A Comfortable Couch

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Anti-consumerism blog

I'm thinking I want to start a multi-person anti-consumerism blog. I don't want it to have a hippie "save-the-earth" theme (there are already plenty of sites that have that theme), rather I want it to be about how we often value possessions and status too much and end up not having the time to enjoy life as much as we should. Maybe anti-consumerism is the wrong word, but I'm not sure what the right word is. It would be called YouDontNeedIt.org or TooMuchStuff.org or something like that. Anyone interested in being a contributor/editor/moderator for something like that? Would anyone read it?

A big part of why I want to do this is because I'm not immune to the lure of consumerism. Just today I was watching "This Old House". They were touring some absolutely huge fantastic house, with every modern amenity and luxury you could imagine, and some you couldn't. And I'm sitting there thinking how much I want that, how happy my family and I would be living in that amazing house. But of course, it's a mirage on the horizon that you can never reach, something always unattainable, you never actually get to the point when you say "OK, I've got enough now, I can stop". I know this and yet I'm drawn to it. So the idea of a blog about this is a way to help me and others recognize these things, point them out and expose what they really are.

I haven't thought this out completely. I'm brainstorming this really, any input at all is welcomed.


David Pitkin said...

Instead of anti-consumerism I have read your blog entries lately to be more focused on paying more attention to how we spend the small amount of time we are allowed on this planet. Today’s manipulative marketing and some arguably destructive social norms are powerful and dictate much of how people view our world. Personally I wonder because I think this is at odds with your card-carrying libertarian status. Don’t get me wrong I think paying attention to the social costs of a free market is a very good thing and that is the fundamental flaw with most libertarian arguments in my opinion.

1:58 AMlink  
Damien said...

I can certainly see that it seems like my libertarianism is at odds with anti-consumerism, I've been thinking about this as well. However, I think so many people out there discover some problem they see with society and their knee-jerk reaction is to say "there ought to be a law". And of course that's the sort of thing that led to prohibition when people saw problems with alcohol consumption.

I think France may be good example of this sort of economic approach, going so far as to limit the hours you are allowed to work. I think that ends up causing more problems than it solves.

There may indeed need to be legislative action that needs to take place, but my libertarian core feels the answer may be less government involvement, less regulation, and less government debt. It seems odd to me that although both consumers and the government are in historic amounts debt, interest rates are at extremely low rates and borrowing is easier than ever. I'm no economist but it appears that the forces that are causing this aren't free market forces and are instead political and quasi-political forces (like Alan Greenspan the Federal Reserve).

Of course the macro-economic issues aren't something I really understand and I'm not in a position to affect change. But instead maybe I can be be part of a community that helps me and its participants do the right thing in a otherwise sick society.

8:57 AMlink  
Damien said...

Oh, and yes anti-consumerism seems like the wrong word. I'm not against buying things, even nice extravagent things. It's the bad trade offs we make, and the fact that we often pursue wealth and status to be happy and we trade our time and well being for it, and destroy the happiness we seek in the process.

12:34 PMlink  
David Pitkin said...

The reason I believe that we chose to have legislation and market/economic manipulation by the government is because we as a society do believe that the free market actions such as the great depression and discrimination based on race had social costs that we as a Judeo Christian society did not want to pay.

Not that I would ever defend the Bush's administrations huge current account and budget deficit as having anything to do with this it is just why I think we started to allow the US government to float so much debt and then manipulate the market. Maybe Julio is right and 25 years from now a free democratic Middle East will be a result of what we are doing over there!

1:20 PMlink  
Anonymous said...

You might like reading "Reflective Wisom: Richard Taylor on Issues That Matter", ISBN: 0-87975-176-2. It's a great book which deals with the issues you mention, but goes far beyond it. For me it was a page-turner.

Thomas Gumz

3:30 PMlink  
Damien said...

Thanks Thomas, I'm going to take a look at that.

1:53 AMlink  
socialdeviant said...

You can not free a country with war, just like you can't talk about anti-consumerism with economics. Science today is based around the sound principles of yesterday's man. There is no rulebook for the future. I wouldn't let partisanship get in the way.

Destiny tells us that we are more than slurps, sitting on our mookles, consuming pancakes all day long. If that were to be the case, man would have started off by selling fire for 9.95 to those that needed it instead of freely distributing the technology.

I look around my office and I see a bunch of goods I can be without, but other goods I don't think I can stand to leave behind. But then again, how many needs do I need as a result of my slavery ? I totally agree with you Damien.

We are slaves to a system created by our fathers and grandfathers. My generation wants things to be different while at the same time we are told we are too irrational for wishing such things.

The rich have created a system around us where you don't need kings. Instead of having a king tell you waht to do, you simply make up a science, place a man to represent it, and then position this individual at the door. If the poor come to the door asking to be equal, the man tells the poor you can not be equal for you are in debt. When the poor loses his/her debt, the man tells the poor you can not be equal for you have no credit. In our world the system is always the solution.

In the end, I am as much a part of the system as you are. We are the poor.

4:06 AMlink  
antiapathy said...

I would participate in a blog like that.
and to address some of the comments, I agree that we don't need any crazy regulations to force us to work less. We do need better labor laws and more vacation, but putting a cap on the amount of time someone can spend at work isn't a good idea. I think the consumerism problem is entirely cultural, it's not something you can legislate.

10:33 PMlink  
buddhaboy said...

That's going to be a tough one. To stop buying or even reduce consumption runs counter to the very fiber of North American culture. Our economic foundation is built on consumption. Even our standards of success are based on the ability to consume. It's a very empty existence though, which is why consumers have an underlying feeling of discontent. From the day we are born, we are bombarded with messages about how we need external rewards to make us happy. It's a sham. But the sad thing is that even the captains of industry, the ones that are the benefactors of our consumption, are rarely fulfilled. So in the end, humankind ends up serving a system for the sake of the system.

3:57 AMlink  

Post a Comment

<< Home