Meme has become a by-word of contemporary digital culture. And that makes sense, because when you think of it, meta-jokes allow us to communicate things in a way more complex way. Sometimes, it’s the other way around. When the subject of a conversation is fundamentally intricate, it begs for an unorthodox way to talk about things.
Like, capitalism. Many of us know how painful it may be to work late hours like there’s no tomorrow, like your family doesn’t exist, to sit by the desk without a day off, trying hard to deliver your very best daily, only to realize it’s been like this for the past decade. Here you go, I just described one of the memes in this list.
And while the capitalist society is spinning its wheels harder than ever before, with long-awaited hope of minimum wage being raised to $15 in the US, these anti-capitalist memes seem more relevant than ever. Someone's calling us overdramatic?
And to whoever is not into hard topics in life, this batch of memes speak of society and its flaws in a funny, like cringe funny, “oh my, it’s me” way. Psst! Another batch of anti-capitalist jokes can be found in our previous post here.
To find out more about the complex dynamics between capitalism and internet jokes, Bored Panda reached out to Dovydas Skarolskis, a Vilnius-based connoisseur of the contemporary political and cultural climate.
First off, Dovydas said that there’s no mathematically accurate answer to whether capitalism and the free market are evil. “The economic historians defending the free market have estimated that it is only because of the ideas of capitalism and industrialization that people have been able to rise out of poverty.”
Meanwhile, he explained that many researchers and activists of the field see our contemporary society as full of various forms of exploitation. “The fight between these and many other political ideas is perfectly illustrated by the Political Compass memes that ridicule one position or the other, as well as mock the assumptions about them and the ideas behind them."
According to Dovydas, when tackling a vast array of different opinions, “humor is an excellent way to find like-minded people as well as attract new people who’d be interested in the ideas or even change their point of view.”
Dovydas likes to divide all the memes and jokes that criticize capitalism into a couple of categories. “First, it’s jokes that defend more radical ideas, irony and satire. They don’t require taking extreme measures to disrupt the functioning of our society, like replacing liberal democracy run by free trade with socialist or even anarchist or communist principles of public governance.”
However, Dovydas sees the flaws of this type of humor. “The biggest problem with these jokes is that they often justify historical crimes associated with radical leftist movements, or promise happiness by abandoning what we have in the name of something that has never been implemented before.”
“The second category of jokes falls under the softer criticism of capitalism and the free market that targets particular problems, exposing the absurdity of everydayness. We can name a number of problems associated with the modern free world: starting with the exploitation of third-world workers, corporate tax evasion, illegal and sometimes even legal pollution, and a number of others. In summary, the second type can be described as more moderate individuals who fight against obvious manifestations of social injustice.”
The third kind is what Dovydas calls “the post-ironic” approach. “It’s when joking, or rather the act of creating a joke itself, happens just for the sake of self-realization. The person who creates or likes this kind of content can be free from political ideas, or even if one has a particular political view, they don’t have to expect to change something about it.”
According to Dovydas, it’s totally enough to make fun of the world around us to collect a few or a few more likes. “Doomers, who believe that modern capitalism is a sort of dystopia they cannot escape, also fall under this category. This third group can also be named nihilists, pessimists, and post-ironicists.”