Issue 7, Volume 18
RE: Your Future
MultiNationale & Partners cordially invites you to the final stage of the Melbourne Intellectual Hunger Games Program 2020/2021. You have successfully compartmentalised your self-doubt and existential dread. You have even impressed your family.
The looming certainty of a midlife crisis, with a one in 100 chance of an equity partnership.
The final task?
Discuss the following statement with reference to your corporate passion:
“In the words of the late Mark Fisher it is ‘easier to imagine an end to the world than an end to capitalism’.”
Feel free to use visual aids – at MultiNationale & Partners, we value lateral cognitive capacity. Finish within fifteen absent doomscrolls of your Instagram.
Please note that this piece tackles questions of BigLaw only.
The task of analysis can only begin through a frame of reference. The frame of reference most pertinent is a meme that has recently circulated through social media feeds (see above).
I will discuss the relevant statement with reference to the attributes of the meme, in conjunction with my utter lack of corporate passion.
Here we see a happy dog - capitalism’s giddy helper and the prospective clerk. The dog is alone. This represents how neoliberalism destroys the social bonds that sustain comradery, fostering competitiveness between clerks. This competitiveness allows firms to gauge the merit of prospective clerks more accurately.
The tie slapped over the furry coat of the dog hints at the corporate veneer that one must adopt when applying for a clerkship. This veneer transmutes all personal experiences into a lengthy list of bite-sized, commercially palatable trivia.
Well-travelled? No, you regularly engaged with diverse teams, demonstrating your commitment to globalisation.
Represented your state in sport because you loved it? No, you demonstrated a capacity to apply yourself to long-term goals according to strict internal and external KPIs.
Have a mental illness? Join the club.
Exercise everyday to stave off depression? No, you continuously demonstrate your commitment to a healthy work-life balance so you can better apply yourself.
Learnt a language because you fell in love with a local on exchange? Your speaking proficiency is ‘commercially competent’ and you read the FT in French in order to stack your productive habits.
Make any art? Don’t include this, especially if it is political.
Yes, you may be thinking ‘This reads like the LinkedIn profile of a LSS Corporate Junkie.’ Yes, yes, it does.
Personal responsibility is dead. It was strangled by the toxicity of the surrounding environment.
The laptop in juxtaposition to the apocalyptic background represents the capitalist realism the prospective clerk inhabits. Here, the observer is confronted with the knowledge that there is no viable alternative to capitalism. Didn’t you know that the end of history has been announced? Even after admitting this, there is no catharsis. This confession has meant nothing.
Even with nuclear warships circling in the South China Sea due to scarcity of resources caused by overconsumption. Even with future pandemics waiting to be unleashed by capitalist exploitation of animals. Even with armies amassing near shrinking sources of freshwater in the Himalayas; shrinking enhanced due to the effects of industrial driven climate change.
There. Is. No. Alternative.
The absurdity of the dog’s predicament also demonstrates the society of control the clerk inhabits. We have transitioned from Foucault’s society of discipline, whereby the factory has become the corporation: inducing a sense of anxiety that drives feelings of ‘imposter syndrome’. What is neoliberalism? The extension of the market, or market like ideology to more and more spheres of life. Note the following:
“Yes, make yourself in DEMAND.” “You give me so much VALUE!” “Mate, did you hear about [INSERT WHITE NAME]’s job? They are going high places!”
By promoting a culture of self-surveillance and self-improvement, capital has outsourced its increasing demands onto the future worker.
Hence, the doggo can see no alternative to clerkships and capitalism: she/he/they/we must submit. Is it the dog’s fault?
Not at all.
She/he/they/we are in the midst of the greatest economic downturn in history. Millions in Australia live payslip to payslip, wages are shrinking, labour flows from side-hustle to side-hustle in an insecure cycle that profits multinationals while eviscerating worker rights. 100 million people are getting pushed into extreme poverty, as we speak. Some of us have current or future dependants, debt, cultural expectations and so on. And yet, some even have a genuine desire to entrench existing power structures.
For all of us, it is easier to imagine an end to the world, than an end to capitalism. Especially so because of, and in spite of, the current situation.
I would recommend that everyone doing clerkships reflect on what we will sacrifice: for what and for who.
A flag needs to be planted here. It is a privilege to be able to critique the employment one seeks. But it’s also necessary to do so. After all, internal structural change is needed.
So, I’ll see you on the inside for some subversive discourse soon.
Congratulations! You are one of Capitalism’s giddy helpers. What now?
Please purge all identifiable markers of individuality. But also, change your Facebook name to a pun on your first name in the most clichéd way possible. Further, please immediately update your LinkedIn in accordance with your new status. You deserve it.
You are a fit and proper person. You are no one at all. You are one of us.
Yours (but never in equity),
MultiNationale & Partners
Anonymous is a second year student.