Are younger generations opposed to Capitalism? This is a guest post by Sabuj, who writes with much clarity on Quora and I thought this is interesting enough to be shared on this website. He also writes voluminously about various issues of his interest. Since he is very young, it throws a particularly refreshing view into limelight and I would urge you to read this and comment and importantly share this if you liked this. I also invite anyone interested to make a wider audience of his/her interests in creative writing connected to academics (such as science, philosophy, history and sociology in regards to science, cutting edge research and conceptual innovations etc but this is not to say this is the end of the list) to send me a link of his/her article or email me the write up to email@example.com. I would be glad to publish it here if its devoid of any basic concerns and encourage you to suggest a good writer of science, sociology, philosophy etc to contact me, who wants to write here occasionally or regularly. This is not a paycheck generator so you may as well get an unhindered interface to the wider world. (No its not a commercial website as of this moment or any closely seen future ) Its sole aim is to bring the new and fresh to the widows of the inspired world.
Here is Sabuj’s Article. I hope you all enjoy it.
He has answered the following question”Why is the younger generation so opposed to capitalism?”
Let me answer this as someone from the “younger generation”. To begin with, your assumption is incorrect. Today’s generation is not completely against capitalism – at least not against the spirit that an individual should be able to benefit economically in exchange of and in proportion to his/her services to the world. We couldn’t even dream of the revolution in information technology and software engineering without capitalism. I am sure your friends do use the products and services which are the outcome of capitalism for the ease of their lives, even though they may be critics of capitalism itself.
However, what many of us do realize is that there is a false dichotomy presented to us that pointing out issues related to rampant corporate control over people’s lives and natural resources or the morally evil practices that happen behind the illusion of development and choice necessarily means we are endorsing totalitarian communism. In other words, some people like me reject the notion that one can be either in the Soviet Stalin camp or the Corporation of Fascist USA Inc. camp. Rabid supporters of both camps fall for a shitload of confirmation bias and whereas they want to paint a glorious ideological picture of their beliefs, they conveniently turn a blind eye to what such ideologies have led to when they have been implemented across various nations and cultures.
In this answer I will focus mostly on the negative aspects of capitalism due to the nature of the question. In nations with blind capitalistic policies, almost all natural resources – food, water, land, all the fundamental necessities of survival are owned by corporations. There is nothing you can call “free”. You have to pay for drinking water, you have to pay for fruits and vegetables, you cannot live your life off drinking water from fresh streams, for there is none or eat fish because they too are ‘owned’. There is no land where in principle I can chop trees and build my own home. Every inch of the surroundings has a price tag. Soon there will be a price for breathing clean air. In short, the constituents of the environment which are absolutely fundamental to the bare survival of any living being are being controlled by a handful of corporations. And if you put your claim on that, you will be a ‘criminal’ in the eyes of law.
The more disturbing implication of capitalism is not even that. It is the social mindset it engenders. In a purely capitalistic society, all affairs going around in human lives are seen in terms of monetary transactions. There is a false belief that each and every human action and service can be quantified and translated to some currency notes. There is no intrinsic value of the service itself independent of money. “So what if he is a doctor and saved my life? He is getting paid for it!” Sounds familiar? Its as if you can do away with the doctor’s efforts with an ‘equivalent’ amount of money. ‘Education’ has shifted away from its erstwhile goal of finding the fundamental truths about life and universe to passing of certain skills so that you can run machines or be an effective player in the game of corporations which will enable you to “earn a living”. In India, there is no such thing as “Ministry of Education”. What is there in its place is “Ministry of Human Resource Development” because what is not a ‘resource’ economically is not of value. This has sounded a death knell for subjects like liberal arts, humanities and philosophy as they are of no direct use to “run machines”. Every once in a while I read articles which argue about how we should do away with these subjects eventually. Further it has created problems even for subjects like theoretical sciences and mathematics. The only reason for ridiculous competition in these fields in spite of having so few number of people pursuing it is because of extreme scarcity of funds. “What is the practical use of your work?“, ask the corporates. Students in education system are like lab rats and not well rounded thinking beings who can make a difference in this world.
It is a little depressing to think that the entire workforce or population is working tirelessly just for a few corporates hiding behind logos chasing a dream that they are too busy to live for. Make no mistake. Its not even the money or profit which are incentives for these organizations. Its the power that they wield over people’s thoughts and actions at large. Money is simply a means for it which has no intrinsic value of its own. We cannot use it. We can only exchange it. Whereas the natural resources of the world either remains constant or are depleting, money can fluctuate wildly. You must have seen newspaper articles at times saying the world is in “debt”. I feel like asking, indebted to whom? We are the only known civilization in the universe. There is more than enough resource in the world to make everyone live happy and fulfilled lives. Yet, why would one use it for that when the resources can be controlled, inequity created and consequently yielded power by more profits?
What has this valueless pursuit of profit led to? Where there were vast amounts of forests and trees, there are are now factories blowing poison 24 hours a day, where there were clean rivers are now toxic wastes. 70% of the grains grown in United States are fed to animals which can be eaten for dinner in the nearest restaurant franchise. Yet this whole amount could be used to eliminate world hunger. As I mentioned before, everything in the very literal sense, is seen as something to be sold and an object to be owned. Even your suffering is for the profit of drug companies. When the human race will exhaust all that is tangible in the form of resources, what will it do? Can money bring back the thousands of species that get extinct every year? Can money undo the global climatic change which is by product of capitalism? Can money fuel one’s car to go to office? Soon and very suddenly the danger of extinction can be well upon humans just because of their own activities. Why do we kill strangers in foreign countries and not our neighbors? The sooner human race looks at this broad picture and realizes this game of power the better it is for the civilization itself. The Earth is safe. It is the humans which are in danger. When we as an individual die, money doesn’t go with us, but the imprints of our actions are still there on Earth. Technologies have made so many people disconnected in their daily lives. The human race didn’t come this far down in evolutionary chain because we are the strongest or fastest, but because we have the ability to work together in groups and societies. Capitalism is tearing apart that very fabric of bonding. Even governments don’t serve you. They serve the people who fund them into power.
I realize that many of the things that I have written seem so much grimmer than the everyday reality. This is because of two factors :
- Our attention and focus never goes beyond the nitty gritties of survival of everyday living in whatever economic condition we find ourselves in.
- Even if we are in a capitalist society, not all of us harbor the extreme mechanistic capitalist mindset, whether we want to accept it or not. We still value relationships. We still help some stranger who has met with an accident without seeking profit. My only endeavor is to keep that flame alive.
None of these is to be interpreted that I am endorsing ‘communism’. No I am not (at least in the way it has been practiced in history). Here are some of my views about why communism won’t work (although less detailed):
Sabuj Chattopadhyay’s answer to What is the biggest flaw in communism?
For the record, as of now, I am inclined towards a mixed economy, i.e capitalism with checks put on it to avoid a free run.
The above was an answer Sabuj gave to the following question asked in quora;
Why is the younger generation so opposed to capitalism?
I am a member of the younger generation (I am not yet 20) and I have made this observation through conversation (and complaints) that I have had with many, many people my age both in person and online.