"The first thing that will strike the observer is the sheer multitude of people, all equal, all similar, incessantly endeavouring [through wage-slavery] to procure petty, paltry pleasures with which to glut their lives. Each of them, living separate lives, is a stranger to all the others. Family and friends fill their vision of the world to the exclusion of others, however close in time and space. Individuals exist only in themselves, for themselves alone.
"Above this pullulation of humanity stands an immense and tutelary Power, which alone is responsible for securing people/s gratifications,and monitors their fate. That power is absolute, micro-managing, reliably regular, beneficent. It would be just like parental authority if its object was to prepare people for adulthood. But it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood."
- Alexis de Tocqueville
[He was writing about the USA, but his extremely perceptive comments could apply to the whole "developed" (once called "free") world.]