THE STATE OF WELL-BEING AND THE STATE OF WELL-DOING
The accelerated expansion of economic terminology through different social strata among elitists as well as the lower orders, conditions and orients the scale of values and the mood of their individual conducts and oversights. In this microcosmic personal plane, the word ‘well-being’ has been crowned as the final goal, generator of a dynamic activity. Well-being has been converted into an indifferent word, generally accepted and unaware of itself. However, all words end up germinating positively or negatively in the human environment where they insert themselves, bearing sweet or bitter fruit according to the nature of the initial seed. For Greek classicism the word meant not only the term, phrase or speech, but also the idea, intelligence and deep feeling of a being.
Through the modern mediation of Bentham, Jevons and a generation of secondary authors, the old Epicurean conception has tinged with hedonism the theoretical constructions of economic activity based on utility. The simplistic version of the Epicurean doctrine is reduced to materialism with regard to cosmology and in the continual search for emotional pleasure, in all that which refers to ethics or the science of human behaviour.
Due to this sibylline and many times reckless interference, instead of considering the utility and value of items as their relation to real human objectives, the point has been reached where utility and value are identified with pleasure, futile satisfaction and hedonistic well-being. Short-lived consumption, able to supply immediate pleasure, is converted into something positive, whereas labour, that entails effort and fatigue, appears as something negative in the pointer of the balance of economic performance.
However, if we strip the act of consumption of this pleasant component it remains in simple destruction of something. If we take away the discomfort and fatigue from labour, it is converted into production and human creation from other material realities. Considered like that, labour is something positive and consumption is negative from a value point of view.
The damage of the generalized state of well-being is emphasised when it is converted into the basic objective of economic policy, stimulating its acquisition by public request. The state of passivity reflected in the mere being, widespread and adopted on an individual and institutional level, is transformed into ‘the state of well-being’. If we continue encouraging this state and passive terminology we shall end up transforming the huge human productive potential of our economy into a mass of millions of bewildered and motionless idiots, distinguished only by their taxpayer number.
However, if we only replace the word ‘being’ by ‘doing’ and we do not insist on the necessity of reflecting on the objectives towards which this conduct leads, another negative risk will appear. Therefore, we can convert the previous sleepy scenery into a cage of irresponsible and unsettled ostriches, which run very fast towards no place.
The economic objective does not lie in increasing GDP to market prices or the real GDP frantically producing all types of junk that is soon got rid of. It consists however of improving the humanisation of living conditions, especially the material ones, of transforming all scarcity into abundance by means of manual, intellectual, ethical and thoughtful help from the daily sickle and hammer. This labour put into practice habitually, makes the skeleton more flexible, and restores feeling to the mental muscles of memory, intelligence and imagination. When this state of well-doing is adopted and encouraged by the government setting an example in its daily management, this ‘state of well-doing’ will become a reality.
It is important for the economy, in short, that the population replaces sensual idleness with diligence, apparent state security by personal creative venture, unconscious activity by labour oriented towards better objectives, the state of well-being by the state of good-living and well-doing. Only then is it very possible that we can achieve, unexpectedly, a true and active well-being.