I’ve always been a capitalist. And I’ve often fancied myself as something of a big city sophisticate, though that was probably only ever in my head. As a result, I’ve occasionally rued the fact that I never found a way to live in New York City in my twenties. Certainly with my mindset at the time, the Big Apple might have quenched much of my thirst for opportunistic over-indulgence.
Increasingly I’ve been cured of such longings however, and as I’ve got older, I can’t imagine why a non-Native would choose to live there or anywhere remotely like it beyond the age of around 30.
At the same time, I’ve become repulsed by many of the things that I once thought might be exciting and cool about that sort of life.
This sprung to mind vividly during a Skype chat with my Dad this afternoon in which the conversation twisted and turned through family and sports and a number of other topics, before we ended up on the subject of the greatest of all capitalist heartbreaks: our banks.
Even as thoroughly discredited as banks in the UK are after they and their American counterparts dropped the whole world into a bucket of crap in 2008, they remain headed up by people who apparently think underhanded manipulation of the markets is a legitimate hallmark of capitalist vigour.
Fundamentally crooked, sociopathic and contemptuous. It makes me wonder whether there ought to be a cigarette pack-style label on all investment banking adverts, carrying a warning.
But there is a positive here and I’d far rather focus on what might be good than what is to my mind indisputably bad.
My lack of post-40 New Yorkiness marries well with my revulsion for big capitalism to reinforce my belief that what we need is more small towns. Not physical ones. Virtual ones. A small town mentality, perhaps. Small town communities that may involve you and your friends and some customers and suppliers, dealing with each other on a one-on-one basis, making truth and respect the guiding principles of all your relationships.
Rather than gorging yourself on other people’s money as the banks love to do, gorge yourself on the integrity and sanctity of your own reputation and both delivery and receipt of helpful experiences. Rather than protective self-interest and a blatant lack of concern for the consequences, a shared concern for doing stuff that moves everyone forward. Not in leaps. By inches. Growth is still growth when it is symbiotic.
Small townsfolk take the time to get to know one another and to take some care for each other’s well being. They share a human experience without trying to screw each other senseless along the way. They get that we’re all in this together.
It may sound like naïve idealism, but I no longer believe that’s bad. Not when the alternative is a repetitive cycle which threatens to make me, personally — and you too — a very painful victim.