Alienation: A (Partial) Source of Our Anxieties

Welp, I’m back to listening to polemics.

It gets tiring when it’s done too much, but when you’ve been in a hole of depression like I’ve been…sometimes politics can zap you out of it. Especially when it’s presented in a way like Chapo Trap House.

I’m a big fan of Richard Wolff. I think he conveys the anger that many Americans are feeling in regards to our economic system. Chapo Trap House interviewed him in their latest episode (which you can find wherever you can find podcasts). When I took economics in college…and I was a business major by the way…I just appealed to the professor’s libertarian ideology and that was enough to get me through it. But as Wolff explains in his interview, these economic “principles” are just made up bullshit (essentially).

Another podcast I follow from time to time is Jason Stapleton, a libertarian. His biggest gripe against Bernie Sanders’ followers is “they don’t understand economics.” To Stapleton, these “principles” are natural. They are not, in any way shape or form, manmade. So Stapleton is essentially suffering from the same anti-postmodern symptom that most conservatives suffer from…in that he truly believes that our systemic constructions are somehow objective.

When put that way, it doesn’t appear that Stapleton understands economics either. All he knows is that he has benefited from capitalism and can’t FATHOM the idea that many others aren’t.

Conservatives like Stapleton, Ben Shapiro, Jordan Peterson, and others believe in adherence to the System (in this case, the capitalistic system) for the sake of the System itself. Nevermind that it keeps failing, and as Wolff points out in the video above, capitalists keep blaming the government. But I guess this is the root of conservativism itself: strict adherence to “Western values”, even when those values are increasingly becoming inadequate to service modern life.

Wolff suggests that we aren’t stuck in this System…we can, in fact, create a BETTER one….which is something that economics professors are unwilling to entertain. And to him, Marxism provides a path. While Marxism certainly had atrocious mistakes during the 20th Century, it did promote economic growth in Russia and China which, according to Wolff, were remarkable turnarounds (especially for Russia, which was essentially a backwater country at the beginning of the century and later became the second largest economy by the 1970s.) Mind you, and this is where I think anti-Marxists get hung up, we don’t need to treat this “system” as a thing for itself…as we do with capitalism…but we treat it as a method to benefit all people by taking away this “manager-employee”, “master-slave” relationship that has permeated American life.

Capitalists like to argue that capitalism promotes individualism, yet we don’t see ourselves as individuals. We define ourselves by our jobs. We find worth in our “skillset” so that we may appeal to potential employers. We still see ourselves as slaves to corporations.

In the Chapo interview, Wolff said something interesting regarding our “alienation” in the workforce. He indicated that because this slave mentality is so embedded in our American psyche, we know that we’re miserable yet unable to adequately express the source of our pain. This alienation, I feel (and feel free to disagree with me), could be the source our anxiety, depression, and tendencies towards substance abuse.

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