The American Dream Hoax

Ten-year-old me thought life was about getting the best of everything. The best job, the fancy car, the luxury home, cute kids, and a husband. My parents wished the same for me, and likely still do. Popular songs about glam and fortune, like Billionaire by Bruno Mars and When I Grow Up by the Pussycat Dolls, were everywhere! And I loved them (and still love the latter because it’s a bop)! While it’d be great to have all these things in an ideal world, it was just a false dream, for two reasons. One, I don’t think I can achieve becoming uber-rich without exploiting people. Secondly, I don’t even want all of these things! Were my dreams of growing rich really mine? Or were they just capitalism-tainted desires?

It’s impossible to know if I’d want these things if they weren’t the predominant desires of most people. We learn from our surroundings, after all. I do know, however, that many of these desires are just capitalism disguising itself as a potential glamorous dream, hiding its true exploitative and unjust nature. The American dream, one of capitalism’s biggest nationally-tied lies, tells us we can have it all. We can have a perfect nuclear family in a beautiful home. We may even reach the highest heights in the social hierarchy, all with grit and hard work. The idea glorifies individual ownership of commodities and certain forms of relationships over forms of collective unity. 

So many of my dreams are in some way influenced by imposing colonial ideas. I want a life filled with superfluous moments filled with joy, love, memories, social contribution, and growth. It’s quite exhausting a desire to want every moment so saturated. There’s a connection between the desire to constantly grow, to be “productive” in some manner for society, and capitalism.

“Freedom doesn’t exist when so much of our lives, even down to our deepest desires and dreams, are dictated by business profit margins.  “

Capitalism seeks to incentivize (and not always reward) individuals to reach their full potential. It’s applauded by society when someone creates a brand-new tech corporation or makes an app! But how much are these things actually contributing? It’s one thing to innovate for creativity, and another to create to contribute to society in a way only deemed important by capitalism. Do we really want to make apps? Or is it just something to put on the resume to push us further in the corporate world? 

While society is busy indoctrinating us with worldy goals, are true aspirations should exist in freedom. Freedom is more important than all the money in the world. The freedom to make choices without societal pressure or influence. If I wanted to live in the boondocks and grow a farm or buy a condo in the city with 10 cats and live single, that shouldn’t be looked down upon.

In his song, Sour Patch Kids, Asher Roth describes the hopeless desire to be free, when the “Fortune 500s run the country”. What’s in the Fortune 500 companies’ best interests is what is in capitalism’s best interest. The rich will go to extremes to uphold the capitalist social framework to avoid the spoils of their empire. This includes things like the nuclear family unit. So long as people subscribe to this family system, there’s a generational means to keep wealth among the richest. Freedom doesn’t exist when so much of our lives, even down to our deepest desires and dreams, are dictated by business profit margins.  

Photo by Daniel Barnes 

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