Black Friday – Humans As We Are, Not As You Think We Should Be

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Yet another who simply doesn’t understand the basic problem with the world. Which is, of course, that it has we humans in it.

No, this is not to say that we, having eaten from the Tree of Knowledge, have now brought sin into the world and thus messed everything up. Rather, it’s to point out that the process of evolution has indeed dumped us here and also that that process has shaped and created us into what we are. Any solution to any ills of the world therefore needs to start with, well, what are humans? What are they like, how do they/we act and so on. Anything which starts with the idea that if humans weren’t in fact humans is doomed to failure as a sociopolitical pathway:

Mass consumerism is destroying our planet. This Black Friday, let’s take a stand
Alan Bradshaw
With climate catastrophe on the horizon, we should reject this orgy of consumption – and find joy in not shopping at all

It’s really not going to work matey. You’re trying to argue with several billion years of evolution there and that’s just not going to work out well.

The defining element of that world out there is scarcity. The lifeforms which survived and prospered are those which grabbed as much as they could, whenever they could, and so waxed fat and happy and had myriad sproglets. We are the descendants of those sproglets produced by those fat and happy grabbers.

Paradise always has been the land of milk and honey, paradise the absence of scarcity. Now we’re in it you’re not going to get anywhere arguing with 4 billion years of experience.

All of this being true of the amoebae in our guts, the mitochondria in our cells and the more complex assemblages referred to as mammals. Even to us, homo sapiens sapiens.

The time is right for a more resonant and joyful anti-consumerism. The recognition that we need to downsize our lifestyles for environmental reasons now corresponds not with the false political economy of austerity, but the very real awareness of the damage that consumer capitalism wreaks on the world.

The challenge, then, is to make anti-consumerism joyful by emphasising the satisfaction and necessity of becoming more sustainable and refusing to fuel a system grounded in the exploitation of people and the environment. Today, the greatest pleasures might be found in not shopping at all.

You’re just not going to get anywhere if you don’t start from reality. We is whut we iz.

In Britain there is a long tradition of moralising about mindless materialism. As far back as the Elizabethan era, a moral panic emerged about an “orgy of spending”. Later, Marxist philosophers such as Theodor W Adorno treated the consumerism of the postwar era as a foolish “fetish”. Books such as The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard, published in 1957, and No Logo by Naomi Klein in 1999, became huge sellers in their eras, both describing a world that had become colonised by marketing and branding.

Note that the success is being defined by how well they sold. Which does rather neatly make the point, doesn’t it?

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Mr Yan
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Mr Yan

When he gives up his worldly possessions, becomes a Puritan and sits on a spike, I might listen.

Leo Savantt
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Leo Savantt

Human nature, being what it is, is imperfect. The disease of catastrophism, and it is a disease being a neurosis, has infected us from time immemorial. However, the “climate catastrophe on the horizon” is likely to remain on the horizon, for who has ever reached one? No that this will persuade, for neurosis can be seductive, albeit uncomfortably so, if spreading moralistic fear-mongering pays the bills, polishes the ego and signals the virtue it is unlikely to be forsworn, ever.

TD
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TD

There are people who accumulate a lot of stuff during their lives and people who don’t even though they could afford it. In fact, you might say that in the modern world people who don’t spend all their money might actually get a bit further ahead financially. However, in a free society people should be able to shop if they wish. The thing is, those that don’t want to accumulate a lot of stuff are sometimes extremely upset about those who do, and those who do like to buy lots of stuff are largely oblivious to the existence of those… Read more »

Gavin Longmuir
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Gavin Longmuir

I blame Keynes. He put the emphasis on consumption. But production has to precede consumption. And production involves human beings doing the jobs that produce the income which allows for consumption.

So these anti-consumption people are basically saying to the rest of us — ‘Enjoy being unemployed and living in poverty, you scum!’

Boganboy
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Boganboy

What he really means to say is ‘—the recognition that YOU need to downsize YOUR lifestyles—-‘.

jgh
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jgh

If *you* don’t want to be a consumerist, go ahead, don’t be a consumerist, it’s a (moderately) free country.