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Why Capitalism Fails to Deliver True Happiness

True well-being is internal, not material. Capitalism's greed harms society and self. We need a balanced system for genuine fulfillment and planetary health.
Why Capitalism Fails to Deliver True Happiness

True well-being arises from aligning who we are with what we do and why, emphasizing internal fulfillment over material gain. The capitalist model, driven by greed and superficiality, distracts us from our deeper selves, fostering a competitive, materialistic society. This model’s dominance results in global social injustices, environmental destruction, and personal disillusionment. To achieve true well-being and save our planet, we must evolve towards a system that balances material and deeper human needs, fostering genuine self-understanding and holistic fulfillment.

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The Capitalist Lie, the Self, and Evolution

by Tommaso Merlo

True well-being comes from the coherence between who we are, what we do, and why we do it. We are happy when we fully express ourselves while pursuing an altruistic mission we believe in. True well-being is a state of mind; it is feeling serene, fulfilled, satisfied, useful, and content. This is the great lie on which the capitalist model is based. Once material needs are met, true well-being is an internal achievement.

But let’s take it step by step. Within us operate two forces in perpetual conflict, our selfish mind reveling in the material world and our soul timidly trying to break through. The capitalist model is an expression of the selfish mind, our worst part, and is based on material superficiality and greed. It drives us to always want more, to prevail, and to believe we can fill ourselves with things taken from outside. Capitalism has now invaded every crevice of our lives. From a young age, we are trained to compete, accumulate, and appear. We grow up in a society turned into a market, in families turned into businesses, in lives turned into careers, in relationships turned into transactions, and in dreams turned into products. All conditioned by a single great ideal, personal interests and pleasures. With a single great deity, oneself and one’s circle. We thus spend our lives chasing material mirages, deluded that we are achieving some form of well-being. All futile.

It is impossible to be happy ignoring a part of ourselves, especially the deepest and most genuine part. Call it what you will: heart, soul, spirit, conscience, self. It is a crucial part of us, our essence as human beings, which sages of every tradition have invited us to grasp and cultivate since the dawn of time. There is nothing to believe, nothing to adhere to. Just roll up your sleeves and search within instead of outside. Truly knowing oneself is a fundamental existential step, which has been removed in the capitalist West. Convincing us that we are only that fragile body and restless mind, that we are only our personality and the character we play on the stages of life.

No boogeyman, just dominant ideas like capitalism, like the market that has infected everything, turning the world into a bleak expression of our worst part. The now-permanent wars between people and countries, environmental devastation, global social injustice, the narcissistic epidemic, politics turned into senseless delirium, widespread hypocrisy, and superficiality are all consequences of the selfish drift. A dangerous dead end leading to personal self-destruction, with queues at psychiatrists and dealers, and collective self-destruction, with the planet becoming an unbreathable human landfill due to growing frustration we take out on each other.

It is increasingly urgent to react and change course. More than a revolution, an evolution of the system is needed so that it simply reflects the human being in its entirety, addressing both material and deeper needs. A more balanced and intelligent system that allows people to achieve true well-being and the planet to save itself.

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