[Marxism] The materialist conception of happiness

Marv Gandall marvgand2 at gmail.com
Sun Nov 2 14:20:13 MST 2014

On Nov 2, 2014, at 11:30 AM, Charlie via Marxism <marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu> wrote:

> Not so fast with the “Chinese are happy" mantra.

On Nov 2, 2014, at 11:58 AM, Dennis Brasky via Marxism <marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu> wrote:

> With hundreds of millions of peasants stuck in the countryside doing barely
> better than starving, and workers in the cities choking on polluted air and
> working 16 hour shifts, sleeping in crowded rooms because of sky-high
> rents, I see a materialist basis for frustration, anger, and revolt.

On Nov 2, 2014, at 2:40 PM, Steve Heeren via Marxism <marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu> wrote:

> I haven’t read the article Marv posted but, just from his summary alone, it sounds as if the study has some serious conceptual and methodological weaknesses.

I agree happiness and satisfaction are elusive concepts, and polls can be notoriously misleading. 

However, history demonstrates that you can get deep dissatisfaction, miserable working conditions and widespread protest coexisting with a general sense that history is progressive, that living standards are on an upward trajectory, and that social reforms or revolution will yield even better results in the future. 

This was the case, and was recognized as such by the early Marxists, during the long rise of the trade union and radical movement in the West when a rapidly expanding industrial economy bred working class confidence, optimism, and militancy in conditions when labour was in relatively short supply. The same can be said of China and other expanding economies today. In the developed world, meanwhile, the opposite prevails: economies are stagnating, jobs and living standards are on a downward trend, job insecurity is rife, trade union density and strike activity has shrunk dramatically, and there is a generalized sense of decline and powerlessness, none of which is conducive to working class confidence, optimism, and militancy. 

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