Imo, one of the most damning aspects of capitalism is that it encourages people to have consumptive hobbies over creative ones.
It actively seeks to bar people from doing things like cooking, or writing, or making pottery, or anything else of that nature. Activities in which you are making something
Things like that are made either too expensive (in terms of money, or time, or both) or framed as something not worth wasting time on, because you can't support yourself doing art/writing/etc
Inversely, consumptive hobbies are encouraged to excess, despite being far fewer. Hobbies where the whole point is Getting Things, and Having Things. Wether that be shopping for clothes, or spending hours and hours consuming contents you can gain an encyclopedic knowledge of a movie or series, or collecting all ten thousand of those god damn funkopop figurines.
Things like that, where at the end of the day all you really have is a lot less money, and a lot more stuff that you didn't make.
In a capitalist's ideal world, everyone would have consumptive hobbies, and no one would have creative ones. This slots cleanly into their worldview of having everyone define their identity by what they consume, so that there will always be things to sell, and whatever's being consumed or sold is wholly irrelevant.
Thankfully, this is impossible. There's not a force on this Earth that can stop people from consuming things, and even with the artificial barriers capitalism has created, many people still do have creative hobbies, because creating things is enjoyable and satistfying on a deeply human level. Consuming things is not.
This is part of why I think it's so good to create things. It lends a deep satisfaction that literally cannot be bought or sold, and that's the kind of thing that makes capitalists tear their hair out. Think about how many things you otherwise wouldn't have wanted if you hadn't been barraged with ads and media and such, telling you that You Should Want These Things, literally every day you've been alive. Self-satisfaction is the penicillin to capitalism's disease.
I imagine you looking like your avatar when typing this.
There are no typos, only handy accidents
@Dayglochainsaw Thanks for sharing this, it reminds of something G K Chesterton once said: “If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.”
@Dayglochainsaw Awesome thread!
@Dayglochainsaw so much this! We keep having people in our hackerspace who say “Why are you building this yourself? You can just buy it. It's also cheaper if you count in your time. How much are you paid per hour? It's never worth it.” Like, isn't building things yourself the point of a hackerspace?!
@Dayglochainsaw There's a whole thread in this idea too that forcing people to be consumers takes away their power. If you are a pure consumer, you can't create anything, and you are a) not in any danger of usurping their power, and b) still consuming because you have nothing else to do. Capitalism is about concentrating power, and in capitalism, money is power, and someone who can't get it any other way than producing only for a capitalist is totally unempowered.
@Dayglochainsaw in my book a hobby is sth I don't get money for. You can do creative stuff and sell it. And once you've done creative things you want people to watch or listen to it, which is : consume it. You get my point?
@Dayglochainsaw There's also this aspect of being enticed, as a creator, to buy more and more "supplies". People stockpile art supplies, scrapbooking supplies, tools and wood, to where they need entire rooms for their hobbies.
Sometimes the supplies do end up being used. But often what happens is that you get "ratio-d" by what you've bought for your hobby vs. what you've made, which is demoralizing, so you buy more supplies to stave off shame.
Potential can't be bought.
Every time there is a dance show on TV everyone asks if I'll be watching it. Er no, I can't watch TV when I'm in the dance club. Same with football. I know a few people who play football and watch EPL. Most people who obsess about EPL seem to have none of the knowledge you get from playing. The countries with the most cooking shows also sell the most ready meals. And so on.
@Dayglochainsaw this aligns with something I’ve thought for a long time: consumption based activities inherently breed toxicity (eg gamers) bc when you consume the only thing that sets you apart and gives you social currency is making a demonstration of how narrow your tastes are (anyone can love a lot of things, after all, but your palette is so refined you hate it all). When you create you’re defined by ability rather than tastes, and your ability doesn’t require excluding others.
Holy shit I'd say this is definitely very true
Competition, aka "For me to win, you have to lose" also has a lot to do with this. There was a sharp deterioration in, for example, the quality of the Overwatch community the moment they added a competitive mode/league to the game where you had a ranking relative to other players. It only took a week or so for what was an surprisingly nice gaming community to turn into vicious edgelords fighting for prestige.
This reminds me of something Aldous Huxley wrote in an essay about culture, he said culture is a way to create an insider group, like a family sharing anecdotes, but instead of uncle John or aunt Mary you had uncle Goethe, aunt Woolf (or something like that) and people external to that didn't know what you talked about and got excluded.
That way, a culture based in consumerism would not only benefit capitalism, it would support an elitist mindset and with that classism and white supremacy.
@Dayglochainsaw Counterpoint: 21st century capitalism loves getting people to do creative hobbies. ESPECIALLY art and writing. Because when they're hobbies, you can use the amateurs to undercut and proletarianize the professionals.
Valid counterpoint! I'd still say this is an attempt to gut the enjoyment of those hobbies tho, by overworking people to the point of creativite exhaustion
@Dayglochainsaw Thing is, capitalism really only cares about your productive power. The basic structure of capitalism is "you make 50 dollars of stuff, boss pays you 10." If they could pay you 0 (aka end consumption), they would.
But, turns out that it's a pretty iron law that consumption increases production. So they obsess over your consumption, not because they want you to consume, but because they want you to consume THEIR stuff. It's recycling, basically.
@Dayglochainsaw I agree! To add to this, if you do have one of the creative hobbies, there's this pervasive and exhausting element of competition that always creeps in.
You can't just be a writing/critique circle. There is no love, there is no art. The whole thing has to be about getting published, or who's published the most, in the most elite circles, or else getting into an elite MFA, or self-publishing with high numbers, etc etc etc Jesus Christ save us.
@Dayglochainsaw And it's like, who does that serve? That exhausting and deadening of creativity into product-making?
It serves well-connected agents and big labels. Massive publishing conglomerates. It serves Amazon, Hollywood studios, and universities.
Even smaller publishers and journals and writing programs often work to maintain their elite status for financial reasons.
Creators get isolated against each other, when the best eras of human creativity involve idea sharing.
@Dayglochainsaw If you do have a hobby that produces -things- you’re pressured into monetising it as well
According to the capitalist machine, nothing can be made just because you wanted to make it or it helps you blow off some steam at the end of the day. It must be because you want to get ahead of others in your craft or because you want to sell the works you made.
I wonder a lot how we can have a more collective model of creativity but *not* fall into the trap of expecting a piece of art to appeal to everyone (starting w/the usual brokers and marketers) in order to be considered "great."
One of my favorite things I ever did was edit a vanity collection of comics, back when I still drew those things. I don't even think my individual work was any great shakes. It was company I craved.
@Galdrakinn @Dayglochainsaw Yes! I play and record improv noisegrind, with a guitar and a drum machine, for myself, alone, with no intention of selling anything. It's intentionally uncommodifiable. It's just nonsense jokes for myself and a couple friends. AND YET, that weird internal voice is always there, asking me where I'm going with it, what I need to do next, how I need to improve to "get somewhere," etc.
It's horrifying how deeply ingrained that shit is.
@Dayglochainsaw this is something I think about often, as a writer who is very often too fried from working retail to sit down and work on a story.
@Dayglochainsaw In short, capitalism encourages destruction & discourages construction as we're forced to fight each other for stuff to consume.
And when there's nothing else left to destroy, capitalism will quite literally destroy us.
I'd remove the word hobbies and just say "It encourages people to consumptive rather than creative in all aspects of life." The winners are those who can consume and publicly display that consumption the most ostentatiously.
@Dayglochainsaw yah and when 'capitalism' encourages creative activities it always obsesses about what tools someone uses
"she can't be a real photographer with THAT camera', 'what, you're drawing and don't have the latest photoshop', always pressuring people into buying new, more expensive stuff as of course that's what makes them 'good, productive artists'
@Dayglochainsaw o h
@Dayglochainsaw I wonder what are the exact mechanism by which capitalism does that? Do you have maybe any examples in mind? And are those mechanism inherent in capitalism, or maybe in free market?
Read the thread I touch on some of that
@Dayglochainsaw Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't notice there is more. Thanks!
@Dayglochainsaw I went through the thread, and it is fascinating indeed, thank you for starting it. However, I still can't see (or really think of) any specific ways in which capitalism would achieve this encouragement/discouragement that I could point my finger to. I can't deny that the effects are there, and that they benefit the system, but I can't see how they are created. I think it would be very enlightening to be able to see the actual causal connection.
@Dayglochainsaw I want to make more electronic stuff. Things that would need pricy test gear and equipment...
@Dayglochainsaw I guess this is part of the issue as to why writing has its issues nowadays. Or, as I like to put it, 'writing sucks': https://cwp.marquiskurt.net/project/2018/12/07/project-4.html
@Dayglochainsaw So I've been thinking about it a bit more, and it seems to me that while the effects you write about are real, and indeed correlated with capitalism, I think they are not caused by capitalism itself, but by the same factors that created capitalism, namely the changes in technology (mass production and improved communication and transport).
It is easier to replace something than to fix it, but it would be the same if the same factory that produces it was collectively owned.
I would argue that technically capitalism would imply that we all become ascetic. That we'd only purchase things if it provides value for us. I think consumerism has a different origin than capitalism.
At least from an economist's point of view.
A culture of consumerism feeds a culture of capitalisim and vice versa, two sides of the same coin
@Dayglochainsaw Although I'm not sure if I totally agree with you I find your thoughts interesting. But what I believe is that capitalism yields the bad in people more than the good.
@Dayglochainsaw fuck capitalism, feed birds
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