Capitalism depends on a continuous sense of dissatisfaction to exist. The temporary relief experienced by dissatisfied workers engaging in leisure activities such as shopping is not caused by the acquisition of an object, but rather is produced through the action of conspicuous consumption of those objects. In other words, the relief is felt during the pursuit of certain objects and the exchange of money for goods, but diminishes almost immediately once the desired object is obtained.
IPods and MySpace are recent examples that seem to bear this out. The acquisition of an IPod necessitates the pursuit of music and the desire to perpetually obtain more music, while MySpace consumes massive amounts of free time and functions by the constant acquisition of “friends”. They cannot create satisfaction in their original state; they only create satisfaction through the promise of acquiring infinitely more.
Leisure activities such as attending the movies, on the other hand, produce temporary satisfaction through the conspicuous consumption of personal time and diminishes shortly after the movie ends. Marx and Singer are correct in their assertion that life in the modern era is essentially dissatisfying: the capitalist economy could not exist without a pervasive and perpetual sense of dissatisfaction.
However, the assumption that workers who are not alienated from their labor are generally more satisfied seems to discount other concomitant factors, such as the spirituality and close personal and family relationships that both capitalism and communism discount as irrelevant or unnecessary to life in the modern era. Both can be considered leisure activities, and both have been reported to produce levels of satisfaction among those who participate in these types of activities.