Brilliant Essay On What Capitalism Is Doing To Us

Charles Hugh Smith, an economic and cultural thinker, recently wrote an essay that absolutely nailed how capitalism and individualism are destroying America. Here are the highlights:

This classic analysis of Western liberal capitalist society contends that capitalism—and the culture it creates—harbors the seeds of its own downfall by creating a need among successful people for personal gratification—a need that corrodes the work ethic that led to their success in the first place.


Narcissism is the result of the consumerist society’s relentless focus on the essential project of consumerism, which is “the only self that is real is the self that is purchased and projected.”


…narcissism has been on the rise for 30 years in advanced neoliberal economies.

In my analysis, this is the direct consequence of the supremacy of a consumerism that is dependent on financialization: an economy dependent on debt-fueled consumption to power its “endless growth” is one that will necessarily implode from its internal contradictions: debt and leverage eventually exceed the carrying capacity of the collateral and the national income, and the narcissism of consumerism leads to social recession, a crippling state of “suspended animation” adolescence and great personal frustration and unhappiness.

Long live America!

Source: Narcissism, Consumerism and the End of Growth

26 thoughts on “Brilliant Essay On What Capitalism Is Doing To Us”

  1. Nothing new here. Marx, and Hegel in some ways before him, definitively spelled out the fatal flaws of capitalism. The problem is that no one has a workable alternative.

    1. Nothing wrong with lines for toilette paper – just wipe your ass with Pravda!

  2. Capitalism is also what brought us all of the things we “couldn’t live without”: cell phones, tv, radio, cars, etc.

  3. Capitalism is not the enemy, because essentially, it´s free trade. Closing the eyes when looking at human nature is “the enemy”.
    There is so much more wrong… taxing work is dumb, for example. Taxing consumerism is much, much better. Especially taxing not-renewable resources.
    The thing is, most of the great problems of our time have a clear solution. It´s just, that those in power don´t profit from using those solutions. In the end, it´s all about procreation. Why change anything, when you are rich enough (and keep getting richer) to support the next 15 generations of your own children. Your OWN, that´s the point.

  4. Women turning to the government as their sugar daddy is ruining this country more than capitalism.
    But I would argue in a country where the economy prospers leads to feminism. That’ll tank the economy which leads back to poverty and the rise of men. It has it’s own checks and balances.

  5. Interesting how a constantly recurring theme in the manosphere is “once the increasingly female-run society collapses, as it inevitably must, men will be back in the saddle.” Is that the destiny of (erm, certain races of) men? That they must always build up societies, hand them over to women because it’s the ‘civilized’ thing to do, watch it collapse, then regain their leadership only in each new Dark Age? Perhaps.
    It seems analogous to one old-fashioned way of running domestic affairs: The husband works and hands over most of the money to the wife, who authoritatively runs the household. That deal wasn’t usually good for men either.

  6. I’ve just started looking at this Charles Hugh Smith guy and he turns me off immediately, quite frankly, because his point of view seems to be that of a disapproving old maiden auntie confronted by fun-loving, irresponsible young people who don’t see any reason to shackle themselves to soul-killing jobs and marriages.
    Some quotes from Smith (I won’t give the sources because they’re easily found just by pasting the entire quote into google):
    “Japan’s stagnating economy and society are still operating on a postwar model which no longer makes sense. In response, its young generations are opting out of workaholic career paths, marriage and having children.
    Smith says this like it’s a bad, bad thing. It’s people’s duty to become workaholic married parents, dammit!
    He disapproves of popular Japanese youth culture — you know, all those silly costumes and cosplay or whatever — because those young people should be working their 40 hour weeks, squeezing out babies, and Building Japan. But of course Smith knows better than they what real happiness is; it’s spending one’s life as a financial and domestic slave, because virtue is its own reward and all that.
    “Many young people have come to mistrust big corporations, having seen their fathers or uncles eased out of ‘lifetime’ jobs in the relentless downsizing of the past twenty years. From the point of view of the younger generations, the loyalty their parents unstintingly offered to companies was wasted.
    “They have also come to see diminishing value in the grueling study and tortuous examinations required to compete for the elite jobs in academia, industry and government; with opportunities fading, long years of study are perceived as pointless.
    “In contrast, the “freeter” lifestyle is one of hopping between short-term jobs and devoting energy and time to foreign travel, hobbies or other interests.”
    That’s exactly the lifestyle Roosh lives and recommends!
    I suppose if I read more of Smith his position will turn out to be that if everyone follows this lifestyle, the economy will continue to decline and we’ll all end up much much poorer, and other countries that still have the old patriarchal work ethic or whatever will overtake us (China’s the magic word here nowadays). But is the culture on which the old-fashioned, workaholic economy based even worth saving?
    The Smith point of view (if my guess about him is correct) probably has something going for it. It’s hard to see how everyone can be prosperous AND totally free to follow their hedonistic inclinations at the same time. The rich capitalist countries got that way because everyone (especially the men) positively slaved away, decade after decade; now China has discovered the use of ‘centrally managed capitalism’ (something most Western economists used to believe was an impossibility) and is doing the same thing. But consider how young urban people in China live today; their attitude towards work and life is totally old-fashioned capitalistic: they want to absolutely kill themselves working in order to become RICH RICH RICH, and they want to marry and have one or two fabulous children on whom they shower resources. For the time being they are willing slaves to the (centrally managed) capitalist machine, and the nation is becoming richer accordingly.
    From the point of view of human happiness, though, it’s all not so simple, is it? Will widespread hedonism and repudiation of traditional responsibility eventually lead to real poverty?
    Look at Greece. From a hedonist’s point of view, many many Greeks managed to live a pretty good lifestyle until it all collapsed: they worked hard (look at the statistics for average working hours by country) but they rewarded themselves by dodging taxes, sending their money out of the country, or simply leaving with their savings. The financial result to Greece is the same, I would guess, as a scenario in which the majority of productive-age citizens rewarded themselves by not working hard.
    What would happen to the United States if all the men tried to live like Roosh? Just as a thought experiment? It’s hard to imagine, because the U.S. seems to enslave more men to the old-fashioned hard-workin’, tax-payin’, marryin’ an’ breedin’ values than anywhere else in the world except perhaps China.

  7. Just one quick but important addition to my previous post: I should have mentioned that Greece’s problems were hugely compounded by being ripped off by the world’s banksters, and now the EU, dancing to the tune of those banksters, is forcing Greece practically at gunpoint to fork over its cash and a good part of its sovereignty. But the reason all this has hit Greece particularly hard is as I described before. They have been hit with a double whammy and are only half responsible.

    1. It couldnt possibly be that Greece gave out 13 monthly pension payments, half the people didnt want to work, and the other half didnt pay taxes for the goodies that they wanted. No, no, it was the banksters doing.

  8. I read some more of Charles Hugh Smith’s stuff and my guesses about him were not entirely correct. I recommend reading him, it’s very interesting. And he agrees with economist Michael Hudson that the big banks are basically calling the shots these days, to everyone’s disadvantage but their own and their government cronies. See
    By the way, Michael Hudson has a stellar academic CV and reputation so you won’t be wasting your time.
    Back to Smith: This seems to be his general conclusion and recommendation:
    It’s as if there is a split in the road and no third way: some young people make it onto the traditional corporate or government career path, and everyone else is left in part-time suspended animation with few options for adult expression or development” [in the troubled economies of the US, Europe, and Japan mainly].
    “We need a third way that offers people work, resilience and authentic meaning. In my view, that cannot come from the Central State or the global corporate workplace: it can only come from a relocalized economy in revitalized communities.”
    I wonder what he means by “relocalized economy in revitalized communities”?
    And here’s another question I have based on his writings: First read this:
    “Job security is no longer absolute in Corporate Japan, and high-level social skills are now required in the ‘New Economy.’
    “This is also the case in America, where routine work that required only following orders has declined in favor of work that demands constant communication with work groups and interaction with supervisors. This ‘New Economy’ workplace places a premium on high-level verbal, written and social skills of the sort that females generally score higher on than males.
    “The ‘New Economy’ in Japan and the U.S. places great [and debilitating] pressure on those with poor communication skills and who take their work seriously.”
    My question: What sort of new-style jobs is he talking about? (Whatever they are, I guess I’ve managed to avoid them.)

  9. Come on Roosh, I agree with 99% of what you say (and even bought a couple of your books!) but to criticize capitalism is absurd. Capitalism is nothing more than free trade with minimal govt interference. It’s freedom. We have had (roughly) the same system for 250 years and is the biggest reason (by far) for advancing societies. Feminism and the breakdown of the family unit (on our way to 50% bastard children…go USA!) has much more to do with social trends the last 30 years than some business wanted to provide a product or service at the lowest possible cost to consumers or businesses. Any other system simply allocates resources much more poorly and everyone loses.

  10. we are overtaxed and overregulated and this is causing the dropout. Its not capitalism, which is essentially ‘survival of the fittest’, an essence which bleeding hearts foolishly attempt to defy.
    When everything is taken from us, and WILL be taken from us, we have no incentive, and guilting people into hard work and risk in spite of their own best interests doesn’t sustain.
    It is our own frailties and appetites that doom us, in the end.

  11. The excesses of capitalism in the past were tempered with Judeo-Christian ethics. (Ambition tempered by virtue, basically.)
    The decline of one side will bring out the ugly in the other.

    1. About “judeo-christian ethics”, Jews are an extremely small global and American minority and Christianity is on its way out because it doesn’t offer any philosophical depth. The wisdom traditions on the rise in the US are of South and East Asian extraction, Buddhism and others, and they offer ethics as well as philosophy, giving fuller satisfaction to the human psyche.
      “This is also the case in America, where routine work that required only following orders has declined in favor of work that demands constant communication with work groups and interaction with supervisors. This ‘New Economy’ workplace places a premium on high-level verbal, written and social skills of the sort that females generally score higher on than males.
      “The ‘New Economy’ in Japan and the U.S. places great [and debilitating] pressure on those with poor communication skills and who take their work seriously.”
      My question: What sort of new-style jobs is he talking about? (Whatever they are, I guess I’ve managed to avoid them.)
      OlioOx, I think he’s talking about management, the service industries and the medical industry. I believe the medical industry is the fastest growing in the US, is it not? Physical therapists, caretakers of old people, etc. You need good social skills for all that.

      1. Yes. I meant Judeo-Christian ethics in particular regarding America. But capitalism anywhere in the world would need balance with some ethical system, religion or what-not.

        1. OK but Jews are a slim minority in US and Protestant Christianity is for the first time in US’s history a minority now too. Buddhism is the fastest growing religion here now so it will be Buddhist ethics that will temper gluttony from here on out.

  12. I wonder if there is more to it than just the money itself. I mean is the sole reason that our society is corrupt based solely on capitalism? Could there be other reason besides money that people are this way. Propoganda? Food tainting? Evolution? The problem that no one seems to understand is that economic thinking is purely philosophical. There is no perfect economic system. In it there will be some that rise to the top and those that sink to the bottom. It’s called evolution….Imagining a world where everyone is in complete economic happiness and all are nearly equally wealthy, isn’t that against human nature? Are men not created to compete for resources? Let’s not be naive.
    We can voice our opinion all we want but that is all we are doing, complaining. Who is willing to die to make things change? Exactly. So understand what is going on in the world and make do with the knowledge you have and be successful based on what is going on in reality. We can complain but are we putting ourselves in the shoes of the billionaires and politicians (as bad as it sounds…) and why they might be doing what they are doing that seems to be destroying society? We want independence yet get pissed off with our government.
    Spreading knowledge and opinions about whats going on is good but if no one is going to die in order for change to occur then why not accept the state of the world and try to thrive based on it. Let’s see the holes and find opportunity.

  13. Capitalism – in it’s pure form – only raises people up. It is the laws and regulations which cause the problems since they are anti-capitalist and distort the market. How is it wrong to know your worth, and demand an appropriate price? It isn’t… That is how the world works. Sure women in that 18-25 bracket are in high-demand and know it – but the market tells them their value decreases quickly, and THAT is what you hear all of the screaming about. They have a kid, and their value plummets…
    Men have a much longer shelf-life, and those that understand their worth can live well for decades… Don’t blame the market for making it easy to see what IS and what ISN’T – of course the liberals hate it when they see their value plunge as they think the have gotten better. Nope… Capitalism is the ONLY thing that works – everything else will fail and die… That is because Capitalism is based on greed, and desire – both of which are fundamental to humans – you WANT what is BEST for YOU… Simple, straight-forward, and pure…

  14. Capitalism in the title seems to be intentionally misused. The article speaks to the problem of Consumerism– the loss of distinction between value and price; the celebration of the chic, whether cheap or not. There is nothing wrong with the creation and use of premium, high-performance, quality goods.
    The celebrated loss of tasteful living is to be mourned, not perpetuated– yet they fill airtime and pages with whatever is profitable, as long as they retain influence.

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