Capitalism loves neurodiversity, as long as it is profitable!
Violence is always the answer against oppressive systems & MORE in the first round-up of the week
Hi friends- welcome to my first round-up of the week where I provide political & critical context to a list of some major recent events & happenings. In the digital age, our fast consumption of non-stop sensationalist info on social media numbs us, induces empathy fatigue & impedes our ability to truly understand what is important. I want to help counteract this by focusing on some topics so we can practice connecting the dots revealing how all oppression is connected. I also want to feature issues that give snapshots of how communities are creating solutions to catalyze much needed hope, imagination & motivation for us to build solidarity.
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Capitalism loves profitable neurodiversity — On the new trend of fortune 500 & silicon valley companies co-opting (some forms of) divergence
Why do capitalists not want us getting abortions? — The outcome of a system where humans are merely valued as a resource for mass production
“Peaceful protests only!” — The system & those in power will never approve of effective methods of resistance that will overthrow them
VIDEO: Re-connecting with people, plants, animals & our ecosystem is the antidote to an oppressive world defined by made-up social constructs — A reflection on how investing in things that are REAL is the key to liberation
I get emails from companies asking me to collaborate with them to recruit neurodivergent or diverse “talent”
A byproduct of having any “platform” is companies request you to market their products for a fee which I personally feel cringe about. I only share artistic & creative pursuits (without fees) of friends or folks who contact me or that I stumble upon in the interwebs (including small businesses) who I deeply resonate with because truly meaningful, important work is not valued under capitalism. One frequent genre of emails I get is from companies who want to “diversify” their worker or consumer base because they’ve identified a new, highly profitable niche to exploit.
Institutional diversity & inclusion efforts within capitalism have one goal- to increase brand value, profit margins & further diversify oppressive systems which makes them harder to dismantle. At the heels of popular social movements like Black Lives Matter or the opposition of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, companies always co-opt lingo & imagery as part of an elaborate marketing performance to delude consumers into thinking that the company is innately “ethical” in some way while it continues to exploit people, land, all of nature & the planet for profit. Notably, these companies are fundamentally unethical & no amount of superficial marketing gimmicks changes that.
So now it is time for the “hot trend” of increasing awareness about neurodiversity to be co-opted by capitalism because “neurodivergent” is an expanding micro-identity that opens up a new consumer & worker base for companies to exploit.
There is a multi-billion dollar mental health & wellness industry that sells people futile “solutions” to problems capitalism created including the pharmaceutical companies behind psychiatric drugs. This is a hallmark of capitalism- it fabricates a demand to justify production of goods or services that are bandaid solutions/ briefly numbing distractions at best or death sentences at worst. This a cycle of hell because in order to access resources to survive, one must participate in capitalism, act unethically in some ways & eventually be entrenched in its oppressive systems such that you are complicit. This isn’t a choice- get bread or get dead. However, there are ways to divest.
As the email above unabashedly states, companies aim to “bring the underutilized and untapped talent pool of neurodivergent individuals into the workforce”. Capitalism only values humans if we are “productive”, submissive, obedient workers who put our heads down & do as we are told. We are not valued for merely existing (we have to “earn” the right to live) but only when we serve the financial interests of companies & corporations.
Biodiversity is the natural state of a diversity of organisms- flora, fauna, microbes, etc that are essential for a sustainable ecosystem to thrive. Capitalism, however, objectifies & commodifies people, plants, animals, land & all of nature which are reduced to just being resources that can be exploited by the rich for mass production. Capitalism doesn’t give a sh*t about preserving ecosystems, instead urbanization and industrialism have destroyed habitats because profits require endless extraction and we are hurling towards ecological collapse and mass extinction. Similarly, capitalism doesn’t give a sh*t about neurodiversity. Oppressive systems work by forcing people to conform and assimilate to standards set by the rich & powerful . People who diverge from norms are punished & manipulated to fall back in line and one way to do this is to make conformity seem appealing- which is the purpose of DEI initiatives. In order for an oppressive system to “evolve with the times”, neoliberalism tries to improve optics so people don’t ever get “too MAD” (pun intended) to revolt against the system & turn on the rich.
Many articles in Forbes, Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, etc make the case that neurodivergent workers are a new profitable opportunity for companies to increase their revenue by adapting business models to be more “inclusive” of certain types of palatable divergence. The upfront dehumanizing rhetoric is hard to miss & frankly makes me hurl. People are only valuable when they help increase a company’s revenue- companies that all engage in fundamentally violent and unethical business practices including big banks (like JP Morgan Chase) that led to the 2008 economic crash or arms manufacturers that profit off of war, bloodshed & global imperialism. Government agencies love neurodiversity now too as they attempt to “harness” it to run surveillance programs, operate police departments, run companies contracting prison labor like Microsoft, GE, Hewlett Packard, etc. As this article in HBR states:
"Nevertheless, the neurodiverse population remains a largely untapped talent pool. Unemployment runs as high as 80% (this figure includes people with more-severe disorders, who are not candidates for neurodiversity programs). When they are working, even highly capable neurodiverse people are often underemployed. Program participants told us story after story of how, despite having solid credentials, they had previously had to settle for the kinds of jobs many people leave behind in high school.”
Do you see it? Do you see how identities are leveraged to create hierarchies to turn workers against each other? Of course, people who diverge most “severely” from norms, the poorest, most marginalized disabled folks (Black/ Brown, from the Global South, non-english speakers, Trans or visibly non-conforming, etc) will always be unproductive by capitalist metrics & are never going to benefit from these neurodiversity programs. These programs target the most palatable forms of divergence that can still be massaged & coached into assimilating into capitalism (which is what CAI does as a “middle man” contractor). An oppressive system advantages some more than others & it banks on these people upholding the system as long as someone else is below them on the ladder.
*Read in sarcastic voice* “EVEN more conforming neurodivergent individuals who behave well, obey most workplace rules, are highly “capable” (i.e. useful for capitalism) with “solid credentials” (privilege to access higher education) are unemployed! Wow! Let’s harness this talent! Let’s put them to work!”
That’s right, even Departments of Homeland Security (settler colonial government agencies that coordinate global imperialism, population surveillance/ repression, etc) and the Israeli Occupation Forces (the backbone of Israel’s violent military occupation of & apartheid in Palestine upheld by ethnic cleansing, indigenous genocide, mass military strikes, forced expulsions & destruction of Palestinian villages to expand the settler colonial empire) are tapping into neurodiversity! Companies that build the infrastructure used to control & dominate people around the world are reaping the benefits of channeling neurodiversity for their unethical practices! It’s also hard to miss the clear classism in the “at least they’re not cleaning cafeterias & sweeping parking lots” pitch that the “Global head of neurodiversity” at JP Morgan Chase makes (seriously, wtf, where in the dystopian hell are we heading?!).
On the surface, these forms of disability accommodations seem well-intentioned but institutions don’t do anything merely to be “nice”. They have to accommodate SOME people who they deem useful to further their financial & political interests to maintain the oppressive system. Workers are merely a means to drive profits. The movement to abolish police & prisons cautions against short-sighted “reforms” that benefit the institution because they strengthen systems of oppression and instead focuses on abolitionist reforms that “starve the beast”, i.e. weaken oppressive systems & redirect resources into communities.