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Enchained by affluence

  • 23-01-2020 8:31pm
    #1
    Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,290 Mod ✭✭✭✭ mzungu


    One of Herbert Marcuse arguments against capitalism in One Dimensional Man (1964) was that we have become enchained by affluence in the postwar era. This, he believed, was also one of the reasons why the working class had lost their revolutionary potential. The advances in technology had allowed for greater freedom, but this was stifled by the capitalist system and its inculcation of false needs. We have freedom, but freedom to purchase products. In essence, he believes the Western world was totalitarian but it managed to obscure this via the overload of consumer choice.

    Ignoring for a second his championing of various Communist regimes of the time (he does criticise the Soviets, I think the overall message has a certain truth to it. That being, if we spend less time obsessing over buying things we don't need, we then have the time to focus on what is truly important to us.


    Thoughts?


Comments

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators, Regional East Moderators, Regional Midlands Moderators, Regional Midwest Moderators, Regional Abroad Moderators, Regional North Mods, Regional West Moderators, Regional South East Moderators, Regional North East Moderators, Regional North West Moderators, Regional South Moderators Posts: 8,372 CMod ✭✭✭✭ Fathom


    Marxian fetish capitalism? Or Weberian shell of bondage?


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 228 ✭✭ ghost of ireland past


    What is important to humans?
    You forgot to mention that.

    Is it having children?
    Families seem to be getting smaller and we legalised abortion.

    Is it having fun?
    Well, drugs are banned.

    Is it art?
    Ha. (ok yes then, but also science or philosophy)


    I asked the question on another thread just today, what is Irish identity?
    What do we stand for and what do we want?

    No real answers coming in.


    Capitalism as practiced by Americans and as exported to the west is toxic and isn't necessary.

    We could value different things in life than money. For example, probity, honesty and public works.

    Could you imagine how good life would be if billionaires were trying to outdo each other, in genuine philanthropy?

    We need to end the crazy greed based capitalism we have now and replace it with a more compassionate type. We need better politicians who intend to make their countries better.


    I think families are important, and children, so we should encourage them, like Hungary is doing by giving 33,000 loans to couples which are written off if you have three kids. 33K is significant in Hungary, and having kids is easy.


    Using drugs like cannabis shouldn't be demonised. It's great fun, and we should legalise some other drugs too. Denying ourselves pleasures is silly, not glorious.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 47,099 CMod ✭✭✭✭ Black Swan


    Is it having children?
    Families seem to be getting smaller and we legalised abortion.

    You have introduced a smorgasbord of different ideas in your above post. I will try one. Demographically speaking, developed nations have been experiencing a decline in population over past decades. One of the primary reasons for this decline has been the increasing education of women. Generally speaking, the higher the education of women, the fewer children they have. Control for legalised abortion, and you still have this decline in birth rate.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 228 ✭✭ ghost of ireland past


    If success leads to less children and utimately to our own eradication then is it good to be successful?

    Is an individual person considered successful in their life if they have no children?
    Many political leaders nowadays have no children but I think children are the future and if there are no children then there isn't much future.

    Abortion should be 'safe, legal, and rare', as Bill Clinton said.
    Abortion is no longer rare. We shouldn't be proud of that.

    Are we claiming that the sign of a successful society is one in which large numbers of babies are aborted?


    I am not obsessed with abortion. I am indifferent to it, but I think Bill Clinton is correct, ideally it'd be 'safe, legal, and rare'.

    People describe China's one child policy as immoral, despite the fact that China had public considerations in mind, like avoiding famine. We say very little about abortion in our own countries even though it is optional and un-necessary in most cases.



    Perhaps our success in the west is only temporary. We view things on too short a timescale.

    A good example of this is climate change and the use of oil.
    It could be that climate change will destroy our civilisation. (Not our existence, just our civilisation). We'll hardly look like geniuses then.
    Is it inevitable that we destroy our environment through an inability to work together?
    I would say that yes, it is inevitable.


    Is it inevitable that when women become educated they no longer want children?
    That is possible I think but if it's true how should we deal with it?


    The ultimate question is; what is the purpose of a human today?
    Is there any point?, beyond having children?


    Consumerism does not provide a compelling reason to live.


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    If success leads to less children and utimately to our own eradication then is it good to be successful?
    Overstates point by earlier poster. Less children associated with higher education of women does not mean zero children for all. Only less.


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  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 228 ✭✭ ghost of ireland past


    Hang on, we're told by politicians that our child rate is below that of replacement rate, and that justifies those politicians in ramping up immigration, which is placing huge pressure on housing, health, policing and other areas. Very little discussion of those consequences.

    I'd be fine with a lower birth rate if the government was. It'd be good for our committments on climate change for example. Instead we'll double our population apparently.

    I can restate the point on a more individual level. Many women are not having children. Is that a sign of success for those individual women?

    We've turned evolution on its head. Perhaps that's inevitable for advanced societies.


    I've argued in other posts that China is fundamentally different to the west, that it takes a much longer viewpoint, and it includes all of society in its vision, not just the rich. The Chinese will eat our lunch, by which I mean we will fail to compete, and they will expand, on earth and in space, hallowed by their name.

    Is our failure to compete with China a sign of success?

    I don't normally post so many rhetorical questions. I think it works for this subject.

    What is the purpose of society in the west?
    To make individual capitalists rich?

    That's what our system is doing. Judge a system by what it does, not by what it claims to do.


    This is anthropology.
    In middle eastern cultures a rich man could have 100 wives and 500 children. That provides a better motivation in my view than becoming obsenely rich with no genuine outlet to spend it on except boats and houses.


    The reason I mention China is I read a great book by Newt Gingrich, Trump vs China and he says some very interesting things in it. What should the goal of a country like China be? They want to take their rightful place as the premier nation on Earth. It's a bold vision and fair play to them for thinking big. What does our government want for us? Something far less lofty I suspect, and that's not a good thing.


    What we've forgotten in the west is that existence is a constant struggle. You cannot win a fight in your youth and then live out on that for ever. You must fight every day but we've forgotten. We've become soft and we expect things for free.


    Should humanity be looking to expand into space?
    The Chinese have every intention of doing just that apparently. It's a reason for their society to exist.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators, Regional East Moderators, Regional Midlands Moderators, Regional Midwest Moderators, Regional Abroad Moderators, Regional North Mods, Regional West Moderators, Regional South East Moderators, Regional North East Moderators, Regional North West Moderators, Regional South Moderators Posts: 8,372 CMod ✭✭✭✭ Fathom


    Hang on, we're told by politicians that our child rate is below that of replacement rate, and that justifies those politicians in ramping up immigration, which is placing huge pressure on housing, health, policing and other areas. Very little discussion of those consequences.
    The consequences of population growth or decline have been complex topics. Zero population growth rate is 2.1. Above this is growth, and below decline. For example, Germany has been experiencing below 2.1 and has invited workers from surrounding countries to commute daily to and from German manufacturing sites. While America would have below 2.1 but for both legal and illegal immigration.

    In one of your earlier posts you commented: "Capitalism as practiced by Americans and as exported to the west is toxic and isn't necessary." Are you suggesting that capitalism is "toxic" in general, or just the American version? All EU nations are capitalistic, although there are variations between countries. Do they too exhibit varying degrees of toxic capitalism?

    Consumer growth is associated with a growing population and growing market share for equity investor ROI. The question emerges that if the American population declines, would consumer growth decline, thereby affecting the American system of capitalism? Is population growth good for American capitalism? If so, would their system benefit from growth in immigration? Generally, both legal and illegal immigrants work, pay taxes, and purchase goods and services, which has been conveniently overlooked by anti-immigration advocates.

    Further, America has been, and continues to be a land of immigrants, with only those that got there first complaining about those that came later. For example, millions of Irish immigrated to America during the potato famine. Earlier English and German immigrants complained about the Irish taking their jobs back then, as well as draining social services. While today, the vast majority of those Irish immigrants of yesteryear now greatly contribute to the success of America. The celebration of St Patrick's day in America would have been unheard of when the millions of Irish first immigrated, now it's a national holiday that everyone celebrates, both with and without Irish ancestry. The only persons that may have a legitimate complaint about immigration in America were the Native American tribes originating perhaps 26,000 years ago that lost their lands to the superior military (and disease) of invading immigrants, mostly from Europe back then.

    No matter where you live, do you believe that earlier immigrants to your nation are the "good guys," and later immigrants are the "bad guys," or what?


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 228 ✭✭ ghost of ireland past


    I'm struggling to see the relevance of the comments above to this thread.

    The question in the OP is extremely big, what is the purpose of humans?
    (I'll admit that there's parts of the OP that I'm failing to understand)



    American capitalism is toxic as it doesn't care about shared resources, like the environment and the climate for example. I am saying that that is stupid and cannot be argued to be a good thing. They are thinking on too short a timescale.


    Fathom. It seems likely to me now that every generation hates what the following generation does. It's known that all older people say things like 'Young people nowadays, eh?'

    The people from 1960's Ireland would be horrified if they learned of what Ireland has become. They would undoubtedly want the Catholic Church in charge. In the 2060's Ireland will likely be Islamic, and that wouldn't be what many people want now.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,247 ✭✭✭ victor8600


    mzungu wrote: »
    One of Herbert Marcuse arguments against capitalism in One Dimensional Man (1964) was that we have become enchained by affluence in the postwar era. This, he believed, was also one of the reasons why the working class had lost their revolutionary potential.....

    Thoughts?

    1964 was another era entirely. Imagine coming out of the Great Depression, the World War, and all the deprivations brought by those. And now (in 1960's) you have all these new gadgets that really make your life easier and more entertaining.

    In 1930's my grandparents had 1 electrical bulb in their house for the illumination. Music was live or through a mechanical gramophone. Food was kept on ice. Actual ice you had to harvest during the winter and store in a cellar. Washing clothes was done by hand. No prepackaged food.

    Roll forward to 1960s -- more electricity and more everything, radios, a TV for some, a magnetic tape player, a washing machine, a fridge. May be even an own car.

    Yeah, people in 1960s wanted all of these things we take for granted today.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 228 ✭✭ ghost of ireland past


    Of course ordinary people can fall in love with shiny baubles. Politicians should have a better vision for their society than mere consumption.

    What is the purpose of Irish society?

    The question appears too big for people to answer.

    Perhaps we should strive, as a society, to improve the lot of all our people. Don't try and tell me that that's what we're trying to do at the moment.

    Parents care for their own children in most cases but politicians in the west refuse to consider the plight of their own electorates. Politicians play the role of parents in our society, and if politicians betray us, as they have done, then we suffer greatly.


    Ordinary people are not in control of this country and they are not to blame for the weakness, or for the lack of vision, of politicians.


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    .
    Fathom. It seems likely to me now that every generation hates what the following generation does. It's known that all older people say things like 'Young people nowadays, eh?'

    The people from 1960's Ireland would be horrified if they learned of what Ireland has become. They would undoubtedly want the Catholic Church in charge. In the 2060's Ireland will likely be Islamic, and that wouldn't be what many people want now.
    How does this relate to "Enchained by affluence?" Do you have scholarly sources to back up your claims, or just anecdotal?


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,290 Mod ✭✭✭✭ mzungu


    victor8600 wrote: »
    1964 was another era entirely. Imagine coming out of the Great Depression, the World War, and all the deprivations brought by those. And now (in 1960's) you have all these new gadgets that really make your life easier and more entertaining.

    In 1930's my grandparents had 1 electrical bulb in their house for the illumination. Music was live or through a mechanical gramophone. Food was kept on ice. Actual ice you had to harvest during the winter and store in a cellar. Washing clothes was done by hand. No prepackaged food.

    Roll forward to 1960s -- more electricity and more everything, radios, a TV for some, a magnetic tape player, a washing machine, a fridge. May be even an own car.

    Yeah, people in 1960s wanted all of these things we take for granted today.

    I don't doubt that after the hard times of the depression and WWI & WWII people definitely wanted these new gadgets that made life easier. In many ways I guess it was (and is) only natural. But has the pursuit of that really been liberating for us, or is it a useful way to blind us to the humdrum realities and keep us spending until we die? An illusion of happiness if you will.


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    The capitalism of things.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,290 Mod ✭✭✭✭ mzungu


    Fathom wrote: »
    The capitalism of things.

    Largely, yes.


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    Prone to boom or bust during economic cycles. Symbolic of bulls and bears on Wall Street.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,290 Mod ✭✭✭✭ mzungu


    Fathom wrote: »
    Prone to boom or bust during economic cycles. Symbolic of bulls and bears on Wall Street.

    Built into the system or simply a byproduct?


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    mzungu wrote: »
    Built into the system or simply a byproduct?
    So called recessions. Or technically corrections. Are times for brokers, investment banks, and large investors to take advantage of slow moving massive retirement funds. Stop loss, hedge funds, etc., allow above to timely sell and profit before fall. Then benefit from recovery buying equities at bargain prices. While large retirement funds take the losses. Nobody talks about where the money goes during recessions. It's like it magically disappears, while the rich get richer and the working and middle classes take the hit. Sounds a bit Marxian, but no, it's just normal day-to-day capitalism. Just a normal capitalistic mechanism to increase the wealth of the top 3 percent, who in America, control 80 percent of the wealth (C. Wright Mills). Durant and Durant in The Lessons of History suggested this increasing and vast split between rich and poor as a normal outcome of capitalism overtime by all nations that practice this economic system. In a comparative way, The Mansions and the Shanties by Gilberto Freyre delineates the Brazilian capitalistic experience.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,033 ✭✭✭ pearcider


    Fathom wrote: »
    So called recessions. Or technically corrections. Are times for brokers, investment banks, and large investors to take advantage of slow moving massive retirement funds. Stop loss, hedge funds, etc., allow above to timely sell and profit before fall. Then benefit from recovery buying equities at bargain prices. While large retirement funds take the losses. Nobody talks about where the money goes during recessions. It's like it magically disappears, while the rich get richer and the working and middle classes take the hit. Sounds a bit Marxian, but no, it's just normal day-to-day capitalism. Just a normal capitalistic mechanism to increase the wealth of the top 3 percent, who in America, control 80 percent of the wealth (C. Wright Mills). Durant and Durant in The Lessons of History suggested this increasing and vast split between rich and poor as a normal outcome of capitalism overtime by all nations that practice this economic system. In a comparative way, The Mansions and the Shanties by Gilberto Freyre delineates the Brazilian capitalistic experience.

    I think one should make the distinction between genuine capitalism which has been practiced in societies since the Sumerians and is the foundation of all human progress and furthermore absolutely essential to freedom.

    Crony capitalism, the illicit nexus of state and corporate power is unfortunately what we get in the real world. However this is no fault of capitalism and is in fact anti capitalist since it seeks to stifle competition and create monopolies. Crony capitalism in fact is more akin to socialism as it seeks to use state power to impose barriers upon the individual or otherwise control freedom of choice. Crony capitalism would also be impossible without a powerful centralized state which can bestow advantages or favours upon the elite and otherwise stifle competition from arising to challenge them.

    Crony capitalism has become particularly insidious since the gold standard was removed from the world in 1971. This has led to an incredible hyper financialisation of society. There is a very compelling talk on this subject which I link below



  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 47,099 CMod ✭✭✭✭ Black Swan


    pearcider wrote: »
    Crony capitalism, the illicit nexus of state and corporate power is unfortunately what we get in the real world.
    In today's "real world" America with approximately 331 million people? Where "The wealthiest three families now own more wealth than the bottom half of the country."


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,033 ✭✭✭ pearcider


    Black Swan wrote: »
    In today's "real world" America with approximately 331 million people? Where "The wealthiest three families now own more wealth than the bottom half of the country."

    What’s your point? Bernie is a joke. US is already running a 1 trillion deficit. Bernie will only make that worse. Socialism has a 100% track record in abject failure. Because it’s basically crony capitalism except instead of Jeff Besoz (who actually worked his hoop off) doing well you have creeps like Madurau and Castro creaming it. Socialism is the road to serfdom.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 32,061 ✭✭✭✭ Graces7


    mzungu wrote: »
    I don't doubt that after the hard times of the depression and WWI & WWII people definitely wanted these new gadgets that made life easier. In many ways I guess it was (and is) only natural. But has the pursuit of that really been liberating for us, or is it a useful way to blind us to the humdrum realities and keep us spending until we die? An illusion of happiness if you will.

    Interesting post; thank you.

    I was born during World War 2 and we lived very very simply; no " white goods" etc and few had cars.

    Things like washing machines are not "gadgets" ; my mother handwashed sheets etc in the kitchen sink, They then were fed through a mangle to get the worst of the water out of them, dried wherever was possible etc.

    It was very hard and time consuming work and when women started working full time?
    We got our first washing machine ( twin tub) when I was in my teens when a friend moved overseas and gave it to us. Fridge was later.

    Folk now are very different! I have lived in several rentals where a dishwasher lived. never ever used one.
    And now as I cannot afford to get my washing machine plumbed in I am back to childhood, washing sheets etc in a large bucket.
    That is fine for me.

    I would be happy apart from internet to go back to an even simpler life than now. Off the grid appeals hugely

    But women and families now need faster ways to do domestic chores than we had. It is a different era.

    Nothing to do with any " illusion of happiness. " And nothing wrong with making life easier than it was for us.

    And we do have choice?

    Island Anchorhold..

    islandanchorhold.blogspot.com



  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators, Regional East Moderators, Regional Midlands Moderators, Regional Midwest Moderators, Regional Abroad Moderators, Regional North Mods, Regional West Moderators, Regional South East Moderators, Regional North East Moderators, Regional North West Moderators, Regional South Moderators Posts: 8,372 CMod ✭✭✭✭ Fathom


    pearcider wrote: »
    What’s your point? Bernie is a joke. US is already running a 1 trillion deficit.
    The federal deficit has been growing substantially without a Bernie. If I recall correctly, the US federal deficit was first doubled under the Ronald Reagan administration. The Cold War with the USSR (CCCP) was costly. He led the Republican party back then. The federal deficit has been substantially growing under both Republican and Democrat administrations since.
    pearcider wrote: »
    Because it’s basically crony capitalism except instead of Jeff Besoz...
    Did Amazon pay any federal taxes for 2017 or 2018? Or did the feds pay Amazon a surplus for some rather fortuitous reasons from tax monies, which in turn contributed to the federal deficit? I am unsure what kind of "ism" this represents?
    pearcider wrote: »
    Socialism is the road to serfdom.
    For the purposes of your argument, please define what you mean by socialism. The meaning is not a given understood by all. It does not have a generic definition that has any utility. It is a very complex concept, often having different meanings given application, content, and context. Otherwise we don't know what you are talking about.


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    pearcider wrote: »
    Socialism is the road to serfdom.
    Serfdom was a medieval European condition that delineated the cultural, political, and economic relationships between tenant farmers and very rich landlords. Such tenant farmers were subject to the will of rich landlords. It was subsistence farming by tenants, where much of the produce from their labors was given to the rich landlord. Most landlords were hereditary, claiming land ownership through bloodlines, and in some cases claiming the divine right of nobility and kings to lord it over the tenant farmers. No matter how you may define socialism for the purposes of your argument, I fail to see how "Socialism is the road to serfdom." Please explain.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,290 Mod ✭✭✭✭ mzungu


    Fathom wrote: »
    For the purposes of your argument, please define what you mean by socialism. The meaning is not a given understood by all. It does not have a generic definition that has any utility. It is a very complex concept, often having different meanings given application, content, and context. Otherwise we don't know what you are talking about.

    As an aside, this is an interesting topic in itself.

    Depending on where you are in the world, socialism means many different things to people.


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    mzungu wrote: »
    As an aside, this is an interesting topic in itself.
    Agree.
    mzungu wrote: »
    Depending on where you are in the world, socialism means many different things to people.
    Geographic differences. Along with a host of other differences.


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    mzungu wrote: »
    One of Herbert Marcuse arguments against capitalism in One Dimensional Man (1964) was that we have become enchained by affluence in the postwar era. This, he believed, was also one of the reasons why the working class had lost their revolutionary potential. The advances in technology had allowed for greater freedom, but this was stifled by the capitalist system and its inculcation of false needs. We have freedom, but freedom to purchase products. In essence, he believes the Western world was totalitarian but it managed to obscure this via the overload of consumer choice.

    Ignoring for a second his championing of various Communist regimes of the time (he does criticise the Soviets, I think the overall message has a certain truth to it. That being, if we spend less time obsessing over buying things we don't need, we then have the time to focus on what is truly important to us.


    Thoughts?

    Well the first thing I would say is that this form of Marxism theory in opposition to the original thoughts of Marx, who claimed the immiseration of the workers was certain in Capitalism, and would end with Socialism/Communism. No Marxist theory predicted the affluence of the 20thC.

    The second thing, as a personal note about Marcuse, he was an fairly nasty influence on Western thought - his ideas of repressive tolerance seem to have taken hold.

    In general affluence, if broadly and evenly spread over the world, and ignoring environmental damage, is a good thing. You can can escape it if you want, you cannot escape poverty if you want. Decent societies must have certain levels of affluence, or you would have no public works at all. This doesn't mean all out capitalism is good.


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