A capitalist counterculture is starting to emerge for the post-millennial generation

Leon Emirali
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Julien Macdonald - Runway - LFW February 2017
Generation Z are doers as well as dreamers (Source: Getty)

Following the financial crash of the late-2000s, anti-capitalism has become the prevailing political and social stance throughout much of the western world.

“Profit” is a dirty word, and the thought of being motivated by money is one that is best kept to yourself to avoid ostracism.

But just as the hippies of the sixties fought against social submission, the capitalists of today are doing the same. A quiet but determined counterculture is emerging among the sea of conformity comprising Fjallraven backpacks and Dr Martens brogues.

Read more: Why crowd-based capitalism has changed the economy

Generation Z is arguably the most enterprising cohort society has ever spawned. It’s rare to meet someone under the age of 21 who isn’t the founder of a blog, indie fashion label, or YouTube channel. On the whole, they carry a fierce sense of personal ambition and are equipped with the skills and mindset to achieve their goals.

In short, Generation Z are doers as well as dreamers.

The millennial generation that came before them (and that I am part of) are idealistic thinkers, more at home writing reports for think tanks than at the forefront of innovation and actualisation.

While it is always dangerous to compare entire generations without nuance, there can be no doubt that there is an incoming challenge to the current status quo of anti-capitalist self-righteousness.

As those who studied the sixties closely will assert, a counterculture is best supported by an emergent media that introduces new figureheads to the masses. Just as the explosion of FM radio and television propelled the likes of Bob Dylan and the Beatles, social media is introducing us to a new generation of capitalist icons.

From inspiring entrepreneurs with social audiences in the millions, to fashion influencers looking to sell their latest line, we are consuming more content from capitalist protagonists than ever before.

To understand why this is happening, it is vital to grasp that, for Generation Z, each year has brought new tools for the flow of ideas, conversation and interpretation.

There is only so long a society can stomach the constant drip-feed of doom and gloom before it begins to believe that there must be an alternative to pursue.

Of course, as much as some political groups would like us to believe the opposite, championing capitalism and fighting for social justice are not mutually exclusive.

The leaders of today’s counterculture are making this point by retaining that strong sense of societal equality and fairness which characterised their millennial predecessors, while recognising the role capitalism can play in accelerating social mobility.

Whereas the counterculture of the sixties was bound by its desire for peace and love, this movement is more likely to be defined by its pursuit of profit and progress. I, for one, am excited by what it might achieve.

Read more: The far left is winning the capitalism debate

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