Capitalism and Nostalgia

The only way capitalism can survive is if we’re all consumers. We constantly have to buy new things so new things can be made and the system reproduces itself, spinning into a showboat auction of who can sell the most stuff. There are whole fields of study dedicated to making consumers purchase the most stuff, which is a somewhat frightening thought given all the consequences. One way to win that profit race to the top is to figure out what consumers want to buy, and the easiest way of doing that is ensuring them of what they want to buy.

For instance, have you noticed all the sequels and remakes that Hollywood has been pumping out? We’ve just gotten a whole slew of new Star Wars films, Disney is releasing all their old films but with live animation this time (Jungle Book, Lion King, Mulan, etc), kids sequels like Toy Story 4 or Frozen 2, the list could go on. It’s not just direct sequels either, symbols and themes from the past appear in supposedly original work. Take for instance the Netflix series Stranger Things, which although an original work plays heavily into 80’s nostalgia; same with the much of our pop music, in which I’ve noticed New Wave motifs being played into heavily.

I’ve heard the phrase that “Hollywood is running out of ideas” but that’s hardly satisfying. What the media manufacturers are doing is far more calculated and in fact quite intentional.Read More »

Workplace Democracy (How to be Your Own Boss)

Introduction.

If you ask the average American why they believe their country is great they’ll usually mumble something about free speech, civil liberties, and eventually they’ll get around to democracy. In recent years the concept of democracy has lost its weight due to forces all around us working to diminish democracy; because at its core, true democracy is still a radical idea. I for one still believe in democracy. But it is curious that we continue to strive for a democratic process in our politics but not where it matters most: in the workplace.

The mainstream discussion about social issues does not even consider the idea of a democratic workplace because of the radical implications of democracy. But, if anything, it makes more sense to focus on democracy in the workplace. We are told to go participate in politics every 2-4 years when elections roll around to help shape our futures the way we see fit, but we spend far more time shoved into a workplace where we have no control at all about what happens there. People’s entire livelihoods – their entire means to keep surviving – are all the result of their time in the workplace, yet we have less control over this than we do the entire workings of our government.

If we truly believe in the principles of democracy, then those principles need to be extended to the most consequential parts of our lives. If our society promoted the idea of democratic workplaces then not only would that give people far more control over their own lives, but it would make society more productive and more equitable. The majority of our days would not be going to work to serve some boss that was placed over us arbitrarily, but instead every day when we go to work we would be working for ourselves to reap the benefits of our own labor.Read More »