Nothing to Bragg About

bragg Very sad to say it, but in his pathetic analysis of the steet rebellion in the UK, my idol Billy Bragg actually attributes it in part to “exclusion from consumerist society.”

Billy, my friend, what in hell are you doing using that word “consumerist?”

It’s a rather obvious euphemism for “capitalist,” mate.

Pull your head out, and stop growing old in the brain.

5 Replies to “Nothing to Bragg About”

  1. Hi Michael,

    If Bragg’s comment is making you angry, maybe you’d better not read ‘The London Riots – On Consumerism coming Home to Roost’ in which sociologist Zygmunt Bauman argues: ‘We are all consumers now, consumers first and foremost, consumers by right and by duty. The day after the 11/9 outrage George W. Bush, when calling Americans to get over the trauma and go back to normal, found no better words than “go back shopping”. It is the level of our shopping activity and the ease with which we dispose of one object of consumption in order to replace it with a “new and improved” one which serves us as the prime measure of our social standing and the score in the life-success competition. To all problems we encounter on the road away from trouble and towards satisfaction we seek solutions in shops.’

    I know lots of people who live according to crazy precepts – e.g. religious doctrine – but i really don’t know anyone who lives or views their social standing in the way that Bauman describes.

  2. Fair enough to complain about what B.Brag had to say, but, without knowing exactly what’s going on, I have been struck by the impression that many relatively upscale shops have been targeted–though here again I cannot be sure of the accuracy of this impression. London contains enough individuals whose material comfort is more or less in your face and as a big city there is no shortage of ‘clever’ advertising, so that I could well imagine someone less well off could feel fed up.–or, so I believe, after only one brief visit. But I checked your blog because I had hoped, Michael, that you might have something insightful to say, from a perspective not otherwise to be heard.

  3. At the risk of over- explaining, Loic Wacquant had some very interesting things to say about car burning in France a few years ago. I would like to see an analysis of similar quality about what’s going on in England.

  4. Justin, you nailed this. The truth is that those who use the word “consumer” have a license to say anything they want to say, without ever being asked to provide evidence for their invariably stupid claims. The word is simply magic, getting anything you want to say past the usual requirements of non-fiction. And that’s allowed because it’s essentially impossible to assemble a coherent critique of the system from within the set of biases you adopt when you start talking in these terms. And there is now an organized “sociology of consumption” sub-field, the basis of which is unquestioning acceptance of the whole “consumer” vocabulary. And the stuff that comes out of the thing is half-baked at best and more often complete rubbish, not worth the paper and electrons it’s printed on/with.

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