Plato’s Socrates says, “when someone’s desires incline strongly for one thing, they are thereby weakened for others, just like the stream that has been partly diverted into another channel.” [i]
Capitalist society is perpetuated by its perpetual invention of new desires and a manipulation of natural desires. It fabricates strong inclinations, in fact it feels it has not only a right but a duty to do this. Yet, as Plato had observed, this strengthening of one element implies a weakening of everything else. The desire driven society is actually infected with its own paradox, it has an ingrained debilitation. But what is being weakened here? What does the river of humanity consist of? It is not an easy question to answer, but it not easy because of what our river has become. We are constantly being coerced away into a maze of channels and canals that leaves us without a clear course. We have lost sight of the basic idea of all rivers – which is to stream towards some great lake or sea. That is what our lack now is, our lack of purpose. Each desire-inspired diversion is a debilitation of authentic purpose.
[i] Plato, REPUBLIC, BOOK VI, 485d