Scholars Suggest Mindfulness Can be a Means for Questioning Capitalism
Dr. Bee Scherer and Jeff Waistell argue that Western misappropriation of mindfulness as a self-help technique promotes acceptance of a consumer capitalist status quo. Instead, they draw from Buddhist philosophy to demonstrate that mindfulness is not an ethically vacuous practice, providing examples of how it can and is being used to challenge materialism, competitiveness, and the notion of the independent self. “Mindfulness is becoming part of the self-help movement and part of the disease that it ought to cure,” they write. When mindfulness is applied de-contextually toward individual stress-reduction, the social causes of distress become obscured. “Organizations find mindfulness convenient because it can individualize stress while helping employees cope with toxic corporate life, subdue employee unrest, promote acceptance of the status quo, and focus attention on corporate goals.” Ultimately, the authors make the case that this form of individualized mindfulness detracts from an opportunity to gain insight to suffering causes and conditions and to experience a broader, interconnected compassion. Rather than satisfying desires, Buddhist mindfulness shifts the focus toward the transformation of desires, they write. “Buddhism teaches that suffering is caused by attachment, which can be resolved by morality and meditation. Marxism teaches that social ills are caused by economic exploitation, which can be resolved by socialist revolution. Thus liberation is both psychological and economic, both inner and outer, so that mindfulness and political revolution are both recommended and should be practised simultaneously.” “Contemporary Buddhist ethics have grown increasingly concerned with eco-sustainability. The authors highlight a link between ecological responsibility, sustainability, and mindfulness practice, calling attention to the Thai Asoke Buddhist reform movement as exemplifying these ideals. The communal mindfulness-in-action practiced by the Asoke, they describe, provides an environmental, anti-capitalist alternative by stressing selflessness and mindful moderation. Although not self-defining as communist, the motto of the community is as follows: Consume Little, Work Hard, and Give the Rest to Society.” Scherer and Waistell provide details on the Asoke community as a case example to bolster their overarching point that individualized, self-help mindfulness may simply be a handmaiden to corporate, profit-maximizing aims. Rather than stifling ethical and political action, Buddhist-inspired mindfulness practice can give rise to activism, advocacy, and alternatives. “This is the reason why we have written this paper: to develop a mindfulness that is detached from capitalism, a socially-aware and-responsible approach – a Buddhistsocialist mindfulness, perhaps – that goes beyond a blithe recognition of”stakeholders” to a full acceptance of our interdependence.
The Jews and Europe
The transition to an economy which would unite the separated elements, which would give the people ownership of the idle machines and the useless grain, seemed unavoidable in Germany, and the world-wide danger of socialism seemed serious. Despite the war, fascism can survive, unless the peoples of the world understand that the knowledge and machines they possess must serve their own happiness, rather than the perpetuation of power and injustice. The only means to avoid these dangers is to tighten the chain as much as possible, to pass the strictest laws, to avoid the enlightenment of the people, above all to resist the fatal freedom of the press, which is the source of all the knowledge that emancipates the people, and finally to terrify them by means of severe and frequent punishmentsDo not delude yourself that I understand by “People” the class one designates as the third estate; certainly not. Not merely the dark, pessimistic [dunklen] philosophers, who are considered inhumane by their ideological descendants, have declared the subordination of the people the precondition for stable conditions; they have only designated the circumstances more clearly than the idealists. According to practical reason, the people must obey as if in prison, only with the difference that it also should have its own conscience as warden and overseer, alongside the agents of the regime in power. Arms build-ups are dictated to them by the interplay among the groups, by fear of one’s own and foreign peoples, by dependence on certain parts of the world of business, just as the expansion of factories is dictated to entrepreneurs in industrial society by social antagonisms, not by the contest of people against nature, which is the only criterion for determining a rational society. The masses become powerful instruments and the power of the totalitarian organization, suffused by another’s will, is superior to the sluggishness of the Reichstag, which was led by the will of the people. The inhumane people who now dispose over lives probably are no more unjust than the market, which was moved only by the will to profit, in selecting who will live and who will die. Previously, the economic fate was not only anonymous, it also took aim at the sinners and the elect without regard to their human particularities; it did people the honor of ignoring them. Once the Jews have become shabby, they will no longer even benefit from the fleeting sentiment of bourgeois class solidarity: the outrage that even rich people are no longer safe. Since the failure of the market economy, people have faced, once and for all, the choice between freedom and fascist dictatorship. In the reproduction of inhumanity, people confirm to themselves that the old humanity and religion along with the entire liberal ideology no longer have any value.