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Capitalism -- the Doctrine of Dissatisfaction



The villagers have land, cows and bulls. They milk the cows, plow the fields and
transport the produce with the bulls, and they grow food grains and vegetables on
the land. They make simple but comfortable dwellings from readily available
ingredients: bamboo, mud, cow-dung, and so on. Everything is clean and civilized.
They are cooking very nice food with the produce of the land and the milk from the
cows and their lives are full and happy. Although they are busy working the land,
cooking, cleaning, bring water from the well, washing cloths,  etc., still they
are nowhere  near as busy as we are in the Western world. They have time to think
and time to serve God.  When I saw this I was amazed. My Western conditioning
didnít prepare me for this. I couldnít imagine how people could be living a
civilized and comfortable life without the modern amenities we take for granted.
There is no running water, no hot water, no electricity, hardly any furniture, no
household gadgets, no carpets, none of the stuff we fill our houses with, yet I
could perceive these people were happy and peaceful in this lifestyle. They have a
peacefulness you just canít find in Pitt Street Mall, or anywhere in Sydney for
that matter.

 
Their incomes are very small compared to our standards. We get twenty rupees for
one Australian dollar and in Indian villages if someone is making twenty rupees a
day itís considered a huge income. They really donít need so much money because
their lifestyle is simple. Itís not that they are poor or missing out on
anything...they have good food, clothes and comfortable houses, what else do they
need?
 
Seeing this lifestyle prompted me to compare it with ours in Australia. I donít
think we are better off than the Indian villagers. This was initially quite a
shock to me as I had assimilated all the subtle brainwashing our society gives us
to instill in us the desire to consume to the maximum possible extent and thus
keep the capitalistic machinery running.
 
We earn and spend so much money, but what is the result? What do we have that the
Indian villagers donít have? We have a house, it may be double-brick and in a posh
suburb, but after all itís a house. We are eating, we are sleeping and we are
working, the same things are going on. Of course we have so many electronic
gadgets but what have they brought us? The television and video are a direct line
to the consumer society, and really who wants that? The computer has made half the
work force obsolete, they are now thrown on the heap of social rejects which is
growing at an alarming rate -- people who simply have no place in society. They
donít have the intelligence to become great computer programmers or high-pressure
executives, so there is no place for them. The motor car has created so much
pollution and has fostered a society where people now live two hours drive away
from their place of work. They buy and maintain an expensive motor car with a
large chunk of the money they earn simply to spend four stressful hours in it
every day driving to and from work!  So these were some of the thoughts that
crossed my mind.
 
We have created a very stressful society centred around personal sense
gratification. The key word in Australia is "me." "Whatís in it for me?" All the
products and services are supposed to make life easier or to give one more
pleasure. But the thing is these products and services were not created to help
the public... they were created to make money for someone... thatís the
capitalistic way of things.
 
If this capitalistic society is to go "ahead" then people have to be encouraged to
consume more. If people are satisfied with what they have they donít consume so
much, so there has to be discontent, people have to be dissatisfied with what they
have now, otherwise they wonít buy the new model. Every year there is a new model
of each car to make the owners of the previous years model feel they are driving
an "obsolete" model. Everything changes so quickly. Even though the computer Iím
using at the moment to typeset this magazine is working quite well, you can see
the result is OK, Iím thinking Iíll have to upgrade it because after all itís a
386 and now they are obsolete. This is the way we are trained to think. Itís
perfectly alright to spend $2,000 on a computer and then throw it on the junk-heap
eighteen months later because itís obsolete. I actually bought this computer at an
auction for $200, because it is a few years old.  If you havenít got the latest
model youíre missing out... or so the story goes.
 
Dissatisfaction is actually created in our society to fuel the capitalistic
machine. But what sort of lifestyle does that give us? We are forced to work hard
for things we donít actually need only to find twelve months after we purchase
them they are obsolete, they have no resale value and there is a new machine on
the market with many more features.
 
We are missing the wood for the trees, we have no idea what we are trying to
achieve in this life, we are simply going from one sense gratification program to
the next, and we are never satisfied with any of them. The thing is we never have
any time to think. Actually thinking is not encouraged by our society, if we have
any spare time there are so many mindless diversions to consume our energy. We can
watch the television, play some sport, go to the beach, take some drugs, find a
girl and try to arrange some sex life, go to a party, go to a disco, go to a pub,
go to a restaurant, go to the movies, read the newspaper, go shopping... there is
no end to the list of diversions available to us... perhaps thatís why we consider
ours an advanced society?
 
 
Thank you. Hare Krishna!

 
Madhudvisa dasa       
(madhudvisa@krishna.org)     /sudarsana
 
All glories to His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada!
 
 

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