For all we know, post-capitalism may not be its decline but an evolution towards something more nefarious, bound by the cataclysm that is – social media.
A vapid life contorted by things out of our control. That’s the general gist of the many who live in this place we call 2023, a world led by trends on steroids and consumption automated by cheap capitalistic price tags fed by slave labour and disgusting marketing tropes.
Societal issues, now commodified, have lost their importance through the capitalistic reality of tribal assimilation, influenced by peer-pressured media with the help of mainstream approval. These are anointed by celebrities, and influencers, who care little – only in the case of furthering their work, and it is a nightmarish environment, one we are living through now where our minds are pulled right from beneath us.
But, perhaps this is a sign we’re headed for post-capitalism? And maybe, post-capitalism isn’t the end or decline of privatized polygamous enterprises but the normalization of exaggerated pricing, loyally followed by a doll-eyed public agreeing to such purchases as a bargain. An acceptance of the fact that acceptable living standards are a fatiguing challenge sedated by the costume and pageantry of online shopfronts we call ‘social media accounts’. A pacifier of sorts.
The body, led by the mind is as fragile as the brain that operates them. The mind is always recording. Recording for feedback, recording for safety and better judgement. Though such judgement can be obliterated when the markers for the aforementioned radically shift year upon year, sometimes weekly.
But could post-capitalism be something of a Trojan horse, entering the vessels of all facets of political leaning? Could it be we’re misunderstanding the notion of where we’re headed and that the horse isn’t being led to water but to a lake of perpetual poor living standards pacified by the fantasy of exaggerated digital spaces?
Identity has been skewed to the limits for where it can go, depreciated by the unending need for us to embrace any trend, brand or name for the sake of it, no matter what shape or form it appears to us in. If one were hypnotized, entranced by the subliminal messages bombarding us on a daily basis, would we know that we are being influenced by its literary and televisual projectiles? No.
Having everything all the time has destroyed the enchantment of discovery, the desire for excitement and the limitless possibilities for the thrill of each day. Many will not care to admit such notions, because living for the day is now living for others. And though it differs not from the yesteryears of social assimilation, it does when analysing patterns for which we flippantly switch to and from new ‘desirable’ messages, lifestyles and other cognitively detrimental activities threaded together by the fascias of mass hysteria.
Digital social circles are full of neo-conservative movements reminiscent of the moral panic era of the ‘80s; both the left and right are guilty of this – past and present. But this topic is more a matter of concern now as we tread realms foreign to us, alien even to those born into it due to a lack of parental understanding of the proper conduct for the guidance and usage of smart devices and the unforgiving internet spaces that never end, seeking to feast on the minds of the young (and old) who use them.
Post-capitalism has been achieved before, though under the guise of something we often mislabel through the misdirection of branding. Stalinism was post-capitalism version 1.0, though lacking the interconnectivity of today.
During this time, a select few elites ate the spoils of workers whose residencies were shared apartments and limited food governed under strict legal repercussions. And just like today, Stalinism’s social media at the time (propaganda) forcefully moved its end users to lovingly embrace harmful ideologies. The difference is negligible when comparing it to present day capitalism and its offerings of a small apartment property at beyond-affordable value. Stripped of contentment, money and excitement, further laws have been enacted to break the spirits of the proletariat.
So as we, more than ever before, year-on-year double in computing size and gain colossal access to micro answers without context, we should remember that post-capitalism is more than likely being entered as we speak. We just need to make one more pit stop before we do. One that does not change the trajectory for its decline, but one that normalizes its growth from a steady upward trend to an unfortunate standardized form of living. It will be guided via parasitic cognition that will be escorted in artificial bursts of delight simulated by what we are shown, not what we seek. Take for example TikTok. We know how odious its owners can be, and that content we’re shown in the West is negatively destabilizing to what users in China are furnished. Yet, here we are, entranced by the algorithm spell no one wishes to admit they’re under, following breadcrumbs in reverse until the witch is over ready.
Painting by Cyprián Majerník