I would like to make a quite controversial statement and claim that in the same way that the educational institution tends to educate children away from their spontaneous creativity, society as an institution educates us all away from knowing what our basic needs really are.
The capitalist systems survival rests on creating addictions as to ensure a steady monetary gain. It thus has to make consumers believe that we need more than we actually need, because how else would there be economical growth? What I’m saying is that with this capitalist system as the main institution of learning that it actually is, we are taught to stop reflecting upon what our actual basic needs are. We are taught to want more and to believe that we actually need more. Capitalism uses the things that we actually do feel a natural need for such as food, sex, clothes etc. and amplifies this need by exposing us to brainwashing continuous waves of advertisement that more or less unconsciously enter our minds and teaches us to want more.
With the amount of sex that we are exposed to in our daily lives from series, movies, commercials, magazines and so forth, how do we remember how much sex we really need? Acknowledging that sex is a basic human need, are we really meant to be as sexual as we are portrayed by the agencies that are trying to make money out of us? And with the amount of food choices, pictures of different foods everywhere we go, the ever-growing interest in cooking and so forth, how much food do we really need? Also acknowledging of course that food is a basic human need, are we really meant to focus that much of our attention on food for such a huge percentage of the day? And with the contradicting image of the ideal body, how do we ever avoid feeling guilty when we constantly exceed our needs and instead go far below them to a point that we become sick? How do we even remember what we really do need? Again with clothes or even anything that is being sold to us, with the constant flow of advertisement, how do we realize when we have too much?
The ways in which industries sell their products to us might seem subtle but in fact they only seem that way because we have internalized their values as our own values without even questioning them. We have been taught to forget about the own sense of ‘enough’ in order to be a good consumer in this society. Unconsciously we contribute to the survival and growth of the capitalist system believing somehow it is good yet it completely blinding to our needs as individuals and devastating to the majority of the worlds population and also of course to the environment. It creates a mass of non-thinkers, an institution in itself that regulates its subjects according to imagined needs created by the greedy for the sole purpose of making more than enough money. Sure, money has become a basic need to survive in this society but what is really money except the value we put into it? So how do we go back to knowing how much money we really need, without being psychologically attacked by the medias portrayal of an ideal life in wealth? How do we draw the line when we are taught that the line is never to be drawn?
Even if it seems like, as we become more and more secular and scientifically oriented, we are more likely to think for ourselves many of us fall into the trap and become part of a new mass even if this one is more selfish than many religious masses. We replace one institution by another and let ourselves be fed and convinced again and again. So how do we do?
We start questioning. We start unlearning. We start stripping ourselves from what we have taken on that does not initially belong to us. We listen to within instead of without. We learn to know ourselves first; before we get convinced that what the moneymakers want us to do is also what we want to do. There needs to be a silencing of the constant feed from outside so that the individual voices can start being heard even by the ones the voices come from. We need to find a sanctuary for us and only us where we don’t allow the feed to be internalized and fool us all.
Perhaps some meditation?