Capitalism Shuffle: leave them wanting; but not too much

"The spirit of capitalism regulates the political economy of unhappiness, aiming to ensure that individuals find partial fulfilment in work and consumption. If they found no fulfilment, there would be a risk that they might opt out; yet if they found too much fulfilment, this could signify a satisfaction of desire that is anathema to an economic system that depends on desire remaining inexhaustible. Real happiness, Adorno reminds us, would mean no longer seeking ever more and ever newer sources of satisfaction. Real progress would mean abandoning the obsession with technical and economic progress. Far safer, therefore, for the capitalist to promise substantive eudaimonia, but to deliver only a taste of it, or substitute it for a more instant hedonic experience that leaves the individual still wanting more. During periods of stability, capitalism successfully regulates this distribution of happiness and unhappiness. That unhappiness is now appearing as a costly and threatening negative externality to be tackled by the state suggests that this equilibrium is breaking down."