On Thursday, Oct. 26, the Cellar Door Bookstore, located on Canyon Crest Drive, less than a mile away from UCR campus, hosted a talk conducted by anthropologist and author Tom Patterson. The talk, which focused on the fundamentals of capitalism, was the second in a series of planned discussions the bookstore will host.
According to Linda Sherman, the owner of Cellar Door, the discussions were organized with the non-student community in mind, but she emphasized that all students are welcome. “Riverside has such a diverse group of intellectual faculty members and researchers that have unique perspectives to give,” Sherman explained. “University students often get to experience this often, but it’s a bit harder for those in the community who don’t attend college to do the same.” These talks are centered around topics currently circulating in the news, with the talk preceding this one focusing on Sharia law. Each of these events’ purpose is to cover these topics more in depth than they might be covered in a news report on television.
Once the event was underway, Mr. Patterson expressed a similar sentiment. “Tonight, I want to peel away capitalism,” he stated. “Kind of like the layers of an onion, until we reach the core.” Patterson mainly addressed the fundamentals of capitalism, answering questions and giving insight toward the end of the talk. According to Patterson, capitalism has created a “web” of connections between people throughout the world. “We buy goods that were created by people halfway across the world,” he stated. “All of whom we will probably never meet.” He explained how this system can be dangerous, as it makes it easy to objectify people as “workers,” instead of individuals.
Anthony Buncab, a second-year studio art major at UCR, shared his thoughts on capitalism and the impact it has on college life. “Capitalism sets up this ideology where we pay all this money to go to college, in order to get a good job, just to make more money,” he explained. “It’s like we’re stuck in this loop of trying to pay off the money we already had. I’m not saying that college is some grand cash grab scheme, but looking at it like that, it makes us question this ideology and the money we put into college.”
A very different perspective was given by Adrian Salcido, a second-year economics major, who expressed his confidence in our societies current system. “I think capitalism is a good thing,” he began, “I don’t think it benefits me right now, but I feel like it will later on in my adult life. Once people are used to one thing, whether it’s socialism or capitalism, it’s really hard to take that away from them. I know there are many people that would disagree, and would say that capitalism is bad, but you can never please everyone.”
After the talk, Mr. Patterson welcomed questions. When an audience member asked about the ideality of capitalism, Patterson quickly disagreed with the statement. In his response he claimed that capitalism was so integrated into our society only because it supported and was supported by the existing establishment. Following this answer, the professor was asked if he believed our society would ever reach an ideal system; his answer was equally rapid. “Again, no, and I don’t know if I would want to live in an ideal system, because what defines ideal? Many people in this country would say that Donald Trump is the ideal president, but obviously many disagree with that sentiment.”
The third event, which will cover capitalism more in depth, is set to be held next year in January.