Perhaps it is our non-dilemma that we are saturated with mostly feel-good images in today’s “infantile capitalism,” this term tenably employed by Jameson in his reversal of the usual tracing of the capitalist system into three stages (early, mature and late or advanced). Since most of us have “been born into it, takes it for granted and has never known anything else… the friction, the resistance effort of earlier moments having given way to the free play of automation and the malleable fungibility of multiple consumer publics and markets (Jameson 1991, 367),” Jameson’s term rightly corresponds to our generation’s lack of knowledge and awareness of the historical configurations that gave birth to our present.
On the one hand, this is a non-dilemma. That is ‘Ignorance is bliss’ operating on an unprecedentedly shameless and very public way that there is no longer a need to resort to overt slyness. On the other, we can always argue that our being engulfed in this ‘infantile capitalism’ punctures us more strikingly precisely because of this same ignorance, this same lack of awareness of the intricacies of our surroundings. We do not know the implications of buying the Nike logo more than the actual shoes; we do not know the subtleties of thievery in bank deposits and interest rates; we do now know who that guy named Che Guevara we often see in T-shirts and what are the things that he has done; we do not know why men in briefs in magazine covers are scarce compared to their ‘female’ versions.
Our kind of play as ‘infants’ in this ironically advanced stage of capital is one that has been mostly prearranged and even reinforced by those who thrive in this makeup. The play we make in Farmville, in our monthly mall splurging, in our bar-hoppings and video-renting is a far-cry from the more essential childhood play of sheer preoccupation with fondling little toys or running in the streets. It was also Jameson who argued that this literal child’s play has by far been the most effective in bridging the gap between work and freedom; a gap that has become more and more agonizing in today’s world where seldom is the case when work is tantamount to offering as a sense of freedom, much more a sense of joy or fulfillment.
Is this fatalism once again and the preparation for the sudden eruption of the luminescent salvation that is called socialism? Somewhat yes but finally no. This is, as what all words are ideally to be taken as, an opening of a discourse, an effort to create a rupture in the current scheme of things. We are all infants and this system toys on us to protect the gluttony of a few. They seem to be feeding well on us; it is always opportune to spoil ourselves, to make ourselves spoiled. This gluttony needs to stop.