Monday, November 21, 2005

Anti-consumeurism and the war against the poor

Anti-consumeurism usually flares up as the holiday season nears, but it's always in effect. The basic belief of anti-consumeurism originates in sacrifice religions like Christianity and Islam, which decry "the world" and prosperity as evil, and continued in communism, nazism, and other statist extremisms which decry rich people as exploiters and abundance as evil.

This belief is that consumption is an inherent evil, a product of unnecessary greed, which is bad for our moral fiber or religious fervour and can only be tempered by some form of economic collectivism or social engineering.

However, this belief, while being explicitly an attack against the most prosperous amongst us, is really part of the war against the poor. While all these collectivist belief systems preach equality, they promote radically assymetrical systems with strong ruling classes. Sacrifice religions have their clergical ruling classes, communism and nazism had their dictatorial ruling classes. Both stand to benefit the most from the suffering of the masses, in that they can channel that suffering for their own utilitarian ends. This has always been their mode of functioning and is still their mode of functioning (the perpetual wars in our modern democracies are oen example).

The masses are the most vulnerable to economic conditions and the availability of cheap products. Take health care, for example. Socialists in Canada always say that a capitalist health care system creates a "two-level" system that is bad for the poor. And yet that is what we already have in Canada today : friends of the state and celebrities get VIP treatment, and the rich can always go to the United States for treatment. The social elite can compensate for bad economic dynamics better than the masses can. Joe Sixpack need Wal-Mart, but Kevin Costner doesn't. Once again, this comes back to the notion I already discussed of capitalism being a boon for the masses more than for the ruling classes.

A dilemma related to anti-consumeurism is, where do we draw the line ? Obviously buying the food necessary for our survival is all right (although some extremists take it to the absurd and preach self-sufficiency), so how much is too much ? Well, the answer is obviously whatever their value system tells them is "enough". Like any other part of the cultural war, this is a battle of value systems, and the anti-consumeurists seek to make their value system law.

Is Christmas too commercial ? In fact, anyone who knows the history of Christmas also knows that consumeurism saved Christmas. To praise Christmas and then complain that Christmas is too commercial is a contradiction. To villify gift-giving is incredibly callous. But to the collectivist mind, force, not compassion, is the rule.

Anti-prosperity, anti-greed and anti-consumeurist beliefs stand in direct opposition to the expression of individual values in Western society. They know very well they can't persuade people to change their values, because they have nothing to offer, so they complain and try to pass laws. That's how all these anti-social types operate. Wal-Mart is a good example of this.

In fact, Wal-Mart proves nothing better than the fac that people are idiots, and follow Franc's Principle slavishly. People hate Wal-Mart because it drives inefficient and limited competitors our of the market, but they love Wal-Mart when it tries to drive its smaller, minimum wage competitors away by driving wages up. So once again, people hate the free market, people hate the poor (as main beneficiaries of low-priced competition), people hate the expression of values (through the capacity to consume more), and people love government control. No surprises there.

About Wal-Mart, I am looking forward to the movie "Why Wal*Mart Works and why that makes some people C-R-A-Z-Y!". Of course, the statists on Amazon are already complaining of propaganda. And we accuse them of propaganda. The more relevant question is : who's right ?


Aaron Kinney said...

Those who promote freedom and non interventionism are right. ;)

Mobius said...

blech...this post is filled with so many biased assumptions about the anti-consumerist perspective, which are further rooted in straw-man abstractions of boogey-man communists, your best off renaming your blog "radical idiotarian."

Stephen Littau said...

The Fearless Philosophy Blogpost of the Month for the Month of November goes to Francois Tremblay of The Radical Libertarian with his post: Anti-consumerism and the war against the poor. If you are anti-consumerism then you are helping the poor right? Not according to Tremblay:

Francois Tremblay said...

Thank you ! I really appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

You are a fucking moron
Free market capitalism is the thing that is raping our planet of its natural resources, enslaving people so they have no freedom (both in third world countries and first), it steals lives, creates mass unhappyness and the only thing that can stop that is anti-consumerist enviromentalist socialism (the 3 most dangerous words to the amaerican libertarian movement)

Anonymous said...

This blog post is nieve, moronic and just like all right wing arguments against the left is littered with straw man arguments, ad hominems and various other logical falacies. You libertarians have this mystical ideal of what classical liberalist free market capitalism is but you always forget that in america under a classically liberal economic system there was mass levels of racial and gender inequalities that were perpetuated by an economic and social culture of competitive market domination. You also forget that once that system was put under an industrial framework it created mass inequality, mass levels of environmental damage and for the majority of people the quality of life is appalling (just look at my country (England) during the 19th century.
Capitalism is a system which produces for profit and so is unavoidably consumerist and productivist and within an industrialised framework it goes from bad to worse. Consumer capitalism not only does mass levels of environmental damage, commits atrocious acts of cruelty to animals and people, fuels wars (like the so called "war on terror") but it self sustains it's society of the spectacle and makes itself stronger (and will until it cannibalises itself). Oh for efficiency you can't beat consumer capitalism, it is without a doubt the most effecient system (Marx, Bakunin, Kroptkin etc never denied that), but quantitative reasoning is massivally flawed and always produces bad results (eg the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries). ........

Anonymous said...

....... The thing to replace capitalism will be anti-productivist, anti-capitalist, anti-consumerist, environmentalist socialism (I'm meaning the true form of socialism here not statist lenninist burocratic collectism). Your arguments in your blog against these ideals (I intentionally don't use the word ideology because those things are greater than any ideology because an ideology wishes to shape the world some way and these ideals are the way things are naturally,) are extremely fallacious and hold no bearing on reality. Anarchist catalonia, stateless somalia, the icelandic commonwealth, the diggers, the zapitas, pirate utopias, shanty towns all over the world and 200,000 years of pre-civilised society (some call that anarcho-primitivism others primitive communism I don't particularly care it's socialist in nature) and but a few examples of socialism happening and working. Socialism works when people accept the truth that there is scarcity in the world and we do need each other (I think the socialist Brecht said "everyone needs everyone). .........

Anonymous said...

..... Capitalism can only function in a society that lives under the ignorant myth that there are endless supplies, endless resources and we can consume the earth dry. Socialism is the way the world naturally works (look at the way ants work without hierarchal control in a socialist framework) all you need to do is study Kroptkin for 5 minutes and you will realise that for our very survival decentralised socialism is necessary and all you need to do is study Marxist writings on primitive cultures and John Zerzans writings to see that we do naturally form socialism.
Consumer capitalism alienates our lives and pushes us into slaves of the spectacle. This culture turns us into junkies of consumption where our very being is this endless search for a hedonistic consumer utopian happiness that will never happen and to quote Tyler Durden (from the book and film fight club) "we are slowly learning that fact and were very pissed off".
Through the fetishization of commodities we become slaves to the spectacle and inorder to release ourselves from this angst we engage in alienating work to feed our fetish. This is obviously a paradox that will either never end, cannibalise and drain every last resourses we have or we will convert our life styles and our economy to a decentralised socialist one that is non-productivist in nature, is non-consumerist in nature and due to the localism that is inherent in decentralised socialism it will naturally be environmentalist.
Your critique of anti-consumerism is fallacious and holds no bearing on the underlying truths of reality. I could write more on the spiritual effects of consumer capitalism and how it is the economic embodyment of samsara but given your flippant disregard for christianity and islam I'm not going to waste my time.
Thanks for reading my critique of your post.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting watching the two wing-nut fringes of society scream 'socialism' and 'capitalism' and both sides are too brainwashed to realize their movements have been hijacked by big business.

Moderate anti-consumerism is what most people would call good old fashioned Yankee thrift. If you don't really need it, don't buy it. It's simply the values which pulled this country through the Great Depression. Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do. Or do without.

Gee ... aren't we in a depression right now?

It's curious how big business pundits, who have the nerve to call themselves Libertarians and insult those who really ARE truly libertarian (i.e., self-sufficiency fend-for-yourself survivalist-minded) are trying to hijack the Libertarian movement as a platform to promote corporate welfare.

As my grandma used to say ... don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining...

Get your Koch-brothers astroturf corporate-sponsored blog out of our movement!

John Steinsvold said...

An Alternative to Capitalism (since we cannot legislate morality)

Several decades ago, Margaret Thatcher claimed: "There is no alternative". She was referring to capitalism. Today, this negative attitude still persists.

I would like to offer an alternative to capitalism for the American people to consider. Please click on the following link. It will take you to my essay titled: "Home of the Brave?" which was published by the Athenaeum Library of Philosophy:

John Steinsvold

Perhaps in time the so-called dark ages will be thought of as including our own.
--Georg C. Lichtenberg

Anonymous said...

Anticapitalists should study seriously the failed experiences and misery that socialism produced. The glorious ideas melted and the worst came out of people. One needs to see how behavioral mechanisms work, and search why socialism though sounds well in theory, ends up creating tremendous misery and difference. No consumerist problem in socialist societies, people barely had what to eat, everything was scarce. What helped people was a rudimentary black market - a kind of underground capitalism which filled the needs. No one should talk about socialism before reading Solzhenitsyn!