12 May 2009
Posted by victor as Destruction of the Humane Concept of Human Happiness, Sociological essays
7thletter to the readers – about the pre- and post-2WW American liberalism
One of the topics of my new book “Ideological Superstitions and Political Misperceptions of 20th-21st centuries”is the ambiguous and even paradoxical nature of FDR’s reforms and post-war success of the human rights movement, and the general democratization of socio-cultural climate in USA. Were post-war prosperity, freedom and orientation on happiness for everybody a genuine cultural orientation, or was it just an attempt to pacify the majority of the Americans with hasty satisfactions, to distract them from falling for the socialist and the communist myths? And even more – to distract them from the desire to improve democracy, to make it more democratic? Then what would be the main instrument of this distraction – the tool of transformation of the American dream about democratic equality and freedom into American dream of unlimited appropriation and consumption?
In my book I will argue that this political subterfuge is an ideological transformation of the idea of human happiness on the level of human wholeness (uniting physical, biological, emotional, social, civic, moral, philosophical, intellectual, aesthetic and mystical aspects of the relation to the world and other human beings) into the idea of human happiness on the level of psychological fragment (the right to fight for a higher place in the social hierarchy, to consume as much as possible, to appropriate property and to indulge in financial calculation and moneymaking schemes – in other words, the right to extra-survive).
As soon as freedom was defined not as freedom from any despotic demands including the necessity to fight for survival, and not as the freedom for moving toward psychological maturity and trying to improve our moral and spiritual sensitivity – but as the freedom to try hard to out-survive others, and as soon as the masses of poor have accepted this shift in concept of happiness (how could the poor and those in fear of becoming poor refuse?) the task of the decision-making rich (how to avoid social development on the level of advancing moral values and humanizing basic norms) – was, mainly, achieved. The socio-cultural change now is only possible inside the area of survival-success, and unacceptable on the level of axioms of being and existence. Democracy and freedom started to be conceived as the right to fight for my/my family’s consumption and the right to enjoy my financial survival and my appropriative abilities. Happiness started to be perceived quantitatively – as an object of arithmetic calculation, as a function of economy understood as a profit maximization machine.
The creation of mass culture in U.S. was the triumph of a degraded concept of human freedom, equality and happiness. Consumerist obsessions, cheap processed food, entertaining meaningless images and pleasant (because trying hard to please) but misleading and disorienting ideas have drowned the intellectual capabilities and the chance to move toward the refinement of the soul. The mass cultural pseudo-well being destroys in Americans the ability to believe in human happiness in a not reified/reduced – vulgar and violent, but in a rational, harmonious and feverless way.
In Soviet Russia, I will argue, a similar process of destruction a humane concept of human happiness took place starting with pop-Marxism and continuing with Lenin’s “dictatorship of the proletariat” and with Stalin’s “building of Communism” as the highest goal of human life. The American concept of working and living to consume and appropriate as much as possible is the twin of the Soviet concept of working and living for the sake of a Communist future. In both cases the goal of human life is defined as a giant fetish in relation to this life, as something that is much more valuable than the substance of humanity.