The Joyless Market Economy

OCTOBER 28, 2007

From Robert E. Lane’s essay, The Joyless Market Economy p. 484:

Durkheim asks: “Even from a purely utilitarian point of view, what is the use of increasing abundance, if it does not succeed in calming the desires of the greatest number, but, on the contrary, only serves to increase their impatience. [emphasis added] It is forgotten that economic functions are not their own justification. … Society has no raison d’etre if it does not bring men a little peace, peace in their hearts and peace in their mutual relations”1 Deprived of its original utilitarian raison d’etre, does the market society now reflect something like Kroeber’s exhaustion of a cultural configuration in which the old, material civilization has exhausted the possibilities of that particular pattern? The offerings of the market no longer satisfy, not because the payoff is not large enough but because it is denominated in the wrong currency.

  1. Durkheim’s quote is cited as: Emile Durkheim, Professional Ethics and Civic Morals. Trans. C. Brookfield. Routledge and Kegan Paul (1957) p.16 (via Steven Lukes, Emile Durkheim: His Life and Work, Allen Lane/Penguin (1973) p. 267). ↩︎