Is Capitalism impeding the Conscious Development of Civilization?
Development, in its subjective and personal definition, is the objective of life for most of us. Some of us develop for money, social status, authority, fame while others may consider subtler aspects such as contentment, health, experience etc. Either way, this drive for individual development collectively drives and develops the civilization. Conversely, civilization influences what is labelled as ‘development’ and drives individuals in that direction. Hence forming a loop that keeps reinforcing itself.
Usually, civilization develops continuously and slowly in its pre-existing ‘unconscious’ direction. But every once in a while there comes a disruptive, revolutionary idea that aspires to redirect this development. These ideas have the tremendous potential of changing everything about the future that follows them – how people think, how they act, what they aspire for and what they call ‘development’, how governments make policies and how the collective human will influences the world around it. In every culture, in every era, such ideas can be found - Ideas seeding a change for the good (not always though) that become the foundation pillars of future civilization.
All along our past, ideas have been spread across lands by missionaries, movements, stories, slogans, songs, books and many more means. One may verify that most of the great personalities and developments that we look back to are ultimately rooted in some ideas/ideologies they represented. But, an idea is like a spark. It is short lived and fragile by itself, unless it transforms into a fire by igniting the fuel. Ideas ignite minds. Without ignited minds, an idea is not very different from an imagination. This makes the spreading of ideas very essential for the conscious development of civilization. Even today, civilization grows and changes in a similar manner. But the dynamics have changed greatly.
Without ignited minds, an idea is not very different from an imagination.
Although the ‘online’ world of today offers a tremendous possibility of outreach, it is also driven by vested interests in capitalism and passive mediocrity. Proponents of critical thinking have posited that many educational and social systems are developed for promoting an unquestioning obedience – good, silent, scared and resilient workers of the capitalist machinery. But an aversion towards or inhibition of new ideas can become particularly detrimental for the growth of a civilization.
As an author, my first confrontation with this inhibition (though indirect and unintentional) was the realization that publishing corporations tend to publish and promote works conforming to existing market demands. Most ‘how to write a book that sells’ pages on the internet suggest that authors should stick to what’s already selling in the market, and make some superficial changes to add a new flavour. Any new idea is likely to sell less (earn less profit) than the high selling mass market works, hence becoming a poor investment for the publishing corporations. While this capitalistic approach certainly makes sense for the corporations, there is also a sinister side to it.
This adherence to existing formats of literature can preclude the spread of new ideas – which are the true directors of civilization. Hence, precluding the growth of civilization itself. Add to that the lack of attention span and the need for instant gratification among the younger generations and you have the perfect recipe for a blind civilization. Of course, only one in a million ideas has a great transforming potential. But that ‘one’ may be as likely to be lost as the other ‘million’. While my experience only corresponds to publishing industry, it is only natural that capitalism influences the ‘conscious’ growth and operation of other industries as well. Fortunately there are less effective and more self-dependent ways to spread ideas. As for me, my book Fosters of Fall was ultimately self-published.
For a civilization (and its individuals) aspiring for holistic growth and development, it is imperative that new ideas be brought forth systematically and in their originality – without a dilution meant to adhere to capitalist systems.
The acceptance or rejection of these ideas should then depend upon the merit and benefit that they offer. I would not go so far to say that such platforms do not exist, but we are certainly not where we ought to be.