18. “Form Over Substance”: Marketing Yourself Under Capitalism


In this episode we dig into the way that capitalist society teaches us all from a very young age to prioritize the form over the substance, and what implications that has for our collective well-being as well as for collective resistance to capitalist oppression. We talk about how we are groomed in school to view many experiences as worthwhile only if they can be capitalized on or marketed to build our “personal brand”, using examples from our lives and the lives of our students. We talk about how we are often well aware that the titles or credentials we have are fairly baseless but we’re all forced to ‘play the game’ and create spectacles of our ‘success’ or risk not being desirable to employers. This creates a society where many people’s sense of self-worth is tied directly to how effective an employee they can be or how much money they can make for a company regardless of whether or not they believe whatsoever in what that company is doing or what it stands for. Prioritizing a spectacle and not the substance of what is being done translates into other realms of life as well, like romantic relationships, and keeps people defending broken systems because without them, they have no substantive sense of self. We conclude on a positive note and give some thoughts on how to build self-worth and relationships that have substance, not just form.

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