On Reconciliation and Capitalism
“We are born into a way of life that none of us have chosen, raised on it, weaned on it until it feels almost natural, until our own naturalness is something to be ashamed of.”
From Emma Kathryn
Sometimes my bluntness gets me into trouble. Sometimes it alienates me from others.
Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that sometimes, I think the simple answer is the best, that waffling on obscure points that don’t really mean anything or achieve anything other than generate more idle chatter. It is nothing but noise, offers nothing. You can use archaic language or a complicated play on words to make it seem more poetic if you like, but it’s still just noise.
Capitalism within witchcraft and the wider pagan sphere is rampant, indeed capitalism dominates, or tries to dominate almost every avenue of human existence. I’ve written an article or two on the subject and I won’t rehash them here.
However, whenever I write or debate capitalism within witchcraft and Paganism, there always seem to be those that would level the accusation of hypocrisy at me. Afterall, don’t I have a full-time job? Don’t I live within this very system? Don’t I spend money?
Let me be clear: I abhor capitalism and the greed and oppression it represents.
But what exactly does that mean, and how can I reconcile my hatred for the system with my existence within it?
To me, the answer is very simple and clear-cut. I do not need to reconcile the two, nor do I want to, because to me that in itself smacks of hypocrisy. To reconcile the two would mean that I just get on with it, accept it, let it be.
Perhaps the real question is, how do you not reconcile the two? Isn’t it this friction that spurs us into action, that motivates us and inspires us to be better and do better? I would say it is. Those first stirrings of unrest may not be welcome, but they just cannot be ignored until eventually, you have to examine them, identify them. You have to tell yourself some harsh home truths.
And besides, why should we have to be the ones doing the reconciling?
We are born into a way of life that none of us have chosen, raised on it, weaned on it until it feels almost natural, until our own naturalness is something to be ashamed of. Money and thus Power are the Gods of today, worshipped on the altar that is Capitalism and everything else is relative. Everything else can be bought.
The system is such that life outside of it, at least while it exists, is almost impossible. It’s almost laughable that in order to live like you have no money you must have money, and lots of it too. What do I mean by this? Well, for starters, to have the land to do so requires money to buy said land, and even then, permission for its intended use must be sought from the relevant councils or government office.
To work the land requires both money to purchase the necessary equipment, and the time that doing so requires. To live off grid requires money for alternative energy sources such as solar or wind power. To eat well requires higher welfare standards for animals and more readily available organic food. If you want to escape the system as it is today, you need money to do it. It’s a funny old world, ain’t it?
For the poor, and I include the working poor here, this lifestyle is nothing but a dream, never to be realised.
We are not free to just walk away from the system if we so choose, don’t believe the bullcrap. Instead we must tear ourselves away from it, working our way out of it from the inside, like a cancer destroying its host. We must endeavour to smash the system, leaving in its place a world where people are not divided by race or class or any other man-made castes, where the many are not oppressed by the few, where nature is given the respect she deserves.
When I talk about anti-capitalism in regards to witchcraft and Paganism I’m not talking about crafts people, artists, or anyone who performs a service. I get asked if I think they should do so for free, because, you know, its money they’re earning? Or what’s the alternative, a barter system, or a regression to the middle ages?
No, no and no.
If anything, it’s these folk, the crafts people, the artists, those who make quality items, who work hard at what they do, who deserve our custom, not some chain store owned by a larger amalgamation of companies that often exploit their workers, their customers and nature. These artists and crafts people are the antithesis of capitalism. For example, my step father is a wood worker. He works for himself, in his own workshop, on his own land with reclaimed wood. This way of creating is in stark contrast to mass-produced cheap wooden furniture, where massive parts of forests are destroyed.
I have no qualms with a fair day’s graft for a fair day’s pay.
The problem is that quite often, it isn’t a fair day’s work for a fair wage. Maximum profit is the be all and end all in the capitalist system. The chain store prices out the independent worker. The full-time labourer whose wife also works full-time in a menial job can’t afford life’s basic necessities, and are forced to shop in these cheaper, chain store places. They can’t afford organic food, or to buy something beautifully crafted. They are forced to buy cheaper, they are forced to rely on these companies that abuse the Earth, humans and animals, else they cannot possibly survive.
I know, I’ve been there before. To have no control over your life, to feel so bad everytime you are forced to make decisions that go against your nature is soul destroying.
Sometimes I think the people who ask “how can I reconcile my hatred for capitalism and my life within it” have never had to make the choice between eating and heating when it’s the middle of winter (a real choice made by millions, daily, and no, not because they’re dossers bumming off taxpayers).
When I talk about anti capitalism in not only witchcraft, but life in general, I’m not on about going back to the stone age. The issue get’s dumbed down so that people equate it with regression, with the result that we spend countless hours debating online with those who just can’t or don’t want to accept the problems inherent within the capitalist system, who see any alternative as a step backwards in human development.
I believe that there is an alternative to the capitalist system, one where profit isn’t the be all and end, where people are not treated as commodities, where nature is not raped for profit, where the laws are for the protection of the people and not big business. I think the technology is here to maintain our current levels of comfortable existence without the depletion and destruction of the Earth.
Somewhere along the line, things have been muddled, so that the economy instead of being something that served us is now something we serve. Humans must put the economy before all else, including other life, human and animal, and all to protect capitalism.
There is no other society for us who hate the system. I cannot take myself away from the capitalist state because it controls everything. Where would I go? I don’t even own my own home. There is no alternative while capitalism exists, because it doesn’t allow for it. If we are not slaves to the system, then we have no use.
Capitalism will come to an end one day. With the day already gone when we have consumed more resources within a year than nature can produce, it’s inevitable really. When the land is barren, and the waters poisoned with pollution and empty of life, what will your money buy you then?
I think we all know the answer to that one.
My name is Emma Kathryn, an eclectic witch, my path is a mixture of traditional European witchcraft, voodoo and obeah, a mixture representing my heritage. I live in the middle of England in a little town in Nottinghamshire, with my partner, two teenage sons and two crazy dogs, Boo and Dexter. When not working in a bookshop full time, I like to spend time with my family outdoors, with the dogs. And weaving magick, of course!