Why do so many of us often feel like shit when we leave work? Where does that ambient feeling of alienation come from? That nagging sense that we’ve somehow been taken advantage of? That subtle anger — or sometimes even outright hatred — many of us feel towards our supervisors, our managers, our bosses? And why — despite devoting the majority of our waking hours to “making a living” — does it still feel like we’re always one emergency away from financial ruin?
A lot of people these days are starting to seriously question the political-economic system we live under and have become more and more aware of the faults and the horrors of this system that we’re all imprisoned in: capitalism.
Although it’s relatively easy to critique capitalism through our lived experiences of it, it’s not always as easy to frame those critiques and those nagging feelings into economic language or a political framing. Canonical texts like Marx’s Capital can be fairly opaque and inaccessible, and oftentimes, even among those who study it, capitalism can be difficult to pin down. What is it, exactly? What is it not? And what precisely is that thing that we often think of as its opposition: socialism?
In this Conversation, Upstream has brought on someone who can explain all of that. Hadas Thier is the author of “A People’s Guide to Capitalism: An Introduction to Marxist Economics,” published by Haymarket Books. In this Conversation, Hadas Thier will help us break down capitalism into its most fundamental components — and not in an overly technical way, but in a manner that situates it within historical and modern day events and processes — and which hopefully provides you with a pretty comprehensive and compelling explanation as to why we’re all feeling so exploited, alienated, and imprisoned in this oppressive and life-denying set of operating principles and beliefs we know as capitalism.