COVID-19 Has Shown Us How We Internalized Capitalism

Vicki Davis, MPA
4 min readApr 14, 2020
Jon Youshaei — LinkedIn

There is a terrible meme that if you haven’t come out of quarantine with a new skill, hobby, or side hustle then you didn’t lack time, you lacked discipline. First, we are not working from home. We are quarantined, in a pandemic, trying to get some work done. Even in a pandemic, we feel guilty about not producing something.

Truman State University Counseling Center

No one is going to reach enlightenment during these times. We are going through collective trauma. Our brains are in survival mode. We are biologically focusing on basic needs and safety right now.

And yet, all over social media, you see things like, “ I’ve been so unproductive and lazy it’s embarrassing. But… it seems like an excuse. My job isn’t threatened. My house isn’t under siege. I have a fridge and freezer full of food. I’m just lazy.” Sadly, there are reports in California where 10,000 people lined up for a food bank and tens of millions of people have filed unemployment benefits in March. People are scared and just trying to survive.

As Jon Youshaei said in his Linkedin post —

“If you come out of this quarantine with:

- your health
- your sanity
- a new appreciation for teachers because it’s hard to homeschool kids
- a new appreciation for restaurants because it’s hard to cook every meal
- a new appreciation for doctors, nurses & service people risking their lives
- a new appreciation for seeing your loved ones in person

Then you’re human and you’re not lacking whatsoever”.

We are also having collective difficulty in resting and being okay in the fact that we are experiencing trauma.

We are bad at working AND self-care because we have been conditioned to equate our value as human beings by how much we produce. We have stopped working for the most part and our consumption/service-based economy has stopped as well. We don’t know how to stop. We don’t know how to rest. As a reminder, our value as humans is far greater than what we produce.

This stems from the internalization of capitalism. We feel guilty when we rest. We feel guilty when we stop. We feel guilty that we are not producing enough. We feel guilty that we are not producing fast enough.

The Cult of Work theory states that we have formed our identities by how much we produce. (The link is a funny but poignant commentary on a Simpsons episode). Billionaires control the means of production and steal from workers (forcing them into longer hours, for lower pay, with no benefits and convincing you that your value is tied to productivity) in order to grease the wheels to make themselves billions more. No one ever earned a billion dollars — they stole it.

Billionaires have convinced workers to look down on people who are not productive because then the people at the top make less money. The working class is conditioned to consider anyone who is not constantly producing something as lazy and moochers who are coasting through life; their laziness strains the systems and makes it harder for the working class to become billionaires. Spoilers — the working class is closer to abject poverty than to ever becoming a billionaire. People making $5,000 dollars an hour have convinced people making $25 an hour that people who make $9 an hour are the problem.

Now, through no fault of their own and definitely not laziness, millions of people are out of work and are experiencing an identity crisis because our identities are tied to productivity. The government, reluctantly, is forced to create safety nets to prevent another Great Depression. They are hesitant because this will force billionaires to only turn millions in profit rather than billions. So, of course, the richest companies get a bailout too. You know for shiggles.

In Gambuto’s article “Prepare for the Ultimate Gaslighting,” he talks about the government’s future role in convincing us that COVID-19 didn’t happen, that we should ignore the big corporate bailouts, and that we didn’t enjoy socialized democracy for a short time. Nothing to see here folks. Let’s forget about this whole thing and go back to normal. Let’s not let that happen.

“We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.” Sonya Renee Taylor

It is time to rise up when you’re living on your knees. You rise up! Rise Up!(Shameless Hamilton plug). We have seen behind the curtain. It is time to create an economy that works for all people. It is time for a new economy built on radical collaboration and taking care of our people, our community, and our planet. It is time to take a triple bottom line approach which will make everyone wealthier, happier and more fulfilled.

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Vicki Davis, MPA

Is building a more connected & purpose-driven community . She is an expert relationship manager, passionate servant leader, & an exponential impact generator.