Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
But how do we come to want more things? How do we come to equate wanting things with happiness?

This is taught to us each and every day with every commercial and fad and fashion that assaults us on a daily basis.

I am not a luddite. I want my computer and internet link. And I really am happier now that I'm able to watch old classic movies on DVD from the 1930-40s.

But it is this blind dashing to get more...the impulse buying...that is the problem of so many of our other problems...pollution, environmental degradation, social isolation, declining literacy and reasoning standards, and overextended consumer debt (in some places).

An economy does not have to be pushed by greater consumption. Why can't it be pushed by better quality consumption?

Take chocolate consumption for example. Now, I used to eat a lot of chocolate, most of it very bad. I didn't really know that it was bad...it seemed ok to me. Then one of my friends brings me a box of French chocolates (yes, I nearly died when I later found out how much they cost), but they were just simply so different from the junk I was eating before. So what happens? My chocolate consumption plummets. I buy good chocolate (even if it hurts to pay for it), but I eat maybe 10% of what I used to. But I really enjoy it more. That doesn't mean that I won't buy the occasional bag of M&Ms; I love em. But consumption can decline with quality consumption.

by gradinski chai on Mon Oct 31st, 2005 at 02:57:29 AM EST
I guess that is what we learned, it is what commercials and adds suggest - on could say we are being programmed to wanting more and to equating having with being happy. However, over time I have learned the more I can let go of possessions the happier I am. Though, amazingly, it is sometimes a struggle to reduce possessions and even more so to keep them down. I experience a continues inflow of things I do not need. Most of them I have now under control - though books still seem to have their own dynamic of growth .
by Fran on Mon Oct 31st, 2005 at 03:15:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, the problem is the programming by commercials. They have become the most central educational experience in many young people's lives. Some societies have realized this and have wisely limited the exposure that children can have to commercials. Most societies have not done so.

The repugnance of consumerism is not something that only greens and the left should be concerned with. I think that even some more traditional conservatives understand the impact that mass capitalism and consumerism have on individual's lives. Money and consumption, as I think someone said upthread, does become the only moral compass as ads become so pervasive (everywhere from trams to TV to public toilets) they drown out all other instruction.

Many religious fundamentalists see this consumerist amoralizing and react to it through anti-globalization policies. This contemporary luddite reaction is as unlikely to prevail as the original actions. However, they will continue and probably become more violent since consumerism makes so many products for destruction available to so many.

Most Christian fundamentalists in the US have yet to make the connection between consumerism and what they see as the decline of morals. They have (for a variety of reasons) woven free market economics into their interpretations of the Bible.

It is a testament to human intelligence and free will that even some people are able to escape the onslaught.  

by gradinski chai on Mon Oct 31st, 2005 at 05:28:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Occasional Series