The Emptiness at the Core of Liberal Consumerist Society. ~ Dali ten Hove

Via on Dec 7, 2012

Photo by Dominic’s Pics.

Whilst far detached from what is loosely termed spirituality, I do, as I am sure many others like me do too, yearn for more than existence offers.

Naturally as is human tendency, all desire more than is theirs—whether it’s new shoes, a leap up the social ladder or a companion—but here I speak not of such petty desires; yearning is the accurate word. It is an utterly confusing sentiment, as if perpetually homesick whilst at home.

It’s strong and it’s always there, looming, some sort of empty feel. I cannot translate it into words or provide an explanation—that’s how confusing it is—but I can crudely describe what the yearning is for. Plainly, I long for substance (the word that first came to mind); a place to live where nature has not been mostly rearranged by the hands of man, where it is childish to measure happiness in terms of possession, where making a modest, adequate living is enough, where wisdom and simplicity are not mutual antagonists, there where they march hand in hand, where we are grateful for the earth and sun that provide, where we see beauty in more than just beautiful things, where we have a sense of respect for our ancestors and elderly, where we live by tradition because progress is unnecessary, where we would just laugh at worries and feuds. Where life is peaceful, there where it just happens instead of being planned. I recall having had this feeling since I was fifteen years old, when I thought to myself—thoughts that yet remain—that I was born in the wrong place or wrong time (or maybe even both). Rather I should have been born in Utopian society, far and away there at the end of history, or near it where I could participate in perfecting it. Or maybe I should have simply been a coffee or sugar farmer somewhere in Africa or South America, or a desert nomad in Arabia or perhaps I should have cultivated rice in Indochina.

Obviously I have no idea whatsoever as to how the lives of those people are, my interpretations thereof may be wide of the mark. But the point has been made.

So I have borne this sentiment for multiple years, but it is only now, for the first time, that I am expressing it in words to the best of my ability. That is the case because apparently it’s much more common than I used to think, as I learnt while reading Francis Fukuyama’s 1989 essay The end of history? In it Fukuyama presents his thoughts on liberal democracy, suggesting that it marks the end of humankind’s ideological evolution—that it is the final form of human government. He also speaks of dangers that threaten it, including religious fundamentalism about which he says: “One is inclined to say that the revival of religion in some way attests to the broad unhappiness with the impersonality and spiritual vacuity of liberal consumerist societies. Yet while the emptiness at the core of liberalism is most certainly a defect in the ideology—indeed, a flaw that one does not need the perspective of religion to recognize—it is not at all clear that it is remediable through politics.” Thus apparently the lack of ‘substance’ I experience in life is not just some strange characteristic of mine, but perhaps it is a broad feature of liberal consumerist society. I had always known that the sentiment was shared, to greater or lesser extents, by others—as I learnt from my encounter with Westerners living in India—but I had not thought about it in the broad context of how society is governed.

It’s an interesting thought, I believe, for I wonder what its implications are for the future. Will the sentiment always remain but a discomfort shared by a small minority? Or are we who bear it the first to feel certain symptoms of what may, gradually, become a source of transformation (to whatever is the cause of it)?

 

Born in Amsterdam, raised in France, Dali ten Hove is the youngest contributor of Diaforlife, the online magazine created to inspire and stimulate individuals to take active part in positive world change. He completed the later part of his primary education at an international school, a period during which he developed a profoundly cosmopolitan outlook on human life, mixed with keen interests in socio-economic and environmental issues. He describes himself as ‘essentially nothing more than progressivist’, for which he deems the ingredients to be social-liberalism, cosmopolitanism and environmentalism. He is also a fervent Animal Rights supporter. Currently a student of International Politics & Economics at King’s College London, his primordial aim is to become a capable political thinker to help bridge the gap between the conservative forces of the ‘developed’ world and the social needs of the developing—in  a sustainable manner. For more work by Dalí and another myriad of captivating authors, visit diaforlife.com.

~

Editor: Malin Bergman

Like elephant journal on Facebook.

About elephant journal

elephant journal is dedicated to "bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society." We're about anything that helps us to live a good life that's also good for others, and our planet. >>> Founded as a print magazine in 2002, we went national in 2005 and then (because mainstream magazine distribution is wildly inefficient from an eco-responsible point of view) transitioned online in 2009. >>> elephant's been named to 30 top new media lists, and was voted #1 in the US on twitter's Shorty Awards for #green content...two years running. >>> Get involved: > Subscribe to our free Best of the Week e-newsletter. > Follow us on Twitter Fan us on Facebook. > Write: send article or query. > Advertise. > Pay for what you read, help indie journalism survive and thrive—and get your name/business/fave non-profit on every page of elephantjournal.com. Questions? info elephantjournal com

1,034 views

Appreciate this article? Support indie media!

(We use PayPal but you don't need an account with PayPal.)

Elephriends - Mindful Affiliates

2 Responses to “The Emptiness at the Core of Liberal Consumerist Society. ~ Dali ten Hove”

  1. Joe Sparks says:

    As our own species has mastered the environment as a result of the use of our intelligence and the powerful tools that we have created, a REAL crisis has been created for other life forms and is still being caused by our species' thoughtless and careless use of its powers. Humans are just beginning to think well about this problem and just beginning to plan to change our ways in order to preserve ALL the other forms of life( for our benefit as well as theirs). Our real power is not the power to push other people around, but the power to have things be the way we want them to be. You can think ahead to the things that will probably happen, and you can plan to interrupt them, change them, or prevent them from happening.

Leave a Reply