Today’s design is stuck in the Californian ideology of tech solutionism arriving from neoliberal economic ideas in hippie packaging. Design’s ambitions to create a better world through clever hacks and consumer fixes are merely ambitions to cover up the failings of capitalism. Design’s more mundane task of creating a consumer market for tech companies makes us even more obviously complicit in the destructive hegemonic systems of today. But the clock is ticking. The climate crisis is leaving us with mere years to create radical change before our social structures start to melt down. Designers cannot afford to continue their neoliberal projects, we should stop mending and covering up for a broken system whilst hoping for reform. It is time to develop a coherent and ambitious post-capitalist design movement. Design must be in the service of the social transformation beyond capitalism. In order to do so, designers should:
Depart from a fundamental criticism of capitalist production, in order to create designs which truly break from the capitalist ideology. If we fail to do so we are doomed to unwillingly uphold the oppressive and destructive ideology of today. This criticism can build upon, but should not be limited to, the Marxist tradition of criticism of capitalism.
Combat today’s Zeitgeist of nihilist doom. (Speculative) design has the ability to open the door of imagination towards infinite possible positive alternatives to capitalism, and can create engaging experiences of post-capitalist everyday life. Design must elevate these abstract utopias into concrete utopias, by grounding post-capitalist imaginaries in their material feasibility. Therefore, design should not concern itself with idealist concepts of values, morals and ideas, but should stay grounded in its natural materiality.
Support activists and organizers in their campaigns with critical design. Reject all corporate and consumerist aesthetics and develop an aesthetic which provokes change by demystifying systems of oppression and annoying the powerful.
Develop dual power for designers to operate parallel - and in opposition to capitalism. Design can make possible alternative everyday lives into reality by building the necessary alternative systems today. To a certain extent, we can construct our own supply chains, by connecting postcapitalist DIY projects into a postcapitalist economy. To do so, we must free digital technologies from their capitalist chains, in order to liberate the people. We must reclaim the internet from Google, Meta and Amazon and reclaim economic planning from Walmart
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