Everyone’s thinking about how to thrive, how to live, or how to pay the rent and keep from going hungry. Those who care about the current anti-oppression human rights discourse also see the connection between the authority of capitalism and oppression of those on the margins of society. Is it possible to receive the resources needed to live and thrive, while simultaneously working to destroy the way we currently acquire those resources on an individual level? Is it possible to overcome our “money blocks” while blocking the growth of capitalism?
One way to engage with capitalism is to participate in it without resistance. With total trust in the system, willing to take advantage of all the benefits it promises and absorb, personally, all the ways that it does not support us.
The second is to resist it. Refuse to take advantage of its promises, find every possible way to circumnavigate its systems. Barter, dumpster diving, cash-only when money is involved, embracing the limitations that this lifestyle brings and trying to consume as little as possible. Reject capitalism part and parcel.
Then there are the middle ways. Some people choose to take cautious advantages when they are offered benefits from it, while remaining critical of the system in general. They recognize on some level that there are elements of capitalism that will carry forward into the building of a new system, and that just because something is a part of capitalism doesn’t mean it is oppressive, necessarily. And just because something is oppressive, doesn’t mean we are individually capable of taking it on today.
The closer we come in proximity to an oppressive structure, the more we have to hone our critical minds and listen to our bodies’ responses to the structure. One of the well-touted dangers of advocacy as a form of activism is that we may begin to adopt the ideologies of those we are advocating to, rather than staying true to those we are advocating for. A similar danger exists when we choose the “middle way” — when we are suckled by capitalism while sharpening the knife meant for its murder behind our backs.
Our bodies do not like to live in tension. It’s uncomfortable and it is draining. However, the lesson of our time that everyone with an ounce of privilege needs to learn is how to honour our discomfort. We need to inhabit this in-between state as we work actively to undo oppressions that have, until now, sustained us and given us comfort — and that we cannot un-see. This applies to white supremacy, patriarchy, cis- and heteronormativity, and capitalism, as well as many other structures.
Many folks who inhabit intersections of oppression are becoming more and more aware of the detrimental effects of this structure on their bodies and their psyches. Capitalism was not built by us, and it was not built for us. In fact, it was built specifically to silence and destroy our power. I see people in my community struggle to thrive, to find joy and comfort while still under capitalism, and I have empathy for this struggle. It’s time to organize our efforts — we have wisdom together, and it’s time to acknowledge and celebrate these linkages so this wisdom can flow between us.
Capitalism is set up to devalue people’s visceral and spiritual intuition. We have an awareness of our thoughts and how awareness of those thoughts can help us direct them in our favour. We recognize that money and action is not the only way that energy flows.
So, when I witness women and non binary folks seeking to overcome their “money blocks” through reprogramming their neural pathways and habits in ways that do not acknowledge the collective reasons why we hold those blockages in the first place, I cannot support it.
Our bodies respond to capitalism and the ways money is leveraged against us through fear, stress, and inertia; all of which valid, appropriate, and truthful responses. This is intuition that we should be honouring and revering, not seeking to numb or circumnavigate for the purposes of continuing to participate in the oppressive system of capitalism. It’s time for us to recognize the truthfulness of our bodies responses to oppression and let these visceral truths lead us toward alternatives.
Our bodies contain blueprints for the structures we dream of. We will not make our way out of capitalism and other oppressive structures by desensitizing ourselves to the effects of oppression. We will not undo oppression by applying the attitudes of colonizers to the lands of our own bodies and intuitions.
I choose to listen with reverence when fear surfaces in my body.
I choose to stop moving forward when my body gives a sign to stop or slow down.
I choose to soothe myself and disconnect when I feel stress.
I choose to learn my body’s language and follow its lead into a new society.