Thursday, December 23, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Well, another Christmas has snuck up on me. Today I am posting a couple of silly pictures. The one at the top (from an Amazon fulfillment center) is not silly, though somewhat sobering, informing us of what Christmas is for most people. At the same time, I am not one to attack the commercialism of this holiday. We live in a capitalist society, and the success of capitalism gives us leisure not only to enjoy ourselves -- and, incidentally, to be wasteful but also to engage in fun things like the Chinese below -- but also to reflect on our good fortune.

What interests me is the complaints against capitalism and the U.S. in particular, not from those who don't share our good fortune, but from those who live in Western society. Here is a comment on the terrific Big Picture site, in response to the Christmas photos there:

"Capitalism takes advantage of the 'specials and religious' days to make people think that giving material stuff will make parents and friends happier. ... I insist, Capitalism is the most dangerous way to human life and the planet, and the american way of living have to be rethought ..."

Imagine someone in Kenya or the Ukraine, not to mention Somalia or Rwanda, expressing such a grinchy sentiment. Wouldn't they love to be out on the ice in costumes, kicking around a ball? Capitalism is obviously being good to the Chinese. I wish that our president and our Congress critters understood how capitalism works, how arugula and a hundred different varieties of cheeses and wines get on the shelves of our grocery stores. Capitalism interests me a lot, tied up as it is with my subject of world literature. In case anyone missed it, my review of Joyce Appleby's book on the history of capitalism recently appeared in The Weekly Standard.

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