Recently I have noticed that in America the hard core consumer capitalists and socialists are really saying the same thing. Both groups have morphed away from their traditional roots into distorted versions of themselves. Marketing culture has now invaded every square inch of our lives. I was at the DMV the other day, and this government office now has TV’s running advertisements to entertain people as they wait for their appointments. The ad war has been so successful that we no longer believe it is possible to have a good life without more and more stuff.
In order to be successful, both groups have to move us to a place of discontentment, and even fear. They have to convince us that what we already have is not enough. Then we are ripe to believe their propaganda: They can solve our problem.
The consumer capitalists, through the ubiquity of advertising, are telling us we need new shiny gadgets to have a good life. Happiness is not possible without this stuff. So spend your money to buy happiness. Use a high interest credit card. After all, what is happiness worth? We are marinating in this narrative. We can’t escape it. It’s on TV, the internet, sporting events, nonprofits, schools, etc. Not all of this is bad, but it does fuel the worst in human nature. We end up believing that happiness comes from stuff. And that it comes from having stuff in a particular way: the newest, the fastest, etc. And happiness is found in its highest concentration in having more stuff than our neighbors. So when you see your neighbor with the “next big thing” you need to go out and buy it. No interest, no payments for 6 months.
The socialists are saying that in spite of unprecedented prosperity (the majority of people considered poor have a vastly higher standard of living than the middle class 40 years ago), happiness is not possible when others have more than you do. You cannot be allowed to forget that the rich have more than you do. And where this problem exists (and it is universal) there must be some cosmic inequity. You are a victim. So the government will take other people’s money AND STILL GO INTO DEBT on your behalf so you can have the good life– which basically means more stuff.
Now poverty is real, and there are far too many poor in America where we have plenty of resources. So I don’t intended to diminish that. More needs to be done to help those truly in need. But I have observed that the socialist agenda wants to encourage more Americans to feel like they are poor. To believe that they need government aid to survive. I just received a letter in the mail from our school district asking us to consider if we can qualify for free school lunches in a “need based” program. What is the threshold to qualify? For a family of 4 it is $52K/year. But I wonder, If you are making this much money and you’re NOT spending it on food, where is it going? I think it is noteworthy that this is not assistance for “extras” like college applications, AP tests, field trips. That much might be understandable. But this is for food.
My sense is that in the current context, many American socialists and capitalists are saying the same thing about where you can find the good life. They just have different plans on how to fund it. And in the end the good life won’t be found in stuff, no matter who is paying for it.
So don’t believe the lie, no matter which side is telling it.