Some Conflicting Ideals of Value


As someone dedicated solely to the craft of writing, I find myself besieged by an eternal question, a riddle entwining itself around the very fibers of my being. How do I deal with this perplexing system of value, which demands my participation, even as I strive to attain a utopian existence free from the shackles of capitalism? How can I reconcile these conflicting ideals? 

Only in my mid-thirties did I finally answer the siren call of my aspirations, suddenly arriving at a distant haven where my dreams could in time flourish. Yet, even unfettered by the iron chains of capital, I still find myself at odds with the twisted web of a society that demands my allegiance to its economic creed.

I have traversed many bustling marketplaces, each of them roaring with the clamor of a thousand voices. Vendors hawk their wares, some more vociferously than others, bartering their tokens of value. The air is thick with the cash-scented aroma of materialistic desire, an intoxicating perfume that has bewitched the masses.

I wander through these mazes crowded with well-intentioned consumers, deal-seeking tire kickers, and profit-minded hustlers more out of curiosity than anything else. As much information as I may glean for amateur sociological and economic research, my heart still feels heavy with the knowledge that my utopian vision lies just beyond the horizon, tantalizingly out of reach.

Within this capitalist framework of commerce, I’m compelled to seek my sustenance, to ply my trade in exchange for little metallic coins and colorful strips of paper which hold such sway over the hearts of humankind. It is such cruel irony that I must participate in this system of fiat currency, this competition for transient material wealth, in order to attain the means to escape its thrall.  As long as I continue to purchase anything sold commercially, I remain a captive of the very system I seek to transcend. 

On quiet Vermont evenings, taking refuge within the inner sanctum of the prose machine between my ears, I contemplate the nature of the capitalist beast. I envision a world where value is not measured in the cold, hard metal of currency, but rather in the warmth of human connection and the richness of our shared experiences. In this brave new world, we would all be free to pursue our passions, to create and to inspire, without the specter of financial ruin looming overhead. 

Yet, I must confront the harsh reality that this utopian haven of freedom and creativity can’t be borne upon the wings of mere dreams alone.If this ideal realm is to be realized, it requires a foundation, a scaffolding upon which we can all build our collective aspirations.

I’ve come to understand that my role within this system of value is not that of a passive bystander, but rather an active participant.Reluctantly, I must engage with the capitalist beast, to wrest from it the means to bring my creative vision to life.I must harness the tools of the market, the ingenuity of commerce, and the power of wealth to forge a path toward a brighter future.

I must do what I can to prevent myself from being a prisoner of my own desires, a character flaw which I’ve struggled with up to this day. Knowing my own shortcomings, I still stride forth, a warrior of words and a dreamer of a greater destiny, navigating the twisted corridors of this system rarely rooted in true intrinsic value.I wield the currency of the realm, not as a weapon of oppression, but as a tool to carve out a space for my pursuits. As I’m no longer a slave to hidden puppet masters of capitalism, I work to forge the key that can unlock the gates to a world beyond the confines of obsessive materialism.

In my work, I must consistently maintain a delicate balance between the tangible and the ethereal, in hopes I may yet find the answer to my eternal questions. Perhaps, one day, I shall gaze upon the verdant fields seeded with the aspirations of my utopian vision. Sadly, I fear such a thing will never be a living, breathing reality that exists outside the cold calculations of the capitalist framework. It all may remain a distant dream for me, but one worth dreaming.

This article was inspired by a passage from a Culture Study interview with Irene of History + Industry.

Amelia Desertsong is a former content marketing specialist turned essayist and creative nonfiction author. She writes articles on many niche hobbies and obscure curiosities, pretty much whatever tickles her fancy.
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