“Confronting Consumption,” Indeed

homer brain What passes for a political and intellectual left is stone-cold stupid when it comes to matters of personal life and corporate capitalism.

The anchor of this stupidity is the continuing inability of would-be radical thinkers and activists to get past the discombobulating slave-words “consumer” and “consumption.”

Unable to see that calling product users and citizens “consumers” and lumping all their activities and intentions into the category of “consumption” does irreparable damage to any chance at coherent social criticism or democratic movement-building, the “consumer” haranguers plow blithely on, tilting at the windmill of “consumer culture” or “consumer society,” while saying next to nothing about the basic realities of corporate capitalism and its ever-growing big business marketing juggernaut.

This endless pursuit of a dead-end has recently been redoubled by the “scholars” associated with this smugly confused book. In it, the various assembled academic career-builders profess to be attacking “the consumption problem,” without ever stopping to ask whether part of that alleged problem might be the continuing reign of the massively biased concept of “consumption.”

Worse, in the name of an attack on waste they can never quite explain, they actually dare to say that “economistic thinking” is part of the problem, rather than a vital part of the solution. The fact that mainstream economics ignores capitalist waste and qualitative outcomes is no reason to toss out “economistic thinking” altogether. In fact, a true economics would be a devastating expose of the present system and the overclass it exists to enrich.

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Michael DawsonRoseLisa @ Corporate Babysitter Recent comment authors

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Lisa @ Corporate Babysitter
Lisa @ Corporate Babysitter

What should I read, then?


I get that you don’t want to call people consumers and what they do consumption. What are you recommending as substitutes?

Michael Dawson

A third of it is simple precision: When people are shopping, call them “shoppers.” When people are watching TV, call them “viewers.” When people are using a product, call them “users” of the product in question. When discussing people’s collective product-related interests, call them “product users.” The overall idea is to always adopt the term that conveys the actual process and intention under examination. Another third is remembering the huge, constant activity that saying “consumer” and “consumption” always obscures: people’s efforts to maintain, preserve, repair our worldly possessions. The last third is seizing appropriate chances to point out how “consumer”… Read more »