Let's speak, for a moment, about this issue of happiness. It was alluded to in a few earlier posts with regard to the desire for 'vegging out' at the movies, for contently complying with practices and ideologies of the current sociopolitical order, for breaking with this so-called 'system' whilst maintaining ones' sanity. In response, let me back up for a minute:
I would encourage us to not necessarily dismiss A & H's ideas because of their historical circumstance, and instead look to their proximity to both the propaganda Nazi machine and the Hollywood machine as offering a juxtaposition that we may not have otherwise identified. If we imagine, for argument's sake, that capitalist-era 'art-making' (ie: mass culture) is indeed inextricably bound to the constant demands of the profit-motive, then it is hardly a stretch to see mass culture as a business culture, right? Yes, there are extraordinary possibilities for art produced under the auspices of enterprising capitalists, but mainstream movies and music and television are, nonetheless, cultural productions that strive to bring in the big bucks. THUS if film (for example) is a profit-bound 'art', as A&H suggest, the culture industry will work in every possible way to attract and addict us to the 'beauty' of film -- so that we see the consumption of the film product as an inherent element of engagement with art. In simple terms: we spend to see 'art' and thus 'art' is an industry, even though we don't see it as such.
Ok, I know, so what's all this got to do with happiness? Well, everything, really. Because if we acknowledge mass culture as a deceptive tool for our continued entanglement in capitalism then the 'happiness' we once associated with our carefree movie-going becomes slightly knocked off balance. 'Happiness', in this sense, is a misnomer. A false label for identifying the satisfaction of being rewarded for our complicity. Capitalism demands consumption: we eat, we watch, we acquire, we 'veg' in ways that we see as essential and human and 'real'. But instead, as 3NT mentioned, these are the normalized practices inherent in the equation of 'capitalism' with 'freedom.' When we shell out our 10+ bucks to go to a movie, and sit back to laugh and cry, we think 'hey this is just art. and it rocks. it makes me happy.' But when we see the film industry as an INDUSTRY that works tirelessly to get us to indulge in its products, we can begin to see how our understanding of 'happiness' has become constructed in ways that connect us with spending.
In other words, is successful consumption the only indicator of 'happiness'? Is there authentic pleasure in consumption of the culture industry? Or, as A&H suggest, is it all part of the guise of the profit-motive. Personally, I would encourage us to think about the ways in which consumption-bound happiness has come to occupy the space of, and take priority over, other forms of pleasure.
wheew, sorry for the wordiness.