Review of Affluenza by Oliver James

6 January 2008

Psychologist Oliver James has written a big, fat book about why too many of us are suffering from affluenza’ — a virus of the over privileged who want more and yet more. Apparently, the Western world contains some of the unhappiest people as well as the wealthiest because our ‘selfish capitalism’ has created a culture of permanent discontent, of perpetual envy, a never-ending saga of doing better than the Joneses. There’s a lot of truth in what James says. His critique of the British education system with its relentless focus upon results is particularly powerful: he argues children have lost their intrinsic thirst for knowledge because they feel they are only learning things for a test. He also is good on the pointlessness of wanting a bigger house, a better car, a niftier gadget, trendier clothes etc, arguing that these are all symptoms of the ‘affluenza virus’.’

your comment