Contemporary society is commodified society, where the economic transaction has become the dominant way of relating to the culture and artifacts of human civilization, over and above all other means of understanding, with any exceptions being considered merely a temporary holdout as the market swiftly works on ways to monetize those few things which stubbornly remain untouched. Perhaps the most pernicious aspect of this current setup is that it has long ago co-opted the very means of survival within itself, making our existence not an inherent right endowed to us by the simple fact of our humanity but a matter of how much we’re all worth — the mere act of being alive has a price tag. Some pay it easily. Others pay for it with their submission. Others still can’t pay it at all. Regardless, though, like cars, TVs and barrels of oil, our lives are commodities to be bought and sold on the open market amid the culture of ruthlessness and desperation that has arisen to accommodate it. This is the natural consequence of a society built around entities whose purpose it is to always, always minimize costs and maximize profits. It is the philosophy of growth for the sake of growth, the same ideology that drives a cancer cell. An economy in a steady state is not healthy. It needs to expand, constantly, perpetually.
Of course, nothing can expand forever. The second law of thermodynamics tell us this much at least. But that doesn’t mean the market won’t try. It’s not enough that a soft drink becomes the dominant soda, it must become the dominant beverage, period. It’s not enough that people build some things out of a certain material, it must be the only thing anyone ever builds anything out of, ever. It’s not enough to make pills for the ailments from which people already seek relief, pills must be made for problems that people didn’t even know existed until a commercial told them to ask their doctors about it. We all know this course is not sustainable, but there will be great damage done before this point is reached.
The people coming to Wall Street on September 17 come for a variety of reasons, but what unites them all is the opposition to the principle that has come to dominate not only our economic lives but our entire lives: profit over and above all else. Those that do not embrace this principle: prepare to be out-competed. They will lose the race to the bottom and the vulture will swoop down to feast. It is indicative of a deep spiritual sickness that has gripped civilization, a sickness that drives the vast deprivation, oppression and despoliation that has come to cover the world.
The world does not have to be this way. A society of ruthlessness and isolation can be confronted and replaced with a society of cooperation and community. Cynics will tell us this world is not possible. That the forces arrayed against us have won and will always win and, perhaps, should always win. But they are not gods. They are human beings, just like us. They are a product of a society that rewards the behavior that has led us to where we are today. They can be confronted. What’s more, they can be reached. They just need to see us. See beyond the price tags we carry.
And if they are gods? Then we shall be Prometheus. And we shall laugh as we are lashed to the stone to await the eagle.