A COURSE ON CONSUMERISM
(How, Why, Where and When)
Let's start with a brilliant 4-part series in which the BBC documents how consumerism was marketed across the political economic spectrum from propaganda to public relations to politics and from past to present.
The reason that consumerism ends up as the dominant societal form is not only that it serves as a mechanism for social control but it also provides a way to generate capital for continued economic growth when government financing reaches its limit. The demand for more and more capital now trumps ideologies even in the case of China where markets and consumerism are outrunning rational planning.
The contradictions of relentless capital accumulation are succinctly captured by David Harvey:
I believe that David Harvey is correct in asserting that we need to change our mode of thinking. It starts with asking at least some of the right questions. So, what prevents this?
Paul Krugman offers the most recent example of the dominance of wealth over the questions we ask in his post "Wall Street Whitewash": "Last week all four Republicans on the [US bipartisan Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission] voted to exclude the following terms from the report: “deregulation,” “shadow banking,” “interconnection,” and, yes, “Wall Street.""
And President Obama has made a mockery of his campaign slogans of YES WE CAN and A CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN by following President Clinton's precedent of striking insider deals with the super-rich and the bankers, and then claiming a victory for the people.
I believe that the father of public relations Edward Bernays could be smiling.
It is nevertheless possible to remember that no matter what political and economic constraints are operating upon "leaders", for us ordinary folks, ACTION is the antidote for despair and WE are the antidote for ME. Through action and relationship it is possible to discover a SELF that is connected to everyone and everything else. A SELF who is no longer driven by the myopia of "me and mine" is our hope and salvation. Interconnection is an aspiration and a potential that exists in everyone. We need to celebrate and practice its possibility.