Capitalism and Happiness: Who’s Having Fun?

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It is my contention here that Capitalism is a fatal delusion, and adherence to it without question is tantamount to willingly signing a species-wide death warrant.

Capitalism as we know it in the modern world is based on the assumption that there must be infinite growth, which on a finite planet means total consumption, total exhaustion of all resources that can be monetized.

Under a capitalist system, the highest goal of man is to increase his desires infinitely, in order to produce the desired goal of infinite growth. By increasing his desires infinitely, man also increases his sufferings infinitely.

As capitalism is forged on the basis of two delusions, one, that there can be infinite growth in a finite closed system, and two, that the highest aim of man is to infinitely increase his desires; we may say that to defend this system is to willingly subscribe to a suicidal form of madness.

Simply put, man will never be genuinely happy under the system of capitalism, for he is living a lie and calling it truth. There is no degree of enjoyment to be derived from the process of capitalism that is not logically offset by the inevitable cost of extinction it produces.

The history of the Western world, and of the world in general, is a history of man falling prey to the delusion that his living conditions are at base inadequate and must therefore be remedied through effort, technics and the creation of “solutions” to his “problems.”

It is almost as if somewhere in our distant past, an individual was struck by a thought in the back of his head that he couldn’t quite put his finger on, that perhaps somewhere something was a little bit wrong or off, and so he set about trying to discover this “problem” in the external world, and began to devise peculiar strategies for doing so.

In doing so, he creates more problems in the process, and must then turn his attention to solving those problems additionally, and so on. The basic illusion here is that there was ever anything “wrong” to begin with. The attitude that nature is “out of line” so to speak is itself perhaps the only example of nature being “out of line.” It is like a feedback loop of sorts, producing a painful shriek from a situation of far too much self-consciousness.

And so man has, down through the ages, chased the tail of happiness, presuming that it was anywhere but right here and now. Capitalism is just the latest form of this primal delusion, that the world is in error, and we may see it then as an extension of the Christian notion that the World is a sinful place, to be overcome, changed, or transcended.

And, ironically enough, all forms of this particular delusion do in fact create a situation of base unhappiness and unsatisfactoriness out of which their proposed solutions can rise. We see this in capitalist societies, which must necessarily produce poor millions so that we can recognise a rich few. We see it in Christian societies, where even the joy of making love has been reduced to pure mechanics, and distasteful mechanics at that.

So one should distrust any system of thought that seeks to alter what is basically a situation of harmony out of the spurious and unproven notion that it is inherently disharmonious, or the notion that there’s some pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. No-one can give a compelling argument to show why the problems that preceded us prior to these attempts at fixing the world were in fact considerably worse than those problems we have brought into existence through the act of trying to solve them.

Capitalism, and Christianity, among other worldviews, are attempts to bring under control the wiggly world, and we assume that this is what we have wanted all along. But a world completely under our control is like a game we have already finished playing: there is no surprise, no spontaneity, and as such it is as though we have already completed it. All events where the outcomes are known completely in advance may be said to have already happened. And so through trying to exercise total control, we ruin the fun of existence for ourselves, and make the world into a plastic sex doll instead of a real, intelligent, living woman. Through science, and particularly the bizarrely certain forms of scientism that are appearing more commonly today, we are slowly trending towards the same phenomena of rendering existence pointless through explaining it all and putting it under our technological thumb, turning the cosmos into dead knowledge, in many cases, rather than a living mystery.

What we need is, as a culture, to be honest with ourselves once more, and admit that no amount of material control is worth the cost of total boredom. No amount of shiny new playthings are worth the reality of child labour. No economic system can be said to work if it creates poverty as a matter of course, if it blindly trends towards total consumption of all things.

None of us genuinely want this to continue, so let’s just play a different game. As for what that is, well, finding out is half the fun.