[FoRK] World Map of Happiness
Malcolm Greenshields <
greenshields at uleth.ca
> on >
Mon Jul 31 20:16:20 PDT 2006
Seeing as there are very few countries without substantially capitalist
economies, I'm not sure what the debate is about. I have the feeling
that few of the discussants have read marx, who was many things, but
certainly not an idiot. He described the evolution of western societies
better than most have done, but was not particularly clairvoyant - an
interesting historian and theorist who saw some things in the
mid-nineteenth century with remarkable clarity. He was one of the few
foreign correspondents retained by the New York Herald during hard times
in the 1840s because his reporting was clever, inciseive and funny.
(Read the 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon) Fortunately for him, he died
in the 1880s, before others made him a religious figure (whether demonic
or salvatory) and it would be about a generation after his death before
his name even appeared in most general encyclopedias.
The thing I have never liked about his ideas was his profound
materialism. Even his genius in seeing the importance of conflict and
economic competition in the development of society is overshadowed by
this uniquely material view. The funny thing is, tho, that he really
gave us much of the language we use for this debate, especially the
emphasis on capitalism, which he saw as enormously productive of both
goods and social change. It seems that although this discussion is about
happiness, much of it turns on economic notions and material advantages,
just as he would have liked. We are almost completely imbued with the
materialist notion that the control of resources is crucial to our
wellbeing, no where more than in America. I'm afraid that in a strange
way, and not one I particularly like, Marx has beaten us, especially
where we protest the loudest and use his name as a kind of evil totem to
describe failed dictastorships that never got capitalism right, let
alone evolved to the stages he saw as coming far after its overripe demise.
Other than the people sitting on a pool of oil in Brunei, the happiest
countries you list seem to have used capitalism without revering it to
thie exclusion of other human needs. They all have relatively small
populations. Most have relatively clean air. Most are historically
Christian cultures, although a few are not. Perhaps it is important
that none is a first-rank international power - Nobody on the UN
security council is remarkably happy. I suspect the French though.
Having lived with them a few years I think they often seem happy in a
kind of romantic, existential unhappiness, sort of like an Edith Piaf
song. Perhaps the peoples listed have never harboured anyone as morose,
homely, or sternly principled as Ayn Rand. I don't know.....
Russell Turpin wrote:
> Damien Morton <fork at bitfurnace.com>:
>> Companies are the most fascistic organisations any of us will ever
>> come into contact with.
> Playing monopoly is the closest most of us will ever come
> to being billionaires.
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