“ Life is a race, if you don’t run for it, you will end of being a broken egg”
- Viru Sahastrabuddhe (Virus)
This quote from the movie 3 Idiots (2009) simply explains how we as humans are running, running to achieve,the unachievable. At the end of the day, the need for affiliation is greater, living a life that possibly could bring power and reputation is an aim. Living in a society full of expectation, we tend to believe that the highest form of contribution we could ever offer the society is by working hard so that the outer source is not disappointed with us. “Money, money, money it’s a rich man’s world” a song by ABBA, a Swedish pop group sums up how humans want to live a life that is based on monetary support and how over the years monetary gains have become their identity. Entering this vicious cycle refrains one from remembering their own identity.
Capitalism promotes us to live in an anxious society, where there is this constant FOMO (fear of missing out), If God forbid,there is a pause to the running in the society, guaranteed there will be an echo voice reminding us all that “you will end up being a broken egg”.
Capitalism inserts the concept of ownership, we as humans suffer from superiority complex wherein we believe we hold ownership of everything. For instance - Nature, the universe is the ulimate reality and we are a part of this system, the only difference is that humans tend to believe the possess tad bit of power, while nature has always been a provider. Unfortunately, learning from the concept of capitalism we drain the resources from nature, ultimately becoming full of resources, leaving nature shunned.
What is capitalism?
Capitalism is an economic and political system where the means of production are held by private individuals, not by the government and factors like prices and distribution of goods are determined by the free market. The concept of capitalism emerged in the 16th century and accelerated during Industrial revolution, this was pushed forward by Colonialism, the factory system and the Atlantic slave trade.
As we know the vision of capitalism is to prioritize growth and profits and search for new market expansions.Even then in the 16th century, the aim was to prioritize growth and wealth by exploiting factory workers and people leaving them empty, the inequality has been a prime concern. the difference then was that capitalism exploited people in the name of leisure and increased liabilities and today in the 21st century capitalism exploits us in the name of our identity.
DEPTHS OF CAPITALISM
Over the time, the definition of capitalism has evolved, but the mission remains constant that is utilize individuals in terms of overthinking only to come to a conclusion of self - doubt. Social media is a forum where young talents showcase their ability and explore their creative side of life. Social media is the powerhouse of great content, a platform where individuals voice their thoughts, the flip side to this is the rat - race, the need for new content is a requirement.
Internalized capitalism - Our self -worth is directly linked to our productivity said Anders Hayden, a Political Science professor at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia Who is currently conducting a research on the political and policy impacts of alternative measures of well - being and prosperity outside of gross domestic product (GDP).
Capitalism has been a very traditional concept and the sub branch of capitalism is the revival of the coming of age concept that is internalized capitalism. The concept states that our self worth is determined by how much productivity we invest, basically saying that “No matter how hard I work, I feel I haven’t invested much of time because of this notion I feel worthless”. Internalized capitalism differs on many factors and one of the major factors it tends to promote is guilt, the thought that overachieving, working harder and building stability even when there’s a great foundation to lay on is just not enough, if the needful is unaccomplished the guilt sets in form of undervaluation and self - doubt.
Content Creators bring in the their content to the world, they get acknowledged for their work but at some point of the journey they become victims of writer’s block and struggle to think out of the box with regards to their content, the constant anxiety and the need for more is a fear. Internalised capitalism demands them to function this way, their worth is very much derived from the content they create.
PIC COURTESY - WORKBRIGHTER
Recently I came across a very cool trend that is “Hustle culture” as much as it sounded cool and productive, it was more about draining mental and physical abilities. The trend is about how we should hustle, that is to work tirelessly to achieve our goals. Sooner I realised that people took up this trend not only to work hard on their goals but also just to look cool in the name of productivity. Toxic capitalism has been out there for the longest time, it’s just that we are scapegoats of this circumstance. Psychologist from various fields have been stated about how commercials on television choose to target audience’s emotions through their products, a very indirect approach by capitalism to exploit one’s emotions. The combination of greed and capitalism goes hand in hand. Remember the quote “Human wants are unlimited”, targeting this goal to achieve their vision and to insert the thoughts of reputation and self -doubt is the agenda.
SELF - WORTH V/S NET WORTH
In an interview, Boston psychologist Kalman Glantz spoke about one of his clients Michael (40), a middle manager at a mid-sized tech company had been going through a rough patch in his life. The company where michael worked at was doing well, he was financially stable, his two kids attended private school, and after working for hours he would come home only to have a quarrel with his wife, nobody understood his plot and why he was so distressed. When Michael approached Glantz, he encouraged him to speak about his colleagues and superiors harassing him, Michael then stated that it wasn’t them that caused him frustration and distress, it was him being anxious about his status, his net worth instead of his self worth.
In life very rarely we find the ability to affirm that we are happy with the way we are or with the things life has bestowed upon us. Capitalism is here to target these affirmations we make by instilling the feeling of self - doubt, and why wouldn’t it create this feeling, after all happiness and satisfaction is not good for the economy. The very reason we purchase products is cause we lack it or we find it beneficial to make our lives better but all in all if we put a stop to purchasing products, capitalism will fall and that is the very reason the main aim of this concept is to target the naive audience, convincing them to thnk that they are not what they think they are.
PIC COURTESY - ECONOMIC STACK EXCHANGE
The concept of Diminshing marginal utility in economics is about total satisfaction. The concept derives the satisfaction or utility that consumers derive from a product wanes as they consume more and more of the respective product. On the contrary, when it comes to capitalism, the product offered may not be of requirement but based on self - doubt, we need to inherit it. The utlity of the product gets less and less but the rise of self - doubt increases bit by bit. Capitalism tarnishes self - worth and welcomes net - worth.
Remember the iconic scene where the good cop Ravi (Shashi Kapoor) confronts his crooked brother, Vijay (Amitabh Bachchan) in Deewar 1975?
Amitabh Bachchan - "Aaj mere paas building hai, property hai, bank balance hai, bangla hai, gaadi hai, kya hai kya hai tumhare pass?"
(English translation – I have a building, I have a property, bank balance, mansion, a car, what do you have?)
A very iconic dialogue, over the years many artist went to enact this scene and dialogue. What I could gather from this dialogue is the pride Amitabh Bachchan had, his worth was very much defined by his net - worth and the materialistic pleasure he derived from his net - worth. This constant need to be purchasing products just to level up one’s worth is capitalism. The truth is that self - worth shall increase owning every commodity but the
dissatisfaction level increases.
PIC COURTESY - WANDELMUT
While other countries are looking forward to increase their economy, by working rigorously on GDP (Gross domestic product), and are gauging a nation’s overall health and productivity, a tiny Himalayan kingdom created it’s own unique rule to measure their worth - A worth known as Gross national happiness (GHN). Bhutan is the only country in the world to impose this law and it definitely works for the wellness and health of people, today Bhutan is the happiest country in the world.
KEEPING UP WITH SELF - ESTEEM
We live in a patriarchal society where mostly the head of the family is a male member, we generally associate masculinity with strength and superiority but the respect for the head of the family is not on these factors, it’s mostly because of their ability to work and feed their family. The position gives them this respect, the worth is defined by the income, this gives them the feeling of superiority. This is a concept of looking glass self - A new concept of self - esteem where people evaluate themselves based on how others perceive them.
Gone are the days when self - esteem was associated with confidence, courage or contribution to the betterment of the society. It has changed from “us” to “them”. We are no longer known for our values, morals, ethics rather we are known for the reputation or position we possess in the society.
Parasite (2019), a Korean film became one of the few international films to break into the American mainstream. The depiction of the lower class family and the upper class family spoke volumes, from the gap we as society face to the very desire of wealth and respect is portrayed in the film. Capitalism is like a coin with two sides, one side of the coin is about “the work of lower class benefiting the upper class in terms of profit” and the other side is “the profits of the upper class feeding the lower class”. The gap between these two groups was just that one class lived life abundantly while the others went through constant sacrifice.
HAPPINESS IS NOT GOOD FOR THE ECONOMY
"The world is both real and unreal because it exists but is 'not what it appears to be'.
What is happiness?
A question which is easy to express and difficult to speak of.
Aristotle, a Greek philosopher tried to explain the meaning of happiness, he stated that happiness is like a goal we all try to achieve, happiness is derived by how virtuous we tend to be, however we fail to reach the goal. Another philosopher, Epicurus also a follower of Aristotle stated how happiness is a goal to achieve simple pleasures.
Over the years the ability to express and speak about happiness has dissolved. Self - doubt is one of the powerful tools capitalism could ever use on humans. The word entrepreneurship was associated with finances, with great finance stability came better lifestyle, good reputation, this could really be a worth, individuals could define their worth, but as of today the definition has changed, it is about thriving and flourishing on one human trait that is dissatisfaction. In a system where capitalism is a prime determinant of value, how can we preserve what we truly value as humans, what matters to us beyond money?
Why are we pursuing this vicious circle of FOMO?
The answer is quite simple, we are what we think and most of the times we think we are not good enough.
Why are people buying products like - anti-aging cosmetics, power fitness component or drinks that could increase one’s height or why are we aiming to purchase a swanky SUV, or a bigger mansion, aren’t we content enough? Or aren’t we stable in our foundation?
It’s not your fault, you fell for this scam, capitalism knows exactly where to shoot the arrow. There is this urge to be best in every aspect and no matter how content we get with ourselve and our life, capitalism will target one’s confidence transforming into self - doubt. Capitalism will dissolve if happiness got into the way.
Worry, anxiety and depression, the unknown trend of the future is all that helps products and services sell. But most importantly it is the fear that contributes the most. The fear of being out of place, and the fear of not fitting in, the fear of low self -confidence in our raw selves are what leads us to buy things which are not always, but mostly, an unnecessary expense.
THE EMPIRICAL SELF OR ME
“The principles of Psychology” by William James states the empirical self of each one of us, he states how he is tempted to call us by our name for our self but it is clear that between what a man calls me and what he simply calls mine there is a line which has to be drawn. There’s a feeling and as we act and feel about certain things that are our very much as we feel and act about ourselves.
Our fame, our children, the work of our hands may be dear to us as to our bodies and it aroses the feeling and the same act of reprisal if attacked and our bodies themselves. He raises a very important question here: Our bodies, are they simply ours or are they us? Certainly men have been ready to disown their very bodies and to regard them as mere vestures, or even as prisons of clay from which they should someday be glad to escape.
We are dealing with fluctuations and along with fluctuations there is no stability in our material. The same object being sometimes treated as a part of me at other times as simply mine and there was point where I had nothing to do with myself again. However, a man's Self is the sum total of all that he can call his, not only his body and his psychic powers, but his clothes and his house, his wife and children, his ancestors and friends, his reputation and works, his lands and horses, and yacht and bank-account. All these things give him the same emotions.If they wax and prosper, he feels triumphant; if they dwindle and die away, he feels cast down, not necessarily in the same degree for each thing.
The activity of the worker is not his spontaneous activity. It belongs to another. It is A loss Of himself.”
– Karl Marx
We as social beings are gifted with great abilities and with this come greater opportunities, unfortunately capitalism embarks on this journey to makes one disbelief in their potential, where we drain our own individuality and become victims of self- doubt. We live as objects in this society, where there is a constant urge to win and achieve the unachievable. the thought of the things we think would make our life better is the actual win for capitalism. The journey is less about a purpose and more about propaganda. Living a life without contentment, drains the self or the name within us as William James mentions. But alas, commodities don’t provide lasting fulfillment, only genuine human interaction and authentic self - expression.
This article on ' Happiness' has been contributed by Swarna Pillai who is a student of Bhavans College,Mumbai.
Swarna is a part of the Global Internship Research Program (GIRP), which is mentored by Anil Thomas.
Swarna's future plan is to make an impact in society and to raise awareness and to end the stigma associated to mental health.
GIRP is an initiative by (International Journal of Neurolinguistics & Gestalt Psychology) IJNGP and Umang Foundation Trust to encourage young adults across our globe to showcase their research skills in psychology and to present it in creative content expression.
Anil is an internationally certified NLP Master Practitioner and Gestalt Therapist. He has conducted NLP Training in Mumbai, and across 6 other countries. The NLP practitioner course is conducted twice every year. To get your NLP certification