We are taught to think rationally and to explain ourselves using rationality. Although rational thinking has its place, it is often emphasized at the expense of passion. Using emotion to dictate our actions is necessary to give the world meaning and to instill in people a drive to bring about change. Likewise, virtues — such as equality or justice — are strived after because of their moral nature and not because of some analytical metric.
The world rejects passion as a professional hindrance. Kids are taught to explore their dreams as long as they can make a good living, causing only 20 percent of Americans to say they are passionate about their jobs. We need to begin teaching kids how to approach the world with passion and find meaning in the world outside their jobs. The paramount interest everyone should have for future generations is to give them a more meaningful life — something that passion delivers. Anything short of giving kids an opportunity to express their true selves robs them of their identities.
The mass abandonment of passion is a direct result of the mindset that capitalism instills. People have to choose money over self-expression because, no matter how graceful a painter or how beautiful a poet one is, they need food and shelter — things not guaranteed by capitalism. Instead, our education system gravitates us toward the world of stockbroking or medical school. The accumulation of wealth is prioritized over living honest lives.
Passion is encouraged in the workplace, but in a contained way that does not offer the same benefits as self-autonomous passion. There are exceptions, such as self-employed people or those lucky enough to succeed in creative fields, but most workers are seen as dispensable assets in service industries or manual labor jobs. As Erin Cech claims in The Atlantic, “Loving your job is a capitalist trap.” If work is integral to your passion, then you are giving partial ownership of your identity to your boss and having your sense of meaning become inseparable from money. Instead, passion should be given the reins, with no outside variables. Mixing passion and the profit motive can corrupt one’s creativity.
Capitalists have taught us that the profit motive is critical for a well-functioning society. While profit does push people toward action, it also encourages selfish traits and tendencies. Passion is socialism’s alternative to profit. Motivation is inherent to a successful society, but it needs to be motivation toward a better world, or else the society’s success is only temporary. As writer Craig Biddle points out in The Objective Standard, socialists are passionate because they have a claim over conventional morality. Understanding the socialist doctrine motivates people in a strong and positive way. Work will become less isolating, and people will start to have more patience and understanding with one another when they are governed by a common goal of social success.
Capitalism relies on the general alienation of its subjects from one another to sustain itself. An emotionally unified and organized workforce is the capitalist’s greatest fear. Passion exposes capitalism as being incompatible with overall social well-being because, time and time again, passion is punished while mindless servitude is rewarded. In order to reach the best version of anything, passion is needed. It gives people the freedom to openly feel, leading to more empathy and tolerance. Passion is what we have against Goliath, and the moral clarity of socialism is what will propel the world into a more just place.
Nathan Sommer is a sophomore majoring in history.