Thursday, July 7, 2011

Consumerism's Dream & Nightmare

If consumerism has a dream, it is ultimately for every person on Earth to own one, and preferably several, of every kind of product created by every kind of company. These products should wear out quickly or incorporate elements of planned-obsolescence, thus requiring constant replacement to maximize profit and create forecastable demand for new products, thereby insuring a constant revenue stream for the small number of global production conglomerates. Consumerism's dream is that each consumer pairs heterosexually and bears a large family of new consumers, and preferably that each consumer gain just enough education to navigate the sea of products, but not to question the why and wherefore of navigating that sea.

If consumerism has a nightmare, it is that each so-called consumer decides to get off the treadmill of acquiring, servicing, warehousing and replacing largely unnecessary material possessions. They decide life is about being creative, caring for and spending time with others, caring for the future of the planet, caring that consumerism's dream is a nightmare for the Earth and all the species - homo sapiens included - dependent on the Earth for their survival. They decide that simple, durable, necessary goods designed for long life and inexpensive repair make more sense than constantly throwing away products that are a long, destructive journey and one small step from the garbage heap the moment they leave the factory floor. They realize that 'reduce, re-use, recycle' is two-thirds lie, and that re-use and recycling use the same (or more) amount of time, resources and energy as producing goods from new raw materials. They decide that 'old' is sexier than 'new' because 'old' means long-lasting, unique and reliable, where 'new' means untested, unknown, taking a risk with precious time and energy better spent on the intangibles life is really about.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Anarchism, when you're a middle-aged, Dad-sort-of-person

Yesterday I read a large portion of a recent article [http://www.adbusters.org/magazine/93/we-are-image-future.html] in AdBusters, written by a participant, about the riots in Athens, Greece at the end of 2008. I had one major reaction, and that was "this was obviously written by a young person."

How did I know that? While I agree with the overall philosophical bent of what this young person had to say, I couldn't subscribe to what he was advocating on a much more moral and personal basis. His goals for the world's future can comfortably be about tearing down all the poisonous and diseased structure built by the monied overloads. Spiffy.

My goals are different. I have a family. When he comes to destroy all the structure and reliability we have in the world, I will not be there helping him. I will be trying to make sure he and his well-intentioned minions don't hurt me and the people I care about. Great - fight for the future. How will your fight destroy the innocent, the decent, the people just trying to make the best of shitty circumstances? No, he will see it all destroyed, damn the many who will suffer, so he can stick it to those few fat, rich fucks he's so fixated on. Collateral damage.

I am one of the obedient. I do my work and I get my check. Many like me will take that check and spend it on a wide variety of escapist pleasures, to numb themselves to the intolerable situation of their lives. I will invest mine in the future of people I care about. I will make sure they have the material means to pursue their dreams. I will have deep conversations with them after I get home about how we might turn the mighty ship from dashing itself on the rocks, instead of being the pirates who will loot and sink it, damn all aboard. Are they not guilty by their very presence on the ship?

There are more ways than shouting out the incantation 'tabula rasa' and running into the fray with weapon raised to make the world a better place. Radical change is never real, or lasting. If you haven't learned that yet, yes - you are indeed young.