So much has changed since the demise of communism and the rise of capitalism. We now consider the capitalist system as the only viable system and all other options are rejected. There is a quote from young revolutionary philosopher Miguel D Lewis: “Capitalism is religion. Banks are churches. Bankers are priests. Wealth is heaven. Poverty is hell. Rich people are saints. Poor people are sinners. Commodities are blessings. Money is god.” Worshipping the god of money has been an ancient practice from the time of Greek deities, when the evil god Plutus represented greed and abundance, followed by the demon of wealth Mammon, and the worshippers of the Golden Calf. During the revolutionary 20th Century, capitalism was equated with the demon of greed and exploitation, ready to collapse and be replaced by socialism. In those days, the youth around the world were full of optimism, and held firm in their belief that a just and egalitarian system might be possible, in the near future. However, the 21st century has managed to reinstate the ‘god of capitalism’, and now it is regarded almost sacrosanct. With capitalism comes advertising, or let us say, mind control. Look at us. We have become obsessed with medication. From lack of sleep to lack of motivation, the optimal amount of happiness to just the right amount of energy, we have a magic pill for everything. The elite of the world realised long ago, that if marketed right, and the right people are bought, then drugs previously used for recreational purposes but no commercial value, can contribute greatly to the noble cause that capitalism promotes, which is encapsulated in one brilliant tag line: time is money. We have certainly come a long way from the Hippocratic Oath of Ancient Greece and the scriptures of Mesopotamia. Whereas in ancient times diseases, both physical and mental, had been attributed to various deities and super natural phenomenon, now they are attributed to yet another invisible deity: economics. No longer are discoveries made on the old fashioned notion of ‘for the benefit of humanity’. No longer do inventors strive to outdo each other in the quest for progress, nor do scientists push the boundaries of knowledge for the betterment of the human race. What about the recent advances in quantum mechanics or molecular biology you may ask? Unless their end result is billions of dollars in the investor’s pockets, no good will come out of it. Space exploration? Rare mineral mining and weapons development. Medicine? Only if we can discover or create a newer, more deadly disease. Even Art. One of the fundamental reasons behind the success of ‘post-modern’ art was the CIA. In order to counter the realistic art and imagery of the Socialists, portraying the very real struggles of the everyday man, money was instead thrown at artists who could make fascinating works using pop-culture, movies, and even random inanimate objects. Darwin revolutionised aspects of science and anthropology, even though his findings can no longer be termed ‘modern’. Due to the cultural conditionings of his time, he labelled women as ‘nourishing’ and ‘caring’, while men were ‘competitive’, ultimately stumbling upon the brilliant notion that, in his own words, “that is why men are superior to woman”. However, just like this theory, Darwin’s concept of ‘survival of the fittest’ no longer holds true. The backbone of capitalism — advertising — has gone above and beyond its intended purpose. The people in charge ensure just the right level of poverty exists in their respective domains so that people can keep buying things but never have enough to rise up against the corporations For what does it mean to be fit, and what does it mean to ‘survive’? In a hunter gatherer society that may hold true. In close knit units, the physically strong must surely always win. Sometime during the agricultural era, someone must have realised that there are many other ways to get food, water and shelter than bashing someone’s head in. The industrial era truly marked the start of modern day capitalism. Whereas in the past kings were worshiped and their orders were followed without question, now the people in power had to figure out how to make the common man work against his interests, without him knowing it. No longer was working for your country, king or fellow man a sacred duty, and problems arose regarding the means to control them. Enter advertising. The backbone of capitalism — advertising — has gone above and beyond its intended purpose. The people in charge ensure just the right level of poverty exists in their respective domains so that people can keep buying things but never have enough to rise up against the corporations. With all the ‘water ending in Pakistan’ rumours doing the rounds, we really have nothing to fear. There is always bottled water, imported fresh from the Swiss Alps. The ultimate dream of every big corporation is of course to somehow, according to one multinational’s CEO, be able to tax air itself. That will take a while, but with the advances in science and medicine, we may be lucky enough to get there. As I said in my previous article ‘magic pills and recovery’, even the recreational drugs we are taking now days, are centred on ‘performance enhancement’. Whereas previously one took drugs to ‘zone out’ from the wind and grind of daily life, now you take them to delve deeper into it, to give you that ‘edge’ in the workplace or school/university. While cocaine is prescribed as a Class A drug, ‘Ritalin’ and ‘Adderall’ are prescribed by doctors and easily available over the counter. They are crystal meth in a pill. It is an irony that once heroin was prescribed to patients in the same way, only now they are being prescribed ‘happy pills’. Put heroin in a pill, synthetically vastly increase its potency, price it for the upper class, and voila, you have yourself a ‘pain killer’. The opioid epidemic in America is now one of the leading causes of death and addiction. Doctors, even your local ones, of course get a sizable cut out of each medicine sold recommended by them. What a perfect system. The advertising though, is something commendable. The marketing strategy is very well thought out. The websites slick, with catchy taglines and uncertified therapists advising parents that their child has a ‘serious problem’ by using all sorts of complicated jargon. The jargon doesn’t really mean anything, but hey, at least the parents are impressed. While ‘Positive Competiveness’ is beneficial both for the child and society, ‘Negative Competiveness’ has serious consequences. Take some time to pursue the dreams you once had as a child. Paint, sing, dance, write, act in your first play, cook you’re favourite dish or do your very own version of yoga. Read an old book, watch some beautiful trees, still waters or feel the subtle wind. You will realize there is so much more to life than getting to the top. It’s always lonely up there. Back to the god of capitalism. An amusing response to Miguel’s quote that might be appropriate in the days of sehris and iftaris: “Cooking is a religion. Kitchens are churches. Chefs are priests. Gourmet is heaven. Bland is hell. Gluttons are saints. Emaciated are sinners. Snacks are blessings. Food is god.” The writer is a director, actor, and a core member of theAjoka Theatre. He has been involved in spreading awareness on socio-political issues through theatre Published in Daily Times, June 8th 2018.