The camouflauge of consumerism

Posted: March 30, 2013 in My Journey
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As a society, we seem obsessed by the economical concept of consumerism.  Consumerism is at the core of much of the world’s economic structures, dictating not only the political ideologies of economises, but also their social and philosophical natures.    We strive to export these consumerist policies to every region of the world, under the pretence that through ever-greater consumption, lays the path to happiness.

To be a consumer in today’s society, is to be recognised as socially worthy, to have admirable quality in the collective-consumerist minds and eyes of this modern society, too consume is to be celebrated to be overtly wealthy, admired, however never envied.  Our instinctive attitude to the display of wealth, and how this wealth this exhibited, defines our benign attitude towards our modern capitalist society.

The success of an individual’s social integration seems now to be determined by the fashionable quality of their personal processions rather than any inherent qualities they might process; also their emotional reaction when confronted by a greater material wealth than their own is never one of envy but rather of desire.  Consumerism has conditioned us not to question the justification for excesses consumption, but rather to recognise that everything we admire may someday be within our own grasp.   An illusion created by the consumerist moment to transform every aspect of the human condition to the full forces of marketisation, in the false  premise, that we all have free choice in what we consume.

The ownership of objects portrays our social worth in the face of our self-professed audience, making us minor celebrities in our own small soap opera worlds and that consumer hold the fate of the economy in their hands.   That consumer’s can break the backs of unscrupulous multinational corporations.  That consumerism will determine the future structure of the world society.   That it is the consumer who by purchasing one more trinket can pull the destitute from the grip of poverty.

However, what of the nonconformists consumers, those of us who purchase to match our basic requirements rather than through the social stereotype pressure of want and desire, are we of less value to society?   I would argue that we are not.   On the contrary, I recognize my lack of desire to accumulate things as a sign of contentment.   I do not measure my wealth or happiness in the possession of the latest must have gadget or seasonal fashion items; these are transient, inconsequential accomplishments, which to me, have no intrinsic value.  Consumerism is a deception, a mere beautification to distract the wayward eye, an illusion for the mind, an unseen weapon of social restraint.

However to deny yourself and those you love access to all the consumerist accessories of our modern sophisticated world, is to be seen as strange at best, abusive, overtly controlling, and politically extreme.   The electrical devices, touch screen mobiles and the latest fashion accessories are now a fundamental precursor to social integration, especially for teenager’s, as they attempt to circum navigate our ever complex societies and connect with their piers.

It would be wrong to deny my children the opportunity to integrate into society under the political and ethical belief that consumerism is fundamentally harmful, and forcing my views might prove to be socially devastating for them.    As a parent, I understand that I have a duty to educate them about the pitfalls in the system of consumerism.   I think my message to them would be.   It is in the hearts of those we encounter in this life that defines us, not the fashion accessory we carry.

There is an ideology of ‘Producer Radicalism’, which holds that the productive elements of society are being exploited at both the top and the bottom of the social and economic structure.   I fear this theory is out of date and that it is not just the extremes of the productive elements of society that are being exploited it is everyone and everything.



© Paul Nichol 2013

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