Adbusters

Psycho

Anti-capitaLIST: Part 1.
ADRIAN SAKER

How can we resist the nightmare of global capitalism and the lifestyle it demands? How can we jam the dominant logic of consumerism, imperial war, an abused Third World, and an ember planet? While no doubt daunting, we offer a guide in three parts. Each third targets a different site where capital rears its Achilles heel, where creative forms of resistance take shape and reveal new ways to live.

Under the headings, PSYCHO, ECO and CORPO this list proceeds apace in the twilight of postindustrial capital. We don’t have time as a luxury anymore; in fact, we’re living the end times. So as you use, combine, or complement the following guidelines to counter the system, act now, act fast.

Part I: PSYCHO

Cleanse your mind of the detritus left by consumerist thinking

Mental illness not just a malfunction of the individual

What is the administering of mental health care but a societal conceit to regulate its problematic members? Sure, it does some good; no one questions that counselors can ease the pain of grief, loss, anxiety and the like. But as therapy masquerades as one thing it can too easily work in the service of conformity. Look no further than the gauge used to determine when mental illness is a problem: when it cuts into work time.

Meanwhile, we’re made to feel like symptoms are the product of our own deficiency. They’re individualized, affecting autonomously every human cog in the consumerist ecosystem. But radical psychiatrist RD Laing felt differently, stating “mental disorder is a reaction to the impossible demands that societies place upon certain individuals.” So if millions visit psychologists to tamp down their traumas, why can’t it be our mass culture that’s sick?

Question logical foundations, like “democracy”

Don’t merely accept that we live in a “democracy.” In the West, our democracy is a mirage maintained by Super PACs. This bourgeois democracy is infirm: it’s on the outs.

We need a new grassroots participatory system. In the meantime question the construction of the current political system, and ask others what they believe democracy should mean.

Recognize the plight with others of like mind

Lists are catchy. Whenever you read one you’re probably like, “yeah, I can do that” before forgetting the directions when leaving for work.

Fair enough – so figure out for yourself if you want change. Figure out what makes you unhappy, and if being trapped under capitalist relations and the state that supports them is airing out your bike tires, resolve to change it.

You may feel as though you exist in a vacuum. Be strong and know there are others who feel similarly. Find a way to connect with them.

Dugan Nichols and Wendee Lang

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Comments on the article “Psycho”

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gregorypscott

We cannot meet the demands of society, but we must meet demands of necessity on the individual which are: shelter, water, fire (fuel/energy) and food. Shelter is transitional from current status quo to something new, and we can have backups, preferably in warmer weather and climes. It will take planning for alternative shelter in winter and/or inclement climes. Current status quo shelter will morph to "slums, ruins and salvage" (Kuntsler). Water we can deal with by fire and/or other technology such as micron filters for purification. Fire (fuel/energy), well I suppose we can be like Greece and strip trees or burn furniture or burn pieces of status quo shelter. Food is the crux of "Psycho". The "machine" does everything to make us the most vulnerable here and does not want us to be able to produce our own food. How to take down the "machine" is to produce your own food or at least some of it. There is no other option, because at some point the food production of the "machine" will fail.

Taylor

This article is nonsensical. It lumps in two utterly different problems: the problems that present themselves within the current world such as environmental destruction and poverty, and individual mental disorder. Now you can argue that the modern capitalistic system is oppressive and non-individualistic, but this is the result of any large society with an advanced economy, not of capitalism.

Human beings were designed to live in a very small and personal environment, small communities of no more than a few hundred people. Most interactions within such a society would have been highly personal and straightforward We do not live in that sort of society today and it is impossible to have such a society without drastically decreasing living standards and dispersing how people live, I.E the death of both industrialism and cities.

The capitalist society we see today is not impersonal because it is evil, but rather because when there are millions of people involved a single individual doesn't matter very much. The entire system cannot be made about each individual, because there are too many individuals for that to happen. Furthermore the various values present within every society prevent individuals from achieving happiness because it holds them up to the values of others, rather than their own values and what would actually make them happy. The solution to this is not democracy, democracy has nothing to do with it and it would exacerbate the problem. The answer lies not in furthering the modern collectivist tendencies of the human race by lumping the values of every individual in with a group, the solution is individualism, for every individual to take care of themselves as much as they can and create a truly accepting culture, where one is only answerable to oneself and one's own values, not the values of a faceless collective.

batmanual

I hear what you are saying, i think. what you say about the size of our communities gels with my experience, however I have trouble seeing that 'the solution is individualism'. I say this because based on the work of many neurologists, it is coming to light that humans are a lot more porous [my word] than our experience might indicate. to name but one mechanism, the discovery of mirror neurones has opened our understanding of how humans so readily acquire new skills and extend this ability to not only internalise how some actions are done, but why. this empathy for the other unites us in a way that is beyond the consciousness. look up the work of R.V.Ramachandran. study of our brain is showing how much mental capacity we put towards the pursuit of social life. Another example is the large chunk of mental processing is taken up by facial recognition. There is more differences between oranges than there is between human faces [can't find source for that, sorry]; such is the importance of being able to recognise other people that we devote a large part of our capacity to be able to do so. We live collectively, we live interdependently.

As for 'values of a faceless collective', it is my conclusion that we give up a slice of who we want to be in exchange for the safety of the collective. we are aware that we exist; we are aware that we will exist tomorrow; we are aware that we exist in the understanding of others; we are aware that time marches on; and we are aware that our actions have consequences. I think that the product of these forces, processed as they are by our conscious and subconscious selves, is an imperative to have a view of how we will be in the future and how we must act, and how others must act, for the future selves we wish be, to come to be. these identity goals are aligned with our values, whist the values themselves are simply process saving mechanisms to lessen the burden of all this processing. all this happens in an environment of very little separation of ourselves from those around us.

it seems to me that if you want to shape the future in a way which requires others to play along, then the first step is to discuss how we came to the point we are at right now. the most important part of that discussion is why we make the decisons we do... to discuss the human condition. i think that what the debate lacks is a framework around which to conduct that discussion.

Adam G.

I think you both overlooking a sin of capitalism that often goes unnotice: the indifference that necessarily occurs within the individual. Zgymunt Bauman claims [in his book- Does Ethics Have a Chance in a World of Consumers?] that the pecular conditions of a post-modernity leads to the "liquification" of ethics that inturn dissolves everything with innate value--one of which is solidarity. I have to agree, I think that the extent that consumer culture has taking over has left us blind to the horrors of the future--but not only that, also INDIFFERENT towards changing the course of the future.

And Taylor, "standard of living" again i think you underestimate how this consumer culture shapes both needs and desires--however i agree that it is impractical to believe people will willfully give up these suppossed luxurys. But i would argue that it is this idea of "standard of living" that necessarly involves luxuory that is actually what is standing in the way of geniune INDIVIDUAL freedom and happiness.

And Batmanual, the social contract we are left with no longer implys a collective-- instead a form of pseudo individualism thats only freedom is to choose between commodities. A geniune social contract would make us citizens-- the world doesnt want more citizens it NEEDS more consumers. I think evidence of this can be seen in the actions of governors like Rick Perry and others who wanted to propose legislation that would make it cost more to get a degree in the humanities rather than buisness/ science tech, etc. I think this is strong evidence because Perry and other conservatives in doing this have underminded their fundamental principle of allowing the "free-market" to choose winners and losers. One could just dismiss this as politics as usual, but i think the difference is that there are no geniune citizens to call politicians (or whomever) out---their too distracted/indifferent.

I think the only hope we have is an another economic decline. I think the last recession helped the OWS movement gain steem--diff groups of ppl were motivated and obligated to others (WOW solidarity!) thousands NOT indifferent. I think the recovery-(however small) was enough to get the disgruntled consumer--new to protesting, back to consuming i.e back to being indifferent.

Deanna Clark

Capitalism is not unethical...people and corporations are unethical.
The big winners now are the most unethical...that's self evident. However this is due to society worshiping success and cheapness.
To sew, to garden, to care for one's family. to even cook are now, according to Hillary Clinton, acts of sedition against the corporate state. (no joke).
This isn't capitalism.
My grandchildren are capitalists when they clean my closets for pin money. Their capital is youth and energy.
At the current point in our time, capitalism and communism and fascism are the same. We need new terms. Any ideas? What do we call Walmart? It's all three and none.

Adam G.

Some form of Corporatism (maybe fascist corporatism)? I agree, but would argue that beyond a certain point capitilism necessarily leads to a form of corporatism that is indeed unethical. I like your point though and agree more terms are needed.

Eldrich_Blake

Capitalism does not exist in a vacuum. Capitalism did not appear out of thin air. Capitalism IS unethical because it was created by unethical people, in order to serve the cravings of unethical people. You should question all the myths & fairy tales you were brought up to believe in. You are not living in the world you think you're living in.

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