One of the joys of living in a capitalist system is that besides the air that we breathe, nothing exists outside of exchange. We freely commodify to make a profit readily obscuring need, or meaning. This loss of substance is not only anti-intellectual, it often leads to the commodification or ‘othering’ of another culture. That donning certain clothing might present a message contrary to what the wearer actually believes is irrelevant, because looking good is the objective. We are not a politicized society, we have become the culture of drive through McDonalds and decaf lattes by the litre.
The degradation of symbols by the bourgeoisie is purposeful. Symbols can be used to increase solidarity and raise the ire of large masses of people. To turn substantive items into everyday fashion disconnects the proletariat from their meaning. Wearing a Che t-shirt in a capitalist society should represent a rejection of the very system under which we live, and instead it has come to have all the value of a happy face, or a crude limerick. This inversion of a revolutionary to an ordinary signification of the “coolness factor,” silences his message, which is ultimately the goal of the ruling elite. People no longer reflect on the larger connections of political messages. Critical thought involves more than reading the top stories at Digg, while we wait anxiously for the next meaningless text message. The amount of communication continues to expand with the proliferation of the internet, however the substance of conversation is often reduced to meaningless banter. Oh well, at least we “look good” while we are doing it.