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02.05.2015

Capitalism: The hope of the hopeless – Part 1: The play

People want to be confident. People want high self-esteem. These things are drugs. Why are they drugs? Because they are emotional states. You go to sleep a confident man and wake up drowning in melatonin that clouds your senses.

I plead for self-compassion, but even self-compassion is an emotion.

There is something that transcends emotions. Something that transcends feelings of inferiority and grandiosity, anger and sadness. Values and self-respect. With self-respect, you will win shit tests even if you lose the girl. That sounds abstract and weird, doesn’t it.

I personally find it the easiest to learn from demonstrations, thus the following is a fictional scene demonstrating myself in a situation where I have nothing to fall back on but self-respect and values. Please note that I wrote this over two years ago when I was at a low point in my life, so there was really nothing besides the mentioned things to fall back on. Everyone can have self-respect. Yet, as you will see, it comes at a price.

What does this have to do with capitalism? Capitalism is a philosophy that demands a man to take his life in his own hands. There are various angles on this that I will discuss at different time. Luckily, this piece will already provide you with a few typical rhetorics of both sides.

The characters

Tom is a former starkly insecure nice guy who used to spend most of the time in his head and failed to have any love relationship. Since he came back from a visit in America, he is somewhat arrogant, assertive and a strong proponent of Capitalism and individualism. He has never really been an insider of the group and now he is starting to alienate people. He’s not happy and craves he could be more empathic and confident, but he swallows the pain and takes things for what they are. He’s got a job now and earns some money.

Ben is a rather unpolitical, well integrated and intelligent person without ambitions. Formerly a good friend of Tom, well-versed with words, confident, aggressively positive. In the past, Tom had felt guilty because he hadn’t been able to reciprocate Ben‘s positiveness. Ben has a helper syndrome and is a good amateur psychologist. Only after Ben‘s failed relationship does Tom begin to see the imperfections of Ben.

Cora is a somewhat cynical young girl. Unhappy, idealistic, but usually confident when she surrounds herself with the weakest and nicest of society. Became a love interest of Tom when she often showed initiative in spending time with him, but literally rejected him for not being confident; despite this, she often let him sleep with her in one bed. She is strongly socio-critical. Full of temperament.

The scene

Unless explicitly noted or implied through interpunction, assume that the characters are confident and somewhat calm in their roles. Don’t assume, as it is usual in a politically motivated role-play, that the good guy wins and Hollywood strings support his moral victory. In typical cinema, the emotionally laden main character will deliver his speech and, for some reason, his opponents will be simply dumbfounded by his profound passion or whatever. These notions greatly add to grandiose narcissistic fantasies: If I say the one right sentence, she will blindly fall in love with me.

This happens in movies because the main character has to win and because the movie has to have an end. It doesn’t happen like that in real life. Stop thinking in movies. This is not a pity-play for the underdog. Simply imagine this to be a conversation at a real party.

Ben and Tom meet at a party. Cora is present, but not directly involved.

Ben: So, Tom, are you still holding on to your newfound notions?
Tom: Yes, I do. Why?
Ben: No, that’s okay.
Tom: Okay. Apparently, I haven’t convinced you.
Ben: I just thought that you might become a bit more human again.
Tom: What do you mean?
Ben: You’ve been a really nice guy once, but now you’re hiding behind this cold facade.
Tom: I terribly suffered once because I wanted everybody to like me at any time. Now I have found a world view that not only explains everything, but gives me the freedom to be who I am.
Ben: And for that you have to close yourself up? What are you afraid of?
Tom: What I am afraid of? I’m terrified of guilt that drowns me. I am more open than I ever was. *
Ben: I know that it is very tempting to find an ideal that makes everything easier. It allows you to stand above others. But no one knows the absolute truth and the way you act now, you will alienate everybody who likes you.
Tom: I do know the absolute truth. It is irrelevance. And I know my truth. It is responsibility. Of course I am liked by the people to whom I have will-lessly given myself, hoping for their appreciation. How can you say that my ideal is easy for me? It is work and the acceptance of everything I am in this world. A person who loves thoughts more than people. And it does make me a bad person, yes, because I lack a skill. But whom the fuck do I owe love?
Ben: You owe it everybody who gives it to you.
Tom: I haven’t asked for it. And I haven’t earned it. And possibly I don’t need it.
Ben: You have to start by loving yourself.
Tom: In that regard I am one step ahead of you. I keep my love completely to myself.
Ben: You think that selfishness will make you happy?
Tom: I know it will! If every person just cared for themselves, everybody would still have a soul, a spark of life, a will for virtuous struggle. Picking at other people’s lives and selflessly and arrogantly offering the help of your pseudo-moral superiority is bound to make everybody around you feel like a worse and more worthless person than you are.
Ben: But look at the world. Not everybody is as privileged as you. Some need help. Some don’t even know it.
Tom: I am privileged. Guess what it is like to not love most people, to find them boring. If you don’t allow me to be poor, poor in friendship, I am dependent on alms. Do these people feel with me when I have no love? No, they call me cold, worthless and exclude me. And they are right. I must not drag them down for they will lose themselves. But what if likewise the lives of all those people have no worth for me? Then you oblige me to serve them with my work. All decisions have consequences. Freedom does not mean to get what you want. It means to always make the decisions that are best for yourself.
People around start to listen.
Ben: Without society you wouldn’t even be able to do business! You owe your success to society.
Tom: I owe shit to society! A man should not need the blessing of hypocritical and elitist idiots like you to act! All you need is two people who want something from each other! You! Have no right to forbid me that!
Ben: Don’t you see…
Tom: Leave me alone! I am responsible for myself. Do you see this?
Tom takes somebody’s smartphone and shatters it.
Tom: I’ll pay for the damage – because I can!
Tom goes toward the door to leave.
Tom: I shit on all of you… and I don’t need you.

Tom goes outside. Cora follows. He prompts her to go back in:

Tom: It’s cold here.
Cora: I think you are right.
Tom: With what?
Cora: Society isn’t fair.
Tom: It doesn’t have to be fair.
They walk.
Tom: Why do you walk with me?
Cora: I want to.
Tom: Thank you.
Cora: Do you want to go home with me?
Tom: I don’t want gifts.
They hold.
Cora: Didn’t you want it?
Tom: I do want it.
They walk again.

Cora‘s home. They lie beside each other in the bed. She seeks to place her head on his breast.

Tom: Please not.
Tom turns away. She presses herself to his back. They sleep unwell.
Tom: You are warm.

Next morning.

Tom: Did you sleep well?
Cora avoids eye contact, slides her hand over his stomach, to do something.
Cora: Yes.
Tom: I should go.
Cora absently: Stay a while.
Tom: I will go.
Tom stands up and puts his clothes on. Cora starts music and stays in bed. Pop music.
Cora: Will you come back?
Tom: I don’t think so.
Cora stands up.
Cora: Did this mean nothing to you?
Tom: It meant nothing to you.
Cora: You just used me?
Tom understanding: I took what I wanted.
Cora: Sex? That’s all?
Tom: Yesterday, I was the victim and you were the savior. Just like you wanted it.
Cora cries: You arrogant asshole! You think you’re so great, don’t you? I gave it to you because nobody else would. Look at yourself; you don’t even dare to talk to a woman when you like her. You make stupid jokes and think you’re smart. You move like a cripple. Without me, you would have nothing!
Tom loud: I owe you nothing! You were so incredibly selfless to throw yourself at me and now you own me?
Cora cold: You are such a dumb, unattractive person. Be glad about what you had. Nobody will love you.
Tom: I don’t need this kind of love. Grow up. Don’t give the world the fault for your bad luck. I’m not your father, but I’ll let you stand here just like he did; everything makes sense! Oh, life is hard and the world is unfair and if we act up like good people for long enough in order to control others, we can drive to hell as happy misanthropes.
Cora attacks Tom. She screams.
Tom: Yes, that’s very mature.
Tom defends himself, hits Cora in the face. Cora lies on the ground.
Cora screams: Get out of my flat!
Tom screams: Yeah, I accept that, stupid bitch! Drown in your self-pity!
Tom leaves and bangs the door. Cora rampages.

Tom walks the hallway and smiles. He has an appointment.

Your turn.

Addendum

* People often assume that just because somebody doesn’t care to be liked by everybody, he is less open for interactions and ideas. Often the opposite is the case.

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