Trapped in an ideological purgatory

Trapped in an ideological purgatory

I hear a lot of people talking about gratitude these days. It is the trendy dish in the new age secret thingy of the week, be thankful for what you have, be grateful to the universe, be grateful. Great. And the people who say it are so full of it.

Don't get me wrong, it is not that I am against being grateful, of course not. I am very grateful for everything I've got, and everything I get to enjoy in this life. But I try to be a little bit more precise when it comes to rampant gratefulness.

I know, I know, the universe and all, and yes, we are blessed and lead charmed lives of brilliant light and all that, but after I finish being grateful to the universe for creating one of my favourite things in life _ an orange _ I never forget to be thankful to the farmer who toiled for that orange to be possible, to the landowner who is brought to the brink of bankruptcy fighting the genetically modified standardised supermarket produce companies, I thank the truck driver who brought the orange close to me, and I thank the box boy who stacked and packed them for my air-conditioned consumerism delight.

In Zen, the exercise is called conscious eating, when you can feel the tree in the orange, you can smell the rainwater giving it life. The guy who takes the crates off the truck is far from being the poetic emblem of giving my orange life, but without him, it doesn't matter how much I praise the rain, I will not have an orange.

You can call it neo-socialism, you can call it anything you want. I call It neo-socialism. Forget everything you know, or think you know about socialism and capitalism, and let's bring those words back to their basic meaning. Socialism puts social, the people, at the top of the priority list and power graph. Capitalism puts capital, wealth and property at the top of the priority list and power graph.

Both systems, in their current state, have proved to be complete failures, ending up in poverty and a global financial tsunami. In both systems there was too much freedom and opportunity for corruption to grow its ugly roots. The problem I have is that I am the most socialist capitalist, and also the most capitalist socialist I know, and I fear I am not the only one stuck in this ideological purgatory.

And here comes the neo-socialism. Which is basically just capitalism without forgetting the importance and the value of the people who make the system work. Yes, glorify the migrant worker who picks your seasonal vegetables, praise the cashier girl, sing a song for the bus driver, like they used to do in old socialist countries. They are important. You would not be able to live life as you know it without them. And people forget that.

When I see what is happening to the working classes over the last few years, I am not only outraged, but am amazed and in awe of the stupidity of the ruling classes. Don't they see the people are vanishing away into thin faded versions of themselves? How long do they think it could last? We don't mind being milked, but if you kill the cow today for a good steak, you might have a big problem tomorrow, just saying ...

But the real power never lies in the hands of the ruling classes, the real power is in the minute interactions between people. I don't know what is the political validity of the idea, but if you remember to thank the cashier, the worker, the manager, the maid, the people who make your life what it is, your life will be better. Instantly. Try it.

Society is people. Nothing else, nothing more. Civilisation is people, nothing else, nothing more. Culture is people, nothing else, nothing more. Social is the real capital. Is it so hard to see that?

Be grateful for every person who makes you rich by being there, for every person who is making your life blessed when you think it is the universe who is having a good day.

Thank you.

Boaz Zippor is an artist, writer, poet and rambling ranteur living in Bangkok.

His weird views are featured in his personal article reservoir at

Boaz Zippor


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