Sigmund Freud’s Insights into Capitalist Consumerism

AdBusters: “We’re all crawling desperately towards a mirage-like horizon of satiety.”


What would Dr. Freud have to say now, in 2014? If he were alive today, 
he would no longer be influenced by Nietzsche and Darwin, but by Marx and McLuhan. It would no longer be Victorian, Christian values he’d blame for collective insanity, but the technophilia of our capitalist empire. He would see capitalism—the global religion of today—as the new opiate of the masses, propagating mass delusion and promising to immunize us from suffering with an endless supply of shiny, new things. The worst part (beyond the fact that it makes manifest Thanatos, the death-drive, on a planetary scale) is that capitalism fails to keep its promise. And so we are reduced to “psychical infantilism,” crawling desperately toward the mirage-like horizon of satiety where riches, happiness and self-actualization remain forever just out of reach. This voracious desire for more has toxic waste products—greed, jealousy and rage—which seep into the rivers of the psyche and deteriorate our capacities for reason and compassion. The resultant phenomena is a dangerous condition 
which Freud called, “the psychological misery of the mass” . . . 
something we are all far too familiar with . . .

We are currently living through a new epidemic of insanity … one that’s far darker, more vast and troubling than anything the pioneers of psychoanalysis could have even imagined. 60 million people in the United States, approximately a fifth of the population, are suffering from mental illness—mood disorders, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, OCD, ADD, PTSD and the rest. Though the symptoms differ, it’s no longer possible to diagnose or treat this collective insanity at the level of the individual. 
There is a madness in the air affecting us all.

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