Friday, October 31, 2008


Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

That is the message that members of the global consumer society get from those who run the world. It’s drilled into us from day one. The corporate state constantly tantilizes and tempts us with visions of material richness: A big house, luxurious cars, lots of cool possessions, vacations abroad... Plus, if only we buy and use certain products, we’ll also enjoy beauty and health, and we’ll even be sexy! The zenith of this promise is the American Dream, wherein success brings all these things and more. And because 99% of humanity lusts after such things, hooking them on this powerful drug is easy. In no time at all, people find themselves deeply in debt, but still willing to max out their credit cards for the next must-have product that is relentlessly hyped.

Now, there are people who claim that all these indebted people have only themselves to blame, especially now when globalization is reversing, the consumer society is losing steam, and the financial crisis threatens to engulf the whole world. Consumers should have exercised self-restraint and better judgment, is the claim.

That is of course true to an extent. But in reality, few people are capable of such self-discipline, especially when exhorted constantly to consume and spend, and given the implicit promise that economic growth will continue unabated. Unrelenting growth propaganda, ubiquitous advertising, and various forms of constant pressure to spend and consume — not to mention the belief, deeply instilled into us, that consumption is happiness — present a united front so powerful that only a few strong individuals are able to resist.

In the final analysis, the victims do indeed deserve part of the blame, but most of the blame must go to the corporate state for shamelessly and viciously exploiting this weakness, even though it is clear what the eventual outcome will be.

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