Part of my anti-capitalist journey involves questioning everything I believe and everything I do.
I routinely ask myself, “is there a genuine wanting behind that thing, going to that place, or forming that relationship? …Or, has our capitalist culture ascribed a value to that person, place, or thing that makes me feel a need to associate myself with it?“
As of late, that line of questioning has involved my use of manifestation, (or, my connection to my intuition), a means to create the life I want. Mind you, I have manifested everything I’ve truly wanted in this life, and at a baseline, I feel that that ability is a privilege in itself…
But, does that make manifestation a capitalist act?
First, we need to understand capitalism, which the International Monetary Fund defines as, “an economic system in which private actors own and control property in accord with their interests, and demand and supply freely set prices in markets in a way that can serve the best interests of society.”
“As Adam Smith, the 18th century philosopher and father of modern economics, said: it is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.” Both parties to a voluntary exchange transaction have their own interest in the outcome, but neither can obtain what he or she wants without addressing what the other wants. It is this rational self-interest that can lead to economic prosperity.” Which, sounds good and well until we consider that the IMF’s definition recognizes that capitalism, by definition, ascribes higher value to profit than it does social good.
Their definition also completely fails to explore the ills of capitalism, including, but not limited to: economic instability, due to “financial markets’ tendency to cause booms and busts; wealth disparity, thanks to “inherited wealth, interest from assets, and [the fact that] wealth grows faster than economic output,” which was explored by Thomas Piketty, an economist, and author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century; environmental damage, due to “overproduction and overconsumption, causing pollution, global warming, acid rain, loss of rare species, and other external costs that damage future generations”; immobilities of the free market, including limitations due to geographical location, a lack of education, and/or access to training in order to perform certain jobs; monopolies, or, “market dominance in an industry, allowing companies to charge higher prices to consumers,” which can lead to consumers being priced out by no fault of their own, other than not being able to afford the only product on the market; monopsony, or “market power in employing factors of production, enabling firms to be more profitable while most workers don’t share from the same level of proceeds as the owners of capital”; and, most importantly, greed, as “the capitalist system can create incentives for managers to pursue profit over decisions which would maximize social welfare.”
From these definitions and considerations, manifestation is 1000% a capitalist act.
But, when we consider if everyone who has the privilege to manifest actually uses that privilege, things start to get really muddy. In conversation with one of my dearest friends about the state of my love life, they said to me: “you’ve been so lucky to find your passion in life and to live your dreams that if you found the love of your life now too, it would just be be too much. It might be greedy to want all of that at once.”
I didn’t pushback immediately because it always takes three to five business days for me to fully process these kinds of conversations, but after some reflection, I let them know that I disagreed with them on this–with every fiber of my being. I also know her well enough to know that she didn’t say those things because she doesn’t believe in me, or my support my desires (quite the contrary, actually), but, because she feels that she cannot have those things concurrently–and she’s not alone in that.
Even in the presence of financial stability, people can operate from a lack mindset (the antithesis of manifestation). This often looks like: pursuing a career in a field that you’re not truly passionate about, but feel sure you can easily get a job in–which is such an illusion given capitalism’s instability; being in a romantic relationship for any reason other than a deep love and wanting for that person; and, especially, maintaining a connection (business, platonic, familial etc.) for the sake of its ROI, instead of a genuine desire to maintain the connection. At different times in my life, I have ascribed to any of those–sometimes all at once, but as I started to break that mold more and more, I found myself connecting with the people and opportunities that actually make me feel good.
This is what I know to be true: the universe is so abundant, and has shown me that when I truly believe I can have whatever I desire, I attain them–as long as I know why I’d like to. As a person who believes in doing as little harm as possible in making my dreams a reality, I have an obligation to constantly question what’s at the root of those dreams. I often ask myself: “why do I want to make a living through storytelling that centers and uplifts marginalized identities? Or, always be provided for by the universe? Or, [redacted]? Or, live on a farm with the loml and our (currently unborn) children?! Only through questioning why do I arrive at the root of my desires, the things that determine is my manifestations are capitalist or not. And, I often take it one step further by asking, “what effect does this manifestation have on my ecosystem? And, on the state of the world, in general?”
Thankfully, unlike a trip to Tulum (especially during a pandemic), a car that emits a ridiculous amount of energy, or purse made of an exotic animal’s skin–possessions and experiences that further destroy our planet, love is not something we (should) consume, so it is always safe to manifest; however, even in our love connections we can ask ourselves, “does the relationship I desire maintain patriarchy or white supremacy?” Perhaps on date five that person told you they ‘don’t see color,’ or ‘wouldn’t want a daughter, because, to them, that comes with a need to monitor and police their romantic connections’; anything than swiftly bidding them goodbye, or setting them straight, and then bidding them goodbye, upholds both of those systems.
Essentially, like anything else, manifestation comes with a lot of questioning–not in the universe’s ability to deliver because it always does, depending on what you focus on–but, of yourself. Only through questioning can we fully appreciate the immense privilege we have in being able to manifest, understand wherein our desire stems from, and, finally, determine if those desires are rooted in capitalism, a system that relies on privilege. Only then can we truly manifest our version of happily ever after.