Random Thoughts #6 – Anti-Capitalism, Afghanistan, and Problem Creep

Hey everyone!

Been a while since I’ve done a Random Thoughts article.

My last one offended a few fragile flowers over on Facebook because I mentioned that Pablo Iglesias was retiring from politics after coming in 5th place in a regional election.

Since then, though, I’ve been overjoyed at not hearing anything at all about lil Pablo.

(Well, actually, the next day he cut his pony tail, which was news for about 20 minutes. So after that, nothing more. It’s such a relief. Adiós, Pablito.)

In any case, I’ve got thoughts. Random ones. Wanna read them?

Go right ahead…

Anti-capitalism for business owners?

I saw someone on Instagram the other day saying she was sick of online business owners being anti-capitalist, but not sufficiently anti-colonialist.

Say what?

The argument only got more confusing from there, but suffice it to say, she could have cleared that first statement up with a brief visit to her local dictionary.

capitalism (noun): an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.

— The Dictionary

How anyone can own a business and still, at the very same time, consider that they are taking down capitalism is beyond me, because – get this – if you own a business, you’re a capitalist!

That’s the very definition of capitalism.

Anyway, maybe she meant “anti-corporatist” and doesn’t know it. Maybe she wants a friendlier capitalism, or a larger welfare state, or she’s hoping the government will pay off her student loans.

Or, just maybe, “anti-capitalism” is nothing more than a fashionable slogan that means very little to most people… like the t-shirt with Lenin on it I had when I was a teenage rebel, despite knowing nothing about the man himself: the Lenin who had 100,000 people killed, for example.

Back in those days, you’d see a slogan on bumper stickers, referring to whatever war we were in at the time: Bombing for peace is like fucking for virginity.

Well, starting a for-profit business to smash capitalism is like eating steak and eggs for veganism.

And the dictionary is your friend.

Moving on…

The Afghanistan withdrawal

Man, what a clusterfuck.

I’m not a foreign policy expert, but it looks like somebody messed up big, at some point.

Anyway, if history is any guide, you don’t just roll into Afghanistan and hope to make changes.

And after all, bombing for peace is like fucking for virginity.

Did they think it was going to go well? What did they think? And who’s “they”, anyway? From the perspective of ye olde Military-Industrial complex, maybe it did go well. The government spent $2 trillion. I’m sure the arms manufacturers aren’t complaining.

But no discussion of the withdrawal from Afghanistan would be complete without mentioning the less-than-stellar speech Joe Biden made to the public this Monday.

Photo by Gage Skidmore on Wikimedia Commons.

I was underwhelmed, but not surprised.

See, in the run-up to the 2020 election, I got not one, but two phone calls from Democratic Party operatives who wanted to make sure they had my vote.

I asked them both about the platform, or the policies, and it was like talking to a brick wall. They had no idea. Apparently there was no platform. No policy worth mentioning. All they kept repeating was “get rid of Trump”.

It seemed like the whole idea of the 2020 campaign, in fact, was “literally anybody is better than Trump”.

That strategy seemed unlikely to work, at least to me… but work it did.

Biden won. And here we are.

We’ve got literally anybody as President, and no apparent policy worth mentioning. I guess we’ll see if it works out.

Like I said, I’m not a foreign policy expert, so I’ll spare you my opinions about all the woulda, shoulda, couldas on the Afghan situation. It doesn’t matter now.

And anyway, I’m just some guy from a red state who doesn’t know much.

Finally…

Problem Creep

I’ve talked before about lifestyle creep – when people earn more money, we tend to buy more expensive stuff and generally expand our lifestyles, so that it’s possible to be financially much better off, but not really feel any more secure.

This is how you end up with these articles about couples earning $325,000 a year who claim to be living paycheck-to-paycheck.

It’s basically the hedonic treadmill. Your brain adjusts to having more, and so you get less pleasure out of what you do have, and soon you feel like you need more, and more, and more.

Well, I’d like to propose a counter to the hedonic treadmill – let’s call it problem creep, or (if you prefer) the anhedonic treadmill.

What I’m thinking is this: we humans have a certain percentage of our brains that’s designed to get pissed off and freak out about the immediate problems in our environment. And even if we don’t have any immediate problems, we can’t just shut that part of our brains down.

So it goes and makes something up to treat as a problem.

In one way, this is probably positive. It makes us into strivers, and likely drives a lot of human progress. If we’d been happy just being out of the rain, we’d still be living in caves. If we’d decided that whale oil lamps were good enough to read by at night, we’d never have gotten electric lights.

On the other hand, this is how you get “first world problems” too. Your lizard brain looks around, sees a well-organized sterile environment in which you’re in very little danger of dying of disease or violence or starvation, and it just makes something up to freak out about.

“The new Star Wars: Episode LVIII is terrible! This is an outrage! It’s easily the worst film since Star Wars: Episode XXIX – Attack of the Intergalactic Diarrhea back in 2018!”

“The barista put two and three-quarters shakes of cinnamon on my chai latte, when I specifically asked for three and one-eighth! How am I supposed to go to goat yoga class when I’m so low on essential cinnamonoid nutrients?”

“Someone called me ‘Tom’ when obviously my name is ‘Thom’ with a silent H and they should have guessed that and it’s literal violence that they didn’t pronounce the silent H and I’m so angry I’m literally losing control of my bladder.”

Etc etc etc.

So, next time someone’s freaking out over something completely irrelevant or out of their control, maybe you could try to talk them down, gently. Or maybe just consider that it’s probably their brain playing tricks on them.

I don’t know. I don’t have a great solution to problem creep – AKA the anhedonic treadmill.

Just seems like that’s they way it is.

In conclusion, if we’re still saying that…

That’s all I’ve got for today.

I’m always thinking about things, though. And I’ve got some ideas for future articles that I’m contemplating and / or working on.

So stay tuned. Sign up for my email blasts, if you haven’t already.

I plan on being pretty honest from here on out… I’m tired of being silent while total morons are so loudly opinionated.

As Charles Bukowski said, paraphrasing Bertrand Russell…

“The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence.”

And as Jordan Peterson says, “When you have something to say, silence is a lie.”

Keep it real, y’all.

And I’ll do the same.

Truthfully yours,

Daniel.

P.S. Referring to the first point here, I’m as anti-corporatist as the next guy. But that communism is a terrible idea is a hill I will gladly die on. Read The Gulag Archipelago or watch this video and get back to me. Have fun!

Daniel
 

How did I end up in Madrid? Why am I still here 12 years later? Excellent questions. With no good answer... Anyway, at some point I became a blogger, bestselling author and contributor to Lonely Planet. So there's that. Drop me a line, I'm happy to hear from you.

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