Something I’ve noticed: throughout this crisis business people have been fretting how hard it will be to reestablish everything “like it was” when this is all over. I wonder if they’re not thinking big enough. It seems to me that a system as fragile as capitalism is bound to tumble when something suddenly becomes more important than money. Humans and mortality. Most people fear death. Religion, historically, has come to fill in that space, but as we grew more and more confident in our ability to prevent large-scale death capitalism, the real opiate of the people, stepped in. Make money! Buy things so that those of us with lots of money will get even more! We’ll live extravagant lifestyles and laugh at those of you who’ll keep spending to keep us where we are! Then people stop spending. Nobody’s laughing now.
Is there not a better way to construct society? Sure, some means of exchange is necessary, but do we have to give such power to an abstract concept such as money? Granted, gods are abstract concepts too, but at least they’re spiritual rather than material. That which is made of mere physical stuff is bound to disappoint eventually. When our sun balloons out into a red giant, everything we know here on earth will be gone. The physical stuff anyway. I know this opens me to accusations of wishful, wistful, escapist thinking—maybe something spiritual will come rescue us—but I assure you it’s not that. What I’m referring to is meaning. There’s value in it, and you can’t buy it.
The coronavirus crisis has us all, on some level, asking about the meaning of it all. God hasn’t intervened, and the numbers are still climbing. Nature dictates that they will eventually stabilize, and decline. Our capitalist society, however, is scrambling to figure how to make sure everyone pays their taxes, their bills, and somehow manages to find toilet paper (which is a great investment at the moment). Are these the bases for meaning in life? Can’t we do better than that? Can’t we find a system that values what is truly unique and rare? Each and every person on this planet. And some of us would go a step further and include our animal people too. Life. Life is value. Money can be thrown away, as we all know. Sometimes quite easily. As long as it lands in the coffers of those with too much, everybody’s happy. Well, not everybody. Maybe not even most. Perhaps it’s a good time to reassess our priorities.