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A short wrybread ramble

It's hard not to sound preachy and argumentative when talking about anything that ends in "ism", especially capitalism, but here goes my best:

It's my opinion that capitalism isn't necessarily the nasty beast it's often made out to be, and that it isn't at all an opposite of anarchism.   I think of capitalism as a democracy where votes are cast at the cashier instead of the ballot box.  To put it another way:  when I spend $1 on something, that's the equivalent of a vote by me that says "I want this to exist".   And by the immutable laws of capitalism, that which gets no votes ceases to exist.

Unfortunately, as the old expression goes, checkers sells better than chess.  People seem more prone to vote for well marketed pablum than a serious but obscure artist.  And corporations have always exploited this tendency, especially in the field of music, and hence capitalism has traditionally squashed finer culture.

But I think this is changing.  The era of cheap digital equipment has given the proverbial moms and pops virtually the same production power as Big Business:  an adequate recording studio is now less expensive than a used car, and a website is exactly as easy for you to obtain as for Warner Records.  Which means there doesn't have to be a corporate middleman anymore.  We as individuals can produce, sell and buy without the willfully stifling Big Business between us.  But we have to cast our votes responsibly.  And if we do we can achieve that strange beast of capitalism and anarchism in happy harmony.

For example, everything for sale here was made entirely by the wrybread crew.  On the CDs, we played and recorded the music, transferred it to a computer for a little digital snazzing up, burned it onto CD, designed and printed the cover art, all ourselves.  And we didn't skimp on anything:  it's my opinion that we handled every phase of the production at least as well (and usually far better) than Warner Records could or would.  And it was certainly handled with greater purity of spirit and intention.

I bring this up not just to show off, but to make the point that this is possible.  Anyone can do this now.  We don't need Big Business anymore.   The only realm they have us beat is marketing, which is a pretty powerful hand up, but not insurmountable.  Marketing is only the molding of people's thoughts, so if we evaluate for ourselves and cast our "capitalistic votes" responsibly,  the corporations will either weaken or start marketing quality.

So there's a whole (growing) world of music and art  going on outside of what is marketed by corporations.  The quality of their product is often at least as good as what the corporations provide, but their marketing is pathetic by comparison.  Thus we'll have to seek them out; their advertising bombardements won't find us.  And we'll have to evaluate their product on grounds we might be unaccustomed to:  we'll have to use our own unguided critical thinking.  We'll have to evaluate our votes without anyone campaigning.  Imagine that.

My conscience is good about everything I offer for sale here.

I hope I don't come off sounding like just another internet crank.

-Hugh Mann
October 1998

Wrybread slices for sale