It is my understanding that consumerism is very much the son of capitalism and has a very active sex life with Thatcher’s aim of neoliberalism – promoting the notion of the individual and free-market economy. Now this is our leading narrative, as it seems. Even when my sister visited Zanzibar, amongst some of the poverty sat an actual McDonalds restaurant. So how do we oppose something so embedded in our lives?
Well what is the opposite of individualism? Community. Quite often the sense of deficit we experience in our lives, which we try to fill with vacant items, is actually a craving for community and connection. Art and literature are also a credible source of this. Once in Seville, when my depression was at its worse, I visited an art gallery. I was very moved by an 18th century portrait of a girl I saw there who was a similar age to me at the time. The pain and oppression was so blatant in her painted glazed eyes and being already so moved, I proceeded to cry. I found it so incredible that an artwork painted centuries ago – the artist and muse long dead – was connecting with me. The sense of connection and fulfillment I felt in that moment was more beautiful than any commodity I could ever acquire. This was where I had three succinct epiphanies:
1. Connection grows from pain
2. Connection fills the void
3. Art creates connection.
This is why I think artists, musicians and writers have a duty to generate art for the people- to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. The apparent elitism, snobbery and ego within certain artistic institutions are, I believe, anti-art. Because art should oppose the current narrative, like consumerism, or at least offer an alternative to one – connection.
Is trickle-down-economics actually practical when our people continue to die on the streets?
They’re stigmatised for what they may use to cope with the danger they’re exposed to, nights of no sleep
And the hierarchy we delude ourselves with, rather than accepting our own vulnerability.
Mentally ill systems create mentally ill people and that ain’t deep, it’s reality.
You think that’s steep? We have already rolled past the tipping point of global warming;
The best possible outcome now would be
The earth becoming comparatively warmer before cooling back down – that’s if we act instantly.
Those in power prefer to distract us from this because it contradicts their global-economic stance,
With their friends in big-business, who’re leading the way in carbon emissions.
We’re already experiencing climate change refugees
Air on their arrival more hostile than the man-marked nature they fled from
Because we’ve been convinced that problems lie in the most vulnerable
To distract us from the actual causation.
This is the capitalist system, not inherently evil but easy to misuse
But we can refuse it’s malice through art;
That’s how we choose to come close to living outside it, smart
Because those who drive capitalism thrive on our disconnections from one another
And the deficit they’ve convinced us that we are.)