Merton on Materialism, or, Merry Christmas to All

Now that you’re probably basking in the post-Christmas pile of, well, stuff, (as we are) here’s a little Merton to make you feel good about it all.  Or not.  If you don’t want to possibly feel guilty or depressed, don’t read on.

“It is true that the materialistic society, the so-called culture that has evolved under the tender mercies of capitalism, has produced what seems to be the ultimate limit of this worldliness.  And nowhere, except perhaps in the analogous society of pagan Rome, has there ever been such a flowering of cheap and petty and disgusting lusts and vanities as in the world of capitalism, where there is no evil that is not fostered and encouraged for the sake of making money.  We live in a society whose whole policy is to excite every nerve in the human body and keep it at the highest pitch of artificial tension, to strain every human desire to the limit and to create as many new desires and synthetic passions as possible, in order to cater to them with the products of our factories and printing presses and movie studios and all the rest.”

Seven Story Mountain

And this was published in 1948!  What amazes me is, we’ve somehow managed to keep it up for this long!

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