What would happen if Supreme opened a university?


Written by Dan Haze
23 Thursday 23rd November 2017

A line of kids snakes down a street in Soho.

A line of families worms through a back lane of Newcastle.

The former Obeying a Supreme Leader.

The latter looking to a supremacist speaker.

Who do we feed? 


Consumerism has unsurprisingly consumed our society. We traded our souls for Big Macs and never looked back. But recently, we’ve begun to notice that maybe this capitalist obsession isn’t working out as well as it should be. The average British household has over £57,000 in debt, personal debt has increased by 10% over the last year and KFC has released a sandwich that's just two bits of chicken with cheese in the middle. People aren’t as happy as their Happy Meals. Maybe it’s time we look back to look forward, conflate a drop with a philosophical doctrine and ponder whether we can save our souls as well as our Palaces and maybe find happiness.


From the beginning of time to around 1800 there was no economic growth at all. Normal people hadn’t owned anything apart from the necessities of everyday life for thousands of years. But once people started to earn a little bit of extra cash they were able to buy small luxuries and these small expenditures would result in the world’s first consumer revolution. By the mid-1800’s goods and services that had usually been the preserve of the rich were now available to the masses and their demand caused a boom in industry as well as everyday luxuries. The styles of hair and clothes, which had remained unchanged for decades began to change every year, becoming more and more exaggerated each time. With each new trend, came another more impractical style. Of course, this new penchant for conspicuous consumption went against the dogmatic ideals of the time. The church saw the rise in materialism as a sin, God wouldn’t rate people who cared more about the furniture in their house, than the virtues in their soul!  


Although the church villainized said vanity, in 1723 London physician Bernard Mandeville released a with a passage titled ‘The Fable of the Bees’ in which he posited that contrary to the popular religious belief that had dominated the zeitgeist for centuries, what made a country rich and therefore safe, generous, virtuous, strong and happy was something rather unelevated: shopping for pleasure. Mandeville believed that it was the consumption of ‘fripperies’ such as hats, soup tureens, gloves, hair clips, butter dishes and Air Force 1’s that encourage national prosperity and allowed the government to do something that the church could only theorize about: provide genuine help to the poor and needy. The only way to generate this kind of wealth was to ensure high demand for the absurd, unnecessary things that the church believed would lead to the spiritual corruption of society. No one needed to purchase such items, but they could be prompted to want them by fashions and trends. On the back of this demand factories, hospitals and housing could be built.


Mandeville created a stark dichotomy between a poor yet high-minded, spiritual and intellectual nation and a rich society that was a slave to luxury and idle consumption. It was a choice between decadent consumption and wealth on one hand and virtuous restraint and poverty on the other. This debate has dominated economic thinking ever since and has been ideologically argued by many, from capitalists to communists.


But in the years since then, as the world’s economy has grown exponentially, most of us accept that we live in a consumer society. We chose wealth over virtue for the sake of societal infrastructure. But the system isn’t working like Mandeville had hoped, the gap between virtuous intellect and wealth has given birth to reality TV, professional footballers, and Influencers. But what if from this scission we created a system that allowed for the consumer spending that provides employment and welfare by shopping for something other than tat. Could we have both wealth and virtue? Despite Mandeville theories and our ideas of consumerism, being materialistic is not necessarily soulless. We are still incarnate sensory, bodily beings and the way to access our souls is partly through our bodies, not just our intellect. We need shit to feel shit!


That's where we come to Supreme. The new holy church of the masses! What started as a skate clothing brand has now mutated into the assembly line of branded bricks and mortar that it is today, at once creating and satisfying our desires for expensive, pointless shit. But what if Supreme did something different, changed the game completely and opened a university? The could prove that consumption doesn’t have to involve the trading of frivolous things. Admissions would obviously open at 11 am on a Thursday, but instead of constantly refreshing the screen to cop a Louis Vuitton and Comme De Garcon fleshlight, people be sleeping on the streets to get an education and make lasting relationships. They could offer a Bachelor of Arts in the societal response to skateboarding, it would be called ‘The City vs the Skate’. Or freshly bound editions of Thomas Aquinas, with covers designed by William Strobeck along with lectures on the lasting influence of Greek Tragedy on modern cinema taught by Chloe Sevigny!  

Be it natural or learned, obtaining frivolities is a way to buy happiness, but it's failed us because there's more to happiness than a pair of shoes. If we managed to at once satisfy our desire to procure stuff whilst learning, socialising and growing maybe we could find the thing that we’ve been searching for since the 17th century. With the help of Supreme, we could begin to conceive an economy focused around the buying and selling of services and goods that focus on our higher needs, we could step out of the shadow of the Golden Arches and into the light.


Don't Panic attempt to credit photographers and content owners wherever possible, however due to the sheer size and nature of the internet this is sometimes impractical or impossible. If you see any images on our site which you believe belong to yourself or another and we have incorrectly used it please let us know at panic@dontpaniconline.com and we will respond asap.