I often hear the argument that humans are inherently greedy.
This is used as a way to express that a different kind of economy would never work. Such grand assumptions of what ‘we are’ and what ‘we are not’ should perhaps be made more carefully.
Instead of viewing the existence of capitalism as proof of the egotistical, competitive nature of human beings – could it be so that capitalism makes us that way?
Still from FUTURE MY LOVE, image courtesy of The Venus Project
Capitalism does not offer any grand moral statements (more than perhaps the protection of an illusive freedom which gives us the right to choose between the same salad dressings in every restaurant all over the world), it’s not a preaching philosophy.
But it has direct moral implications. Serve capitalism right and you are rewarded, serve it wrong and you will be punished. The ‘right’ thing to do in capitalism can mean making war planes or speculating with someone else’s savings – anything that makes money. The ‘wrong’ thing can be buying fair trade produce or taking care of your elderly mother – anything that costs you more or earns you less.
It is possible for rich white men to buy Viagra in abundance, but it’s not possible for people in poorer countries to buy malaria medication. Is this right? Is this fair? It is 'right' in productive, monetary terms, but it is unfair and even destructive in human terms. Capitalism is not a power that preaches or forbids – it shapes our emotions and behaviours to harmonise ourselves with the status quo.
In order to change such a system, we have to understand the system as a part of ourselves.
There is no fight for good or evil at the top – we are all part of this system.
We have to recognise the way economy shapes our own psychology and make the silent ways in which capitalism shapes our morals loud and clear. I think the first step towards change is to break this silence, and this is what FUTURE MY LOVE is all about.
I will explore this ‘silence’ further in these blog posts and interview some artists and filmmakers who actively try to work around the censoring effects this has on their work. I hope you join the conversation in comments or via #futuremylove.
JF (filmmaker in Montreal)