Capitalism, Stress, and Abuse

Capitalism, Stress, and Abuse

Dec 27, 2021

Capitalism is a structure in which the most unkind and unvirtuous of human behaviors are rewarded.

In a context where having access to shelter, hygiene facilities, food, warmth, clean water, and safety is tied to your proximity to wealth, adopting behaviors that will get you ahead are literal survival mechanisms.

When we talk about chronic stress in the modern world, you’ll often hear people say that our ancestors evolved responses like fight or flight to deal with things like being attacked by an animal.

Often they will say that our bodies don’t realize that something like say, speaking in front of a room full of people is not a threat to one’s bodily safety.

And perhaps in the moment itself it is not, but saying that these moments that cause stress responses aren’t linked to our survival at all is to ignore the complex and subtle mechanisms of a world where access to basic survival necessities is not guaranteed unless you perform to a certain standard.

The way we perform, make impressions upon one another, the way we socially maneuver- these ALL have significant impact on our success in the world, and success in capitalism equals wealth/resources, resources that are necessary for survival.

So when we demonize people for patterns of manipulative and self-serving behaviors as if it is a core character trait, we are ignoring that the system our very lives depend on breed and encourage these traits.

As members of the animal kingdom, anti-social empathy (our ability to understand our impact on another and utilize it in harmful/self-serving ways) is something we have all been born with. It is a drive within us that has ensured our survival in many ways.

The greater social context we find ourselves in however has the potential to either amplify these traits or subdue them.

As long as we are attempting to address such behaviors through demonizing and casting out individuals, we are missing the greater opportunity to create entirely new structures where such behaviors are no longer positively linked to our success and survival.