Tokens of Change: An Idea

Marketing (especially as it was developed in the 19th-20th century in the United States) has done a great job at creating and utilizing commodified tokens to represent all kinds of things: individuality, freedom, femininity, masculinity, adulthood, and so on.

Cigarettes marketed to white women as tokens of freedom.

Some anti-capitalist efforts try to get people to understand that they can be completely satisfied and fulfilled without these commodities/tokens. The idea is that people need to think a little harder and understand, for example, that they don’t need a new product in order to feel like an adult.

However, I want to propose an alternative anti-capitalist method: what if we embrace the concept of tokens, which precedes modern capitalist marking strategies, and just try to separate out the commodification aspect?

If we explore all the possibilities of these tokens, we might be able to come up with great tokens that aren’t sold to us by a big industry. Things that are free, or that we can make and give each other. Their value may be that they are hard to find or take long to make. Or they might not need a special value except the psychological kind that we attach to it.

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