I am tired of wage slavery.
I am unable to leave the capitalist system, which I didn’t choose to live in, without severe detriment to my quality of life.
Those who criticise capitalism are often accused of hypocrisy as they are benefitting from the system by owning material goods or earning money, as if a) capitalism is responsible for the existence of physical objects which could not have been produced under other economic conditions, and b) there is a viable alternative for those who wish to keep a roof over their head and operate within the law. When people do flout the law to try to extricate themselves from the system, such as squatters, they face even more animosity. How dare they try to live outside a system they disagree with?
Capitalism is inherently discriminatory; only those of economic value are worthy. It is only the socialist caveats within our framework that insist we look after those considered a financial drain. I’m often told capitalism works, but who for? Not for the most vulnerable, often suffering with mental health problems, abuse and addiction, seen shuffling alone at night through city streets, moved on from the most affluent areas of London lest they distract us from our iPads.
When I try to expound the virtues of living a kind, ethical life, I am haunted by the knowledge that one of my jobs involves selling overpriced sportswear made in factories halfway across the world in working conditions I wouldn’t tolerate. How can I reconcile this with my desire to end exploitation of the vulnerable?
The answer is, I can’t. I don’t have very much compared to most people in the UK. I earn less than £10,000 a year, I don’t own very many things, I don’t really even have a fixed address at the moment. But I have somewhere warm to sleep at night, and I don’t go hungry, and I don’t have to work too hard for this, and I can’t keep earning my modest wage off the backs of predominantly women and children working in sweatshops throughout Asia to produce shit people don’t need.
I am supporting a system I believe to be profoundly immoral, every time I earn wages from a faceless corporation, every time I pay taxes that pay for the armed forces, every time I buy things from another faceless corporation. It is incredibly difficult to extricate myself entirely from this system, it’s supposed to be, that’s why it’s successful. I am loathe to make life difficult for myself by quitting my job and fighting the system more directly, facing the social and legal penalties of not participating in capitalism.
I have decided though, at the very least, I can no longer sell crappy sports shoes to obtuse bankers and sleep at night. So I am quitting in a few weeks, after selfishly ensuring I have one more decent pay check to make the transition easier.
My second job is as a carer for children and young people with autism; this has its own problems, for one I am required to deal with animal products at snack times and during cooking tasks, but it is certainly a less harmful occupation than peddling Nike shit. I am looking for a more regular and permanent role in care work. My vegan diet and bicycle help push me further towards the fringes of resource-guzzling conformity. I also plan to reduce further the amount of new things I buy, and to be more conscientious about the fruit and vegetables I purchase, and most importantly, I want to be more critical of the system.
It’s difficult not to feel like a charlatan criticising corporations using social networking titans, but I have to operate within the system I am trapped in, and at least try to creep to the edge of it whilst spreading my message.
Whatever happens in the future, I hope history will consider me a dissenter.