This is what I call the capitalist mode of production. Now, after you've taken a slice of the profit to feed yourself with, you then can reinvest the profit back into the business to buy more raw materials for more workers to turn into more products for more money. As long as there is demand it returns money in ever greater quantities and through a couple of underhanded tricks you can even ensure there's always demand. It also can adopt services in society and turn them into businesses. We didn't use to have a society where people had to be paid to take care of kids; we made sure mothers spent time with their kids and then built figured out the rest of what we wanted to do with our time. The ground underneath our feet keeps shifting with ever increasing profit and even this tiny reason presents a reason why we should think critically about capitalism; because does living in such a society make you uneasy? Is that were you would like to live? Where every generation of parents struggle to relate to their kids amidst new ways of relating to each other?

But getting back down to Earth, all of the wasteful consumer culture I've been writing about...that's just the tail end of the capitalist mode of production and doesn't count in the motivations of either the worker or the business owner, or capitalist if you prefer. (He's the guy who brings the start up money, or the capital). And it's not that this should surprise me. Oh, look at that. People manipulate each other for personal gain.

Regardless, if you'd like to stick with me I still talk about the good life and how to be anti-consumer, but now I also write about how to be anti-capital.

I'll be at

See ya there!

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