David Thompson
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February 11, 2008

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AntiCitizenOne

I would say that the increase in government, and the inevitable decrease in personal freedom has led to people being unhappy.

Billions are poorer and unhappier because of the state. It's time to roll it back for everyone's good.

David

If a person’s politics is largely based on railing against material inequalities (while trying to ignore the contradictions of being a well-heeled middle-class lefty), then unhappiness may be hard to avoid. Still, the presumption that “we” feel as she does is pretty spectacular.

R. Sherman

She makes the presumption, i.e. "if I ain't happy, ain't nobody happy," because her own psyche demands it. It is only with the presumption that her feelings have validity, evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.

The Thin Man

Life, Liberty and the PURSUIT of hapiness....

"The days when free-market theorists believed we would be liberated and happy through privatisation seem a world away"

No, free market theorists believed we would be liberated - and we were - from the clutches of command economy government. It is not the job of politics or government to make people happy. It is the responsibility of every individual to pursue their own happiness. As far as I can see happiness, like love, is singularly unamenable to being distributed or confered by politicians or marketing executives or even *GASP* journalists, anti-human environmental cassandras and psychologists.

They may as well ask why hasn't the government dating agency (and believe me, if we let them, they will build it) found me my perfect match (which in Buntings case would surely be the Angel of Death and in James' case would be a worker on the Prozac production line with big pockets).


Couldn't Mr James' sour view of western culture and the lack of happiness he sees be more a reflection of what a BAD psychologist HE is, rather than an indicator of rotteness of western values? Just asking...

Horace Dunn

I’ll probably sound like a grumpy old Tory here, but one of the reasons that these people are so unhappy (or at least think that they are – and, as you point out, think that WE are) is that they have ample time to sit around fretting about things. If they did something useful with their lives rather than whining at one another like so many forlorn mosquitoes across the green swampy wastes of the Guardian opinion pages then things might be different for them.

Our current prosperity enabled these people to tick the “stuck-up self-centred bore” box on the career sheet; it certainly didn’t force them to. They could have become useful members of society like most of us. The more fool them.

Still, they do contribute something good: an excuse to stop work for ten minutes and thumb one’s nose at the silly sods. Thank you David for enabling me to do this. It has made me happy.

Stuck-Record

David

I don't know if you've seen this:
http://timesonline.typepad.com/comment/2008/02/1066-and-all-th.html
but I felt it was right up your street.

In the Times online, Daniel Finklestein is asking people what they think is the greatest mistake in the history of the human race. Most of the respondents -- whether ignorant and informed on matters historical -- at least attempt to answer the question with some degree of, shall we say, sanity? But this one, this one... oh dear.

"Anjana Ahuja:
I agree to some extent with Jared Diamond that the worst mistake in the history of the human race, let alone Britain, was the replacement of hunter-gathering by agriculture, which fuelled rapid population growth, urbanisation and disease."

It's a beaut, isn't it?
Just to get into perspective. Before the invention of agriculture and the subsequent rapid population growth and urbanisation, there wasn't anything you could reasonably call history. Humanity had plodded on in the same, mostly unchanging, hand-to-mouth existence for half a million years (40,000 in the case of modern Cro-Magnon Man alone). The 'History' of the human race in the only way that makes any real sense, begins with the invention of agriculture. And this idiot, thinks the greatest mistake in the history of the human race is the invention of 'history' itself.

I'd love to know what she thinks would have happened in the intervening 40,000 years if agriculture hadn't been invented. I could make one tiny prediction: she wouldn't exist.

I had to look her up. It turns out she's a science, medicine and social affairs writer for the Times. She sits on the science committee for the Royal Society; the editorial committee of the BA magazine and has a PhD in physics from Imperial College. Jesus!

David

“…rapid population growth, urbanisation and disease.”

Eek. I assumed – wrongly, I think - that she was joking. Perhaps she’s employed on a similarly mischievous basis?

And I’m still struggling with Libby Purves’ “spiritual constipation.”

AntiCitizenOne

Which begs the question...

What's a spiritual laxative?

The Thin Man

"the greatest mistake in the history of the human race"

Easy. Not having created Thompson as Lord High Poo-Bah of the Universe and given all us commenters cushy jobs in the Ministry of Ultimate Truth and Sanitation.

Thompson would have looked very fetching in a Poo-Bah hat.

David

[ Cough. ]

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/photos/pictures1/poobah_hat.jpg

morbo

Well, that's about the volume of hat I would expect from a Lord High Poo-Bah of the Universe.

David

It’s a big universe.

morbo

Anyway, once again we see some miserable prick blaming society for their ills. Again, I think morbo's law is relevant: whenever an individual blames society for a predicament in which they find themselves, then that individual is to blame.

Here we see Ashley stating 'As we have grown richer, we have become less confident and optimistic about the future'. Unlike deprivation, richness is entirely voluntary. Materialism is a completely voluntary pursuit. How stupid, weak willed and feckless do you have to be to continue to do something that makes you miserable? We live in an age of unprecedented choice for lifestyle. One could easily live ascetically on a part time job, or live ascetically and save like crazy for a very early retirement, but instead seeking out such changes to make herself happier she just moans and blames society.

These people are simply miserable pricks looking for something else to blame. You never seem to hear glowing stories from them about how they voluntarily became poorer and gave up materialism and now find themselves much happier, which would be a far more convincing demonstration of their point. It doesn't happen because if they gave up materialism they would still be miserable pricks, but they would now have no one to blame.

The Thin Man

This blog recommends L'O'Real "Voluminique" hat spray. Now with alpha-pseudicules and natural monkey gland extracts - it embiggens, lifts AND seperates.
86%* of Poo-Bahs reported a noticeable improvement in hat volume.

*based on a sample of 2 Pooh-Bahs

Trimegistus

I think a lot of this is leftover socialist sour grapes. Remember, Karl Marx -- and Lenin after him -- promised that socialism and communism would bring a better life for everyone. But in practice, socialism inflicted hellish misery on its subject peoples, while across the barbed wire and minefields the miserable serfs of capitalism enjoyed material prosperity and personal freedom. Eventually the Marxist empire collapsed because of this.

In the West, Marxism's useful idiots, fellow travelers, and sleepers were forced back step by step. First they insisted the Soviet Union was a worker's paradise, then they had to admit it wasn't, so they shifted their argument. Sure, socialism makes a hell of poverty, misery, and early death -- but those are _good things_, it turns out. Material prosperity makes us depressed. Wealth destroys the planet.

The world rejected socialism because it got a good look at what socialism created. The socialists have regrouped and are laying the intellectual foundations for a second round. Now they're trying to brainwash us into thinking the failings of socialism are positive benefits.

David

Trimegistus,

“I think a lot of this is leftover socialist sour grapes.”

Well, Ashley produces no convincing evidence that the population as a whole is less happy than at some previous, supposedly less materialistic, time; or to support her claim that it is wealth and choice (rather than any of a hundred other things) that is responsible for such a change in cheerfulness, if indeed there is one. And, again, there’s the assumption that happiness and optimism in and of themselves should be functions of, or objectives of, government.

As you suggest, one might just as well argue that Marxist fantasies and woolly “counterculture” posturing have left a great many people feeling embarrassed, demoralised and resentful as their misapprehensions have become difficult to sustain. Or that the creep of egalitarian pretensions has left many people despairing at the dishonesties of the age.

Still, I guess it’s all about repeating the meme.

The Thin Man

I have just found a Washington Post article on "Happiness" and the results are revealing and relevant:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/07/AR2008020701904.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

"A 2006 Pew Research poll found that 45 percent of Republicans describe themselves as "very happy," compared with only 30 percent of Democrats (and 29 percent of independents). This is a sizable gap and a remarkably consistent one, too. Republicans have been happier than Democrats every year since the General Social Survey, conducted biannually by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, began asking about happiness in 1972."

morbo

Hahahah! That's very funny in this context, TTM. Let's see, leftists want the government to make everyone happy, and republicans are reliably more happy. Hmmmm...

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