Introducing the golden dog of capitalist pain
While depression is often likened to a black dog, barking through the routine agony of daily life, I’m also tortured by the golden dog, otherwise seen as the aggressive consequence of capitalism’s brazen monetisation of anxiety.
The golden dog is there when I wake up each morning, loud and demanding. It reminds me of the debt ecology that governs working class life. The student loans. The mortgage. The car payments. For the next thirty years, for the entire foreseeable future, we must haul ourselves out of bed and go to work. There is no other choice, because capitalism has created multifaceted anxiety within our soul that can only be satisfied through consumerism, fuelled by the sparse return from our labour. We are imprisoned.
Such is the nature of capitalism, it must grow in order to survive. More products. More workers. More money. At this point, such is the competition for cash, we are running out of physical room, so the innumerable corporations are building skyward, forcing their workers into cramped and uncomfortable conditions further away from their homes.
This morning, it was raining as I prepared for work, and I got drenched while walking to the office. I checked the cost of an Uber before leaving, but they tripled the price, literally capitalising on water falling from the sky. Sure, I had a small umbrella and a waterproof coat, but my jeans were soaked through and my shoes let in water. Vans splashed me and wonky pavement slabs ruined my day, each puddle containing the futility of life.
I eventually arrived at the office, just on time, after hurrying the entire way. After drying off in the toilet, using paper towels to mop up pools of water, I stumbled through the office to hang my coat. Managers seemed unaffected by the rain. After all, they drove to work. Directors were totally unscathed, resplendent in spotless blue shirts and pristine cream trousers. In modernity, the drier you are at 09:05 am in a rainstorm, the more money you have. Capitalism works for those who do not have to dance in front of the toilet hand-dryer for five minutes after arriving at work.
We talk a lot about the most flagrant manifestations of inequality, but the more subtle forms of financial-based exploitation are typically accepted as part of western life. Yes, the suited businessman walking past the homeless beggar with naval-gazing insouciance is obviously unfair, but what about the micromanaging boss who cajoles with ruthless objectivity unnatural levels of productivity from his charges? What about the worn-out cubicle faces, doomed to four decades of typing aimlessly into a spreadsheet for 40 hours per week just to put food on the table? What about poverty cloaked in false happiness?
In order to survive, capitalism relies on the creation of anxiety, using advertising and marketing to convince people that consumerism and the consumption of things is the only cure for their unhappiness. This congeals into a fear of missing out, magnified by social media, that drives people to buy things they do not want with money they do not have to keep up with people they do not like.
We constant chase ideals of contentment, comfort and opulence that are authored, monitored and adjusted by capitalist entities for their own vindictive gain. They call it the rat race for a reason, and we are the focus of their wanton experimentation, lanyards around the neck our only claim to security.
Therefore, we go to work, motivated not by the potential attainment of personal progress but by a pervasive fear of falling behind. Capitalism dresses itself as the ultimate portal to emancipation, promising to insulate the masses from alienation, but it is in fact one of the most prolific agents of alienation ever conceived. It consciously generates alienation, using it as a tool of business, and then it accentuates alienation, transforming it into a mechanism for profit.
How did we let this happen? Were we really placed on this earth merely to become pawns in a game of millionaire chess? Why do we continually participate in this poisonous charade against our will?
Unfortunately, I made some vital mistakes back in the days of naivety, before I realised what was actually happening in the world. I tied myself down with responsibilities, mistakenly believing that utopia can be reached by owning assets, when in actuality they are liabilities in the capitalist diaspora.
I moved into a rented apartment with my girlfriend. We had the audacity to seek water, electricity, warmth, food and the internet, basic accoutrements of modern survival that are trapped behind a paywall. Then we got a car, signing a four-year finance agreement, future debt dressed as present convenience.
Alas, I am caught between capitalism and communism, a radical socialist devoid of transformative power. In a cruel and skewed world, I am left to count my pennies and wipe my rain-splattered glasses on my jumper. There is little choice but to stroke the golden dog and hope that it never eats me alive.