QotD: May 31st, 2006 (Growth Fetish week)

From “Growth Fetish”, by Clive Hamilton:

“This deeper notion of wellbeing is consistent with psychological theories that identify human lives as the unfolding of potential, notably Maslow’s idea of self-actualisation as well as Jung’s central concept of individuation. From this perspective, stages of life and of maturity become important for self-understanding, and wellbeing becomes identified with positive psychological functioning rather than a snapshot of a person’s emotional state. The question of happiness must be understood in terms of a person’s progress towards self-actualisation, or individuation; that is, approaching a state of psychological maturity in which, among other things, unconscious drives and motivations are being brought to light and made consistent with conscious life goals and principles. From this perspective, happiness is recast as inner contentment — sitting easily with whom one is — rather than a state of more or less positive emotion.”

“If we consider the evolution of the democratic impulse through its historical stages, the moral decline bemoaned by the conservatives is no more than a period of transition, in which the traditional expectations and roles that defined industrial capitalism are disintegrating and something new is emerging. The rejection of traditional standards, expectations and stereotypes represented by the various trends and movements dating from the 1960s — the sexual revolution, the counter-culture, and the women’s movement — was a manifestation of the longing for self-determination. Democracy, combined with the arrival of widespread material abundance in the West, has for the first time provided the opportunity for the mass of ordinary people to pursue self-actualisation. The political demand for democracy of earlier generations has become a personal demand for freedom to find one’s own path, to ‘write one’s own biography’.”