By Aschoff, Nicole
Mythmaking is as central to sustaining our present economy as profit-making. In the 1980s, Thatcher and Reagan's stories about welfare queens, greedy workers and the beauty of the free market cleared the way for an assault on organized labor that led to the boom times of the 1990...s. With severe environmental degradation, breathtaking inequality, lousy job prospects and increasing alienation among youth today, capitalism would seem to have come up against its own contradictions. Yet in this moment of crisis, a new generation of wealthy mythmakers, masquerading as progressive thinkers, has emerged to reinvent the free market as the solution to society's problems. Aschoff examines how Steve Jobs uses ideas of creativity and genius to justify the income inequality in America and the exploitation of Foxxconn workers in China; how Oprah's philosophy of educating and believing in oneself perpetuates the myth that socioeconomic inequality can be eradicated if only individuals thought positively and bootstrapped their way out of poverty; how corporate philanthropy, as espoused by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, promotes the idea that political change happens from above; how Sheryl Sandberg's plea for women to lean in supposes that gender inequality can be solved, if women simply allow themselves to be more burdened with more responsibilities and work; and how philosophies of conscious capitalism, like the one promoted by Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, distracts from poor working conditions and low pay.Read more
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NICOLE ASCHOFF is an Editor at Jacobin magazine. She received her PhD from Johns Hopkins University in 2010, and is now a Lecturer in Sociology at Boston University.
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