Why I Love Capitalism, But Hate Capitalism

I think by now I sound like a broken record of some sort, but for my final post, I want to dedicate it to explicitly (and briefly because my laptop is overheating) explaining why I love and hate capitalism. (I’m going to try super hard to keep economic terms and quotes from economists/socialists out of this and explain it in my own, incoherent way).

I don’t know if anyone’s noticed but when I don’t know what to say, I always define something then go from there. This time is no different:

Capitalism (noun)

–       an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.

Now, yes, capitalism can take different forms, but for the sake of this post, it’s going to be kept super general. Don’t worry, the argument still remains. I have a love/hate relationship with the notion of capitalism: like, I get how it’s meant to work in theory but I do not, and cannot, come to fully champion it.

Hypothetically, it is not without its advantages. Economic freedom helps bring about political freedom… yay, no tyranny and concentrated power in the hands of the political elite (ok, not ‘no’ but far less). Wooo, competition between companies means efficiency and less waste! Competition also means innovation, which means growth, which means higher living standards… score!

And yet, I still can’t stand it. Why?

My main issue with capitalism is that it is a breeding ground for inequality. The whole system creates a society of haves and have not’s. Equality of outcome and equality of opportunity? What are these? Because they’re pretty much mythical under capitalism. Personally, I’m a real champion of equality. Especially equality of opportunity. This isn’t to say I believe we should all be handed shit to us just because.  But it is to say that I find it gross and shameful how the economic system that controls so much of the globe plays such a key role in poverty and shit across the globe and everyone just seems to accept this as the way in which the cookie crumbles. Nah.

If you believe that people live in poverty just because they didn’t/don’t work hard enough, then yeah, I think you’re gross too.

Disclaimer: I am not an economics super-expert or anything of the sort… you know, in case it wasn’t already clear.

So what do I suggest? I’m working on it.

I love the idea of capitalism in theory, but hate its negative outcomes in reality.

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Why I Love Democracy, but Hate Democracy

Democracy, people power.

A government of the people, by the people, and for the people (in the sort of words of Abraham Lincoln… as a politics pseudo-graduate I really ought to know this quote better). The idea of a democracy, like actual democracy, for me is a utopian one. It’s pretty much impossible for it exist in its purest form. For the sake of this post, and the laziness of its writer, I’m going to overly-simplify what a democracy needs: people. For a democracy to be a democracy, people need to vote. It’s pretty straight forward. But in real life, a 100% voter turnout is nothing short of a myth.

Now I’m not silly, of course I know that there will never really be circumstances for there to ever be 100% voter turnout, but when there are cases of shockingly low voter turnouts (google is your friend, some democracies have such shit turnouts I can’t even) then I can’t come to call them democracies, but rather “democracies”.

A lot of people don’t vote. Why? This isn’t something you can ever really know the answer to, but if I were to generalise (like I’m literally about to), it’s down to a “my-vote-doesn’t-count-anyway” attitude or a “I-can’t-stand-any-of-the-contenders” thinking. There was once a time where I had the mentality of the latter, I genuinely thought that there was power in me not voting. In my head, if everyone showed their distain with the political parties through abstaining, then the poor turnouts will relay to the parties that the public were not happy, therefore forcing them to review their policies and manifestos in order to reengage with voters.

This is cute. I can’t really think of another word for it other than cute. But in hindsight, it’s stupid.

In the event the bulk of the general public did not vote… in fact scratch that. Let’s say NO ONE voted in a general election. No one except, a single extremist, the views of this extremist would dictate the politics of that country. Now obviously, this wouldn’t ever happen, but the point I’m making remains; minority groups in society can rule in the event that they remain committed whilst everyone becomes disenchanted. And that is not a democracy. That is a tyranny of the minority.

Politics is a big deal. Too much of a big deal for it to ever be the case that you as an individual are disengaged to the point of non-participation.

So I reiterate, I think the idea of a democracy is a utopian one. Aside from the lack of voting thing, there are other factors like media bias, lack of political knowledge of the general public etc. which are important in why I hate democracy but love it, but won’t get into.  

 I love the idea of democracy, what it stands for, and what it could bring about. But I hate democracy, because in reality there only seem to be democracies by name and not by nature.

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Why I Love Pain, but Hate Pain

Despite what the title may suggest, I am not a masochist, sadist, or any combination of the two, and I will not be talking about all the ways in which pain brings me joy… you know, because it doesn’t. Bear with, let me explain myself. 

When I write these monthly posts, though they aren’t planned, they are often in keeping with what I have been going through or feeling in the lead up to writing them. At present, I can only describe what I am going through as pain.

Pain (noun):

  1. Highly unpleasant physical sensation caused by illness or injury
  2. Mental suffering or distress

If I haven’t creeped (which apparently is a word that spell check doesn’t recognise #factoftheday) you out by now, and you’re still reading, then you may be thinking “well, who the fuck can like pain?” (Or you might not be thinking this… whatever). First, let me explain to you why I hate it.

It’s pretty straightforward: it is not nice. At present, I am drowning in uni work and constantly question why I have to go through this. I hate it. I always hate this time of year as its ‘deadline/exam season’, but each year it comes as a new shock to me how much I can’t cope with it. This time around, it is certainly the most unpleasant it has ever been. You may not describe this as pain, perhaps you think ‘stress’ or ‘anxious’ is more fitting, but for me, it is pain! I feel like I’ve spent every waking hour at weighted step Zumba in heels (I don’t think this is a thing, but if it was, it would not be nice), I wear sunglasses even when it’s rainy because my eyes are sensitive to daylight, the exhaustion is SO real, and my mental state is all over the place.

OK, enough depression. Now on to why I love pain. OK I don’t think I love pain… I more appreciate it.

Almost 8 years ago (I have an amazing memory); someone once explained to me why they thought sadness (or being unhappy) was necessary. At the time this was so stupid to me, but by the end of the conversation I felt stupid for not thinking this originally myself. The argument was that if we were happy all the time, it would be all we knew, and would take it for granted and certainly not appreciate it for what it is. Unhappiness puts happiness into perspective. Now, I love life. I say this constantly, but it is my most favourite thing in the world after my sisters. And one of the facts of life that everyone knows is that it is full off ups and downs. For the sake of this post, these ‘downs’ are the painful points in our life. I think unhappiness, misery, pain etc. are all wasted emotions. They’re draining. And so, I seek to be caught up in them for as little as possible.

Right now, I am going through uni-induced-emotional-turmoil and constant physical pain. I am tired, all the time. My blood is 43% caffeine and 57% Paracetamol (which is another thing spell check doesn’t recognise…). But.  I know this will not last forever. And I also know that once it’s over, I will appreciate feeling fly so much more than I did before.

I hate pain, because it is pain. I love pain, because for me, it brings a new dimension of appreciation to happiness.

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Why I Love Feminism, But Hate Feminists

I am a feminist. And if you’re reading this and aren’t… well… OK, nothing. In fact, you probably are a feminist even if you don’t realise it. There was actually a point in my life (I was young… shh) where I would have openly said that I wasn’t a feminist. “There’s not really anything left to fight for” I would say, “We’re pretty equal, and there’s other things to be worried about”. How shameful lol! But, I digress…

Feminism, to me at least, is the belief that all human beings are equal, and that gender is irrelevant. I do not expect a man to hold the door open for me because I am a woman. I would appreciate it if anyone opened the door for me because it is a kind thing to do.

Why do I love feminism? It’s pretty straight forward. I love what it stands for. Equality.

I am a sucker for anything to do with equal rights. Race. Gender. Sexuality. Age. Whatever. I am a sucker for it. I truly believe that we are all equal, or ought to be, and the fact that in 2014 this isn’t the case is nothing but shameful and embarrassing.

I hate the stigma that comes with feminism. We aren’t all non-shaving, braless, pro-women-anti-men. Feminists come is various forms and in different degrees of intensity. There is not a single type of feminist, and I hate that we are all seen in this way. Though I do hate this, I don’t hate it has much as feminists themselves.

I don’t actually hate all feminists in the way that the title suggests. I don’t even hate a particular type; each has their own beliefs which they are more than entitled to. But what I do not like is when other feminists try to speak on behalf of other/all feminists/women. Too often I have seen this in articles, blogs, and on Twitter and it’s highly irritating.

Universally, feminism is about equality of rights, and non-discrimination on the grounds of gender. It is not about judging other women who are not (directly) in line with your beliefs. It is not about a power battle between different types of feminists. There are women out there who do not believe that men and women ought to be equal. And in spite of the fact that this doesn’t sit well with me, I have no right to force my beliefs onto them, nor do I have the right to speak on their behalf. But many don’t seem to understand this.

I love feminism because of what it stands for; I hate feminists who seem to think that they speak for all of us.

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Why I Love Social Media, But Hate Social Media

Social media sites have undoubtedly crept their way into the lives of the masses, with many of us crippled by the need to constantly check and update Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like. OK, perhaps ‘crippled’ is an exaggeration, but I can safely say that if I was told to give up social media for a week, I would not be able to do so.

I often find Twitter as my first port of call when anything happens – I will find information about a news story far quicker, and far more detailed than I would flicking to the news channel of my choice. Social networks provide a really good platform for keeping people updated on your amazingly important and interesting lives, expressing your views, keeping tabs on friends or famous idols etc. And to be honest, they’re actually just fun and interesting. The pros of social media networks span so far and wide that it may be difficult to comprehend how anyone could actually hate them, but I can assure you that I do.

One of the ways I find people seem to generally hate social media is the way in which people have come to present their lives on Instagram and Facebook. It is border line narcissistic. Everyone wants to be seen to be having the most amazing time, all the time. I even do this. I will be sure to Instagram a picture of me on a night out with all of my very many (OK, four) uni friends. But will I post a selfie of me crying over yet another shit essay grade? Of course not, even though this would be a more accurate depiction of my life lol (not lol). But no, this is not why I hate social media.

I hate social media because, although it could be an amazing platform for various things, it could (and is) be a perfect platform for spreading hate. It seems that on social media, all morals are left at the door. Intolerance is allowed to thrive, and bigots come out to play on these platforms, spewing their hatred.

Though I am an advocate of freedom of speech and expression, I can’t say I am a purist.  In many countries in the Western world, you’re pretty much free to say whatever you like though there are some restrictions: e.g. it is illegal to incite religious or racial hatred. To some degree, there is a level of tolerance exists in society, in theory at least, but for some reason, this some tolerance does not exist on the Internet.

I read a quote recently, “freedom of speech only exists in theory” which is ultimately true. How free are we to really say what we want? Absolute freedom of speech would mean that we could say what we wanted without any repercussions. This does not exist. Racism, homophobia, sexism and the like, are all pretty much stigmatised as taboo. But again, it seems that this stigma doesn’t apply online. Or perhaps it does, but people no longer care?

With speech, comes responsibility. Actions have consequences; in the same way if you were to drink and drive your actions will likely cause you to cause yourself and others harm the same goes for speech. The tongue is a very powerful tool. Thus, restrictions on speech are necessary. Yet, on Twitter and Facebook, all you will have to do is search a hashtag, to find that people seem to think that these restrictions no longer matter. On a daily basis I see the most outrageous and heartbreakingly intolerant, hateful comments. Yet even more heart breaking are the retweets and endorsements from other, equally hateful people.

It would be important to note that there is a difference between offence and harm. A line needs to be drawn. For me, harm is a no no whilst offence is just one of those things you need to get over.

I love social media because of the many benefits it can and does bring to our lives. I hate social media because it provides a perfect environment to spew hate that is hard to control, and allows people to feel justified in their hatred.

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Why I Love Christmas, but Hate Xmas

Now, I am not the most religious person in the world (see ‘Why I Love Jesus, but Hate Religion’ post… seriously, go read it), currently caught up in a religious limbo, but this season has highlighted to me just how much I hate Christmas. Or, more accurately, Xmas.

Christmas, December 25th. The Christian holiday, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas is meant to be about this and only this. Although not the most important date on the Christian calendar (that would be Easter #factoftheday), it is still important in its own right. Christmas is symbolic. But somewhere along the way, the true meaning of Christmas has been lost. Instead, it has been displaced with new importance being placed on receiving gifts, overeating and general gluttony. It has lost all religious significance… it has become Xmas.

Of course, as I have gotten older, the magic that I once associated with Christmas has slowly disappeared.  Instead, it has been replaced with a loathing for consumerism and the overall greed and expectations we have as a society. We seem to forget, particularly around this time of year, that we are not owed anything by anyone. This does not change because it is Christmas. Presents are meant to be a gesture of goodwill (the whole goodwill aspect of Christmas annoys me as well, feeding the homeless at Christmas? They’re hungry all year, yo. How about trying to find a long term fix to homelessness that actually helps, rather than a once a year thing that makes you feel better about yourself and also provides you with a picture of you in a soup kitchen which will be sure to get you 100 Instagram likes?), regardless of whether or not it is a single sock or a jumbo jet.

Like I said, I am not the most religious person (seriously, read my post) but I can’t help but feel that the true meaning of Christmas has been lost. It is not about presents. It is not about food. It is not about being kind (which we ought to be all year round). It isn’t even about family. It is about the birth of Jesus. There is limited to no mention of this in any way, not really. Perhaps because I no longer go to a religious school or church I am less exposed to it, but I am genuinely not kidding when the only mention of Jesus that I have seen heard of late was from my mother’s mouth. Surely I am not the only one who finds this bizarre? Could this be because society is becoming more secular? Perhaps. I am by no means advocating the shoving of Christianity down people’s throats, just some sort of acknowledgement. Like, proper acknowledgement. And so much more less emphasis on material goods.

I love Christmas because it is a beautiful time of year where love is shared abundantly and I get to see my sister’s smile and because it is a significant religious holiday. I hate Xmas because it seems to solely be about consumerism and has stolen Christmas from a being a religious holiday to a capitalist one.

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Why I Love Justice, But Hate The Justice System

As a student, I find I spend a lot of my time procrastinating, and lamenting about my poor use of time. One of the ways I spend the days, that I should be using to study, is watching TV. I watch a lot of TV. If you detect slight pride in that sentence, you should. I know I ought to be ashamed but I’m so not. You name it, I watch it. OK, I’m rambling, but the reason I brought this up is because it was just the other day that I started watching Orange is the New Black (I caught up in 5 days, not even embarrassed) and in the very first episode the warden (I think, some authoritative figure at least) says,

“You know, I’ve been here for twenty-two years and I still can’t figure out how the system works… I got a crack dealer who’s doing nine months, and then I have a lady who accidentally backed into a mail man who’s doing 4 years. I mean, the guy broke his collar bone, but c’mon. I just don’t get it.”

Although I am well aware that the program is fictitious, this statement comes from a very real place.

I’ve had a problem with the way in which society deals with crime and the justice and prison systems itself for some time now. Crime is bad. Criminals are bad. You break the law, you go to prison. It seems pretty straightforward, but it is so much more complex than that.

Life, as I’m sure I’ve said before, is my most favourite thing. There are so many great things about life, but I won’t get into them. For the purpose of this post though, I turn your attention to one of the reasons as to why I think it is that life is so precious: because it is irreplaceable. Once you’re gone, you’re gone. You do, only live once.

A life spent in prison, is a life wasted. So, it should be the priority of the state to protect life. One of the ways it does this is prisons. The big, bad, scary criminals are locked away to protect the lovely, perfect, law abiding citizens. But what about the criminals? Are their lives being taken into consideration? Locked away until when? Until their time is up and it’s time to commit crimes again, just this time, let’s try not to get caught…? Re-offender statistics scream failure. Clearly, prisons aren’t working and my belief is that its failure is rooted in their lack of clear purpose.

Let’s define justice: “Conformity to moral rightness in action or attitude; righteousness” (The Free Dictionary). Justice and fairness are, or at least are intended to be, synonymous. Based on this very basic definition, justice, it would seem, is a very integral part of society. It is without a doubt, essential that in order for society to function properly, and in order to ensure that laws are adhered to; prison and justice systems need to be in place. And they are.

My concern, however, lies in the motives. What exactly are prisons meant to do? Punish? Rehabilitate? Deter? All? Other? To me, there doesn’t seem to be any clear objective. And there can’t be, not really. Crime comes in many and various forms, it is nothing short of daft to have one system that is meant to successfully accommodate and address all crime. Some may argue that it would be impossible to rehabilitate a murderer/paedophile/rapist, thus, the purpose prison would serve for them would be punishment. And to protect the law abiding citizens that remain in society. Perhaps then, those who have committed crimes that haven’t necessarily hurt anyone, at least not physically, like fraud, could be rehabilitated? But they’d also need to be punished right? But what about undetected crime? Corporate crime? And what about those who were born into crime?

I hate how we, society as a whole, have been conditioned to perceive crime as clear cut when it really isn’t at all. The justice and prison systems fail to acknowledge just how complex it is. People are socialised into crime. This is a thing. It’s not an excuse, it is reality. You just have to take one glance at prison stats to know that this is the case. Too much focus, time and energy is spent on ways to deal with criminals, and not enough on how to get people to not commit crimes to begin with. It pains me, like, causes me actual physical pain and angst that here and now, in 2013, this is the case. But as a society we are (and to some degree at least, choose to be) blind to this, and magnify our ignorance instead of addressing the situation, “some people still manage not to commit crimes” yeah well, some people can eat ice cream in the winter and not get sick, doesn’t mean I can.

I hold the belief that it is the role of the state to look after its citizens. Law abiding or not, essentially, we are the responsibility of the sate (to some extent, of course). In some cases, I feel like it is the failure of the state that has led some to commit crimes. Thus, in these cases, prisons would need to be rehabilitative in their nature in that it is the duty of the state to recognise where it has failed… right? But then we are faced with the question of whether or not prisons can be rehabilitative. Personally, I do not think they can. Not totally at least. There certainly needs to be a stepping stone between prison and freedom, and no, low security prisons don’t count.

Then comes the issue of proportionality. “The punishment must fit the crime”, right? How exactly are prison sentences decided? Do we even question this as much as we should? It’s like, it’s just accepted. It seems society is more concerned about Miley Cyrus’ sanity. You genuinely have cases like the above quote, in real life. One quick google search of “unfair prison sentences” and you’ll find innumerable numbers of cases. But no solution? No pushes for reforms? Like, these are people. And their lives. Justice is failing to be served. This in itself is a massive failure to society that so desperately needs to be addressed.

Then we have death penalty. Deterrent? Ha. I can’t see how it serves any purpose apart from vengeance. But vengeance at the cost of life? What?! And then what happens if it turns out that the person was innocent? Do their family get a “whoops, we fucked up, sorry” card? I cannot get my head around how anyone can be in support of the death penalty. I’ve often heard people say stuff like “I’m against the death penalty unless it’s for pedophiles.” I mean… come on. I could talk about this all day but I have TV to watch (I mean, studying to do…).

I love justice in what it means and stands for in its very definition; I hate justice and prison systems for their lack of clear motive and inability to even acknowledge the complex nature of crime.

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