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October 14, 2016


Patrick Kirk

I grew up in the Irish coutryside - back then the isolation of being different from your neighbours was a reason I fell in love with London where everyone can find a group of like minded oddballs. Beautiful thought provoking article - especially about endorsing the Dylan Nobel. Thanks.

Andy S

I love it when your blog touches on the personal- how Capitalism, Cognitive Biases et al affect us as individuals. How it relates to me personally. This is one of the best blogs you have written. By the way, one quibble- the building blocks of the internet were developed by Governments and research institutions. Only later did private, capitalist entities make the wonderful applications we have today. Way before there was WhatsApp, there was IRC, developed in Universities.

Luis Enrique

even communists have cities.

hard to distinguish what is down to capitalism per se from what is down to technological progress, modernity, everything else


@ Andy S, Patrick - thanks. And I wholly take your point that the internet (among many other things!) was a govt-sponsored project.
@ Luis - actually, former Soviet bloc have low levels of social capital and happiness. This suggests state communism did not foster healthy inter-personal relationships.


And what did the Romans ever do for us?

Oh yes. Founded every city ending in ...chester.

Dave Timoney

"And if you’d upset your neighbours or were a bit eccentric, you’d be condemned to almost unendurable solitude".

More like burnt as a witch.


A very good blog that puts into words what I thought but couldn't quite express when reading the Monbiot piece yesterday. One person's utopia is another's hell... I've always thought that what Monbiot sees as communal togetherness would feel horribly oppressive and wearing

Seth Edenbaum

"We have empirical evidence. Country music is chockful of references to loneliness"

Country music is a product of modern capitalism.

I could go on but it's not worth it. Reread your own words with the devil's eye, and see what you come up with.

Avraam Jack Dectis

Assertions that modern amenities displace boredom may be misplaced.

Is it not likely that before modern amenities, people were more active socializers, engaging in groups and organizations?

If so, it is not that temporary removal of modern amenities highlight their usefulness, their temporary removal highlights their social destruction - as the void created by their existence is illuminated.

nothing but the truth

you fail to mention the real reasons.

peasant loneliness is due to physical isolation. when he meets fellow peasants he does with gratitude. that is why the peasant is happier, even though poorer.

loneliness in capitalism is due to the monetization of every aspect of life - each individual is reduced to a bank balance and life exists to protect that balance. one is perpetually afraid of there being a monetary liability or fineprint trickery involved. that is why modern humans and westerners in particular are miserable - because their instinct is to mistrust - and incompatible with gratitude.

dilbert dogbert

The wife is away visiting her daughter and grand daughter. I miss her.
That said, the system allows both the daughter to live in Florida and my wife to visit from California.
For me, having a close companion and the shop, tools and materials, can keep me very busy and not feeling lonely. I got lucky and learned how to use every tool in an old time machine shop + loving to work with wood. Capitalism allowed me to spend the last 16 years enjoying having the system pay me not to work.

Luis Enrique

"each individual is reduced to a bank balance and life exists to protect that balance"

What does that even mean?

nothing but the truth

"each individual is reduced to a bank balance and life exists to protect that balance"

What does that even mean?

sorry ESOL.

the only purpose of life in a capitalist system is to make money. it is monetary monotheism.


"Proper music – rather than mindless corporate shilling - gives a voice to the voiceless and a glimpse into perspectives that would otherwise be lost."

Bob Dylan, with a personal net worth of $90 million, certainly didn't get his money from being a voice to the voiceless...

derrida derider

I grew up in a remote small town in the Australian outback (hot, dusty and insular). When Hillary released a book titled "It Takes A Village To Raise A Child" I took this as clear evidence that Hillary has never lived in a village. Because my experience was similar to Patrick Kirk's; I fled to Sydney at age 17.

"nothing but the truth" is quite wrong - the rational reaction on meeting a peasant is to mutter "bloody peasant" and find better company.


Dylan started out doing decent folk and protest music that got ditched fairly quickly for drug induced gibberish, then decades of mediocrity. Blood on the Tracks was a fine album but what has he done since that relates to the feelings and lives of most people? And as for that hideous caterwauling voice...

Just because the baby boomers who decide who gets Nobel Prizes have gone all gooey and sentimental about their lost youth, doesn't mean we have to lose our critical faculties.

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