“Competitive capitalism, allied with a culturally sanctioned acquisitiveness and driven by calculated pursuit of profit, is only at surface a rational form of society. Beneath the appearance of dispassionate practicality is a deep and suppressed conflict between the mechanical regulation of daily life on the one hand, and human imagination, creativity, and emotion on the other” (Parkinson & Drislane, 2003, p. 129).
How, then, can capitalism provide for a peaceful, stable, and ordered social life offering a rich social life of shared values and activities? Is it even possible?
Capitalist societies are one’s of individualism, self-reliance, self-service, individual freedom, and achievement for one’s own personal goals. Now this may sound great to some, and I can understand that, too. However, capitalism seems to have also created a world of alienation, disconnect, and depersonalization, a world that lacks social values and bonds, mutual obligation, family, and community. A life without these things can seem meaningless, less fulfilling, and even self-destructive. Emile Durkheim, a sociologist, stated that there was a definite link between the rate in suicides and the surrounding society. He expressed that “individuals were far less likely to commit suicide where the surrounding society upheld strong traditional norms and values . . . [and] where they were strongly integrated into family, group and community” (p. 133).
Community, social bonds, social values, and social norms create connection and social solidarity. They give individuals guidance and direction. They give a sense of belonging and responsibility to a mutual group that has mutual goals. Strength and meaning is found through a healthy community, culture, and traditions, all of which are rewarding and internally rich.
By studying various statistics in psychology and sociology, you would be amazed to see the spike in mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. Why? Disconnection, perhaps. Are all of our personalized self-serving goals actually giving us mental and emotional health? We become so self-absorbed in what we are doing, making every human transaction a potential profit or a self-serving need, that we forget to sincerely connect with others. I strongly believe that good physical health begins with good mental and emotional health.
In the end, whatever the dominant economy is, today it is capitalism, social solidarity and togetherness – feeling really connected with others – is important and vital to your mental, emotional, and physical health. Be well, and make choices to connect with others that are healthy for you.