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  • Ananya Mishra

LOVE AND CAPITALISM: A CARCERAL CREATED BY THE MARKET

The article discusses the subsumption of Love under Capitalism led by the consumption of romantic utopianism and consumerism of commodities along with the transformation of ecology in choice mechanism


Alain Badiou, in his book, In Praise of Love, has defined it as a means to spectate the world from two distinct perspectives (not one). It constructs the world from a decentralized vision other than the mere impulse of surviving and reaffirming our own identity. Love channelizes the movement that drives away people from their self-interest, pondering over the social life concerning them apart from themselves. 

As per Canterbury Archbishop Rowan Williams, “We are amidst the late capitalist countdown to social dissolution and the triumph of infinite exchangeability timeless, atomized desire.’’ He suggests the only way we can stop this countdown is if we all model our behavior or set of actions according to divine Love. 


Capitalism has influenced how intimacy is obtained from the patriarchal foundations of marriage to the concept of nuclear family, and now the data-driven dating app industry. Additionally, it has defined connections and relationships in transactional ways, valuing some partnerships at the expense of others and frequently encouraging scarcity and apathy. For instance, the necessity for "self-commodification" and the emergence of "competition" has increased tremendously when it comes to seeking love.







MARKET-DRIVEN NOTION OF SELF INTEREST


For almost two thousand years, self-love was considered the most stigmatized sentiment, put against the stark opposition to the love of God and neighbor, and therefore thought as the greatest enemy of a godly and well-ordered economy. Plato, in the state of Athens, asserted, “Self-love once, set loose, knows no bounds.’’ He restricted the trade amongst the Athenians, upholding the contrasting binary between economics and personal relations. A similar discourse posited by Marx states that purely exchange-based social relations carried with the vehicles of private property are an enemy of true humanism. With globalization and unrestricted market flow of goods, selling the goods with the aim of profit maximization has distorted the primacy of relationships.


The idea of self-sacrifice or building familial (bonhomie) ties has come under the shadow of monetary gain. A person’s worth is determined by the capital they are capable of upholding, along with their subsequent hierarchical position. This has encapsulated human beings to focus on optimizing more resources while sidelining the humane relationships that form the basis of social order. Often online videos circulated as labeled as dedicated workaholic employees who work even during their wedding or festive seasons raise a question about the ethical dilemma of maintaining the work-leisure time equilibrium strangled by capitalism. Narcissism, or growing emphasis on the idea of  "self-love" has been purposely planted to create a buffer zone for long working hours, isolated by the social milieu, where labor can be exploited to the maximum.


Today, self-love or self-interest, as we prefer to describe it, is the administrative principle governing all mainstream economics. It is widely held that this is the only emotion capable of optimizing the common good through the coordination of human industry and the most efficient distribution of its fruits. This striking-back principle has presented itself as an antagonist to a millennium-old moral consensus. Now held to be one of the biggest intellectual revolutions ever, with extreme rapidity. 


ALIENATION AND CREATION OF ARTIFICIAL NEEDS


How often have you felt aloof while scrolling through the Instagram reels filled with idealized notions of dates? Or the coming of Valentine's week with top multinational corporations offering you heavy discounts on exorbitant items? Anyone who has spent time being totally alone understands the social pressure to be in a romantic relationship. There exists a market strategy mapped to validate the art of expressing love or romance. Claiming to fill the emotional void inside the human being; Capitalism makes it even easier to formulate human relationships in the present world through technological advancement. Driven by the same motive of profit and consumerism, capitalism creates a competitive environment, presenting numerous options available through the dating app. You start feeling to ‘earn’ somebody for making a connection, otherwise you would fail. The guiding light is reaching the apex by carrying a package of qualities, both judged by conventionally defined attractive beauty standards or getting a high-paid (market-valued) job.


The inherent fear of losing your partner on the premise of getting supplanted by someone who adheres to the market-set standard of an idealized person. Ultimately, capitalism regulates by judging the criteria of measuring the depth and quality of love in the form of material exchange (commodity). Thepopular notion of ‘NO STRINGS ATTACHED’ represents anti-communitarian and deeply atomistic values in the modern-day world. Society fixates on the mindset that losing in love followed by grief is a sign of a coward. Codependency is seen as a threat to human existence, governed by the principle of quick transaction, withdrawal, and realignment of prices, modern day love is symptomatic of the capitalist disorder. The greater propensity to unloving, unmaking of social bonds, and breaking ties.


Capitalism, at one point, has instilled the fear of long-term commitments along with the idea of not putting in selfless efforts. Yet it has also coerced people to enter into arbitrary short-sighted escapes with individuals, simply to combat alienation with no liabilities attached. It is nothing but the creation of welfare psychological needs aimed at distracting the minds of humans from deep-seated everyday capitalist working trauma within the offices or industrial complex. Human relations have been reduced to building blocks acting as supportive structures, similar to tangible material goods for production.



MANUFACTURING ‘APOLITICAL LOVE’


The capitalist conception of love is based on the notion of ‘Spontaneous Consciousness.’ It creates a facade, encouraging individuals to separate their ordinary life concerns from the underlying societal structure and practical attitude formed by the masses. It attempts to delink the individuals from the prevalent injustice happening in the society and collectivized need for social action. The working sphere becomes the sole vehicle of progress. Spontaneous political consciousness within an industry relates a worker to identify simply as an employee, not as a class. Very similar involves the private sphere, they start relating their loved ones solely to them, not to overall society. When two people become ignorant of themselves with no progressive outlook on shaping a better world, they have successfully been trapped by the capitalist dogma of individualism. This love is meant to provide an escape from progressive (democratic, socialist class, trade union) consciousness. As long as I am happy with my partner and nothing comes to me directly, I don’t regret Muslims being lynched, Blacks being killed or predatory wars being launched against minorities. Love starts turning apolitical since people remain unconcerned about the wider societal issues confronting humanity.


The only set of qualities reproduced by capitalism is built upon a ‘market-driven package’ that is not a threat to capitalism and is manufactured by the bourgeoisie (ruling class). Any kind of unification or relation that challenges the establishment of the culturally reinforced ideology of the ruling class creates turbulence. The bourgeois form of love has no difficulty in reuniting the partnership between a bigot or warmongers i.e., anything that happens within the class stratum. The bourgeois system not only alienates the people as workers from the conditions of production and product of their labor. Carried out by the ideology of married love, it rips apart the inner self of being a person, encircled by the inner emotional world involving inevitable suffering and a societal world with no potential for action. 



CONCLUSION


In the words of Salley Roney’s, Normal People, “Any relationship is similar to little plants, growing around one another, sharing the same soil while contorting to room for themselves.” The explicitly talked individualistic idea of ‘self-raised or self-nurtured’ gets deeply crushed under the weight of mutual moulding and companionship. While residing in this exploitative economy, love tries to combat capitalism by debunking the myth of the person who navigates the world solely in pursuit of personal freedom or personal happiness. Any loving relationship provides an alternative model to hyper-individualism, which is often portrayed in the form of pre-requisite criteria for a successful venture in this highly competitive world order.


On the contrary, a meaningful relationship operates like a connecting web of a just society, where the lovers acknowledge their radical interdependence with a generous share of resources, facilitating growing up. Driven by the notion of truth, benevolence, and charity, Love revolutionizes social action. Actions that call for social conscience and responsibility, striving for the common good while taking effective steps for securing a better future. Love is communistic in nature. The actual bond of love is tied up with the expression of solidarity, kindness, and charity. Ultimately, the aim is to become a whole rather than self-posited individual. 




References-

Duaqui, Yellowbelle. (2015). All that is holy profaned? The disenchantment of romantic love under global capitalism. 15. 149-158. 






By- Ananya Mishra

                           


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