‘The happy consciousness’ explores how happiness precludes progress, and how this can be overcome. For Hegel and the Frankfurt School, conformism and loss of individuality mark the happy consciousness. Only true nonconformists, with an understanding of the constraints of freedom, and therefore an ‘unhappy consciousness’, can effect progress. The Frankfurt School’s members posed many criticisms of modern life and the culture industry. But the danger that advanced industrial society presents to the unhappy consciousness is perhaps the most telling. At stake is the substance of subjectivity and autonomy: the will and ability of the individual to resist external forces intent upon determining the meaning and experience of life.