Ok Capitalism.

I am eager to present an exploration on capitalism, when I’m fully funded. We only get the things we pay for, so is it any wonder that we get so few thoughtful presentations on alternatives to capitalism? Instead we get memes. It’s all we have energy to offer.

Not too long ago I rolled my eyes at critiques of “capitalism” as boogyman. It’s the catch-all complaint, no further thought necessary. May as well be railing against the Illuminati, fluoride, or aliens. Except that capitalism is the real system that we all live under, and its effects are evident and provable.

“What’s the alternative?” is a reasonable reaction. For me the alternative is flirting with poverty. ;) I’ve started appending, “when I’m fully funded,” to most of my ambitions. It isn’t a joke. If anything it’s sad. I’m making it clear that there are definite projects I would have more time and energy to complete if I were paid to do them. I do not expect it to happen, but I make the appeal honestly, as a way of respecting myself.

To my current funders I offer thanks and apology. You’re not getting much return on your expenditures. Because I am not fully funded I am not fully functioning. Not even close. The preferred path that leaps to mind is for a creator to keep their day job while slowly building the viability of their side hustle. A few problems there. I don’t believe that all good things are marketable. I believe that’s the reason the world is as bad as it is. We have a system that only encourages specific types of behaviors. Those behaviors are not life sustaining, they are capital producing.

In looking for a metaphor for my prior employment, I considered, “X steps forward, Y steps back.” And whether I was getting slightly ever worse, or ever so slightly better, time was running shorter day by day. Metaphors are never fully accurate, though. If I picture 3 steps forward and 2 steps back I see slow progress. The metaphor is leaving out wear and tear. Processes are going on simultaneously. Every “step back” is painful and destructive. Apply this metaphor to society and our “steps back” have death tolls! In my personal life there are mental and physical health tolls. I’m not great now! So how can I say I am making steps forward? I know that I am viewing life differently. I am trying to accomplish various “steps forward” that I wasn’t even considering before.

Capitalism isn’t just economics. It’s a mindset. If I say that I want to produce {a, b, c, …} work and I don’t think it’s marketable, most brains under capitalism respond, “Then don’t do that. It’s not worth it.” No matter how much we meme that what matters is what’s inside, love, feelings, God, the sunset, or whatever, the truth is that most of us have fully absorbed the belief that if it’s not worth money it’s worthless. This mindset is driven into us every millisecond that we are conscious. There’s even a caring, humanitarian angle to it: “You have to take care of yourself; it’s priority number one, before you can consider anything else.” Never: “Can’t we all take care of each other, even strangers?”

I feel I’m in a really shitty position because I want to spread ideas that transcend a money mindset and I need funds to do it. Seems contradictory, huh? This writing represents at least 30 minutes of unpaid work that few will see. So why? Paradoxically, everything I do is me jumping up and down saying: There are good reasons besides money and attention to do stuff. (And I need money and attention to keep at it!) Sigh. For as long as I’m able I will continue to develop ideas that present alternatives to capitalism. I’m writing a sci-fi story about how a better world might be structured. I am exploring noncommercial spaces where I can hang out and share and build community. And every time that I “offer content” I do my best to avoid coercion, marketing, and advertising. I try to act in concert with my values that our world will improve when more minds are free.

I got better sleep last night. I’ll try to improve my functioning today within severe limitations. Who knows what’s possible when I’m fully funded…

By Rob Middleton who can be reached @[email protected] on Mastodon