We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Happy faces

“If “happy” means that you have satisfied your desires, then the claim that people seek only happiness is no more than the triviality that people want what they want. On the other hand, if “happy” refers to some particular state of mind, such as the apparent contentment of the Dali Lama, then we obviously do not seek only happiness. No one believes that a Rolex watch will put him in the mental state of the Dali Lama, but many still want one. Dave may seek some special mental state for himself. That’s fine by me. Alas, he will not pay me the same courtesy. Like others in the grip of an enthusiasm, he is convinced that people who do not share his vision suffer from “false consciousness” or something else in need of correction. Dave’s adolescent moment will remain amusing so long as he doesn’t try to do something about it.”

Jamie Whyte, contemplating the desire of David Cameron, UK prime minister, to make us benighted Brits happier.

It is hard to disagree with the view of Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds that we currently suffer from the worst political class in living memory, if not for longer. It is not so much that this generation is particularly vicious or stupid – competition for that sort of standing is strong. Rather, it is that there seems to be a massive gap between the scale of the problems now faced by some Western nations, and the calibre of the people whom are being expected to do something about it, and the fatuous preoccupations of these people. We live in an age where we, for example, think a way of dealing with the banking crisis is to strip a senior former banker of his knighthood, rather, than say, address the underlying problem of fiat money, high taxes, “too big to fail” and so on.

But silly me – it is all about how we feel about things. There is a great line in The Iron Lady – the movie about Margaret Thatcher – where the great lady berates a doctor for asking her the question “how do you feel” rather than asking her about what she is thinking. Thinking is just so 1980s, dahhhling.

9 comments to Happy faces

  • Alisa

    At least he was stripped of his knighthood. Others like him have been stripped of nothing at all, as far as I can tell.

  • Gareth

    Goodwin should have kept it – as a permanent reminder of the poor quality of politicians we pick, how craven they are when there is political gain to be had, how their arrogance and ignorance overcomes them all too often.

  • The floggings will continue until morale improves.

  • steve

    I don’t think the current crop of politicians is any stupider, more self-obsorbed, or craven then normal. The difference is they simply have more power over our lives then other politicians in recent memory. They “stand on the shoulders” so to speak of preceding politicians who spent their lives accumulating more power for the state.

  • RRS

    I submit that the reason we have “the worst political class in history” is that we have had, and still have, the most passive electorates in history.

    The stirrings from that passivity now beginning and making different kinds of displays in different parts of the “Western” World may indicate by the very nature of their differences (or in fact the absence of any displays as yet) the future direction of those societies.

    The stirrings in the U S are not yet adequate and some are occurring at the wrong “levels.” In the U.K they seem to be entirely at that wrong level; France is an enigma; Germany, Netherlands and Scandinavia less passive.

    Paraphrasing James (I only know his wife) ” It’s the Stupid People, Stupid!!”

  • There is a rather old De-motivational Poster with a picture of someone crying in the corner of an office with the tag line

    “Sometimes the best solution to morale problems is just to fire all of the unhappy people”.

    Maybe we should try that one, although I suspect we would end up with North Korea.

  • It is pure folly not to accept the fact that thoughts are driven by emotions. This is where Thatcher and many of her fellow Brits would do well to be more inquisitive and less sure of themselves. Dealing in reality means acceptance of it, and denial that thoughts are driven and guided by emotions is at best wishful thinking, at worst appalling ignorance – and never anything of which to be proud.

    Happiness, however, is not the end-all, be-all. A meaningful life is much more desirable than happiness, which many people are ill-equipped to define or recognize (it is often conflated with pleasure or absence of pain).

  • nemesis

    I believe the Buddhists say the secret to personal happiness is to have a resolved past, a satisfactory present and a hopeful future. A wider application of that to the country as a whole wouldn’t go amiss.

  • Jay Thomas

    “No one believes that a Rolex watch will put him in the mental state of the Dali Lama, but many still want one.”

    Of course not, it takes a Patek Phillipe for that..