11.26.18 | Capitalism, Meaning of Life

Thought experiment: "What's striking about capitalism is that we're all trying to escape it because it makes us so miserable, mean, and foolish . . . we all want the freedom to live lives with meaning, purpose, and fulfillment -- instead of being crushed with anxiety, bruised by competitiveness, and suffused with fear . . . . so here is the real question, if these are the things we're really after, why don't we just give them to one another?"

So goes the question posed in this teaser piece  If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism, Then What's the ...  based upon the underlying premise that this is probably the first juncture in human history where certain factors -- technology, finance, and the public means -- have finally matured to the point that freedom from capitalism isn't just possible, it's becoming inevitable. And, thus, having been liberated from the soul-sucking global systems featuring profit maximizing corporations beholden solely to the bottom line and to the exclusion of everything else, the capitalist at the top of the hierarchy can earn the freedom (ironically) from capitalism like everyone else, perhaps then becoming devoted to loftier pursuits (e.g. Bill Gates).

And so it goes to those at the lower end of the capitalist hierarchy -- the wage earner seeking just enough income to escape capitalism and be left in peace. The point of the (thought) piece being, "We are all trying to win our freedom from from capitalism, rich or poor, prole or bourgeois." 

But be careful what we wish for. Welcome then to the world of artificial intelligence as we segue to the question touched on last year (MM, 6/5/17) with our featured article i.e. what is The Meaning Of Life In A World Without Work? A new class of people might emerge, the so-called useless class, in a world where bedrock capitalism is no longer life's main organizing principle. Thereupon comes a new quest for purpose.

The further irony is that the same technology that renders humans useless might also provide the possibility for new meaning, or at least something to keep the masses occupied and content. Think in terms of universal basic income combined with various forms of virtual reality. May we aspire to more.

Steve SmithComment