A common comment made by westerners upon visiting third world countries goes something like “these people are so happy, even though they have nothing”, a statement implying that the visitor is confused as to how people could maintain happiness in the absence of a wide array of industrially produced material possessions. This is always stated in a baffled manner, as if the visitor was simply incapable of comprehending how this could be the case – after all, how could a person possibly live a fulfilling life without volumizing shampoo and microwave dinners? The entire scenario is a riddle in the mind of the westerner, who has been subliminally programmed from infancy to believe that there is a direct correlation between material wealth and spiritual contentedness. As such, the source of their happiness is looked at as a type of otherworldly mystery.
After having observed this phenomena of “happy people who have nothing”, I would like to propose that the mechanism of causation exists within the statement itself: these people are happy because they have nothing.
Advertisement and the Human Soul
After the Industrial Revolution, it was perceived by captains of industry that they had the capacity to produce much more than the population actually needed. So, if they were to keep expanding productivity and profit margins, they needed a way to get people to buy things that they didn’t actually need.
Advertisement was designed to make you believe you need things that you don’t need. The way this is done is scientific. The messages bypass your conscious mind, speaking directly to your subconscious mind, where they do not meet the resistance which the conscious mind is capable of presenting. As such, we are manipulated not on the level of the decision-making personality, but on the level of our very being.
This process was written about in some detail by Edward Bernays, the nephew of Sigmund Freud and the original adman, who was responsible for transferring Freud’s work from the realm of scientific research to that of applied science. Propaganda and advertisement can thus be accurately categorized as “psychological technologies”.
Recently, I explained how this worked to some Filipino friends. The TV was on, and I showed them what it was that the commercials were attempting to communicate to them. The messages in one “commercial break” went something like this:
Cereal: If you love your child, you will feed them this cereal
Women’s Shampoo: If you use this shampoo, the boys will be interested in you; if you don’t, they will find other girls
Coca-Cola: If you drink this soda, it will help you to bond with your family in a meaningful way
Men’s Deodorant: If you use this spray, women will want to have sex with you as soon as they smell it
Baby Soap: If you use this soap, your baby will be happy; if you don’t, your baby will get a skin disease
These were the literal messages that these commercials were communicating to the subconscious mind of the viewer. The whole concept is insane, but it is what is happening. Turn a TV on sometime, and see if you can notice this.
In order to understand why this works so well, we must again look at primitive psychology, and the way television effects our brains (which are still physically structured the same way as they were before the television was introduced into our environment).
Television is Unreality Materialized
In the old times, seeing something happening in front of you meant that it was happening in front of you. This is the reality within which we are designed to function. Given this, our subconscious minds are not capable of understanding the whole concept of television, which presents, in realistic visual images, things which don’t actually exist and situations which would never take place in real life.
In a traditional environment, if a woman sees another woman’s husband enjoying a certain dish, it was likely a tasty dish that would also bring enjoyment to her husband if she learned how to make it. If a boy saw another boy impressing girls by bringing back a boar from the hunt, he would know that if he brought back a boar, the girls would be equally impressed. If a girl saw the tribe impressed by the way another girl danced or sang, she would know that if she learned to dance and sing like that, she would be contributing to her community in the same meaningful way.
Everything we saw was exactly what it appeared to be.
Regrettably, this is no longer the case. With the television, scenes can be generated which appear to be real, but simply are not. In the old times, seeing a menacing enemy would mean there was a menacing enemy in front of you who needed to be dealt with; now, a menacing enemy can be simulated on TV, and people will believe they need to go to war with a country they are unable to find on a map.
In this way, television has created a society of artificial people, with heads full of artificial thoughts and desires. This has led to a great deal of dissatisfaction and mental illness.
When we become submerged in these images created by the television, all of these various messages come together to create an entirely false reality, within which everything is advertised – not simply products, but ideas and belief systems as well. We then become products of this false reality, and serve to indoctrinate others, in such a way that all individuals – even those who don’t watch television – are absorbed into this new definition of what it means to be a human being.
The Life of this World: Everyone is Mentally Ill
Due to the amount of propaganda and advertising in the environment of the technological society, and the way it has changed the thinking of individuals involved in the society, a chain-reaction has been set off through which the core perceptions about why we exist have been altered. Every aspect of human action has been reformed to meet this new paradigm of materialism. Instead of viewing things in terms of what we need spiritually and emotionally in order to bring us happiness and contentment, we instead look to the material world to satisfy all of our needs.
There is an extreme level of importance put on work, and having a “good job”, so that we may all have the means to purchase these unneeded objects. The confidence level of an individual is determined by his capacity to obtain wealth, with which one can purchase material goods. Male sex appeal, formerly determined by strength of both physique and character, is now based almost entirely on the man’s capacity to secure material goods for his partner. The whole drive of society has been altered by these changes in perception of what we are, with secondary effects such as seeing people with more objects than we have obtaining social status for this, and so desiring to be more like them by finding a way of somehow acquiring more goods.
The catch here is that there is always more to buy, more to consume or fill bigger and bigger homes with, more exotic locales to vacation at, and so contentment within such a paradigm is necessarily impossible. This triggers a pathological state, this concept of chasing ghosts up the corporate ladder, trailing this illusion that products and services do in fact lead to contentedness, if you just have enough of the right ones. The entire concept of self-preservation has undergone a massive involution, collapsing in on itself, to the point where we are incapable of determining a difference between material wealth and quality of life.
So, given that they have been grown in such a culture, it is no surprise that westerners are confounded by the happiness of folks living in bamboo huts in the jungle “with nothing”.
The Reality Situation
The only material goods which actually matter, at all, are the ones that are necessary for survival; that is, food, clothing and shelter from the elements. Everything about what we are as human beings, beyond physical survival, is meant to be experienced on a level beyond the material, in the realm of the natural, the social and the spiritual. None of those three things can be aided in any way by industrially produced products. The entire thing is simply a complex illusion designed by the insane forces of industry and state to produce a situation which enables unlimited “progress and development”, to no determinable end.
The things we need to live meaningful lives are directly inhibited by an obsession with the material, in such as way that a rise in the material is equivalent to a drop in happiness and contentment. We are thrown into a world where it is impossible to draw meaning from our own actions, working in offices so that we can purchase commercial food products in a sterile supermarket, rather than working the land or hunting in the forest. When we surround ourselves with material objects, we lose our connection to the natural world. These objects and the noise they produce come between us, and we lose the capacity to commune with one another. A connection to the divine cannot hope to be maintained in such an environment.
People who “have nothing” are content because they have everything. They have a connection to the earth, to each other, and through that, they are able to experience the mystery of the divine. It is western man, with his electronic gadgets and SUVs and psychiatric drugs who has nothing; he gave up everything when he was tricked into trading his soul for the flashing lights of the material world.
I don’t know about you, but I want back what this system has taken from me, and I’m going to do whatever it takes to get it. The movement that I am proposing is nothing less than a reclamation of our own humanity, and everything that means.