Anarchism vs Capitalism

I spent yesterday evening reading back issues of STRIKE! magazine, which focuses on “grassroots resistance, anti-oppression politics, and the philosophies and creative expressions surrounding these movements”. Being exposed to this kind of stuff is never an easy read or a comfortable experience, but I do enjoy having my eyes opened to new perspectives.

Today, after cheering on my wife during her first Great North Run, I wandered around the shops in Newcastle-upon-Tyne with my kids. They pretty much set the agenda, so we spent most of our time looking at toys, games, comics, and technology.

The two experiences, separated only by sleep, were quite jarring. Here, on the one hand, was a radical collective advocating for a “total reconstitution of what’s possible” while, on the other, the stores tempted us with products that do nothing but cement the existing status quo using the chains of debt. Anarchism vs Capitalism. Fight!

One of the places we wandered into was the Apple store, that temple to consumerism. My kids love it. Of course they do. To me, however, it’s a stark reminder of the kind of approach to life I feel that I’ve left behind. I’m not in competition with anyone else for scarce resources, and I don’t feel like I’ve got anything left to prove in life, so the body language of both the staff and customers in the Apple store almost makes me laugh out loud these days.

I mean, of course I’m tempted by the shiny, shiny technology that ‘just works’, but when I think about it, the trade-off is too high for me. Once you’ve poked a hole in ersatz capitalist reality and seen things for what they really are, I don’t think you can’t go back. A trillion dollar company who have infantilised world through easy-to-use technology. (And, yes, I have a permanent sense of guilt about using Google’s services on a day-to-day basis.)

Every day we’re bombarded with information and opinions. As someone who works from home in a small market town, one of the things that really hits me when I go to the city is the amount of things vying for my attention. This includes traffic, billboards, people handing out leaflets, shop windows… an endless list. The propaganda works, of course, otherwise no-one would bother with advertising. I almost bought a new television today, for goodness’ sake.

I’ll admit that choosing something other than the path of least resistance doesn’t always make for a easy, happy life. Some may see me as being on a farcical quest for ‘authenticity’. I’d reject that, just as I reject being put into any kind of box which is created by capitalism as a segment to sell into. I’m not defined by what I consume.