Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The sound of progress ...

With all this discussion of the econometrics of happiness in the popular press, it is surprising that the post-adolescent scrawlings of one of my favorite overwrought German Hegelians are completely unmentioned. Marx's original critique of capitalism, before he got sidetracked by surplus value, revenge and the inviting prospect of a community of wives, was that when money mediates your relationship to the world, you are psychologically incapable of achieving your full potentiality.

It's been a while since I read them, but I recall that the primary sources of alienation listed by Marx in the 1844 manuscripts were alienation from Nature, alienation from Society, and alienation from one's Ceative Product. These three types of alienation neatly fit into the human potentiality movements types of happiness, and I wonder if there is any "real" happiness outside of these three categories.

But it is nice for journalists to treat the fact that "money doesn't buy happiness" as front page news. People are so blinded by their jealousy of others that they never stop and think that their own hunger for attention is the problem rather than their lack of status. What's next? That a rich man can't buy his way into Heaven?

All told, of course, I am very happy that our supposedly capitalist society is dedicating resources to scientifically demonstrating the inability of capitalism to satisfy our higher selves, and this shows that our historical conjuncture is infinitely more complicated than the simplistic mechanics of a Leninist outlook. The force of the dialectic, when left to its own devices, will ultimately lead to the improvement of life, so long as nobody gets too impatient...

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Borrow, I'm thinking it might be helpful for you to provide some links to these so called popular press discussions of happiness. That way you will be grounding your discussion in a text or citation and allowing your reader an immediately tangible context for interpretation. And while you are at it, why not do the same with Marx or whomever else you are citing. The medium you are working in is called the internet. Its nature is about the trawling and connecting of information. Thing connect there. Words, ideas, images, sounds. Even the dialectic. Just saying.

5:16 AM  
Blogger georgeborrow said...

I had been thinking about the degree to which a desire for internet traffic flowing from google's algorithmic identification of connections with value leads people to populate blog entries with unnecessary links, and how google's method of ranking web sites has corrupted the entire patterns of thought within the blogosphere. But you are right: I have drawn the line too strictly, and my readers would benefit from an occasional link.

6:08 AM  

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