A few weeks ago, a classmate of mine shared the question, “What will you miss most once capitalism is destroyed?” from the podcast How to Survive the end of the world. It was an exciting prompt, because I had only thought of a non-capitalist world in theory and large vocab words, not in the mundane. As a developing scholar activist, I had to really ask myself
How can I/we strive towards a transformed future, without ever taking time to really visualize, and therefore manifest, what it can be?
We know what an anti-capitalist world does not look like—look around—but to try and see what it is, is just as important.
So, let’s have a little fun.
An anti-capitalist world is a world without:
- Celebrity Culture
Say goodbye to multi-millionaire and billionaire artists who make money off your time and attention. I personally would not miss celebrity culture, now or in the future, although there are some celebrities I would miss laughing at and/or with. The Met Gala is probably the most beautiful—and only—celebrity orgy I’ve ever cared to engage with; the dresses, the suits, the shoes, the looks are very—😌—pleasing to the eye. I imagine that in an anti-capitalist world, however, airtime would be shared more equally and purposefully, on more Earth-friendly, radical, non-elitist forms of expression. Many more musical and visual artists, activists, and civilian representatives are readily provided with the resources to develop their voice and work, to continue making positive impact on their communities. Of course, some will be more “popular” than others, but the barrier to entry will be completely eradicated… No artist should have to be famous to get it good.
- Long, hot showers
For some of us, Water is easy to waste because it is so accessible. While we watch the steaming, hot droplets run down our bodies in the name of self-care and admire the gushing fountain in the center of Washington Square Park during the summer, Earth’s precious resource dwindles.
In anti-capitalist world, there is no such thing as “resource”; the word itself implies that we have unlimited access to Earth and normalizes extraction. Perhaps we can do some good to personify Water as a sacred being, who we use as intentionally as we can, and bless and thank when we do.
- Meat, Exotic Fruits, etc.
And I mean the mass-produced meat you probably pick up weekly from your local grocery store. Chicken, farm bred salmon, beef, pork… and the list goes on. I love cooking, especially when I’m cooking something new or have eaten in an ethnic restaurant, but I try to ask myself, where do some of these ingredients come from? They are all products of a capitalist system of overproduction. How often do you think of all the “hands, plants, mushrooms, animals, and minerals that gave of themselves to create your meal(s)”? Community-based farming can take it’s place, as demonstrated by Cooperation Jackson in Mississippi and La Finca del Sur in the Bronx, which would limit what we can eat but will most definitely improve the quality of it.
- Amazon Prime
An obvious one, but I had to throw it in there because it is so obvious, and because even I war with myself at least once every two months on the site—when I am desperately searching for something that I don’t really need and have had trouble finding in stores or other online shops. It is convenient, which makes it so popular, and convenience is valuable in a society that trains us to “maximize” and “be productive” with our time, always on, always working. And Amazon is another great example of labor and “resource” exploitation. In an anti-capitalist world, monopolies do not exist and our material desires are mostly filled with emotional, spiritual, and community wealth and health.
- The Megachurch
I grew up in a megachurch, and I will admit that besides the long sermons, I loved the waterfalls that manned the entrance, the faux gold ceilings, and the songs sang by the talented choir and band—making it hard to keep still, despite my unbelief. But the Christian church, a place of worship, community, and giving, has many times been turned into a big business. How often do megachurch pastors connect personally with their congregation? How many dollars from tithes and offerings actually go back into the community? How many people can genuinely say they’ve found spiritual family—people they can reach out to in times of crisis—through the megachurch? In an anti-capitalist world, I imagine the church and any other spiritual and religious center as an intimate accessible space, welcome to people of all faiths, directly serving the needs of their surrounding community as fit.
And the list goes on…
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from this piece is what you are willing to do and give up now, in the present, in hopes of a more equitable future. This is not to dismiss the heavy responsibility of the State and private sector to clean up their mess—because realistically only they can—but to encourage us to take charge and care for Earth in the little ways we can. Capitalism is not just external, but internal; it regulates everything, including our time, actions, desires, imaginations, and dreams. So imagining an anti-capitalist future is a form of unlearning and learning and unlearning again. through conversations, or by reading essays like Nishnaabeg Anticapitalism or this blog post! and in the act of remembering and honoring sacrifice. Before each meal, I pray a prayer from United We Dream’s Undocumented Cookbook:
Capitalism is not inescapable. In fact, anti-capitalist practices exist in everyday life already.
A present example that I must include, before closing this piece, is that of restorative justice, as detailed by Sonya Shah in an interview with former Black Panther leader, Ericka Huggins (peep the last 20 minutes). Every day, she says, she causes harm, so every day, she engages in talking circles with the person or people she has harmed. Together, sometimes with a trusted third party, both groups share their perspectives and over time—a few minutes, hours or days—arrive at a place of healing and understanding.
How is this anti-capitalist?
Capitalism favors the individual over community; punishment over forgiveness; constant productivity over intentional, patient progress. Talking circles challenge this. An anti-capitalist world is a world with healing circles, and without prisons. Harm is reduced. All people are valued.
Very optimistic, yes, but necessary. Hope is a discipline; myelinate that shit. When we start imagining and practicing anti-capitalism now, in the microcosm of our lives, we are prepared for a renewed and transformative future.