The real contradiction of capitalism is that it arouses enormous ambition, but it doesn’t help you define where you should focus it. It doesn’t define an end to which you should devote your life. It nurtures the illusion that career and economic success can lead to fulfillment, which is the central illusion of our time.I think "capitalism" is the wrong word here; it seems to me that a socialist society could have this problem, too. Certainly it is just as bad among scientists who disdain the profit motive as among bankers. I would call this meritocratic striving. But it is absolutely the defining misery of our age that we no matter how hard we strive we are vaguely aware that we are not seeking the right things.
Capitalism on its own breeds people who are vaguely aware that they are not living the spiritually richest life, who are ill-equipped to know how they might do so, who don’t have the time to do so, and who, when they go off to find fulfillment, end up devoting themselves to scattershot causes and light religions.
Friday, November 28, 2014
Lots of effort, but toward what?
Thanksgiving has David Brooks wondering why people work so hard when they don't know what they are trying to achieve: