After finishing graduate school and learning of the nearly comically unattainable nature of stable jobs in higher education, I struggled to find employment outside of academia. For years I took the brand of low-paying, demeaning gigs commonly tolerated by financially-strapped millennials.
The problems that permeated millennials’ early years are getting worse. It’s no wonder rates of childhood anxiety and depression are skyrocketing at record rates. I’m unsurprised the term “Late Stage Capitalism” has taken off online, unbound from its theoretical roots to become a catchall phrase for the absurdities of the system.
I’m also unsurprised, though for different reasons. I suspect references to “late-stage capitalism” have become popular because of a latent belief in sympathetic magic. Maybe if we keep invoking the phrase in a spirit of hope, the global system of buying and selling which has shrugged off everything from Marx’s pseudoscientific prophecies to endless critiques and deconstructions in academic journals will finally cough, wheeze, and expire, whereupon in the vaguely-conceived utopia that is sure to follow, rewarding jobs for MFA graduates will hang from the lowest branches like plump fruits in an orchard that stretches to the horizon in all directions. But why should we take any chances? Perhaps we can speed the process up by referring to “terminal capitalism.”