In the same way that marriage has become culturally bound to the state, our lives in late capitalist societies are materially implicated in consumerism. How we react to this is complicated: we might bemoan materialism but love the new Snooki Minaj track. At least I do -- are you kidding? Yet how could capital be more concentrated, and artistry more controlled? All I know is, in the new society, there damn well better be auto-tune -- and, of course, Snooki.
Earlier today I took a stroll through the King of Prussia Mall. Commodities -- by which I mean commercial products and not raw materials or whatever in the stock markety sense -- on exhibit in a zoo! From a strictly Marxist perspective, you could get very bent out of shape about the whole thing. But that's not always what's called for in a social setting where people are very excited to satisfy their material needs, myself included. The fact is, I needed new pants. And do you know what? There they were, neatly folded, just like the old boy Tommy Friedman is always crowing about.
My suggestion to you is: Don't get bent out of shape! But at the same time: Don't forget about what has transpired. Remember! Rest assured that a time will come when you can put those memories and that understanding to use in a way that does not alienate you from what has become the social life, but secures affirmation to others when they invariably come away empty. Every principle you care about is best deployed in the service of other's needs; it should never approach them as condemnation. Mao said: Swim in the sea of the people. I say: Swim in the sea of commodities, because this is where you will find the people.
I want to make an analogy about your feelings when you think about injustice in the world. Some members of my extended family have something in their fireplace that they call an "insert." It's something that goes in your fireplace, presumably, but more noticeably forms a full glass and metal enclosure in the front. By means of this device, you can control the airflow to the fire.
This is the important part. When the airflow is turned to the minimum, that fire will last who knows how many times longer than it would if exposed to the direct environment. I've heard the fire will last all day or all night. Conversely, when you dial up the heat, it's hot as fuck. It will heat the better portion of your home. It's crazy.
Your passion about the things you care about is like that. If you let it get direct exposure to every goddamnable thing that comes along -- yeah, it's going to flare up; but it will only be a matter of time before you burn out. You know what I mean by this, many of you, I am sure. So create an enclosure, and let that fire burn indefinitely; and, moreover, grant yourself the ability to choose when you are going to let it run hot or let it go unnoticed by everyone else but you. Never let circumstances dictate how you dispense with your own energy -- or for that matter any antagonist. They will try, but this must always remain your choice. And you will make these choices based on what is required by the people in your life, intimate or afar, in solidarity with their struggles.