Marx and Stuff(.com)

Many people work hard all of their lives, hoping to improve their condition and move up on the social ladder. However, it seems that no matter how much time and effort the majority of the working class keeps putting in, no effect is generated. The middle working class is only growing while the richest people grow richer and fewer in numbers. So why it that our system in America is designed to produce these results?

Recently in Philosophy class we were reading Marx, and surprisingly his ideas do relate to philosophy. Not only is he concerned with economic principles, his major concern is about the overall way in which we live, on which our society is based on. That is, Marx thinks there is something fundamentally wrong with a capitalist system. It doesn’t matter how many reform movements you may have; the ultimate goal of capitalism leads to the monopolization of businesses and dehumanizing laborers.

Stay with me, because this idea that Marx developed is only the starting point of my argument. To see how his theories apply to our lives today, my professor e-mailed us this site, a short video of “How stuff came about” by Annie Leonard. Even though it may seem like 20 minutes is a long time to invest in watching such a video, it is well worth it. After watching it I began to realize that perhaps there is this fundamental flaw with the very design of capitalism. Illustrated by cute visual cartoons, the video nevertheless made a very serious point. It brought out simple points that we experience in everyday life and called for our attention and responsibility as humans to act. 

Not only do we ruin the environment with our self-centered and selfish desires to control nature and manipulate it to our own means, we even harm ourselves in the process. All the fumes we inhale as a result of the factory work and the waste disposal system in effect, which is currently the sophisticated process of burning the already bad chemical byproducts, infuse themselves throughout the atmosphere. It is highest at the level of human babies as a result of the complex food chain we have! If that’s not enough to hype your interest, the video also discussed the cycle of work/couch/shopping we undergo in our system. We go to work for many hours to earn money, then plop down at home in front of the TV to relax after such a hard laborious day, where we are bombarded with advertisements. The commercials are telling us what’s in style, what’s new and hip, which makes us go out and buy all this unnecessary stuff! The quality is purposefully not durable, because capitalists need to stay in business by making sure you constantly will buy similar products! We are locked in this cycle of shopping for items we are made to believe are necessary for our status among other people in our society. Finally, we have zero leisure time to dedicate to ourselves, to our interests and desires.

If we don’t do something to help ourselves and our future generations, then who will? The way we conduct business and treat the environment are strongly intertwined, and if we continue our ways it will cost us a heavy price in the end.

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