You Know You Live in a Monopoly Capitalist Culture When…

P.S. Money is fake

I encountered a relatively new piece of graffiti art in my neighborhood (above) and — as I shot the photo — thought to myself: You know you live in a monopoly capitalist culture when living human beings are regularly compared to pieces of green paper we agree (for now) to be worth something.

Thanks to more than a century of conditioning, our personal dreams have been co-opted and replaced with the American Dream of wealth, material possessions, sexual conquests, being on TV, etc. The American Dream myth tells us we can and will accomplish all this on our own. It’s the fable of individualized success: If you outwork and outthink and out-hustle the competition, this is truly the land of opportunity. Anything is possible and if you succeed, it’s because you worked harder and better and deserved it more.

This myth is conveniently helpful for praising success but mighty damaging in explaining failure. If you don’t attain your goals (or at least the goals forced upon you), the blame is on you and you alone. It’s your fault that you’re not living up to the standards set by fashion magazines, TV commercials, and social media.

“Our lives prior to that war were, to a great extent, pre-industrial,” wrote author Murray Bookchin. “We still had the extended family, communities, neighborhoods, and small retail stores, usually of the Mom & Pop variety. We were not thoroughly absorbed into capitalism in our daily lives so you had a capitalist economy but not a capitalist society. This was undone by the war [WWII] as capitalism permeated every aspect of our daily lives. The family, the culture, and the neighborhood have been integrated into the market. People have become atomized and our very language has been corrupted.”

We no longer pass time… we spend it. We no longer fall in love… we invest in relationships. Everything we care about has been turned into a commodity.

Did you ever notice how animated people get when you ask them what they’d do if they ever won the lottery? They can suddenly articulate dreams and wants and desires in a hopeful, confident way. It’s as if someone has given them a shot of adrenaline — a new lease on life (if you will). Wouldn’t it be neat if we could all get excited and optimistic about our lives and our future without the promise of some unattainable monetary prize?

P.S. Whenever I write something like this, a few folks respond by “accusing” me of praising communism or socialism. I’ll save you the (waste of) time and answer you now: Are you limited to the choices imposed upon you by the powers that shouldn’t be or can you use your infinite mind to imagine infinite other possibilities?

Mickey Z. is the creator of a podcast called Post-Woke. You can subscribe here. He is also the founder of Helping Homeless Women - NYC, offering direct relief to women on New York City streets. Spread the word. Read other articles by Mickey.