For most people a good life is one that is eaten up by work, and which fruits are the pleasures and sense of power and prestige that that work provides. This is the modern ideal and promise, a life of work and spiritual vacuum.
Man will not rest until he has transformed the last bit of nature into an economic resource for consumption, and thereby killed himself as well as the rest of nature. Perhaps technological capitalism is nothing more than a long process of suicide, deprived of any self-control or spiritual mastery.
This compulsion to buy ever new things, not out of any need, not because the newly acquired item is better, but because this allows us to project a better image of ourselves, and gives us a psychological satisfaction (that we fit, that we ‘are‘) — is at the heart of what consumer driven capitalism is all about.
It is not having or possessing in itself that satisfies us, but the image that, through this having, we are able to project to others, is what we ultimately seek. Advertisers did not so much create this need as exploit it, and therefore amplify it. We are, each of us, an “influencer.” But the questions is: at what point does the image we project of ourselves meet with actual life, with the reality of our emotions and intellectual capacities, with the sum of our life and its potential?
To be is not so much to have, but to be able to project the image that fits, the image that insures our identity and social standing and recognition. But it is a mirage we are only attaching ourselves to, an illusion. We are nothing more than a whiff of smoke that the softest breeze will dissipate.
Contemplation has always had to battle against the values of the market, but in no age did these values reign absolute as they do today. They are upheld religiously — and therefore, invisibly — and have sneaked in to transform every institution and discipline, including that of philosophy, from the ground up. In addition to having made the life of man uninteresting and small, they have also made him increasingly stupid. Soon he will have to relearn his most basic skills — seeing, hearing, reading, thinking. They never allow him a moment’s rest as he is constantly pushed to perform and produce. They are the ultimate tyranny, seen by none, upheld by all.
To live under the sway of capitalism and have our inner lives accordingly patterned means exactly this—that we experience our life as a sum of energy that ought to be invested in the market; if the result is successful and the investment pays off then we are happy, self-content, the esteemed holders of a capital (our own self and the sum of what it owns, including personal and character traits) that must be used to generate more and more; if the result is unsuccessful, if we and our efforts are not bought and sold at a convenient price then we simply become failures, forever haunted with a sense of inferiority.
The above is a system of alienation—totally cutting man off from his inner life and from the products of his hands. The above makes a farce of human values and laughs in the face of love and spirituality.