(Original post by Oswy)
Not to ignore the earlier points in your post - I think those discussions could go back and forth for some time as our lives disappear - but I wanted to address this in particular.
I genuinely do think that our capacities to be more 'rounded' human beings in our relations with others, if that's not too woolly a concept, are in no small measure predicated on our basic human needs being satisfied and our wellbeing supported. I know that when I've gone without food for longer than usual I get ratty - how much more likely is that the whole matrix of unsatisfied (or weakly satisfied) needs will contribute to our behaviour towards, and interest in, others? I suspect quite a bit more. If I went to sleep every night knowing that my family and I would never have to worry about where our next meal, indeed our next decent meal, was coming from, or whether or not we'd ever suffer homelessness through unemployment or other personal catastrophy, or struggle to pay for medicines or endure impoverishment in old age (among any number of other things) I think I'd probably wake up a much happier and friendlier person all other things being equal - wouldn't you? It's not like humanity don't have the resources, despite what some might say, thanks to technological advance our productive powers and capacity to provide for everyone have never been higher (and banks have never been fuller of huge wealth accumulated into the hands of a shockingly small percentile of the world's population either).
I know that I'm one of a relatively small number of radical leftist here at TSR and that radical leftism is very much on the back-foot in the current era of capitalism, even as we witness its crises. The ideology of capitalism is strong and its various instruments of promotion dominating. But what I think is still worth asking the sceptic is to consider how capitalism is changing the world - even the most dogmatic of pro-capitalist can't deny that capitalism generates such immense change, social change, technological change, environmental change, you name it. We're definately going somewhere
under capitalism and, in comparison to the length of time previous modes of production have lasted (like the era of slave societies and feudal ones which have come after them) we're going somewhere pretty quickly. If I can persuade the sceptic to think in these, historical terms, rather than in terms of abstracted and formulaic terms (the prefered mode of analysis in orthodox capitalist economics for example) then I can persuade them that there's a trajectory to think about.
Most historical change is motivated by economic incentives, whether we're talking about grand structures or individuals (but usually grand structures); evidence that there is something within humans that wants to 'strive' for a better way of life, rather than just accept one. Life, for many, is a game. I think you mischaracterise human nature [and certainly, as animals with emotions that lead us to want to survive, reproduce, be safe, and succeed, human nature does exist in some empirical, rather than wildly metaphysical, sense] if you think that humans will be content with mere equality (of, presumably, wealth), averageness, conformity, and so forth. How utterly depressing to know that, however hard you want to work, you will always be pushed down - it's not a rosy way of life, or at least I'm unwilling to uncritically accept it as such.
That's not to say that people who are relatively worse-off won't be disheartened (heck, I'm a liberal egalitarian who believes that all talents and abilities to motivate oneself [leading to financial gains] are morally arbitrary and thus not strictly deserved in any moralistic sense, but are merely what Rawls calls 'legitimate expectations'); but I AM saying that it's by no means certain that people will be happier under a socialist system just because the poor would be happier with food. Sure they would; but welfare for the poor is not solely the concern of the socialist, and indeed the socialist goes much further to cause misery for the would-be entrepreneur.