does capital make it impossible to be yourself?

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lem_
does capital make it impossible to be yourself?
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Hi,

Sorry for the somewhat individualist, and pseudo-scholastic question. But does capital make it impossible to be yourself?

I'm asking because I'm wondering what I've got going for me, if anything. And not being bourgeois or (IMHO) confirming that ideology, is perhaps more of a potential than a positive quality.

Cheers, and sorry for the navel gazing

Fred
advice for lem!

Oh no lem! Far from preventing the self-realisation of a personality,  capitalism alone provides ample opportunity!  I think you must have quite misunderstood life under the bourgeoisie's  rule. So let me put you straight. 

We live at a time of unprecedented opportunity for the petty bourgeois individualist. For with the right hair stylist and tailor you can be transformed in a twinkling into the most splendid personality on the block. And if you can't afford a humdinger of a car which splashes its expense all over everyone as you drive round the West End or Knightsbridge - if you're living somewhere on the drab side like Preston or Burnley you'd better get yourself moved with all haste to London or even Manchester at a pinch - then make sure you always travel by taxi.

Being photographed getting out of a taxi always makes an impression.  But then I supose I've fallen into the trap of assuming we're all celebrities and I know we're not.  But that is what we're aiming for isn't it? They're our model aren't they?  They're what we want to be. Like a celebrity. Somebody who gets photographed a lot and gets into the newspapers, whats left of them, or even better on the tv. Even the famous soccer player Ronaldo, who I will admit is still pretty good at goal scoring and has bucket loads of fame, has learned while at Madrid the importance of self-presentation for tv cameras. This is an important technique for him in addition  to his goal scoring and money amassing talent which are only enhanced by his use of the camera which he constantly seeks out while playing.  He is not alone in this of course.  It is what capitalism demands from all those who succumb uncritically to its demands, and who have a talent to sell for big money.  

The key to success is self-exploitation.  If you want to hit the big time, and get the big money,  then start right now by polishing up  your image.   And never put yourself  down; at least not in public.  Success under  capitalism and self-criticism are  incompatible bed fellows. 

For ultimately how you present and package yourself  as a suitably commoditised human is all that matters in life isn't it?  How you look, your personal style, the cliches you use - always make sure your cliches are right up to date: you can learn this from tv interviews - because finally your overall personalised "style" is all that  truly counts. It's what you can sell.   This is the key to success and making money. And making money - need I say it - is after all the one and only motivating force in life isn't it?  There's nothing could ever replace it, despite what crazed socialists like Corbyn or Sanders spew out in their pandering to the working class for political success.  

The working class. Hmm! If your search for success in life has fallen to the level of pandering to the class of losers called workers you probably need treatment of some  kind. Alternatively you could just pull yourself together and start competing like a man. Or even woman.

So in answer to your question lem - yes indeed  capitalism makes it more or less impossible for us to be ourselves.  What it does instead I've tried to elaborate a little above.  It turns us into idiotic commodities for sale on the market.  It makes fools of us all.   And if you think that's what it's doing to you lem, then let me assure you - you are not alone! But don't give up. Our day could still come. 

lem_
yeah, another kinda fake and

yeah, another kinda fake and lame point to make, but i reckon, personally ofc, that all the talk of existential freedoms and whatnot are just ways to assauge the feeling that, yeah, without changing things, as part of a class movement, we're all lost in it.

except the bourgeoisie, who are happy enough ha ha

Fred
Fake cheerfulness

I agree with you lem. But are the bourgeoisie really happy, lem? Somehow I doubt it.  I doubt it is really possible living under an exploitative  system like capital, for anyone to be really and truly happy.  We just kid ourselves. In fact I have just this minute received a little bit of what could turn out to be good news.  I feel better and happier than I did ten minutes ago.  But it's all phony and will soon pass. It isn't genuine. It's to do with money. What else! Everything revolves round money. How can we relax and be ourselves - whatever that means - if we constantly live under money anxieties stemming from employment or lack of it, and the awful existential threats of life in this crippling society.  Even the bourgeoisie are compelled to worry about money, and buying and selling, "getting and spending we lay waste our lives" as Wordsworth pointed out. (End of my cheerfulness for today! ) 

Demogorgon
Happy Money

Actually, there's a direct, positive correlation with financial security and reported happiness. For example, see here. The idea that money can't buy happiness is part of bourgeois ideology.

It is true that the bourgeoisie have an alienated consciousness, just like everyone else under capitalism. But the bourgeoisie experience this alienation differently: "The propertied class and the class of the proletariat present the same human self-estrangement. But the former class feels at ease and strengthened in this self-estrangement, it recognizes estrangement as its own power and has in it the semblance of a human existence. The class of the proletariat feels annihilated in estrangement; it sees in it its own powerlessness and the reality of an inhuman existence."

It's one of the central antimonies of bourgeois consciousness that, although - as Marx pointed out - each capitalist is a puppet of forces beyond their individual control, they still experience their own existence as one of individual potentiality. From this, we get the illusion of the self-made-man, the idea that capital accumulation is down to "saving" and abstinence, that what really matters for success is "positive-thinking" and aspiration, the cult of the entrepreneur and the idea that capitalists (not workers) are the "wealth creators".

 

Fred
can't buy me love

Thank you for this very interesting reply Demogorgon. I suppose it all depends what you think  happiness is and how to get there.  Clearly their are differing class views on this which I haven't considered.

Your second paragraph explains it all. For bourgeois ideology the self-made man; the "positive thinking", the mistaken  idea that the bourgeois are the wealth creators etc., are what make life worth living.  Plus  the occasional war to sort the economy out and happy holy families.  These are the kind  of thing that class conscious workers don't aspire to. I guess.

EDIT.    THOUGH. NB. Having just read the Guardian article you refer to in your opening paragraph, perhaps I've got this wrong too?  It's a much more complicated issue than I thought, but I have to leave  it for now. Time's up. 

 I have made the mistake of transferring feelings that I have about the overall futility of life under capitalism (although I know for instance that you have said you find your own job satisfying) to our rulers as well, without sufficient thought.  And in fact I am not all that miserable myself, and did at one time have a job that offered moments of self-realisation and great pleasure.  But I am reluctant to say anything that might appear to pay credit to the bourgeoisie, whose happiness is after all built on shifting sands. And I suspect  the happiness available under present circumstances is of a limited and limiting kind. Though probably couldn't prove it. 

 But clearly  I have bent the stick too far on this occasion - though it has provided an opportunity to use Lenin's curious metaphor at last - and I'm glad you pointed it out.  But all the money in the world "can't buy me love" as the Beatles pointed out,  in the process of making lots of lovely loot. 

Does capitalism though make it impossible "to be yourself" as lem asked at the start of this thread? 

Demogorgon
Hilarious

"although I know for instance that you have said you find your own job satisfying"

Hahahaha! Where did I ever say that?! I can certainly think of worse jobs but satisfying? I must have been having a very, very good day!

Demogorgon
Social or Non-Social Beings?

"Does capitalism though make it impossible "to be yourself" as lem asked at the start of this thread?"

I'm not sure the question can be answered without considering the assumptions behind it. Are we asking capitalism creates personalities that cannot gain fulfilment within the social conditions that give them existence? Or are we suggesting there is some fundamental human nature (collective, individual, or both) that capitalism represses?

There are aspects of both in Marx: something like human nature (the idea of species-being, humans as a productive animal in all social formations, etc.); as well as the concept of a socially determined aspect (social conditions determine our consciousness).

Which one is more important?

lem_
Well, the forner is more

Well, the forner is more basic.The latter (human essence) seems important, but also difficult to think about.

I think that any "fulfillment" for us, without communism, would be quite a distortion of how it ideally should be. Ideally both in the sense of best and theoretically.

Fred
Don't get too hung up over

Don't get too hung up over "satisfying" Demogorgon. On my measurement scale "satisfying" is not high and really just normal run-of-the mill kind of thing.